Blocked council candidate Jamie Audsley makes opening pitch to be Labour’s candidate for mayor in May 2022.
EXCLUSIVE by WALTER CRONXITE, political editor
The fall-out from Croydon Labour’s disastrous and costly anti-mayor campaign cranked up a gear yesterday as Lord Adonis, a former government minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, accused Croydon North MP Steve Reed of “bad politics” in his handling of the referendum.
Reed managed to turn the mayoral referendum into a vote on the record of the Labour administration at Croydon Town Hall, less than a year after the council declared that it was effectively bankrupt. He also spent more than a month arguing against his own shadow ministerial policy.
“Croydon yesterday voted 80 per cent to 20 per cent in favour of having an elected mayor in a local referendum,” his lordship (Twitter followers: 157,000) tweeted.
“Labour, in control of the borough, not only campaigned against the proposal but suspended the candidacy of a dynamic Labour councillor who supported a mayoralty.
Oxford academic Adonis was a top policy wonk in the last Labour government. He was head of the Downing Street Policy Unit when Blair was Prime Minister, later becoming a Minister of State for Education and then Transport Secretary.
If you are struggling to identify the “dynamic Labour councillor” Adonis has referred to, after extensive research (we checked our archive), Inside Croydon believes that this is a direct reproach from his lordship over the shabby treatment meted out to Jamie Audsley, the Bensham Manor councillor whose application to stand for re-election next May has been blocked.
Sources in the Croydon North/Lambeth South (delete to taste) Labour Party suggest that Joel Bodmer, rapidly installed in a Reed powergrab to become the chair of the Local Campaign Forum, may have had a hand in the rejection of Audsley’s application.
Adonis is not alone in being sternly critical of the massive act of self-harm committed by the leadership of the local Labour Party.
Responding to Inside Croydon’s coverage of the referendum result, Alex Grant, a former Labour councillor in Greenwich, called the Reed-led referendum campaign “a major blunder” in “a clearly dysfunctional” borough.
Grant wrote, “Croydon will be one of Labour’s big electoral tests in 2022. Most Labour mayoralties (eg Hackney, Lewisham and London’s mayor itself) were proposed, not opposed, by Labour…
“A major blunder by Labour: not being on the front foot, backing change. Campaigning for status quo in a borough that is clearly dysfunctional and bust was crazy, especially for Labour’s normally sensible local government spokesman Steve Reed, whose national policy is, err… backing mayors.”
For his part, Audsley swung into action with what was a transparent pitch to be Labour’s mayoral candidate next May.
With the enormity of the devastating referendum defeat still sinking in – all 28 of the borough’s wards voted by a majority in favour of the change to a directly elected mayor – Audsley wrote to his councillor colleagues under a heading, “Will we listen now?”
“Sadly, yet again, our local leadership hasn’t listened, and Labour find ourselves on the wrong side of the argument,” Audsley said.
“After the council went bankrupt and we changed leader, we had a real chance to do things differently, but unfortunately the opportunity has been missed. And it points to what we know to be true – that the culture of the council and our politics remains too insular and inward-looking.
“Now we have a last chance to change before next May’s elections. If we fail to do so, we’ll hand power to the Tories.
“A first step means we need the right candidate to be our Labour Mayor, a candidate clearly not associated with the old regime.” By that reckoning, it rules out every cabinet member since 2014, plus a few other hangers-on among Newman’s numpties and Steve’s stooges.
“Every member now gets a vote to choose our Labour Mayoral candidate. So, pass this email on and encourage as many people in our movement as possible to get involved and be part of the change to revive our movement and town.”
Audsley, ever the optimist, signed off, “With hope and solidarity”.
In Croydon Central, meanwhile, Inside Croydon understands that “Silent” Mary Croos, another sitting councillor who had her application to seek re-selection blocked, may have been successful in her appeal.
“If Mary did get through,” a senior local party official told Inside Croydon, “it proves the whole selection process was driven by factionalism, rather than an attempt to get the best candidates for Labour.”
Read more: After defeat, pressure mounts on ‘lame duck’ council leader
Read more: Reed tells nation what he won’t tell Croydon: trust the people
Read more: Town Hall leadership hatched plan to break election budget
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