After lengthy delays, Labour has finally got round to naming its General Election candidate for the true-blue Tory heartland of the borough, as WALTER CRONXITE reports
Jennifer Brathwaite has been confirmed as Labour’s candidate for Croydon South in next month’s General Election.
Brathwaite has been a councillor for Lambeth’s Gipsy Hill ward since 2010, which means she will have worked at Brixton Town Hall when Steve Reed OBE was still leader of that council.
Reed, a former vice-chair of Progress, the Blairite party-within-the party, has been MP for Croydon North since 2012.
Reed’s former parliamentary aide and leading Lambeth Council figure, Matthew Bennett, is also a councillor for the same ward, which borders Croydon at Crystal Palace. Brathwaite’s selection will be regarded as another example of the on-going “Lambethisation” of the Croydon Labour Party.
There had been some unexplained delays in the candidate’s name being released. Now Brathwaite will have to undergo a crash course on the tensions and fissures among local Labour activists, in which the Constituency Labour Party for the south of the borough has declared a moody version of UDI from the Town Hall leader, Tony Newman, and the rest of the party in Croydon.
None of which is likely to assist Brathwaite in her unlikely quest to overturn Tory Chris Philp’s 17,140-vote majority from 2015.
Brathwaite has been hand-picked by Labour Party HQ to contest true-blue Croydon South. Labour’s National Executive Committee has used the short-notice snap election as an excuse to bypass party members over candidate selection, although they have given first refusal to 2015 candidates, as with Sarah Jones in Croydon Central.
The Hon Emily Benn, who stood for Labour in Croydon South in 2015, has since taken up a job in Manhattan with a merchant bank, so won’t on this occasion be attempting to extend her family’s political dynasty.
Brathwaite is a solicitor who specialises in landlord and tenancy issues, and is Lambeth Council’s cabinet member for environment and transport. She is regarded as a safe pair of hands even if one of the first schemes she was responsible for – the pedestrianisation of Loughborough Junction – proved to be such a disaster that it had to be abandoned.
And while Labour has been slow out of its blocks in choosing its Croydon South candidate, they have at least managed to do so before the local Tories have got round to naming who drew the shortest of straws to represent the Conservatives in Croydon North.
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