Seconds out! Round four… Political editor WALTER CRONXITE on the latest twists in Labour’s selection saga
Alison Butler, the deputy leader of the Labour group on Croydon Council, survived a re-selection scare when members in Bensham Manor this week duly voted in favour of her standing as a candidate in next May’s local elections.
But in Broad Green ward last night, Mike Selva is thought to have earned the unenviable record of being the first deputy mayor of Croydon ever to be de-selected by his own party members.
Butler, the “architect” – if there is not a more inappropriate word – of Croydon’s Brick by Brick housing development company, which has so far built not a single council home in the borough, had failed to be automatically re-selected at last week’s shortlisting meeting, which can hardly be portrayed as an overwhelming vote of confidence from her local party members.
Nor had another Bensham Manor sitting councillor, Humayun Kabir.
But Jamie Audsley, the third Labour councillor for the ward, was put through at the earlier stage.
For Audsley, this represented strong backing personally, and for his style of community activism, after he had almost been suspended from the Labour party whip at the Town Hall earlier this year over some unstated allegations. The Croydon Labour leadership swiftly withdrew the disciplinary action against Audsley, after they failed (not for the first time) to follow the party rule book.
All three Bensham Manor councillors still had to face members at a selection meeting on Wednesday.
Audsley had spent some time and money on leafleting the membership, a move which may store up some resentment among his council colleagues in future.
Audsley’s leaflets arrived through letter boxes in separate envelopes, but simultaneously, with remarkably similar leaflets from another shortlisted candidate in Bensham Manor ward, Janet Campbell.
It looked to many ward members as if Audsley and Campbell, the secretary of Steve Reed OBE’s Croydon North Constituency Labour Party, were effectively running on the same election slate.
And that could only be done at the expense of one or other of the sitting councillors seeking re-election, including Butler, the long-term ally of council leader Newman.
In the event, Campbell’s challenge was unsuccessful. Kabir and Butler live to fight another day, though Labour has – as is its custom – withheld the voting figures.
Undeterred, and apparently determined to get selected in a safe ward, Campbell is likely to be busy in nearby Thornton Heath ward this week, where she has been shortlisted for their selection meeting. She might save on printing costs and creating waste paper by directing members in the ward to this article.
One person who won’t any longer be seeking selection from Labour members in Thornton Heath ward is transport professional and community organiser Muhammad Ali. Last night Ali was voted for as the third Labour candidate in Broad Green ward. Ali joins Stuart Collins and Manju Shahul Hameed, sitting councillors who were automatically selected a week ago in the firmly Labour-voting ward.
Ali – who does actually live in Broad Green – was selected at the expense of Mike “Invisible Man” Selva, the current deputy mayor. Selva has not made a single speech in the Town Hall chamber since 2014, nor has he spoken at any Labour group meetings in that time.
Since becoming deputy mayor earlier this year, Selva has not even been able to fulfil many of his official diary commitments. Yet he was still seeking re-selection.
Ward members in Broad Green were so keen to get rid of Selva, they nominated a Labour councillor from another ward who wasn’t even seeking a nomination.
Earlier this week, Ali was shortlisted in Thornton Heath ward, too. As had Campbell, together with another Blairite, Tesfa Mehari, and, intriguingly, Callton Young, who is already a councillor in another ward, West Thornton. West Thornton has a selection meeting tomorrow, following a disputed shortlisting gathering last weekend.
If Young is successful in West Thornton, it could mean that only Mehari and Campbell will be going head-to-head for one remaining slot in Thornton Heath, where sitting councillors Pat Clouder and Corbyn supporter Karen Jewitt were automatically selected by the “trigger ballot” at this week’s shortlisting meeting.
The third Labour councillor elected in Thornton Heath in 2014, Matthew Kyeremeh, has since been suspended from the party whip for his conduct towards his wife and family.
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