Questions over the mishandling of Labour’s candidate selection for the Fairfield ward council by-election last month are mounting for Tony Newman.
Newman leads the Labour group at Croydon Town Hall in an autocratic style, using hundreds of thousands of pounds of council cash to dole out patronage and positions to favoured councillors to maintain his control.
Although Momentum member Jose Joseph was selected by members at a Labour branch meeting as the candidate for the by-election, local party officials instead nominated Caragh Skipper after various unfounded allegations about debts which market trader Joseph’s business is supposed to have owed to the council.
The Fairfield by-election campaign was boycotted by a large number of grassroots Labour members in Croydon, out of disgust for the manner in which Joseph was treated and party democracy ignored.
There have been suggestions that the loss of goodwill, and faith in the local leadership, has carried over since into the General Election campaign, where Sarah Jones is facing a battle with the Tories over the marginal Croydon Central seat.
The committee which is supposed to oversee the selection of Labour candidates and the running of election campaigns in Croydon, and where Newman carries significant influence, is the Local Campaign Forum. The LCF is understood not to have had any meetings since September. The latest scheduled meeting, due to have been held on November 11, was cancelled – the General Election being given as the excuse.
Members have been promised that there will be a LCF meeting after the General Election on December 12 – though there is a suspicion that it could yet be pushed back into the New Year, as Newman and the Croydon Labour leadership seek to kick the Fairfield issue into the long grass and dismiss the matter as all being in the past.
But in social media messages seen by Inside Croydon, it seems that Newman and his mates are only storing up further discontent.
“The right for party members to select candidates they want to represent them is vitally important for Labour Party democracy,” a senior party member has said.
“It should not be overturned or ignored unless there are very good reasons
“We need answers to a number of factual questions if we are to be able to assess properly what happened. It’s important we don’t lose sight of the Fairfield selection issue.”
LCF officials who were involved in the Fairfield stitch-up have already resigned their positions.
Now it is suggested that, for the first time in a very long while, Newman may not have majority support on the LCF, which is attended by delegates from the three Croydon Constituency Labour Parties, plus Newman and hand-picked nominees from the group of councillors.
“There’s a reason Tony doesn’t want the LCF to meet,” a Katharine Street source said today. “He’s hoping that by delaying any discussion on the matter, the issue will just go away.
“But there’s a growing determination, whatever the outcome on December 12, not to allow that to happen, whatever dirty tricks that Newman tries to pull next.”
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