Cummings in poll position with all-woman Assembly shortlist

Political editor WALTER CRONXITE on how Labour has finally got round to selecting candidates for next May’s London Assembly elections

The fix is in.

Patsy Cummings: in the race for City Hall

Labour announced yesterday morning that the selection of a candidate to stand for the party in the Croydon and Sutton super-constituency in the 2020 London Assembly elections will be conducted from an all-woman shortlist.

It will be the third time in succession that Labour’s selection process for the Croydon and Sutton seat has excluded 49 per cent of the population, having used all-women shortlists in 2012 and 2016. “And they were very short shortlists then, too”, as one party activist observed.

The decision puts former Jeremy Corbyn staffer, and South Norwood councillor, Patsy Cummings, in pole position to try to win Sutton and Croydon for Labour for the first time in the history of the London Assembly.

Cummings, or “Knock knock” as she is known by some at the Town Hall, has been running her selection campaign since the end of 2018, and has the endorsement of Croydon Council leader Tony Newman. It was Cummings, for instance, who organised the well-received Windrush celebration lunch at that one-time bastion of Conservatism, the Selsdon Park Hotel, last Friday.

Neil Garratt is now favourite to hold the Croydon and Sutton Assembly seat

But Cummings is already playing catch-up against the Tories and LibDems. The Conservatives named Neil “Father Jack” Garratt as their candidate in March, and the Sutton councillor has been busy at functions either side of the borough boundary ever since, raising his profile with potential voters and local activists, while the LibDems earlier this month announced that Crystal Palace resident Claire Bonham would be their runner in what could prove to be a genuine three-way contest.

And while Cummings has been seen to be quite confident of her chances of selection, she will have to wait until November before the London Labour organisation’s process finally manages to declare the winner.

At least she has a contest to enter. Her Croydon councillor colleague, Jamie Audsley, who for the past nine months or so has been posting very earnest – and deeply dull – little videos on social media expressing his concern for all sorts of issues in Croydon, and even in Sutton, has now had it confirmed that the selection door has been slammed in his face.

Over the last couple of days, a handful of Labour Assembly Members – Len Duvall, who holds the Greenwich and Lewisham seat, Florence Eshalomi (Steve Reed OBE’s old friend, who was handed the Lambeth and Southwark seat in 2016), and Leonie Cooper (Merton and Wandsworth) have all tweeted their “delight” and “honour” to have been re-selected.

Lambeth councillor, and friend of Steve Reed OBE, has her work cut out to hold her Assembly seat. But how was she re-selected?

Not that anyone seems to have a very clear idea of how that re-selection process has operated. Suffice to say that mumblings from Momentum that they wanted to have an all-member re-selection process, particularly in the case of Blairite Eshalomi, appear to have come to nothing.

London Labour announced yesterday eight constituency vacancies, with Croydon and Sutton and three others to be determined by all-women shortlists. These include Barnet and Camden, where Labour AM Andrew Dismore is standing down, and North East, where Labour’s Jennette Arnold is retiring.

Brent and Harrow, held for Labour by Navin Shah, is also vacant, but is not being run as an AWS. The other Labour selections which are open to men and women wanting to stand for their party in their home area are in seats where only the politically naive might think there is any chance of unseating Tory rivals: Bexley and Bromley, Havering and Redbridge and South West (which the LibDems are targeting).

Tom Copley AM: on the Labour list. Probably

Labour is also seeking members to come forward for the top-up list candidates; in 2016, three Labour AMs were elected through this PR part of the system, and of those, only Tom Copley is thought to be seeking selection. Shrouded in behind-closed-doors mystery, the selection of list candidates, by whatever party, and the all-important order in which they are placed on the list, is open to all kinds of manipulation.

In the past, London Labour has been reluctant to campaign too hard in Croydon and Sutton for fear of actually winning the seat, and thereby unsettling the algebraic calculations which determine how many list AMs they might be awarded.

By not having a candidate in place until less than six months before election day seems a surefire method of not rocking that boat, even if Cummings, or whoever eventually does get selected, is riding on the coat-tails of an incumbent Mayor who is standing against an incompetent Tory mayoral candidate.

The London elections are part-first-past-the-post and part-proportional representation, which is why the Remain-supporting LibDems have a special spring in their step in London following their performance in last month’s PR-determined European Elections. There, results suggest that Siobhan Benita, rather than Tory Mayor candidate, the dull Shaun Bailey, is likely to be the closest challenger to the Labour’s Sadiq Khan.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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5 Responses to Cummings in poll position with all-woman Assembly shortlist

  1. says:

    I may be wrong but I don’t think spelling of ‘poll’ is appropriate in this instance.

  2. trinityofjwmum says:

    Why is she known as ‘Knock knock’?

    And has Cummings got the experience, intelligence and, frankly, the gumption to take on the best and brightest tories in your part of South London? Croydon is a hotbed of Conservative party talent and has been for some time (think Philp, Creatura and Barwell who have all cut their teeth in the area). You have to wonder what it is about Croydon that produces so many conservative high-flyers from what is a largely poor, unremarkable and socially deprived part of London.

    Why is it that Labour has so few talented politicians in the area when the Conservatives have such a dearth of talent? Bring back the grammar schools?

    • What utter drivel. Do you even know rhe meaning of some of the words you’ve used (“dearth of talent”)? Or realise that your firm favourite, Creatura, is not actually standing as a candidate in the London elections (the subject of this article)?
      And as for your assertions about local Tory “talent”…
      Philp’s not from the area but was parachuted into a safe Tory seat.
      Barwell’s a busted flush, politically and personally, his failures over fire safety and as May’s chief of staff demonstrating you don’t have a clue about the matter.
      Though Steve O’Connell is a real Croydon Conservative “talent”.
      And your view of Creatura is all based on his visit to your son’s minor public school. Let’s hope his “infectious” nature hasn’t passed on anything too serious.

      • There doesn’t appear to be much in the way of Tory talent when it comes to the north of the borough but let’s face it, they don’t even try. Why did they not select Mohan for Croydon South thereby keeping some of the local talent in a safe seat? Creatura seems to have forgotten he’s an elected councillor judging by the lack of time he pent at a council meeting not so long back. One might wonder if he would treat a parliamentary seat in the same fashion. I don’t think we are likely to find out.

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