CROYDON IN CRISIS: The damaging ‘Groupthink’ culture under the toxic leadership of Tony Newman remains firmly in place at the Town Hall, where an elected official has told colleagues he was blocked from standing despite never breaking any rules. EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES
Jamie Audsley, the Labour councillor for Bensham Manor since 2014, has had his appeal turned down after he failed to be “approved” for the party’s candidate selection process ahead of next May’s local elections.
Audsley was blocked at the interview stage, apparently because of his support for the switch to having a directly elected mayor in charge of the council.
And according to senior sources in the Croydon Labour Party, Audsley is not the only sitting councillor that the party machine is threatening to block from standing for re-election in 2022, as the legacy from the discredited Tony Newman’s 15 years as Labour’s local leader continues to cause division and turmoil.
“It is all very Newmanesque,” according to a Katharine Street source. “Petty, vindictive, and more than a bit of bullying, too.”
In an email sent to his 40 councillor colleagues yesterday, and seen by Inside Croydon, Audsley explained that his hopes of being elected for a third time as a councillor have been crushed not by the electorate nor the Tories, but by his own party.
Audsley says that “the decision to reject my application is politically motivated”.
He wrote, “I appealed the decision to reject my application but unfortunately this was not successful.
“I was not provided with any explanation… arguably this is contrary to the obligations of decision-makers and lacks transparency itself.”
Referring to Newman’s time in charge at the Town Hall, Audsley wrote, “Sadly, as when challenging the previous administration with independent thought, the experience of myself and others who have stood up for what we believe during a period of open discussion and debate is to have been met with a similar political culture – a culture that continues to damage Croydon’s communities.
“I received no real reason for my application being unsuccessful, apart from an alleged lack of transparency about the issue of a Directly Elected Mayor. Having been open on this issue as all are aware, the irony is not lost on me.”
Audsley, who according to the Croydon Labour group’s own out-of-date website is still the deputy cabinet member for economy and jobs, has had his political ambitions thwarted in the past, as the 37-year-old Oxford-educated former schoolteacher was clearly out of step with Blairite Newman and his numpties.
Audsley was suspended from the party whip, albeit wrongly, on a false charge over encouraging someone to stand for selection as a councillor in a ward already held by Labour.
At the start of this year, he began a recruitment campaign among Labour Party members, seeking new potential candidates ahead of May 2022. As Inside Croydon reported a Katharine Street source as saying at the time, “This won’t make him any friends in his own party at the Town Hall.” That prediction appears to have been well-founded.
The blocking of Audsley appears to be because he dared to question whether the way the council was being run under Newman was the right way, and called for change to a directly-elected mayor, even though it was not until July this year that his colleagues on the Labour group decided to ignore the views of Croydon party members and oppose any change of governance.
Audsley’s letter states, “There was no Labour Group whip in place when I campaigned on this issue.
“I have abided by all Labour Party rules.
“I campaigned in good faith to put our community first, taking the view that after the catastrophic failure of leadership at Croydon Council, a directly elected mayor can improve our town and the quality of public life for communities across our borough.”
And he said, “While it will be for others to judge, I believe I have worked hard for our community and local ward over nearly eight years, taking action to support our community to get organised on many local issues, tackling unfair working conditions across the borough and supporting many to get involved in Croydon politics.”
Friends of Audsley say that the councillor has no immediate intention of resigning the Labour whip at the Town Hall.
Read more: Labour leaders block Audsley over support for elected mayor
Read more: Town Hall leadership hatched plan to break election budget
Read more: Labour councillor asks colleagues: ‘Is it time for me to go?’
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