Butler and Jones emerge as front-runners in Central race

Alison Butler and Sarah Jones have emerged as the front-runners for selection as the Labour candidate for the Croydon Central parliamentary seat, following two days of meetings among a panel of local members of the party.

Labour rosetteCroydon Central is held by the Conservatives’ Gavin Barwell, having been lost by Labour in 2006.

The seat is among Labour’s top targets in 2015 if it is to form the next government.

Butler, the Bensham Manor councillor and the deputy leader of the Labour group on Croydon council, and professional campaigner Jones head the four-strong short-list that also includes former Lambeth activist Catriona Ogilvy and Thornton Heath councillor Louisa Woodley.

The selection reflects very strongly the online polling conducted over the past week by Inside Croydon and Croydon Radio. In Inside Croydon’s poll conducted over the last 48 hours, Jones led the voting with 29 per cent to Butler’s 24 per cent. Ogilvy polled 20 per cent, and Woodley 6 per cent.

The four chosen by the Labour panel includes Woodley as a black and minority ethnic candidate, selected ahead of Hamida Ali, who only last week was picked to contest next year’s council elections in Woodside ward.

The four women on the short-list and their supporters will spend the next three weeks lobbying Croydon Central’s 300-strong Labour membership for their vote at a selection meeting on July 21.

The short-list was chosen by a 10-strong panel of local members, in politically correct, right-on Labour manner comprising five men and five women. Four members of the panel are serving councillors at Croydon Town Hall.

On Saturday, a preliminary meeting of the panel decided to eliminate from the process three “outsiders”, Kusum Parashar, Fiona Dent and Katherine McGuirk, plus the Croydon councillor Alisa Flemming.

The remaining six women, which included the 2010 Croydon South parliamentary candidate and South Norwood councillor Jane Avis, were called for interview today.

Woodley is thought to have been chosen over Ali for the BME place on the short-list thanks to her relatively successful London Assembly campaign in 2012.

Both Butler and Jones have extensive experience of working for MPs at Westminster, Butler for Croydon North MP Malcolm Wicks for 20 years, Jones for the last Labour MP for Croydon Central, Geraint Davies.

Inside Croydon’s experiment with an online open primary will continue for the next three weeks; we have adjusted our poll to include just the short-listed candidates. If you have voted previously (the results can be seen here), you can now vote again for the candidate of your choice. Links to the candidates’ Inside Croydon profiles are below.




Catriona OGILVY


  • 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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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in 2015 General Election, Alisa Flemming, Alison Butler, Catriona Ogilvy, Croydon Central, Gavin Barwell, Hamida Ali, Louisa Woodley, Sarah Jones MP, Thornton Heath, Woodside and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Butler and Jones emerge as front-runners in Central race

  1. mraemiller says:

    Amusing as the open primary concept is and fun as your online poll is… I’ve always been of the view that open primaries stink.

    They give advantage to people with the money to campaign, rather than the best candidate. There are no legal limits on how much money can be spent (as in a General Election). They are also vulnerable to entryist tactics made famous by the militant tendency in the 1980s of pressure groups applying for votes en masse in a very organised way while ordinary voters are more reticent. I believe there were accusations in one of the Conservative open primaries of a certain church encouraging its congregation “en mass” (literally) to apply for a vote … but I can’t find the original article online.

    Leaving that aside it’s hard enough to get people to turn out and vote at real elections let alone for elections for elections. Of course there is always a danger entryist infiltrations may happen to an ordinary CLP, but there are time limits on how long you have to be a member before you are allowed to participate in the OMOV election to try and prevent entryist tactics. It tends to be far easier to spot when the local party membership suddenly jumps from 300 to 600 overnight than it is in an open primary when the size of the expected electorate may be …erm … well, who knows?

    Added to this, giving people a vote is a trade-off for getting them to join the party. The party needs money – there is a danger that if you water down the concept of the MP being selected by the members then the membership may drop off creating a loss in turnover. Or to put it another way: it’s my vote, I paid for it. We could’ve spent that money in Primark. OMOV is always too complicated for politicians. The object of the party is to raise money for the candidates – if the party doesn’t elect the candidates but someone else does, what is the party for? And if the party doesn’t fully fund the open primaries then the relationship between the candidates and the party is somewhat ephemeral.

    Of course David Cameron’s statement that “We will fund 200 all-postal primaries over this parliament, targeted at seats which have not changed hands for many years” may also be argued to show something of a lack of belief in FPTP. If it’s so great why does he need to elect his candidates twice? Isn’t that like inventing an AV simulant?

    “This weekend, a panel of 10 Labour party members will conduct a star chamber-style selection meeting of the women who have put themselves forward for consideration to be their party’s next candidate for the Croydon Central parliamentary seat at the General Election, probably in 2015. No one, outside those hand-picked 10, gets a say in who ends up on the short-list.”

    This is slightly misleading. It’s just a selection process – no one was on trial. And sadly none of the candidates are in danger of being publically disembowelled.

    Actually, there is a ward-based nomination process. The committee does not simply eliminate candidates on a caprice:

    Labour Party Rule Book Chapter 5 B
    6. The shortlisting and selection of candidates shall consist of a vote, by eliminating ballot, of all eligible individual members of the electoral ward/ division on the basis of one member one vote.

    Wards nominate candidates to the committee and the committee removes those with the least nominations in order to make the shortlist. That’s how I understand it anyway. I am not sure of the actual powers of the committee but I imagine that it would be difficult politically for them to eliminate a highly nominated candidate without a very good reason.

    There is a fundamental democratic problem here that exhaustive ballots can get very exhaustive and AV ballots with an exhaustive list of candidates can result in accusations that the winner does not have a full mandate.

    In response to your and Gavin Barwell’s comments about turnout at the nomination meetings and knowledge of their existence… an email was sent out with the dates of each ward nomination meeting on June 16 2013. I believe that the overall length of the process may have recently been shortened by the NEC for various reasons… These should not be confused with the non-quorate meetings to elect ward candidates you refer to in another article. These are also going on as a series of meetings in tandem. There are also meetings for the CLP membership to meet the candidates. I expect at the moment quite a lot of members are meetinged out.

    Of course all selection systems are open to manipulation but I tend to think that if you can’t manipulate an internal party election, then politics is not really for you.

  2. mraemiller says:

    Having given that stirring & boring speech on OMOV I think I should add if only for the benefit of political geeks that despite its hard fought for commitment to OMOV actually the party has long flirted with more inclusive elections than just members/activists for positions of power. After all if the leadership was voted for only by people in the party it might be ideological or something.

    Not exactly and open primary but this is the latest scheme dreamt up by our glorious leader of the moment
    to give “ordinary people” (that’s you) a 3% stake in the election of the next leader in return for bombading you with spam email for all eternity.
    Of course MP election is still down to the CLP but …erm… it’s a trial scheme anyway…

    I’m not sure though that this scheme has had a very big take up
    It seems to be one of those novelties that everyone’s forgotten about.
    Probably because it’s about as popular as an ingrowing toenail with certain sections of the party.

    In case anyone’s dull enough to be interested at the last leadership election an MP’s vote was worth 0.12 per cent of the total electorate, a party member’s vote was worth 0.0002 per cent and an affiliated member’s vote was worth 0.00000943 per cent
    I believe it’s theoretically possible to be a member of up to 12 affiliate member organisations
    and thus buy a 0.00031316% of the vote as an indivdual although obviously after paying the membership feels of so many affiliated organisations that may not represent awfully good value for money. Factoring in another 3-10% of everyone who once gave us their email address obviously aint going to go down well with some members & Unions… but…

    “Notionally, there are about 300 Labour members in Croydon Central. Will as many as one-third of those actively engage in the selection decision?”

    …One thing I dont think you have to worry about though is a low turout at the final hustings when Croydon Central members get their bi-decadely chance to utilise their feeble bit of actual power… I imagine most of the membership will turn out for that…

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