Croydon Labour will select their candidate for the ill-timed by-election in Selhurst ward on Tuesday, with around 20 members potentially in the running for this safe Town Hall seat.
The vacancy has arisen following the death earlier this month of the respected Labour councillor, Gerry Ryan.
The premature calling of the by-election has caused controversy, as the date was forced on to the council by three members of UKIP, their by-election demand coming before Ryan’s funeral.
A meeting of Labour’s Local Campaign Forum last week agreed the rushed selection date, necessary in order to submit their candidate’s details ahead of the deadline of this Friday, February 6.
The LCF meeting also decided that only those members endorsed ahead of last year’s local elections as “approved candidates” would be able to seek selection.
This could include those Labour candidates who ran in, but lost, in other wards in the Town Hall elections last May, the likes of Patsy Cummings or David Wood who stood in Fairfield. It also includes some who did not get selected as candidates in 2014, such as Paul Smith, a former Labour cabinet member and in the past a councillor in Waddon and, more recently, West Thornton.
Smith, a personal friend of Croydon Labour leader Tony Newman, was controversially de-selected in West Thornton, where the members preferred the Hon Emily Benn to stand for them in the safe Labour ward.
Smith has confirmed that he will be seeking selection in Selhurst.
As a safe Labour ward in Croydon North, the parliamentary constituency of Progress MP Steve Reed OBE, the Selhurst by-election selection might have been seen as another step in the creeping Lambeth-isation of the Croydon Labour party. But a quirk of circumstances may have foiled any ambitions in that respect for at least a couple of Reed’s biggest cheerleaders.
Catriona Ogilvy, a former big cheese in Lambeth Labour who recently took over as chair of Croydon North constituency party, and Chris Clark have been forced to rule themselves out because they have just taken senior positions in Croydon’s Local Campaign Forum, which influences the party’s campaigning across the borough’s three constituencies.
The exclusion of Clark from being a candidate for selection in Selhurst at least avoids his causing the ward members another awkward dilemma, as he did in some parts of Croydon ahead of last year’s local elections. Clark remains (for now, at least) an elected councillor in Ashford, Kent. Undaunted, Ashford Councillor Clark somehow still managed to get selected to stand to become a Croydon councillor in the safe Tory ward of Croham…
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