WALTER CRONXITE, our political editor, on twin resignations from senior positions within the local Labour Party just weeks before key local elections
Caragh Skipper, the Croydon Labour candidate in May’s council elections who has caused widespread outrage for her “who’s shooting Trump?” message on social media, last night resigned as the chair of her local party.
She did so on Facebook.
Skipper was only recently elected as chair of the Croydon Central Constituency Labour Party, just after Sarah Jones was elected to parliament in June.
Skipper has also recently given up her official positions within Croydon Momentum, the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting group.
Amid a stream of bitter accusations, Skipper made no reference nor apology to her controversial previous social media activity, which included a call for someone to shoot the President of the United States, and taking a virtue-signalling selfie alongside illegal fly-stickers. The rising star of Momentum has since spoken to a Murdoch-owned newspaper to say that her apparent call for the assassination of Trump was just “a joke”.
Shortly after Skipper’s resignation statement was posted on the Croydon Central CLP Facebook page last night, Danielle Lowe, the treasurer of the party branch, announced that she, too, was resigning. Lowe’s statement was posted on the same social media page.
In her statement, Skipper said, “After much thought and consideration, I have decided to resign from my position as chair of Croydon Central LP [sic]. I did not make this decision lightly, as I am extremely proud to have held this position.
“However, since being elected myself and other women on the EC [executive committee] and beyond have suffered bullying and abuse largely from one man that has made many of us feel too anxious to be around him. Many of you will know what was written about me recently and I believe that this was a result of the action of this same man….
“I am no longer willing to put myself in this position and stay quiet so as not to disrupt things.”
Skipper concluded by telling the branch members that “I hope you do not feel let down by this decision”, and that she would “now be putting all of my efforts into mine and Maddie’s [Henson] campaign in Addiscombe East and Croydon Labour’s bid to increase our majority on the council”.
Lowe’s statement was preceded by the message, “make of it what you will”.
Lowe claimed that her position on the executive committee “is not a space I feel safe in”, adding that there had been “disruption behind the scenes”.
She wrote: “Just over the weekend one member implied that by not having them as a friend on social media the executive committee is unable to work together, despite emails and phones existing, but this is clearly ridiculous and who I have on my personal social media feeds is my choice.
“This is one example of that person trying to control the executive committee beyond their line of duty and given the reason I removed them from my social media was due to questionable comments on gender and sexual assault it was a decision that I took for my own personal safety and to ensure I had a safe space online.
“There have been constant attempts to undermine me in my role as treasurer as well as to make me feel uncomfortable in meetings of the executive committee, general meetings and other meetings as well. Originally this was just a little frustrating and patronising but increasingly it has become unbearable.
“Several emails have been received that attempt to discredit me from any position and to make a fool of me to my friends and colleagues; these have since been proven to be lies but no apology has been received for the libellous and horrific statements made. I have received no support from regional [Labour London region] regarding this…
“… Standing up for my principles, against misogyny and encouraging safe spaces is at the forefront of everything I do and for my own safety and well-being I will not allow this to be compromised further.”
And this morning Lowe, who describes herself as a “food blogger”, wrote on social media that she found her local party’s executive committee “a terrifyingly unsafe and uncomfortable environment”.
Neither resignation statement was accompanied by any fact-based evidence to support the claims made by the erstwhile party officials.
Reactions to the announcements included one party colleague saying, “It’s just bizarre. If this is happening in EC meetings then presumably there’s evidence to support it. Matters of personal safety should usually be taken to the police. Otherwise, it would outrageous that people can throw around accusations like this.”
One senior local party official said of Skipper’s decision to resign, “How convenient to have a reason to divest herself of all unpaid responsibilities now she’s a candidate for a ward she reckons she’ll win.” Elected councillors in Croydon are paid “allowances” of £11,000 per year and upwards.
For Tony Newman, Croydon Labour’s under-pressure council leader, Skipper and Lowe’s resignations are just another distraction from his party’s misfiring local election selections and campaign.
Today is exactly 14 weeks until polling day on May 3 to determine the make-up of the Town Hall for the next four years. Croydon Central, which has all or part of 12 of the borough’s 28 wards, is a key part of Newman’s strategy to maintain his grip on power. Now, that CLP is without people in position in two key posts.
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