Thursday’s Euro election results are expected tonight, but in Croydon Labour the party in-fighting has already begun, as WALTER CRONXITE reports
Recriminations and faction fighting has broken into public among the Croydon Labour Party even before the votes have been counted today for the European elections.
Inevitably, at the centre of a simmering row is Jack Buck, the full-time “professional”, self-described “borough organiser”, employed by Tony Newman and the Labour group.
Buck, a prominent member of Momentum and an elected councillor in Southwark, has launched an attack on Seb Dance, the No2 on Labour’s list in London for the European Parliament, and likely to be returned to Strasbourg as a result of Thursday’s vote.
Dance came to Croydon for the somewhat subdued launch of Labour’s EU election campaign, appearing on a platform alongside Progress MP Steve Reed OBE.
Dance’s mistake, in Buck’s eyes, was to state publicly after the election that not enough had been done during the brief campaign to challenge Nigel Farage.
“He goes unchallenged, unmatched,” Dance tweeted.
“The opposition to his programme – which should be the core mission of parties like mine – is lacking. We must rise to this challenge and fast!”
In charge of organising election campaigning for Labour in Croydon is… Jack Buck.
Buck’s angry response saw him calling yesterday for mandatory re-selection of Labour MPs by party members. Buck spends much of his time based in the office of Croydon Central MP Sarah Jones.
Buck, who is never shy in coming forward to express his own, often strident points of view on social media, apparently without any fear of sanction from his employers or local party, was highly critical of Dance for what the party employee has deemed to be a breach of party discipline.
“What a surprise that two days after [the election], in all likelihood, being re-elected some choose to revert to criticising the party,” was Buck’s interpretation of Dance’s comments on Twitter.
“All with a General Election on the horizon and the potential for a majority Labour govt. ”
Now Buck wants to have the party take action and give members the power to stop such disloyalty being displayed again.
“The party must put a stop to this by ensuring members have a say in #GE2019 selections,” he tweeted.
Of course, much has changed within the Labour Party since 2015, although Reed (who was selected as Labour’s Croydon North candidate in 2012) and Jones (2014) have never had to face any re-selection process before the much-enlarged memberships of their Constituency Labour Parties since Jeremy Corbyn became party leader.
Dance’s finest moment as an MEP was the occasion when, in a European Parliament session, he sought to subvert Farage by holding up a sign stating “He’s lying to you”, with an arrow pointing in the direction of the former leader of UKIP.
“Farage has been allowed to sail through this campaign repeating the same *lies* as he did in 2016,” a clearly frustrated Dance tweeted this weekend.
Dance looks likely to be re-elected, but he will probably be one of only two Labour MEPs in London. In 2014, Labour had four MEPs elected.
Turnout in the Euro elections on Thursday was better than in 2014, with Sutton’s voter participation up 6.8 per cent on five years ago at 46.3 per cent by the time polls closed.
Croydon, where Jo Negrini, the council’s £220,000 per year chief executive, routinely pockets an extra £10,000 or so every election as returning officer, is systemically slow and inherently secretive in its counting process. So unlike many local authorities where the democratic process is conducted openly and transparently, there is no official information on turnout in Croydon.
Social media posts from Waddon councillor Andrew Pelling suggested a jump in turnout in the evening after a quiet day in polling stations, and a suggestion that young professionals were notable for their presence in their voting booths. This may suggest a vote share for Remain parties.
Pelling reported that, “Waddon Labour party made a big effort to encourage Labour supporters to go to the polls.”
Labour did seem to be the most active party on election day.
Croydon’s Conservatives appeared to want to pretend the European elections did not exist, as instead of carrying out the election day ritual of knocking on doors and “getting the vote out”, Croydon Tories instead chose to attend a dinner for Home Secretary Sajid Javid to raise funds for… election campaigns.
They might need the money soon, too, if that General Election does take place.
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