WALTER CRONXITE, political editor, on the first two councillor de-selections as a Momentum candidate gets picked for next May’s Town Hall elections
Labour will field an all-woman slate in Addiscombe East at next May’s local elections, after a ward selection meeting last night chose Maddie Henson and Caragh Skipper.
Addiscombe East is one of the new wards created following the Boundary Commissioners’ review of the borough’s electoral geography, and it comprises largely of what was Ashburton ward.
The change also sees the ward reduced from having three councillors to having just two vacancies next May, so while Henson is one of the trio of Labour activists who won Ashburton from the Tories in 2014, the two campaigners who helped win the ward then, Andrew Rendle and Stephen Mann, failed to be selected.
It is not known at this stage whether councillors Rendle or Mann will seek selection in another ward. It could mean that Tony Newman will go into next May’s Town Hall elections with at least five of his current band of 39 councillors – or 12 per cent – de-selected or not standing, after three senior councillors have already announced their intentions not to seek re-selection.
Skipper is a leading light in Croydon Momentum. She devoted considerable energy into winning support from Labour members in Addiscombe East, the first ward to come up for selection in her party’s long-delayed process. Her efforts included a carefully scripted, “personal journey”, soft-focus campaign video in which she appeared with her Momentum running mate, Abu Khan.
The video was filmed and edited by a local wedding photographer. It looks like it, too.
By this morning, the video had been seen by a little more than 100 people.
The youthful Skipper faces another election tonight, at the Croydon Central Constituency Labour Party’s annual meeting, where she is standing as the CLP’s chair. One party colleague commented, “Usually, you’d expect the CLP chair to support their councillors, not replace them.”
Another Town Hall figure said of the mercurial emergence of Skipper, who has been a Labour member only since summer 2015, “She does seem to love herself.
“She’ll make a good councillor, but she’ll be quickly frustrated.”
It is understood that the election was held among two dozen branch members, although, somewhat anti-democratically, no voting numbers were announced to the electorate.
Attending the vote were two notable ward residents, Croydon deputy leader Alison Butler and her husband, chair of the planning committee, Paul Scott. It is not known whether they voted for, or aganist, their council colleagues. Butler and Scott will be seeking re-selection in their other, safer Labour wards, in the next couple of weeks.
Henson and Skipper will be facing a challenge in Addiscombe East next May from two Conservative male candidates, including Jeet Bains, a sitting councillor who has been bounced out of his safe Coulsdon seat.
This morning on social media, Henson said, “Delighted to have been selected as one of the Labour Party candidates for Addiscombe East last night. Massive congratulations to Caragh my co-candidate – we are going to be a great team and I can’t wait to get going.
“Very sad to lose my two good friends and colleague Stephen and Andrew however. Thank you both for everything over the last four years and I will miss working with you both loads.”
For her part, Skipper’s Facebook post was a good deal more, shall we say, focused? “Well, the last week’s stress of starting a new job and seeking selection has all paid off and tonight, I was elected as Labour council candidate for Addiscombe East along side Maddie,” Skipper wrote.
“Proud to be an all-women’s slate and cannot wait to wipe the floor with the Tories and get some bloody good work done in Addiscombe!! Thank you all those who’ve supported me and believed in me thus far, and all those who turned out to vote tonight. You guys are amazing.”
Addiscombe East may not be the only ward where it is possible that Labour opts for an all-woman selection.
In Selhurst, which is also being reduced from a three-seat to a two-seat ward, a shortlisting meeting was staged on Sunday. With sitting councillor Timothy Godfrey ruling himself out of consideration, the ward members will have a four-strong shortlist to consider when they meet this weekend, with three candidates women.
The Selhurst shortlist comprises sitting councillors David Wood and Toni Letts, at present the Mayor of Croydon, plus Janet Campbell, who has been a Croydon North CLP official in the past, and Catherine Wilson.
Given this week’s furore at a national Labour level over Jared O’Mara’s digital history, and the late-running of their own selection process, Croydon’s Labour leadership must be keenly hoping that none of their new candidates have any skeletons to emerge from their social media cupboards in the coming weeks.
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