As the deputy leader of the Labour group at Croydon Town Hall, Alison Butler is probably the most powerful woman in the borough’s politics (the Tories in control of the council have three men in the most senior positions in their group, a man as the London Assembly member and two men as MPs).
Butler, councillor for Bensham Manor and with the housing brief in the shadow cabinet at the Town Hall, gave up her job as a parliamentary assistant at Westminster to focus on her campaign for nomination as Labour candidate for Croydon Central. After working closely for 20 years with the widely respected Croydon North MP, Malcolm Wicks, Butler understands well the inner workings of the corridors of power at parliament.
Within Croydon’s Labour party, Butler is particularly well-connected: her work colleague in the Croydon North MP’s office, Louise Szpera, is the partner of Tony Newman, Croydon Labour’s leader, who is a councillor in Woodside ward alongside Paul Scott, who happens to be the partner of… Alison Butler.
Butler was first out of the blocks when the selection process starter’s gun fired, and she has been working hard at getting backing from influential trades unions Unite and the GMB, while also having been nominated by seven of the eight wards, the highest number of nominations from grassroots members.
This week Butler wrote to those members saying, “It is not a coincidence that the last four MPs for Croydon Central have all won from the platform of a senior position in the council. The kind of experience, contacts and profile that such a position gives you can be decisive in this ultra-marginal seat.”
Yet Butler also describes herself as “not a typical candidate”.
“I left school at 16 and did not go to university. I joined the party after getting involved in my trade union in my first job. I have worked hard every step of the way, whether for my own family or for Labour. I have stuck the course through every setback. My own personal experience enables me to connect with many of the people we need to vote for us – and it has made me resilient.
“There are many who are just like me but didn’t get the support from family, friends and, yes, the welfare state. They face a very different future as a result. As your candidate and MP I would focus on raising levels of aspiration among children, young people and, indeed, all Croydon residents.”
INSIDE CROYDON’S QUESTIONS
We put questions to all the candidates. This is how Alison Butler answered
What do you see as the single most important issue facing Croydon today?
The economy – and how that relates to jobs, housing, the cost of living, education, welfare, health, environment and restoring pride across our borough.
We have great people with great potential living in Croydon who have lost faith in a government that does not care for them or appear to understand how difficult life is. You cannot build a better society without tackling the cracks in the foundations. Croydon needs a government that will invest in housing that people can actually afford to live in, that will in turn create jobs and bring money into our local economy. Investment in our children’s early years and education can only be cost effective in the long-run.
Should voters get the chance to decide on the UK’s membership of the EU?
Any decision about Britain’s membership of the EU has to be based on a judgement of the national interest and on an informed debate not Daily Mail headlines.
Having said that, no one should ever be afraid of trusting the British people’s judgement.
What is your favourite work of art?
I don’t have one favourite work of art but my favourite artist is Egon Schiele. In the little spare time I have, I paint (although those are probably only my children’s favourites)!
Why did you not seek selection in Croydon North last year?
I worked with Malcolm Wicks for 20 years. Malcolm was above all my friend but also my mentor, my critic, my supporter, my boss, sometimes a father sometimes a brother. We laughed a lot but also knew deeply troubled times in Croydon North.
His loss hit me deeply and still does, my thoughts are often with Margaret and his family. The by-election was just too close to Malcolm’s loss.
Tony Blair or?
- Ten women declare for Labour’s Central shortlist
- Butler quick to declare candidacy for Labour nomination
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source that is actually based in the heart of the borough – 267,670 page views Nov 2012-Apr 2013
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