Political editor WALTER CRONXITE suggests that only three entries for the race to be a candidate in Croydon and Sutton at next year’s London elections is being seen as a sign that few reckon there’s much of a chance of success
Only three women have put themselves forward for the chance of being the Labour candidate in the Croydon and Sutton super-constituency at next May’s London Assembly elections.
Dora Dixon-Fyle, a councillor for Camberwell Green ward in Southwark, former aide to MP Harriet Harman, and sometime bit-part actor on EastEnders, has joined Patsy Cummings and Rowenna Davis in what the party machine decided should be a woman-only contest.
Croydon and Sutton is therefore the (joint) smallest field of the eight constituency selections which Labour is allowing to be contested (sitting Assembly Members in six other seats have been re-selected). Even neighbouring Bexley and Bromley has attracted more Labour members seeking to be their party’s candidate in the Tory stronghold.
The low entry for Croydon and Sutton was quickly interpreted by party activists locally as a clear sign that few with ambitions of a place at City Hall think there’s any prospect of winning.
And there are no Croydon Labour members seeking selection through the list system. More than 60 hopefuls have put their names forward for selection. Labour currently has three London-wide Assembly Members, who won their seats at City Hall in 2016 through proportional representation (the constituencies, such as Croydon and Sutton, are decided by old-school first-past-the-post). Only one of the current Labour list AMs, Tom Copley, pictured right, is standing again.
Marina Ahmad, the Bromley councillor who was selected as Labour’s candidate in Croydon and Sutton in 2016, has opted for the list route this time. But no Croydon councillors or wannabe councillors have put themselves forward beside her.
Given that Tory incumbent, “Silent” Steve O’Connell, is retiring, plus the Conservatives’ on-going turmoil in the polls, Labour’s relative strength in Croydon, and considering the short fuse of the Tories’ 2020 candidate, Neil “Father Jack” Garratt, the lack of more Labour candidates to stand for the Croydon and Sutton Assembly seat will disappoint some and surprise others.
Labour Party members in other parts of London will have many more candidates to select from – Havering and Redbridge and Brent and Harrow each have 15 candidates, for example.
Whoever does eventually get named as the candidate for the seat will also be handicapped by a very late start to campaigning. The Tories, LibDems – who are likely to poll well in Sutton – and the Greens have all had their candidates picked and out knocking on doors for weeks already, in some cases, for months. Labour’s choice won’t be decided for another three months.
Having lobbied for an all-woman shortlist, thus eliminating one potential rival, it appears that Patsy Cummings, the South Norwood councillor, is the favourite to get the nod. Sutton and Cheam, one of five constituency Labour Parties in the two boroughs, was quick this morning to announce that they had nominated her. The nominations process will drag on now until September 8.
Cummings has also been endorsed by Momentum, the Jeremy Corbyn-supporting group. She worked in the Labour leader’s office during the 2017 General Election campaign.
That campaign, of course, was notable for being well-organised and well-briefed, which is not what might be said for the email sent out to Momentum members yesterday, which described Croydon and Sutton as “a Labour seat”. Croydon and Sutton has been held by the Conservatives at every London Assembly election since 2000.
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