Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, on the latest rant from Our Great Leader
The increasingly erratic Tony Newman, who was elected as leader of Croydon’s Labour group by no more than 40 people in a virtual behind-closed-doors meeting a week ago, has ordered a witch-hunt among his party councillor colleagues to discover “the person” who has been providing information to Inside Croydon.
This follows our breaking the news last week of Newman’s ridiculous ban on the borough’s Labour councillors from “liking” or re-tweeting links to Inside Croydon’s reports and political coverage.
Newman has recently taken to adding the hashtag of #BringItOn to his tweets, understood to be a reference to his being willing to contest a borough-wide referendum to decide whether his £56,000 per year cushty position as council leader should be replaced by a democratically-elected mayor. DEMOC, a campaign run by residents’ associations and backed by a Tory MP and a Labour Constituency Labour Party, has so far collected 14,000 signatures on a petition to trigger such a referendum.
Yesterday afternoon, ahead of the second part of the Croydon Labour group’s annual meeting this evening, Newman emailed his 40 councillor colleagues, writing in his own, barely literate style.
In his email, Newman seeks to use Inside Croydon as his excuse for his own failure to advise colleague councillors of the appointments to deputy cabinet and other positions before they were announced. All Newman’s grace and favour appointments – most of which carry generous, five-figure allowance payments – are expected to be passed on the nod at tonight’s virtual meeting.
“Comrades,” the uncomradely Newman wrote in his email, which he had given the heading “Confidential”.
Newman wrote, “A couple of colleagues have asked why we didn’t call people ahead of some of the decisions taken re part 2 of the AGM. The simple answer is, following this weeks [sic] horrific blog post abusing numerous group colleagues & as we now seek to find the person probably recording, or taking verbatim notes of everything said within our Group meetings & passing this directly to IC we have erred on the side of caution.
“Every change made, especially in part 2 of the AGM has for obvious reasons knock on [sic] consequences across a range of other areas and responsibilities, & in the current intolerable situation, lto [sic] protect everyone we wanted to ensure comrades heard at least directly from officers of the group re any changes & not read about them elsewhere.
“In response to the well intended [sic] comment from a colleague that we shouldn’t let IC dictate how we behave, 99% of the time I would agree, but as this hate blog has now made colleagues mental health and well-being a target, along with repeating statements they know to be unlawful, we are having to take extra precautions.”
“Repeating statements they know to be unlawful” is thought to be a reference to Newman and his nark, chief whip Clive Fraser, failing to report to the police a serious incident of domestic violence. Newman’s grasp of libel laws appears to be as flimsy as his grip on the council’s finances.
Solicitors acting on behalf of Newman have written to Inside Croydon three times in the six months in an effort to have the website remove its reports of Newman’s conduct last October, over the abrupt resignation of one of Councillor Niro Sirisena (one of those councillors who, a year ago, Newman was rewarded with lavish council allowances).
Inside Croydon has robustly rejected the approach by Newman’s lawyers. We maintain that our reports are entirely accurate – indeed, Newman has himself has confirmed the details.
In launching a witch-hunt against his own councillors, Newman appears to be following in the footsteps of another Blairite council leader, Steve Reed OBE, who before he became MP for Croydon North, was the leader of Lambeth Council.
There, it was revealed that Reed used council staff at Brixton Town Hall to spy on his own Labour colleagues, trawling through council email accounts in a vain attempt to discover who may have been leaking information against him.
When Inside Croydon reported this, Reed demanded that we remove our report from the website or he would sue. That report remains available on the internet to this day – it is based on an official council report – and Reed’s bluster and threats came to nothing.
Probably a bit like Newman’s new #BringItOn hashtag.
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