Newman should be chucked out of Labour, say activists

‘It’s time to clean things up. It’s time for the truth to be told,’ according to one Labour councillor. WALTER CRONXITE, our political editor, on the growing calls for the council’s discredited former leaders to stand down immediately

Hard hats: Tony Newman, right, and his former deputy, Alison Butler. Some Labour members are calling for their expulsion

Tony Newman, until last month the leader of crisis-hit Croydon Council, Alison Butler, his former deputy, her husband Paul Scott and Simon Hall, the one-time cabinet member for finance, should all resign as councillors and be expelled from the Labour Party.

That’s the view not just of the Town Hall’s opposition Tories after the council was yesterday forced to admit it was broke and issued a Section 114 notice. It is the opinion of a growing number of local Labour Party members, including some who worked as councillors under Newman’s “Gang of Four”.

The Town Hall Labour group held an emergency briefing meeting last night, just a couple of hours after the council which they have controlled since 2014 was forced into the ignominious position of becoming a by-word nationally for local authority failure and mismanagement.

Newman, Butler and Hall are understood to have attended the meeting, chaired by the council’s new leader, Hamida Ali. But none of them made significant contributions to the discussions, nor did any offer any apologies to their colleagues for the state in which they have left the borough.

Cllr Jamie Audsley spoke for a growing band of Labour members when he tweeted this morning

But one Labour councillor who was at the meeting has expressed a view which appears to be gaining traction among rank-and-file party members. “With the issuing of the official S114 notice it’s time for real responsibility,” they told a journalist, on condition of anonymity.

“It’s time to clean things up.

“It’s time for the truth to be told.

“People in Croydon have enough to deal with: covid, an economic crisis, caring for their families. To move on, to get this sort, we must start with the truth.”

Those sentiments were echoed this morning by Jamie Audsley, the Labour councillor for Bensham Manor and never one of Newman’s favoured colleagues. Audsley tweeted, “It’s time for truth, citizens deserve it, [Labour Party] members deserve it, our borough’s future deserves it. Let’s clean-up to revive.”

There remain concerns that Ali, a rising star in Newman’s council cabinet as well as a Woodside ward colleague of the ex-leader and Scott, has been too close to the discredited administration that created the financial crisis the borough now finds itself in.

Hamida Ali: too close to Newman and his numpties?

Ali has certainly managed to duck all questions from party colleagues about what she did to question and scrutinise some of the dodgier decisions pushed through by Newman and Butler – such as the £30million borrowed without proper discussion by the council to buy the already struggling Croydon Park Hotel, or another wedge of £30million, borrowed by the council just four months ago on Butler’s say-so, in order to buy from Brick by Brick 180 flats that the loss-making house-builders, through their own incompetence, could not sell as shared-ownership homes.

Under their new leader, Jason Perry, Croydon’s Conservatives have been generating some damning social media messaging, including one which uses clips of Ali having voted for, or even proposed, the Labour council’s budgets repeatedly during her time as a Newman loyalist on the council. Left unsaid has been the fact that under previous leader Tim Pollard, Croydon’s Tory councillors also voted in favour of the council budgets in 2019 and 2020.

The next local elections are just 18 months away (covid permitting), with a dwindlingly small prospect of Labour maintaining control of the Town Hall. Not least of the problems facing the local party, with its omnishambles record to campaign on, will be getting activists to turn out to leaflet and canvass the borough’s residents.

Sarah Jones: her marginal Croydon Central seat could be undermined by the council crisis

“Can you imagine the abuse we are likely to face if we turn-out and try to suggest that people actually vote for Newman, Butler and these other jokers?” one loyal Labour member said this morning.

The London Labour regional organisation was aware of the mounting issues in Croydon when it intervened behind the scenes to force Newman into his resignation as leader after 15 years at the head of the party in the borough.

But the clusterfuck that Newman and his numpties have left behind – with the S114, a hugely critical Report in the Public Interest, and still-to-come reviews into council-owned companies and from Robert Jenrick’s Housing, Communities and Local Government ministry – seem likely to cost Labour hard-won gains elsewhere, too.

With Jenrick hanging the Labour-run council out to dry (might the MHCLG’s not-so-rapid review have been deliberately delayed to cause problems for Croydon?), the ultra-marginal Croydon Central parliamentary seat which was won from Tory Gavin Barwell in 2017 looks at risk. “If we can’t win marginals like Croydon Central, we can’t win a General Election,” according to one party insider.

Looking the other way: Croydon North MP Steve Reed OBE

Silent throughout the drawn-out death-throes of Newman’s Blairite administration has been Steve Reed OBE. It is all a bit awkward for the Croydon North MP, who from his time as council leader in Lambeth advocated many of the same policies enthusiastically followed in Croydon by his mate Newman.

Reed, of course, is also Labour’s shadow spokesman on local government, which makes his continuing silence on Croydon matters all the more noticeable.

That may be, in part, at least, not just embarrassment but also because he has a unique insight into the events at Croydon Town Hall: managing his office at Westminster is Louise Szpera, who just happens to be the partner of… Tony Newman.

Far-from-silent has been Chris Philp, the unctious Conservative junior minister and MP for Croydon South, who made merry with a serious of television appearances yesterday, and as might be expected, his party colleagues at the Town Hall have also been busy.

Indignant: Tory leader Jason Perry’s tweet last night after the S114 notice was issued

“This cannot go on,” Perry tweeted indignantly last night.

Perry offered his opposite number some advice, while channelling his inner Oliver Cromwell. “These Labour [councillors] have bankrupted our borough. Hamida Ali must immediately remove the whip and demand their resignations. They in turn should do the decent thing and GO!”

A Katharine Street source said this afternoon: “Perry might not realise it, but the sooner his advice is taken, the sooner that Labour in Croydon might be able to regroup and start to win back the trust of its members and the voters.”

Read more: Council forced to declare itself bankrupt
Read more: What is a S114 notice? What will it mean for the council?
Read more: ‘Tony Newman always has been a coward’
Read more: Jenrick orders urgent inquiry into ‘unacceptable’ council


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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10 Responses to Newman should be chucked out of Labour, say activists

  1. Terry McCarthy says:

    I am aware that a number of Sarah Jones’s constituents asked her to intervene in the crisis at Croydon Council and demand a legal financial review of Croydon’s expenditure, but she has not responded.

    Clearly she puts the disgraced former leaders and officers of the Council before her constituents. What a shame. She could have led the way for transparency.

    Can a Council possibly lose £1.5billion pounds just through negligence or incompetence?

    Something does not smell right here and I think it is in Sarah Jones’s interests to insist that the truth be known.

    • Yes, Sarah Jones cannot just remain on the sidelines and be mute. Unless she and the local party react in the right way the damage to the party will be incalculable. The stupidity, wilful blindness, incompetence and cronyism showed by the lamentable ruling cabal of Newman numpties are not reasons to kick anyone out of the party. Bringing the Party into disrepute and causing public ridicule and seriously endangering the chances of reelection are very much good reasons for asking Tony, Scott, Collins, Hall and all the supporting cast sycophants to make their excuses, leave and seek other platform for their political ambitions….Monster Raving Loony Party perhaps?

  2. Zenia Jamison says:

    Is anybody going to accept any responsibility for this fiasco ? Surely any cabinet member in the administration and the local mps should have been scrutinizing or whistleblowing and at the very least holding to account the leadership

  3. It’s seems like Steve Reed MP is very mouthy when other borough’s are coming off the tracks but is silent when it comes to his closest borough, Croydon.

    This is perhaps explained by the fact that the partner of the architect of Croydon’s woes, Tony Newman, is employed by Steve Reed MP.

    Based on that, I think we can pretty much ignore everything Steve Reed MP says in the future about most things.

  4. Hans Mien says:

    I think the bloke at the back in the picture with hard hats, has picked up on someone farted. Going by the expression on his face.

    • Paul says:

      ha ha. i think newman’s the culprit. 10 years of conservative austerity means your diet isn’t what it should be, he would no doubt say.

      • Ken says:

        Reminiscent of Labours response when they lost the election back in 2010 time with the prime clown then admitting [or jesting] the moneys all gone. Have been expecting this Croydon administration going the same way, just took a little longer to happen. Now unemployment looms for the
        working council staff and if you are one that voted them in this time, you have only yourself to blame. The Conservatives were not angels last in power but it seems they kept bankrupcy ideas at arms length. Having lived in the borough since the 50’s have seen the move from the days when councillors served with pride with token expenses ect.,taken to now
        taking spell binding salarys and expenses the poor residents have to pay for in their rates and extras. Is it not now time to look at these salarys and
        expenses in all these Borough Councils and introduce a pay by result type system, after all it should be a privilege to serve in council not a job for life. As for our Labour Mp’s silence did we expect more. Do you want more of the same or risk a change a conundrum for the residents. good luck.

  5. Terry McCarthy says:

    So, Councillors don’t get salaries!
    How does Tony Newman earn a living when he must spend so much time on Council business?
    Does he have a full time job?
    Does anyone know?
    How much expenses did he claim last year?
    That should be publicly available – at one time Councillors’ expenses were published.

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