ELECTION COUNTDOWN: Labour leader Tony Newman is already handing out jobs to councillors, and wannabe councillors, ahead of next week’s Town Hall elections. As WALTER CRONXITE notes, it may be a sign of supreme confidence, or absolute contempt for the electorate
45-25: That’s the likely make-up of the Town Hall chamber after next Thursday’s local elections, with an increased majority for council leader Tony Newman, according to sources within Croydon’s Labour Party.
It would mean an extra five Labour councillors over the 2014 result – albeit with the campaign played out over a different ward structure than four years ago.
But given the high tide of Labour support in London, which in the past couple of years of growing Corbynmania has seen Sadiq Khan propelled to London Mayor and Sarah Jones oust Tory poster boy Gavin Barwell from his Croydon Central seat, there are some within the local Labour Party who are mumbling that Newman and his Blairite clique have only managed to minimise that political advantage, rather than fully capitalise on it.
Undaunted, Newman has already been using his powers of patronage to dole out promises of cabinet posts – and extra cash allowances – to those who have been doggedly loyal. In one case, a job has been offered to someone who is not yet even an elected councillor.
Oliver Lewis, the first-term New Addington councillor, has already been told he will take over the culture cabinet brief vacated by Timothy Godfrey, who is standing down from the council.
And Clive Fraser, who will likely be elected to the council in South Norwood, has also been given the nod that he will be the Labour group’s chief whip – taking over from “Head Boy” Lewis – from May 4.
Trouble is, not all members of the Labour group at the council had been officially informed of Newman’s decision, and those who have heard about it have taken a dim view.
“He’s either supremely confident, or it’s taking the electorate for granted and treating them with contempt,” one said of their supreme leader.
Fraser has been subject of widespread criticism within the wider Labour movement in Croydon recently for his unilateral decision to give notice on the party’s office in Ruskin House, the historic home of the left in the borough.
As chair of the Local Campaign Forum, the organisation which is supposed to manage selections and campaigning, Fraser will also carrying much of the responsibility for the lengthy delays and shortcomings of the arrangements.
“It just looks like jobs for the boys,” said another senior Labour figure.
“It’s Croydon’s own version of Tony’s cronies.”
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