Labour leaders block Audsley over support for elected mayor

CROYDON IN CRISIS: The ghost of Tony Newman has come back to haunt one of his former councillors, as purges begin against those who dared to question the council leader who bankrupted the borough.

The “very controlling” inner circle of Croydon’s Labour councillors has moved to block one of their colleagues from standing for re-election next May – all because he has dared to suggest that continuing to run the council under the same system that bankrupted the borough is not a very good idea.

Jamie Audsley, a Labour councillor for Bensham Manor ward since 2014, has been told that his application to be a candidate in next year’s local elections won’t be going forward because of his support for the switch to having a directly elected mayor.

Croydon Labour has been interviewing applicants to be election candidates in May. This “panelling” process is conducted by three senior councillors from outside the borough.

But according to party sources familiar with the process, the panel was “nobbled by Newman’s Numpties”, in a deliberate effort to scupper the application of Audsley, and anyone else who dares divert from their Groupthink.

Tony Newman was the leader of the Croydon Labour group of councillors for 15 years until his abrupt resignation last year, just before the financial shit hit the fan.

Haunting: Tony Newman

When in charge, Newman blocked attempts to revise or reform the council’s governance system, which uses the “Strong Leader” model. Newman was utterly against any change which might have removed the power he held through patronage, using millions of pounds of council allowances to buy the loyalty of colleagues.

Newman was elected as leader of the council by just a handful of Labour councillor colleagues. A borough-wide mayor would need the mandate of more than half of all of Croydon’s voters.

There is a referendum being held on October 7 to offer residents the option of switching systems.

The Town Hall group of largely Blairites, including Alison Butler, Paul Scott, Stuart Collins and Clive “Thirsty” Fraser – all card-carrying members of Newman’s clique – decided that Labour councillors should be forbidden from campaigning for a directly elected mayor. This despite their having conducted a “consultation” of party members in which a (narrow) majority said that they preferred the council to be run by a directly elected mayor.

During his years as a councillor, Audsley had repeatedly incurred the wrath of Newman and his cabal, who froze him out of the Town Hall cabinet and frustrated his efforts to stand for higher office. According to Katharine Street sources, Audsley, an Oxford-educated former schoolteacher, was regarded as “too clever for his own good” by the not very bright Newman.

Audsley had been expected to seek the Labour nomination to run for Croydon Mayor next May, if the switch in systems goes ahead, as expected, after the October 7 referendum.

Audsley received his rejection note in the same week that Croydon’s Labour-run council was ridiculed in the national press as “Chaos Central”.

Jamie Audsley: Newman’s numpties have questioned his ethics

The panel, in rejecting Audsley’s application to be an “approved” candidate, claimed he had broken the Nolan Principles, the guide to conduct in public service.

“There’s a level of hypocrisy here, from the people who have fixed party selection votes, failed to report serious sexual assaults to the police and handed juicy council contracts to their mates, that go beyond breath-taking,” a senior local party source said.

“Most of this lot think that ‘Ethics’ is a county on the east coast.”

Last year, Audsley conducted his own unofficial poll of Labour Party members in the ward he has represented for seven years. No one called for him to stand down as councillor.

Audsley is understood to have appealed against the decision to refuse his application.

It was a Rapid Review, conducted on behalf of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government following the council’s financial collapse, that found that Croydon’s “failings are attributable to the poor leadership and poor management of the council over a number of years.

“It is said that the strong leader and cabinet model allowed the former leader to create an inner circle of a small number of cabinet members who have been very controlling in their management of the council and its finances.”

It is this same system that Croydon Labour, under former Newman protégé Hamida Ali, now wants to campaign for ahead of the October referendum. The blocking of Audsley also demonstrates a desperate desire to silence all critics.

Recently, Audsley had called for the immediate resignation of the chair of scrutiny, Sean Fitzsimons. Fitzsimons is a leading apologist for the Newman regime. An independent investigation into the council’s financial collapse suggested that Fitzsimons’ scrutiny committee failed to sound the alarm, despite repeat warnings from auditors, over the council’s financial troubles.

Audsley has also recruited a large number of Labour activists to back the Croydon Labour for Mayor campaign. This was despite efforts by Steve Reed OBE and Sarah Jones, the borough’s Labour MPs, to scupper a supporters’ meeting by ordering two Labour mayors in other London boroughs to pull out.

“The party locally has already lost dozens of members in the past year, and it is struggling for credible candidates to stand for election next year,” the source said.

“Now they do this. It’s as if they don’t realise how ridiculous they already look.”

And a member of the current Labour leadership at the Town Hall, when asked how the  group might approach the likely scenario of campaigning against a directly elected mayor, and then, from October 8, having to select and support a candidate for the position, conceded, “It has its challenges.”

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7 Responses to Labour leaders block Audsley over support for elected mayor

  1. Ah, democracy Croydon Labour-style.

    You can vote for who or what we tell you to, and say what you like as long as it’s exactly what we say.

    These self-serving clowns aren’t “Blairite”, they’re Stalinists.

    What are they going to do when the borough votes in favour of having an elected Mayor? Only three months to go before they fall into the next trap they’ve dug for themselves.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      I am confused here: were they not the same, those Blairites and Stalinists? I thought they both rounded on Trotskyists and socialists along with the general proletariat.

      More of a “do as I say, not as I do” brigade of champagne socialists? Well, perhaps not Stalin, I do believe he did like vodka.

      But hey, a few hundred tails wag the dog of local democracy. And as long as good people are silent, it will continue.

  2. m.j.sales says:

    This is not right.

  3. Audsley is a intelligent, grounded politician. He’s the only candidate Croydon Labour has.

    And Scott, Butler, Collins, Fitszstupid and Fraser, representing all that’s backward and shit in local politics have decided he’s not to stand.

    The leadership of Croydon Labour is rotten to its core.

  4. Chris Flynn says:

    To ensure they’re capturing certain demographics, the Greens should start using the strapline “The Only Way Is Ethics”.

  5. Ian Kierans says:

    There are the 7 Nolan principles of Public Life

    Selflessness: Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
    Integrity: Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
    Objectivity: Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
    Accountability: Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
    Openness: Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
    Honesty: Holders of public office should be truthful.
    Leadership: Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and be willing to challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

    This would be a long reply if we went through each principle and held this up against Newman, Ali et al.
    So from a pan calling kettle grimy bottom. The strong leader patronage system fails – well all of them. Ms Ali andc o really need to boost their credibility with the electorate and their activists who live in the Community. This is not the way to do that. In addition polarising a fraternal brother Councillor for having a difference of opinion valid or not is also not a Labour principle and appears self serving – also a breach of the Nolan principles.

    Does Central Office not yet feel it is time to stop this farce that is bringing the Labour movement into public disrepute in Croydon?

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