Audsley has nowhere to run after Labour selection stitch-up

The insular and inward-looking local Labour Party is limping towards the finish line of a foregone conclusion, weeks after the Tories and Greens began campaigning to get their candidates elected as Croydon Mayor.

Happy days: Callton Young (centre) with MP Steve Reed (left) and Tony Newman. Young has been less than frank about his spells in Newman’s cabinet

Croydon Labour’s laborious selection process to choose its candidate to run for election as the borough’s first executive Mayor took another small step this morning, with the first hustings meeting, involving just two candidates.

It remains, however, an entirely inward-looking, insular Labour Party process, closed off and disengaged from the broader public and voters, while largely involving many of the same people who a year ago were forced to admit that they’d bankrupted the council.

Labour members will have to wait until December 20 to get the result of a fortnight-long voting process between Callton Young – who just a matter of weeks ago was out campaigning against “fat cat” mayors –  and Val Shawcross.

It’s a foregone conclusion who will win, but party officials have decided that they must continue to stagger through the motions for another month before they will have a candidate to put before the Croydon public, alongside the Tory and Green candidates who have already been announced.

The nominations process itself concluded 10 days ago, though that failed to pass off without controversy, when London Region intervened to stop an informal hustings for the perfectly reasonable objective of letting members find out something about the candidates seeking their support before having to choose who to nominate.

Foregone conclusion: Val Shawcross is expected to get 60 to 70 per cent of Labour members’ vote

This piece of heavy-handed control-freakery appeared remarkably familiar to those who remember how Amy Fode, the head of Labour’s London Region, and Reed put the frighteners on a couple of elected London borough mayors to prevent them attending an online meeting to discuss the whole mayoral schtick, ahead of last month’s referendum.

In the end, only one applicant, Donna Murray-Turner, showed up to answer questions from members about what makes her a suitable candidate to become Croydon’s first-ever elected Mayor. For all the good it did her: at the following night’s Croydon North nominations meeting, Murray-Turner attracted the fewest number of votes in the open poll, after coming last in the voting for the women’s reserved place section.

Other applicants approached by Inside Croydon denied that they had been directly warned off participating in the meeting.

Overwhelming: Croydon South was the second of the CLPs to nominate Shawcross and Audsley

The emails from Fode and London Region to Croydon party officials were, as ever, open to interpretation. Region did not explicitly ban the meeting, but they confirmed that no hustings should be held prior to shortlisting and that Labour Party email systems should not be used to send the event notice to members. Woe betide any Labour members who actually wants to ask questions or inform themselves before casting a vote.

“No reason was ever given by London Region or anybody else why it would be inappropriate to hold any other form of meeting in which members get to hear who the applicants are and give consideration to their competing visions for the Croydon mayoralty,” one clearly frustrated member told Inside Croydon.

“The nominations process as a whole was said by some of those present at the meeting to be a bit of a wasted effort for members because it makes a show of having a ‘democratic endorsement’, but in reality can be disregarded altogether by the shortlisting panel – and the problems with the way it has been organised, especially the lack of clarity and information before the meeting, made it quite a frustrating experience.”

And that is exactly how it would pan out.

The majority of Croydon Labour’s coouncillors, including the rump of the old Newman regime, had been utterly opposed to a change in the system of governance for the Town Hall, until about five minutes after the result of the October referendum showed every one of Croydon’s 28 wards had voted in favour of change.

Fat cats: Callton Young enjoyed a selfie of his campaigning in Thornton Heath against the change to having a Mayor

Of the six applicants for selection to be Labour’s mayoral candidate, four of them had all served in council cabinets under discredited former leader Tony Newman, something that was reflected in the members’ nomination process.

Only one of the councillors, Manju Shahul-Hameed, managed to scrape together a CLP nomination.

Callton Young only received a single nomination, from the affiliated union branch of the GMB. And this despite being proposed, oh-so-cosily, by fellow councillors who made the false claim to members that the person they were supporting had had nothing to do with the Newman regime.

Yet after London Region officials conducted their panel interviews last weekend, they decided to nominate only Councillor Young and Shawcross, and to not put into the ballot one of the candidates who attracted much more support from grassroots members.

But then, it had been easy to predict that Jamie Audsley would be blocked by the party machine, which had just months earlier stopped him from standing for re-election as a councillor in Bensham Manor ward.

Snubbed: will Labour’s Jamie Audsley run as an independent?

Audsley had won mayoral candidate nominations from Croydon South and Croydon Central CLPs, as well from the Jewish Labour Movement. But his stance on supporting a change in the council’s governance system appears to have been held against him.

The outrage among grassroots Labour members, real socialists and some of Audsley’s “Blue Labour” and old Oxford University friends was palpable when Inside Croydon broke the news on social media last weekend. Some seemed genuinely surprised that Labour would conduct a selection stitch-up in such a manner.

Having not been selected by Labour to run for election as a councillor again in 2022, Audsley – who has surrounded himself with like-minded members in what he calls his “Croydon Revive” group – might now be faced with a decision to opt to run for Croydon Mayor as an independent candidate.

Certainly, that appears to be the decision already reached by another of the unsuccessful Labour applicants, Murray-Turner. The black rights activist who has never been elected to public office (which is not always necessarily such a bad thing), had attracted backing over the summer from both Croydon Labour MPs, Reed and Sarah Jones. But without a single nomination from members, Murray-Turner was never going to get on to the Labour shortlist.

Head-to-head: Croydon North was the only CLP nominations meeting in which Shawcross had to compete directly with Audsley

Party sources say that the South Norwood businesswoman has spent time this week taking soundings to see what support she might attract if she split away from Labour to run some kind of “tabula rasa” campaign ahead of next May’s local elections.

Indeed, with the toxic reputation surrounding the Newman-run council, there could be a proliferation of independent candidates at ward level next May, who could split the left-leaning vote and condemn Labour to even deeper defeat than might have been imagined.

Hoping to rise above it all,  with a London-wide profile and a reputation for a safe pair of hands unsullied by the Newman years, is Shawcross.

Some observers, having seen the votes in the nomination meetings, suggest that Shawcross could get backing from at least 60 per cent of members next month.

A leader of Croydon Council in the 1990s, Shawcross has returned to Croydon politics after two decades at City Hall, first as a London Assembly Member, then as one of Sadiq Khan’s deputy mayors.

Regarded as a serious figure, she is clearly taking the business of selection and election very seriously herself, having moved into a campaign office in No1 Croydon this week.

Shawcross is not known to be an inveterate user of social media, not yet, anyway.

Trolling along: Shawcross had this reminder – but for who?

But was there just a sense of Shawcross “trolling” some of her Labour colleagues at Croydon Town Hall when, with one of her first tweets after her party’s mayoral shortlist was announced, she posted a link to the Nolan Principles, and wrote, “The Seven Principles of Public Life. Everyone in public life should know this off by heart and we should abide by it.”

Who could she have had in mind?

Read more: Shawcross leads the way in first Labour Mayor nominations
Read more: Underwood selected as Green candidate for office he opposed
Read more: Newman backers say they want to be Labour’s Mayor candidate

*NOV 21 UPDATE: Having received information from a reliable source regarding the Croydon North CLP nomination count, we have amended our table showing the results

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This entry was posted in 2022 Croydon Mayor election, Alisa Flemming, Callton Young, Croydon North, Croydon South, Jamie Audsley, London Assembly, London-wide issues, Manju Shahul Hameed, Steve Reed MP, Tony Newman, Val Shawcross and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Audsley has nowhere to run after Labour selection stitch-up

  1. Ian Stewart says:

    The meeting you refer to which was blocked was a local Branch meeting where we wanted to meet the candidates, hear their statements and indicate who we felt was the best candidate to represent us in the Mayoral election.
    We knew our vote would never be binding, nor taken into consideration.
    All we wanted was to exhibit the candidates to our local constituents in order to give them an idea to the candidates qualities.
    London Region blocked the candidates from enjoining the meeting – as they said it was not for local Branches to hold hustings, the assumption being that local LP members were not competent to comment on the candidates qualities – and the only one who chose to ignore that directive was Donna Murray-Taylor.
    By pure accident, the LP will choose the most electable candidate – Val Shawcross – and will have a chance of winning this thing with her.

    Personally, I’d liked to have seen Jamie give the Party a bloody nose, but standing as an independent, he won’t have the resources the local and national party will throw at Val – even if they deplete finances even more to get her elected.

    Our local party is a shambles and the leadership aren’t seeing it or are choosing to ignore it.
    We will be decimated come May, with the only light being we’ll have a Labour Mayor presiding over a majority Tory Council.

    • Our local party is a shambles and the leadership aren’t seeing it or are choosing to ignore it.
      We will be decimated come May, with the only light being we’ll have a Labour Mayor presiding over a majority Tory Council.

      Thanks for this, Ian.
      Completely agree with that analysis, unless London Labour and Reed pull further stunts to undermine their own cause.

      Whoever gets to be Mayor will be effectively powerless at least until 2024, as the government commissioners (in all but name) call the shots.

  2. It would be good if Val Shawcross considered writing some opinion pieces on iC so we could understand what she will bring to the role.

    Would also be good if we could do a cleansweep and the current Croydon Labour leader leaves at the same time; as she was not prepared to stand as Mayor (says a lot) I don’t understand why she thinks she should be supported as local party leader – and we get Katherine Kerswell out too; we now know her to be borderline useless.

    New mayor, labour leader and ceo – would be like a blood transfusion for the borough.

    I’d support Jamie A for Croydon Labour leader.

    • Inside Croydon will be publishing an exclusive interview with Val Shawcross later this week, together with an Under The Flyover podcast exclusively for our subscribers.

      That the Labour selection process is inward-looking is amply demonstrated in your comment: Labour Party members have been receiving emails and virtual campaign leaflets from both candidates, yet neither Shawcross nor Callton Young have yet pivoted to address the wider, Croydon public audience.

      Hamida Ali? It appears that she “stepped up”… to step down.

      And Audsley will never be leader of the Croydon Labour group. You need to be a councillor to be group leader…

  3. Anita Smith says:

    If Val Shawcross is chosen as the Labour candidate for Mayor, she is at least untainted by the scandals which surrounded the Newman administration. She is also experienced having worked under Mayor Khan, and can be considered a safe pair of hands.

    But those qualities can also work against her. She will be Labour’s chosen candidate, answerable to them, not able to make independent decisions and working with a party that Ian Stewart describes as a “shambles”. Presumably, if she doesn’t toe the party line, she could be ousted like Jamie Audsley was.She will also have to contend with the ambitions of Steve Reed.

    Having worked for Khan will she be able to stand up to him and demand a reduction in the amount of homes Croydon was told to build. Something that has caused great distress in parts of our Borough. And does Croydon need a safe pair of hands at this point in time?

    Whoever is chosen, must listen to the people first and their party second. We don’t need safe, we need innovative thinking, a person who can rejuvenate our town, someone who can recognise the different concerns in the north of our Borough to those in the south. Someone who has a vision for our town, not just an eye on a prestigious position. From the prospective candidates we already know about, non of them fit the bill, in my humble opinion.

    But please can we find someone who we can all get behind, who can unite the north and the south, someone from non of the main parties, someone who listens, and is prepared to work with the people perhaps by committees or working parties. There is a lot of frustration out there, but also a lot of goodwill, Whoever gets the job needs to harness that energy and use it for the benefit of all Croydonians

    • Has anyone discovered if Jason Perry, who voted through council budgets in 2019 and 2020, has discovered a single original thought?

      Or are you, Anita, effectively admitting that the DEMOC campaign and various residents’ associations were acting only as a front for the hideously unprincipled and personally ambitious Chris Philp and Croydon Conservatives?

  4. Anita Smith says:

    whilst I bow to your superior intellect, I feel I must take issue with your comments. Why bring DEMOC into the conversation?

    It served its purpose, its ONLY purpose and got people from every part of Croydon out to vote, which they did, overwhelmingly in favour of a Mayor. Even Labour strongholds voted in favour of a Democratically elected Mayor, so hardly a Conservative plot.

    The people who turned out to leaflet, canvas and support DEMOC came from all walks of life, all political persuasions and many had no resident association affiliations. These people could rightly feel affronted by the assumption that they were simply a ‘front’ for the Conservative party.

    To turn to your attack on Chris Philp. You can fool some people some of the tine but you can’t fool all the people all of the time. he must be doing something right because he is immensely popular and according to his constituents, extremely hard working and conscientious. perhaps your comments could equally be directed at those who have now been ousted from this Labour council.

    i was simply appealing for a candidate to come forward who can cross the invisible line between north and south , care about the needs of the north and the south equally, and one who does not have to report to Paynasters for every decision they make. Is that too much to ask for?

    • Where’s the attack?

      And, more to the point Anita, where’s the answer?

      Your unbridled devotion to Chris “My Career Comes First” Philp is clearly the DEMOC mask slipping.

    • Actual Prey says:

      Anita – As a Coulsdon Resident for the last 11 years I would argue that Chris Philp is not immensely popular. In fact I find him to be contemptibly useless, not interested in the needs of the constituency and seems to have abandoned Coulsdon to the reckless overdevelopment we see now. Hence why Chipstead Valley Road explodes periodically into a river of effluent.

      A proper MP would be holding planners to account and raising the issue of overdevelopment higher with the water companies and developers themselves.

      You seem to be a bit of a cheerleader for him… Perhaps to keep him on side for when your RA needs to get weight behind a planning fight?

    • It being the start of pantomime season, then the perfect answer to “he is immensely popular and according to his constituents, extremely hard working and conscientious” is, of course, “oh no he isn’t!”

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