Sarah Jones was this afternoon selected by local Labour party members as their candidate to run at the 2015 parliamentary election in Croydon Central against sitting Tory MP, Gavin Barwell.
Jones, a mother of four who lives in the constituency, won in the third round of voting, beating Croydon councillor Alison Butler by 72 votes to 67 – suggesting that Inside Croydon’s online “open primary” was a fair barometer of how close the election would be.
The hustings lasted less than three hours at the Croydon Conference Centre on Surrey Street. The well-attended meeting had 143 members (some using postal votes) taking part in the selection – almost half of Labour’s Croydon Central membership.
Labour held Croydon Central until 2005, and it is among its target seats if it is to form the next government.
Jones was one of four on the all-women short-list. In the first round of votes, Louisa Woodley was eliminated after polling just six. Jones polled 66, Butler 63 and the fourth contender, Catriona Ogilvy, eight.
It has been a bad political week for Woodley, a councillor in Thornton Heath who was de-selected as a candidate for the 2014 Town Hall elections at a ward meeting, a bitter blow after she had done so well as Labour’s candidate for Croydon and Sutton for the London Assembly last year.
The second-round vote eliminated Ogilvy, who again scored eight, as the majority of Woodley’s support looks to have transferred to the other Croydon councillor, Butler: Jones polled 68 to Butler’s 67. But Butler did not attract any of the discarded Ogilvy votes, and so Jones managed to get a decisive majority in the final ballot.
Given the number of established Croydon councillors, like Woodley, who have not been endorsed to stand again by their ward memberships, the choice of Jones over Butler – who had her local party leader, Tony Newman, write to constituency members on her behalf less than 48 hours before the hustings – might appear to be a snub.
“It’s a sign of active democracy and not a criticism of the group,” was the view taken by one senior Croydon Labour figure at the meeting.
Jones, a professional campaigner but with no past experience of holding elected public office at local level, did receive the endorsement on the morning of the vote from Geraint Davies, now MP in Swansea, who she worked for at Westminster when he was the Labour MP for Croydon Central.
Jones told Inside Croydon: “I am absolutely delighted to have won, It is a huge honour. I am particularly delighted to have won given the strength of the all candidates, which entirely vindicated having an all-women shortlist.”
In her acceptance speech to local activists, Jones pledged to campaign full-time come the election. “I’m a working mother with four children, and what I want to do through this campaign is show that it is possible for women to get more involved in politics.”
Read our profile of Sarah Jones here:
And for our archive of coverage of the selection process:
- Radical democracy: giving party members a vote
- Labour candidate makes virtue of lack of union support
- Butler and Jones emerge as front-runners in Central race
- 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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