Bonner replaces Reed’s ‘Bodger’ as Labour right keep tight grip

Our political editor, WALTER CRONXITE, on the rearranging of the deckchairs after the party’s ship in Croydon has already sunk

Happy days: Carole Bonner when she was a Labour councillor, with Simon Hall, now suspended from the Labour Party

Carole Bonner, the former councillor and long-time loyalist of the discredited Tony Newman, is the new chair of the Croydon Labour Party’s Local Campaign Forum, the committee which did so much to lose the borough’s first Mayoral election and with it control of the council.

The less-than-dynamic LCF held its annual meeting last week – the first time that it had managed to convene a meeting of any kind since the Town Hall elections were held nearly three months ago.

Joel “Bodger” Bodmer, the acolyte of Croydon North MP Steve Reed OBE, has stood down from the LCF altogether, after his brief spell as chair had overseen the ill-judged and disastrous campaign against having an elected Mayor and a series of incompetent selections for councillor elections.

The LCF is a committee formed of delegates from the three Croydon Constituency Labour Parties, plus members of the Town Hall Labour group, including new leader Stuart King.

Given the mess created at the council by Newman and his numpties in the run-up to this year’s local elections, and the shambolic campaign run by Bodmer and the LCF, the Labour Party has been paying closer-than-usual attention to the way the party is being run in Croydon.

Party General Secretary David Evans is known to have a particularly close interest, having run a consultancy based in the borough which received hundreds of thousands of pounds in council contracts in the years after he helped Labour win control of the Town Hall in 2014.

Nice drop of red: David Evans

Party interventions have seen decisions that would usually be taken by the LCF or by local members – such as who was to run as the candidate in the South Croydon ward by-election at the end of June – having been imposed on the membership.

That seems unlikely to change any time soon, with Bonner replacing “Bodger” Bodmer as chair. Bonner, after all, had been one of the LCF’s officers who approved the selections of candidates who had been openly racist or debarred from being trustees of charities because of their questionable conduct. At a time when Labour in London was winning Wandsworth and Westminster councils from the Tories, Bodger and Bonner were losing council seats from Crystal Palace to Fairfield, from Waddon to the ex-councillor’s own old stomping ground of New Addington.

Bonner was elected as LCF chair by a 9-5 vote, beating Val Shawcross, who had taken on the task as Labour’s candidate for Mayor after her party had spent nine months telling the people of Croydon that they shouldn’t have an elected Mayor.

Bonner’s appointment will be seen by many within Croydon Labour as just another example in which the old guard under Newman, the former council leader, and Reed maintain their iron grip on control of the party locally. For their part, Newman and Simon Hall, the former cabinet member for finances, remain suspended by the Labour Party following their parts in the financial collapse of the council.

Nuala O’Neill, another official at the election-losing LCF, has also stood down. She is replaced as LCF secretary by Russell Whitehead, from Croydon North, who carries a Reed seal of approval.

New vice-chair is Croydon South’s Jess Rich, who brings to the committee her experience of losing a council seat to the Tories.

Top job: Pearleen Sangha announcing her promotion

There are other rewards for failure in the Labour Party of Starmer and Evans.

It has been announced that Pearleen Sangha is to be promoted to become the interim director of London Region while her boss, Amy Fode, and Blairite ally of Reed, is on maternity leave.

Sangha was the most senior party official to be parachuted in to Croydon ahead of the local elections, and is the single figure referenced by candidates, including those who won as well as those who lost, to have delayed and frustrated campaign efforts.

“Pearleen lost Labour the Mayoralty, and lost Labour the council,” one source said this morning.

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About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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10 Responses to Bonner replaces Reed’s ‘Bodger’ as Labour right keep tight grip

  1. Ciaran Murtagh says:

    You do know Labour won 34 seats to the Conservatives 33 right? God love you for trying.

    • Who won the Mayoral election? Cos they control the council

    • Susie says:


      • Leslie Parry says:

        You do know you lost control of Croydon Council to a Tory Direct Elected Mayor and Cabinet, I have attended 2 Cabinet Meetings as a guest speaker since elections and the shadow cabinet have not performed well. Last but not least the way the LCF performed in shortlisting and selection processes was poor and imposing candidates against the wishes if some wards was not acceptable. So why do grassroots members have to tolerate the privileged decisions of the few?

  2. Leslie Parry says:

    As a grassroots member can I ask why do we need an LCF? Wards, Branches, CLP`s have the structures and support to set policy, and process shortlisting’s and selection within timetables. So what is the need for this disastrous group ? is it jobs for the chosen few? is it control? if this lot are needed let us have an election of all Croydon Members on who should be on it!!!!

    • Ian Kierans says:

      Realistically there is no requirement or need. But if you are going to run a particular project/Election/Campaign cross Ward or MP Constituency you do need some kind of steering group and common way forward. So in theory an LCF would meet that purpose.

      However (as Mr Pelling and Mr Fisher could probably give more insight to) – there has always been ”wings of party Politic’s and those that espouse and embrace Centrism.
      Both main parties have all three and independent mind people also. Other parties do not always have this and therefore in general do not have broad policy nor appeal. (Peter U will obviously like to debate that opinion)

      The Conservative and Unionist Party have always had a difficult time keeping control of the Right (or seriously wrong) wing. Labour and Cooperative Party the same issue with the Left wing – no surprise. Strangely fanaticism and extremism in both Politic’s and Religion does not sit well with most voters.

      However If this LCF continues in the ways of the past it will be even more difficult to martial activists at elections and it will find it’s support wandering off and again it’s broad appeal waning. However it does take an electorate a bit of time to wake up so not much change this side of 2016.

      However (tongue in cheek) no matter what Labour antic’s this LCF gets up to it will be down to the impact of Central Government actions over the next three years and its funding to Croydon which will dictate who will be running the Council after the next election. All one needs to do is communicate effectively the impact of every action/decision the Conservative and Unionist party makes as they do it. Perhaps that can be a priority task for the Labour LCF if they can find credibility?

  3. Simple message from Croydon Labour to Croydon voters. We’re not changing after our corrupted governance and opposition to reform in Croydon local government.

  4. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – I agree with Andrew and Leslie. The LCF was a waste of time as it was, and now seems no different other than a vehicle to carry on with what happened in the past. Perhaps the initials mean ‘Let the Competition Flourish’ in reality.

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