WALTER CRONXITE on the snail-like progress of Labour’s selection process, UKIP’s choice of Barwell’s bouncer as a General Election candidate, and news from neighbouring constituencies
Nearly five years since he was selected as Labour’s candidate in the very safe seat of Croydon North, and Steve Reed OBE’s local appeal is reckoned to be so weak among local members that for his official General Election campaign launch this Saturday, party officials are wheeling out a “special guest” to provide some pulling power.Chuka Umunna, the very-short-term Labour leadership candidate, will be at the Zakia Centre on St James’s Road on Saturday morning for what may be a bittersweet reunion with Reed. When Reed was leader of Lambeth Council in 2009, his political ambitions were thwarted when he was beaten to selection as the parliamentary candidate for Streatham by Umunna, who was duly sent to Westminster in 2010.
Teaming Reed up with Umunna may be seen by some local members as further proof of the “Lambethisation” of the Croydon Labour Party, something which has been on-going since Reed’s arrival in 2012, when he was selected for a by-election following the death of the widely respected Malcolm Wicks.
That Reed is having his campaign launch on May 6 – more than two weeks since the “snap” General Election was called by the unelected Prime Minister Theresa Mayhem – is another illustration of how ill-prepared the Labour machine was for the short-notice election.
In its snail-like progress towards the June 8 polling date, the Labour Party has given Croydon’s Tories a fortnight’s head start in their campaigning. By lunchtime today, Labour had still been unable to name its candidate for Croydon South. It’s almost as if some at Labour headquarters don’t fancy trying to win the election…
Peter Staveley, who in 2015 ran a subterraneanly low-profile campaign, to the advantage of the Conservative candidate (who had a manifesto promise to hold a EU referendum), will stand again in Croydon Central. Staveley polled 4,810 votes to finish third at the last General Election, when Tory Gavin Barwell clung on to his seat by just 165 votes.
Even UKIP in Croydon managed to get round to naming its three candidates more speedily than Labour. Although, in fairness, it has been suggested that their selection meeting was held in a telephone box.
And Kathleen Garner will stand again for UKIP in Croydon South, where she got 10 per cent of the votes and pushed the FibDems into fourth place in 2015.
UKIP has a new candidate in Croydon North, previously the preserve of Winston McKenzie. This time, “Barwell’s Bouncer”, Michael Swadling, will have the opportunity to prove what a rancid bunch of crypto-BNP apologists UKIP really are.
Swadling is supposed to be Croydon UKIP’s press officer, though he forgot to issue a news release about his party’s candidates selection, nor did they immediately update the local party’s website with this important news. Such incompetence may reflect in his share of the vote on June 8.
Across the borough boundary in Sutton, and Labour has named its candidates, with local activist Bonnie Ash to contest Tory-held Sutton and Cheam, and Emine Ibrahim to stand in Carshalton and Wallington.
Ash stands in a seat which the FibDems lost two years ago to the Croydon-based businessman, Tory Paul Scully.
The FibDems selected Amna Ahmad as their Sutton and Cheam candidate last July. It’s unclear whether the choice was based on her previous election record. If it was, then they must like backing hapless losers.
In 2015, Ahmad stood in the General Election in Streatham, where she managed to reduce her party’s share of the vote by more than 26 per cent, while at last year’s London Assembly elections, when standing for the FibDems in the Croydon and Sutton constituency, Ahmad again managed to reduce her party’s share of the vote compared to the previous election, so much so that she was nearly pipped by Kipper Staveley.
Given such an underwhelming track record, it could suggest that the FibDems are going to pay lip-service to Sutton and Cheam and instead concentrate their efforts on trying to ensure that Tom Brake hangs on to his seat in Carshalton and Wallington.Brake’s constituency is becoming increasingly intriguing, as the long-standing MP is undermined on a daily basis by the FibDem-controlled council’s #SuttonBinShame chaos, more than a month since Veolia took over the waste collection contract, while the Tories manage to blunder over St Helier Hospital and appear to be in denial over the parlous state of under-funded local schools.
And then there’s the Beddington incinerator issue, which has been pushed through by Sutton’s FibDems, and supported by the Tories in Croydon.
Ibrahim is a union official from north London who has been a Haringey councillor since 2014. There she chairs the housing and regeneration scrutiny panel which has been busy questioning the Labour council’s plans for a £4billion “regeneration” scheme, which has all the worrying appearance of a CCURV scheme on steroids. And the people of Croydon all know what a costly 9-carat flop CCURV was for this borough.
Momentum supporter Ibrahim’s intervention in Carshalton and Wallington, therefore, could throw a curve ball into the usual Sutton political duopoly.
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