WALTER CRONXITE reports that members of the council leader’s own party are now regarding him as “Toxic Tony” and a liability at the ballot box
Tony Newman, the leader of the council, was already a target for the ire of thousands of residents around the borough who want him replaced by a directly-elected mayor. But now he is coming under mounting pressure from within Croydon Labour, the local party which he used to control with an iron-grip… and hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money doled out through council allowances.
Inside Croydon has seen an email sent from one of the most senior officials in one of Croydon’s three Constituency Labour Parties – CLPs – which issues a dire warning to Newman. While not quite in the same league as the “In the name of God, go!” speech, the widely circulated email from Joanne Milligan is pretty clear in its message that it is time that Newman went.
Criticising Newman for a series of usually baseless personal attacks against those involved in the campaign to have a directly-elected mayor in Croydon, Milligan, the vice-chair of Croydon South CLP wrote: “Change is needed. And change will happen.
“Those concerned about the future of Croydon and the relevance and well-being of the Labour Party in Croydon would do well to consider how to embrace and shape that change.”
Croydon South, from a time when Milligan was the CLP secretary, has long been at odds with Newman and his clique who operate out of the Labour strongholds in Croydon North and Central. With only three of Labour’s 41 councillors at the Town Hall and a Tory MP representing the area, Croydon South has tended to be dismissed as an irrelevance by Newman and cronies and has been regularly involved in disputes over campaigns and funding.
That the Labour Party in Croydon South has been backing the democratically-elected mayor campaign is a clear and direct threat to Newman’s rapidly waning authority.
The campaign has clearly targeted Newman, as the council leader chosen by just 40 of his councillor colleagues, and his mates Paul Scott and Alison Butler because of their role in planning and the destruction of suburban neighbourhoods in the south of the borough.
Following very well-attended meeting of the DEMOC campaign last week, Newman circulated a link to a report on a small-circulation newspaper, noting: “Very sad to see last night an officer of CSCLP [Croydon South CLP] sharing Chris Philp’s platform, as he and his UKIP friends have yet another relaunch of their Elected Mayor campaign, having failed to come to terms with their record electoral defeat, in Croydon at the 2018 local elections.
“Chris Philp MP has threatened to go to quite extraordinary lengths to try and overturn our model of governance in Croydon, that members/officers of CSCLP should apparently be openly working with him to do so should be a matter of concern to all.”
Milligan’s response to this last weekend was a withering note.
She wrote: “I understand you have recently sent emails, as well as making a number of comments at the Labour Local Campaign Forum meeting on Thursday evening, stating inaccurate and deliberately misleading claims about the DEMOC campaign and the members and officers of Croydon South Labour Party.
“The DEMOC event held on February 5 that you’ve been referring to was the launch of a local residents’ campaign which is calling for a referendum on whether there should be a Directly Elected Mayor – elected by and accountable to all Croydon voters – replacing the leader on Croydon Council.
“As with all civil society and resident-led campaigns, the DEMOC campaign is supported by all sorts of groups and individuals, some of whom have an affiliation with a variety of different political parties. Most involved have no affiliation with a political party. These are groups and individuals who, evidently through their involvement, are motivated by the view that a Mayoral system in Croydon will be much more accountable than the current system.
“Croydon South Labour Party has discussed the idea of a Directly Elected Mayor for Croydon twice in recent years and has supported it twice. When it was discussed at an all-member meeting in the latter half of 2019, it was overwhelmingly supported by members. It is the democratically agreed policy of Croydon South Labour Party to support the creation of a Directly Elected Mayor for Croydon. And officers of Croydon South Labour Party are acting in support of the agreed policy. You know this to be the case.
“However, it would seem that, yet again, you are unable to engage with the actual issues at the heart of the campaign – democratic governance and accountability – and have chosen instead to attack individuals. That continues to be a matter of concern to us all.
“Despite your deliberately inaccurate portrayal of the people involved in the campaign, it looks increasingly likely that the DEMOC campaign will be successful and there will be a referendum in the coming months. There is
overwhelming evidence to support the idea that Labour would win an election for a Directly Elected Mayor in Croydon.
“Some local Labour party leaders are already considering whether they would be well-placed to put themselves forward in a selection to be the Labour candidate for Mayor. And are looking to recently directly-elected Labour Mayors in other London boroughs – for example, Damien Egan in Lewisham and Rokhsana Fiaz in Newham – for inspiration on creating a more responsive leadership, improving accountability and delivering better outcomes for the boroughs’ residents.
“Change is needed. And change will happen. Those concerned about the future of Croydon and the relevance and well-being of the Labour Party in Croydon would do well to consider how to embrace and shape that change.”
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