Labour’s laborious process of selecting their candidate for the Croydon and Sutton London Assembly seat might finally reach some conclusion tonight, as both the Croydon and Sutton Co-op and the Croydon Central Constituency Labour Party delegates decide whether or not to allow all members to choose who should be the candidate.
All the other major political parties have for months been promoting their chosen candidate, ahead of next May’s London elections: the Tories picked the abusive Neil “Father Jack” Garratt in March, and he’s been out and about on the stump ever since.
With the Tory incumbent AM, the greedy and lazy Steve O’Connell, standing down next year, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Labour might want to try to capture the seat for the first time in history and get a strong candidate selected and have them campaigning long in advance.
But oh no… they’re still slowly going through the lengthy internal process of nominations, potentially to arrive at a situation where no local Labour Party members actually get to have a vote in the candidate selection.
The Labour Party has already decided to eliminate half of all potential candidates by making Croydon and Sutton an all-woman shortlist. Now, if neither the Co-op or Croydon Central decide to nominate local school teacher Rowenna Davis tonight, then Patsy Cummings, the favourite of Croydon council leader Tony Newman, seems certain to secure the candidacy.
Cummings’ success will be based on limiting the number of nominations that Davis has secured from the Labour movement across the two boroughs, with delegate meetings in Croydon North CLP, Carshalton and Wallington CLP and Sutton and Cheam CLP having all proposed that only one candidate, Cummings, should remain in the contest.
Croydon South CLP, which held an all-member participation meeting, did back Davis; she lives in the constituency.
Davis is understood to have some trade union and socialist societies supporting her, but these may not be enough to get Blue Labour figure Davis across the threshold required for her to even be considered by the broader membership.
If Davis fails to achieve at least five nominations, then members will not be balloted.
Cummings is a councillor for South Norwood who worked in party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s office during the 2017 General Election.
She has appeared to be very confident of securing the nomination from the start. So much so that she and some of her closest supporters have used social media to cruelly mock her opponent and her supporters for their choice of campaign style.
Rather than resort to the political parties’ fail-safe of handing out leaflets, Davis has sought to get some practical things achieved.
She and her campaigners have been out collecting donations from Labour members for school holiday hunger food banks, while also working with local businesses to set up refuges for young people fleeing knife attacks.
Davis has also been getting Labour members to identify locations for street trees, which mitigate air pollution as part of the council’s nebulous “New Green Deal”.
The Davis campaign has also been unsettled by Cummings’ own behaviour, as the councillor has been involved in at least one angry confrontation with members of Davis’s campaign team, challenging them for even daring to support the outsider.
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