Labour party members in New Addington have chosen Louisa Woodley and Oliver Lewis to be their candidates in next May’s local elections, after a meeting that lasted more than two and half hours on Saturday afternoon.
New Addington is likely to be a battleground ward in 2014, with Labour needing to win both of its two seats if it is to have a chance of regaining control in Katharine Street from the Conservatives, who have been in charge of Croydon Town Hall since 2006. George Ayres, the current Labour councillor for New Addington, is retiring, while the other seat is held by the Tory, Tony Pearson.
Woodley, 57, a languages teacher, has been a Croydon councillor since 1998, but was not re-selected in Thornton Heath, the ward she currently represents.
This was a significant and somewhat embarrassing snub for a senior member of the local Labour party who performed very well when a candidate at the 2012 London Assembly elections and who has reached the short-list for parliamentary candidate selection in Croydon North and Croydon South.
With the BNP expected to campaign in New Addington, the selection of a black woman as a candidate for Labour puts down an important marker.The selection meeting was staged in the front room of a local party member’s home, and involved all six on the short-list making a brief presentation about their candidacy. At least one of the disappointed candidates was observed leaving the meeting in a highly emotional state.
Among the unsuccessful candidates for Labour’s New Addington nomination were Allison Howe and Rob Elliott, featured in a recent Labour party leaflet in the ward as the local “Action Team”, plus local businesswoman Claudine Reid and another senior councillor, Paul Smith.
“I’m really pleased for Oliver Lewis and Louisa Woodley, selected as Labour candidates for New Addington for Croydon 2014,” Howe announced on Twitter.
Smith, a member of Croydon Labour leader Tony Newman’s Town Hall cabinet, represents West Thornton, but was not re-selected in that ward, and his future on the council seems uncertain.The Labour selection process around its winnable wards in Croydon has come to resemble a game of musical chairs, and it appears that Smith may be the last one standing.
New Addington is probably the last ward in which candidates are being selected where Labour has a realistic chance of winning, so unless Smith opts to contest a seat somewhere in the true-Tory blue south of the borough and achieves a minor electoral miracle next May, he is unlikely to continue as a councillor.
Both Reid and Howe have an opportunity to put themselves forward for a vacant slot among Labour’s candidates in Fairfield ward, under their party’s gender equality rules; Fairfield has selected two male candidates, but needs to have a woman on the slate. Fairfield, in Croydon Central, has always been a strong Tory ward, but Labour is actively campaigning there, ahead of not only 2014, but also the 2015 general election.
Managing aspects of the campaign of Sarah Jones, Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Croydon Central, will be Oliver Lewis, the 28-year-old youth worker who will be Woodley’s running mate in New Addington.
Shirley resident Lewis stood in his home ward in 2010 and polled 1,768 votes, probably the highest ever achieved by a Labour candidate in Shirley, in coming fourth behind three Conservatives, including the florid-faced leader of the local Tories, Mike “Wannabe MP” Fisher.
Lewis is a member of the Unite trades union and of Progress, the Blairite party-within-a-party funded by Lord Sainsbury.
Lewis has recently managed the online petition campaign to oppose the sale of Croydon’s Riesco Collection.
With an MSc in communications recently obtained at university in the Netherlands, he says that he can bring this to local politics: “I believe I have fresh ideas and could help Croydon to do politics in a new and interesting way – one which is respectful of our heritage but recognises the seriousness of the challenges and provides the radical solutions that they require.”
Previous coverage of Croydon’s local elections and selections:
- Desperately devious: Barwell appeals to women of Addiscombe
- Tory leader Fisher is fearful of defections to UKIP
- Tony Benn’s grand-daughter selected for West Thornton ward
- Candidate accuses Tories of running dirty tricks campaign
- Gray day for “rising star”, as Smith loses selection battle
- Woodside Labour councillor Jewitt fails to win selection
Coming to Croydon
- Tea at Five at the Spread Eagle: Oct 2-4
- Minster’s musical celebration for Silver Sunday: Oct 6
- Rent at the Secombe Theatre: Oct 9-12
- Debate the future of arts in Croydon: Oct 10
- Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough – 262,183 page views (Jan-Jun 2013)
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