CROYDON LABOUR IN CRISIS: Calls for the resignations of party officials after a second failure to properly conduct background checks, as election campaign staggers through its latest controversy.
EXCLUSIVE by STEVEN DOWNES
There are mounting calls from Labour members in Croydon for the immediate resignation of the chair and key officials of the Local Campaign Forum after another of the party’s approved candidates for the Town Hall elections on May 5 stood down following widespread criticism of their abusive, sexist and homophobic social media posts.
On Tuesday, this website reported how 24-year-old Elliott-Jay Munroop had tried to cover-up his use of vile racist abuse and expressions such as “batty boy” by deleting his Twitter account soon after he was selected to be a Labour candidate in South Norwood.
After trying to claim that the tweets had been from his “youth” (some had been posted as recently as last year), he finally issued an apology on Thursday night.
Then, just before 8pm last night, Munroop announced (via his latest Twitter account) that he was withdrawing as a candidate for the council elections.
“Politics can never just be about having ideals, but has to be about living those ideals,” Munroop wrote.
Munroop’s status as a candidate had become untenable among fellow members.
“Some LGBTQ members were very hurt,” according to one source. Asked whether Munroop’s defence that his abusive tweets were from his youth, the Labour source said, “No one bought that.”
The issue of Munroop’s abusive comments were also seen as a growing problem for the mayoral campaign of Val Shawcross. When a gay Tory activist sought to ask questions about the issue at hustings this week, they were shouted down by Labour supporters.
Another young Conservative, Kofi Frimpong, who is standing in the elections in Norbury Park, tweeted a response to Munroop’s online “apology”: “We grew up in the same area around the same people,” Frimpong wrote.
“I would understand if the tweets were that of a 13-year-old influenced by ‘negative influences’. But you weren’t. When you sent some of those tweets you were older than I am now!
“Growing up in a rough area is not an excuse!”
Labour members in South Norwood would normally expect to hold a meeting to democratically select a candidate to represent them in the elections. But that won’t be happening this time, as the Local Campaign Forum says that it will choose the replacement candidate.
The LCF officials – chair Joel “Bodger” Bodmer, secretary Nuala O’Neill and treasurer Carole Bonner – say that this is because the deadline for nominations is too close. Nominations for the election open at the Town Hall on Monday.
This move to effectively hand-pick a replacement candidate for a safe Labour ward, which apparently has the backing of Labour’s London region office, will be regarded as unsatisfactory and looked upon with great suspicion by many in the party.
“They’re making it up as they go along,” one senior party figure told Inside Croydon this morning.
Despite the shambles surrounding their oversight of the selection process, complaints about “Orwellian” deselections of sitting councillors, allegations of “stitch-ups” in some wards and the rapidly approaching election day, Bodmer has failed to call a meeting of the LCF – the borough-wide committee supposedly running Labour’s stuttering campaign – since February.
A meeting that was arranged for last night was cancelled at short notice, with no reason given.
Bodmer is a recent arrival in Croydon, and is known to be a close ally of Croydon North MP Steve Reed OBE. Before moving to Croydon, Bodmer had been chair of the LCF in Lambeth, which had approved the selection as a candidate of Philip Normal who in January was forced to quit as a councillor after his own history of racist and abusive tweets was uncovered.
Munroop is the second Croydon Labour 2022 election candidate to have come through the whole of the LCF’s interview and approval process only later to be exposed as having some past conduct that probably would not impress the electorate.
Earlier this month, one of the selected candidates in Broad Green, Ramaraj Rajagopal, was de-selected.
Bodmer and the LCF acted against Rajagopal only after an investigation published by Inside Croydon in January showed how the candidate had breezed through his party’s so-called “due diligence” without anyone noticing that he had been the subject of a High Court judgement that declared his conduct on behalf of a Thornton Heath-based charity was “wholly incompatible with his duties as a Trustee, being a blatant breach of trust”.
Inside Croydon has since been made aware of allegations that a member of the Labour-controlled council cabinet had full knowledge of the High Court judgement at the time of Rajagopal’s selection, but opted to do nothing about it.
In the latest case of Munroop, there have been some sympathy for the ex-candidate’s plight, and respect for his eventual, if somewhat belated, apology and decision to stand down.
“I’m very disappointed,” said another senior party figure this morning.
“The LCF has failed to organise the panel in a professional way. The chair should resign. I would say that the LCF have failed to give Munroop any sort of duty of care.”
In his tweeted statement last night, Munroop wrote, “I have reflected on how important it is that our elected representatives lead by example and take responsibility for their actions.
“I have caused hurt and upset and I need to take responsibility for my actions.
“I do not want fellow young people in our community to look at me and conclude that the language I used in my previous social media posts are acceptable. Politics can never just be about having ideals but has to be about living those ideals.
“Therefore I am withdrawing as a council candidate in May’s elections.”
The LCF has never responded to Inside Croydon’s questions about their conduct over Munroop’s selection.
Read more: No apology from candidate for abusive and homophobic tweets
Read more: ‘It’s an utter joke’: councillors unhappy at selection stitch-ups
Read more: Labour councillor submits bullying complaint to Labour Party
Read more: The Buck stops here: Labour campaign disarray after fixer quits
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