WALTER CRONXITE, political editor, on a close-run thing
Patsy Cummings, the councillor for South Norwood, will be Labour’s candidate in Croydon and Sutton for the London Assembly elections in May after winning a ballot of party members in the two boroughs by just 25 votes, according to Labour List.
The official results are not due to be revealed by the London Labour Party until 11am today – 23 hours later than originally planned, the latest in a series of organisational delays – but they were leaked to the Labour news site last night.
Party insiders suggest that the results of the London selections represent a knock-back for Momentum-backed Corbynites, but not in Croydon where Cummings, a former staffer in the party leader’s Westminster office, overcame her centrist rival, Rowenna Davis.
With time for campaigning short, Cummings’ chances of being elected on May 7 appear slim, but some in the local Labour Party think that this is being seen simply as a stepping stone towards her bidding to become the party’s candidate in the event that Croydon goes to the polling stations for its first directly-elected mayor.
“As candidate for the Assembly, Patsy will hold significant borough-wide membership data,” a source said. “She’ll hold on to that data, and it will make her best-placed to push for nomination as Labour’s candidate for directly-elected mayor after that.”
For her part, Cummings said, “I am humbled by the support I have received from so many people in so many ways. It’s at times like these you realise how amazing everyone is. Thank you.”
The Tories have held the Croydon and Sutton seat ever since the London Assembly was created in 2000, and they have had their candidate, Neil “Father Jack” Garratt, in place and campaigning for a year now.
London Labour’s selection process suffered more delays than a Southern Railways train, caused in part by the entirely foreseeable General Election being called, but also by internal manoeuvrings, as the Left and centrists arm-wrestled to try to get their favoured candidates on to the ballot paper.
In Croydon, by reducing the candidate’s campaign time, these delays have probably ensured that Garratt will be able to add the £54,000 Assembly Member’s salary to his Sutton council allowances.
Marina Ahmad, Labour’s candidate in Croydon and Sutton at the last London elections in 2016, this time was selected to stand in the Labour-held neighbouring seat of Lambeth and Southwark – after one term, former Lambeth councillor Florence Eshalomi has moved on to “bigger and better” things after being elected as MP for Vauxhall.
Ahmad had also been among the candidates to be on Labour’s London-wide list – under the system where parties put up candidates and are allocated seats by proportional representation, according to the number of votes cast for the party across the city.
As Labour List reports, “Two Labour left candidates, Elly Baker and Sakina Sheikh, topped the poll for the list, while Corbynsceptic-endorsed candidates came third and fourth but were withdrawn on the basis that they were also selected for seats.” Ahmad was third, with more than 8,000 votes.
Labour List adds: “This allowed two additional Corbynite contenders, Liam Young and Preston Tabois, to be included on Labour’s London-wide list of selected candidates.”
The London Assembly elections will take place on May 7, alongside the election of the London Mayor, where Sadiq Khan is standing for re-election opposed by Shaun Bailey (Conservatives), Sian Berry (Green), Siobhan Benita (LibDems) and former Conservative MP Rory Stewart is running as an independent.
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