Andrew Fisher, the Labour Party’s executive director of policy under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, was elected as the chair of the Croydon Central Constituency Labour Party last night.
The shock outcome saw him unseat Carole Bonner, the steadfastly loyal Newman numpty.
Croydon Central is the marginal Westminster seat won by Sarah Jones for Labour in 2017 under the hugely popular Corbynite manifesto For The Many, Not The Few, which is widely acknowledged as having been the work of Fisher when policy chief.
Fisher resigned his Westminster job with the Leader of the Opposition in 2019, ahead of that December’s General Election. Fisher wrote in a memo to Corbyn that some members of their team had a “lack of professionalism, competence and human decency”, and that they used a “blizzard of lies and excuses”.
And now he chairs Croydon Central CLP…
Fisher won by the narrowest of margins by a single vote from just 79 members logged in.
Though hard to gauge on a virtual meeting, the centrists attending seemed notably subdued by Bonner’s defeat.
“He writes for your website, don’t he?” one Croydon Central member messaged Inside Croydon. “They’ll have him expelled in the morning.”
That is thought to be a reference to Bonner’s key role on the Local Campaign Forum, the committee which determines candidate selections, and her part in de-selecting and expelling Waddon councillor Andrew Pelling.
In a separate vote later in proceedings, both Bonner and Fisher were elected to serve on the LCF. Despite the often chaotic manner in which the selection of candidates for the upcoming May local elections has been handled by Bonner and the LCF, her pitch for re-appointment was, according to another attendee, “We shouldn’t change the LCF with the elections coming up.”
The member said, “That’s the same LCF under Bonner and Steve Reed’s mate, Joel Bodmer, that has pushed Pelling into standing for Mayor against Val Shawcross. That’s hardly successful to my mind.”
Another observer noted, “It feels good to get our CLP back and out of the grip of the right-wing party machine.”
And another noted that Fisher’s success came despite there being no noticeable, organised “left slate” of candidates. “It looks like a wider selection of members have backed the left candidate to punch back at the constant fixes.”
Many grassroots members in Croydon Central remain angry at the treatment of their CLP’s long-serving former secretary, David White, who was expelled by the Labour Party in January, after 50 years’ membership, without any kind of hearing.
Others, though, suggested that the choice of chair was motivated by enlightened self-interest.
“Apart from the politics of it, I think Carole lost because meetings under her chairship were so… boring,” said one experienced campaigner.
“Several Croydon Central meetings in the last year have ended in uproar because Carole curtailed debate. Andrew will be far more inclusive.”
Until she stood down in 2018, Bonner was a councillor in New Addington where her ward colleague was Simon Hall, the cabinet member for finance who is seen as responsible for crashing the council’s finances and who remains suspended from the Labour Party. Bonner appears to still be loyal to the disgraced council leader, Tony Newman, and the rest of his Blairite clique.
At last night’s meeting, before the vote was taken, “Fisher made a very impressive speech highlighting his superior experience chairing meetings with shadow cabinet members and senior civil servants,” another member observed.
“He also fired a shot across Carole’s bows with a remark about resolving disagreements through votes, rather than the use of bureaucratic rules.”
This morning, Fisher tweeted, “Immense privilege, as a Labour member of 26 years, to be elected as chair of my CLP (the fabulous Croydon Central) last night.”
Other appointments made at the meeting included:
BAME officer: Ava Payne
Disabilities officer: Nuala O’Neill
LGBTQ+ Officer: Mike Bonello
Trades union liaison: Bridget Galloway
Communications Officer: Harry Kind, who self-declared as “a geek”. He won a majority of votes over Francesca McKibbin, who included in her address that she has “a cracking sense of humour even if I do say so myself”, which some might suggest makes her far better qualified for the role.
Sangeeta Gobidaas was elected as women’s officer ahead of Karen Ogunko, who failed to attend the meeting.
Yvonne Green was elected as membership secretary ahead of Eleni Loukopoulou, and Mark Henson was elected unopposed as treasurer.
Croydon Central’s LCF reps are Bonner, O’Neill, Green and Fisher.
In the latest signal of dramatically falling membership numbers across the Starmer-led Labour Party in all three constituencies in the borough, Tuesday night’s meeting of the Croydon South CLP had to be abandoned because it was not quorate.
Croydon South – the CLP of which many Labour councillors who represent wards in the north of the borough are members – is thought to require around 30 to be in attendance to form a quorum.
Tuesday’s meeting was expected to receive a paper which sought to reverse the membership’s decision to withhold a £5,000 campaign donation from the LCF, as protest over the manner in which Waddon councillor Andrew Pelling had been treated. That has now had to be deferred until next month’s meeting, if they can scramble together enough members to show up.
Read more: Starmer’s Labour is ‘losing members, losing funds, losing staff’
Read more: Evans appointment to Labour top job ‘could tear party apart’
Read more: Labour members angry over ‘Orwellian’ deselection of Pelling
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