Labour recruits agent to work on Croydon Central campaign

As if to compound the misery of defeat suffered by Gavin Barwell, the MP who oversaw elements of the Conservative campaign in last week’s local elections, Labour has been advertising for a local agent and organiser to work specifically on getting him ousted from his marginal constituency, Croydon Central.

Labour candidate on Croydon Central: Sarah Jones

Labour candidate on Croydon Central: Sarah Jones

The job, one of two constituency organiser posts being recruited in London, means that Sarah Jones, the Labour candidate in Croydon Central, will have the undivided attention of a full-time professional agent focused on her campaign for the next 11 months until the General Election in May next year.

Barwell won Croydon Central in 2010 with a majority of 2,800 votes over Labour, but with the incumbent MP and former Tory, Andrew Pelling, standing as an independent and taking 3,200 votes in fourth place to distort the result. Croydon Central is 46th on Labour’s national list of target seats, with Jones reckoned to need a 2.9 per cent swing to win next year.

Barwell’s election agent will be Ian Parker, the organiser for all three Croydon constituencies. Parker sacrificed his cushty little earner as a Coulsdon councillor last week to be able to focus his attention on the task ahead.

With Croydon North regarded as “unwinnable” and a “waste of effort” for Croydon’s Tories (according to one of Barwell’s publicly paid Westminster staff, now an elected councillor), and with Croydon South providing Chris Philp, the Conservative party donor parachuted-in to stand in the 15,000-vote majority constituency after the retirement of Lord Bletchingley (“Tricky Dicky Ottaway retiring? Really? We thought he’d retired years ago!”), Parker’s time over the next year is likely to be spent mainly on behalf of his former councillor colleague, Barwell.

Labour in Croydon, meanwhile, will have two organisers. Current election agent James May, who co-ordinated the successful local election campaign, seems likely to be working on the North and South constituencies from his Ruskin House office. But Croydon Central will be the battleground seat, and the focus of much national attention in the coming months.

Applications for the Labour vacancy, advertised on the W4MP website, closed today. The job offers a salary of £26,500.

The ad said, “This is an exciting opportunity to play a key role in Labour’s General Election campaign in London. The successful applicants will have experience organising election campaigns and leading teams of volunteers. They will need to work with the parliamentary candidate in their key seat and local stakeholders to build their campaign capacity, and have a proactive approach to delivering effective campaigns.”

Mother-of-four Jones, who works in the NHS, was selected as Labour’s Croydon Central candidate last year from an all-woman short-list.

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