WALTER CRONXITE, political editor, on the latest round of results in Labour’s sometimes shambolic local elections candidate selection process
Labour members in South Norwood tonight de-selected two of Newman’s numpties, Clive Fraser and Patsy Cummings, senior councillors who had been key members of the discredited ex-leader of the council’s team that bankrupted the borough.
According to some who attended the meeting, the decision was, at least in part, a reaction to the scandal of the Regina Road tower blocks, which drew national criticism of the Labour-controlled council earlier this year because of the unhealthy damp and mould in the flats, as exposed on television news – after the ward councillors had failed to secure any repairs, improvements or new homes for the affected families.
The dumping of Fraser and Cummings brings to 19 the number of Labour councillors at the start of 2020 who won’t be standing as candidates in 2022 – nearly half of the current 41 ruling group at the Town Hall.
Veteran councillor Bernadette Khan, who had first been elected to Croydon Council in 1994, failed to get selected in her West Thornton ward in midweek.
The de-selections of “Thirsty” Fraser and Cummings, though, also highlights how out-of-touch with the party’s members and public opinion Croydon Labour’s leadership has become: it is just a couple of weeks since Fraser was re-appointed as the Labour group’s chief whip.
Cummings’s fall from grace has been spectacular: as recently as last May, she was Croydon Labour’s rising star, standing as candidate for the Croydon and Sutton London Assembly super-constituency. Next May, unless she can scramble selection for another ward – and it was known at today’s meeting that that is exactly what she has been attempting to do – then Cummings won’t even be a candidate in the local elections.
Others have characterised the outcome as the latest manifestation of Progress MP Steve Reed’s takeover of the failing party in Croydon.
South Norwood’s three selected candidates include Louis Carserides, who works in Reed’s Westminster office and who was elected to the council in a ward by-election in May this year.
On the ballot paper with him in South Norwood in seven months’ time will be Elliott-Jay Munroop, a media consultant who went to school in Coulsdon, and Stella Nabukeera.
Nabukeera’s selection raised eyebrows because, as the secretary of Croydon South Constituency Labour Party until earlier this year, she was a prominent figure in the DEMOC campaign which sought to change the council’s governance system to having a directly-elected mayor. Such associations were enough to have other potential candidates, including Councillor Jamie Audsley, blocked.
Nabukeera, who told friends tonight that she is “pleasantly surprised” to have been selected and thanked all members who supported her, was previously selected as a council election candidate in 2017 for South Croydon ward alongside Paul Waddell, who is now a lay member of the General Synod, and Steven Downes (Who he? Ed).
With selection meeting results coming through at Saturday tea-time, the de-selection of Cummings and Fraser was a bit like hearing on Final Score that a couple of struggling fourth division clubs had got knocked out of the FA Cup first round by some plucky non-leaguers.
It was not all rejection for Newman’s numpties, though.
Members in Broad Green appear to think that Stuart Collins, who for six years saw nothing wrong in being Newman’s deputy leader, and Manju Shahul-Hameed, the pretty useless cabinet member for “business recovery”, were somehow worthy of being given another four years on the council (Broad Green is as about as safe a Labour ward as they come).
Selected alongside them is Raj Ramaraj, who replaces current cabinet member Muhammad Ali, who decided last week not to seek re-selection after all.
Other Labour selections this week have not gone all so smoothly, however.
After many years of Croydon Labour trying to claim that who they picked to run for public office was of no public interest and not suitable for publication, now they have two separate Twitter accounts putting out the results – one the established Croydon Labour account, the other set up in the last couple of days for the Croydon Labour Local Campaign Forum, thought to be by the LCF chair, Joel Bodmer, a Reed acolyte.
Selection meetings in two other wards were stalled this week.
Bensham Manor managed to pick two of their three candidates, in Enid Molyneaux (the Labour Twitter account managed to misspell her name) and Eunice O’Dame, but the third slot is unresolved as Matt Griffiths (said to be another Reed loyalist) and Humayun Kabir, a sitting councillor, could not be separated after a series of tied votes. Another selection meeting will be held next week to resolve the situation.
The Selhurst selection meeting to have been held this week never took place: accounts of what happened vary, but it seems that no one had bothered to confirm the booking of the Zakia Hall. More than 20 Labour members were stuck outside, disappointed. A whelk stall, and the inability to operate it properly, may have been mentioned.
The outcome there, for a two-seat ward, in any case appears to be a foregone conclusion, and we should have it confirmed this week that branch officials Mohammed Islam and Catherine Wilson will go forward as Labour’s Selhurst candidates next May. By absolute coincidence, Islam is the current chair of Reed’s Constituency Labour Party and Wilson is Reed’s CLP’s former secretary.
Read more: More Labour disarray as BAME councillors Wood and Ali quit
Read more: 1 in 4 Labour councillors choose not to seek selection for 2022
Read more: Labour councillor was given ‘no real reason’ for deselection
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