Labour’s ‘toxic legacy’ in Croydon proving hard to shake off

CROYDON IN CRISIS: Around the country, the Tories are in retreat thanks to the failings of their three Prime Ministers. But not in Croydon, where they face a neutered opposition, as political editor WALTER CRONXITE reports

Bin and gone: after a disastrous eight years, Labour continue to be rubbished in Croydon

In London and in Croydon, it is genuinely a tale of two cities for the Labour Party.

For Croydon Labour, it is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

National opinion polls reflect the impact of having three Tory Prime Ministers in 2022, giving Labour such a large lead nationally that if a General Election were held today, they might win 71 of London’s parliamentary seats, with the Liberal Democrats taking the other four seats and the Tories completely wiped out in the capital.

That includes the entirely unlikely prospect of Labour’s Ben Taylor becoming the next MP for Croydon South.

Croydon Labour canvassers, often made up of the leafletting cult that is local councillors or wannabe councillors, console themselves that they can distract residents from the troubles that their party have brought upon their borough by pointing to the sleaze of Boris Johnson, or the incompetence of Liz Truss, and the state of national politics.

But Croydon’s voters have proved themselves to be rather more savvy than that.

When Labour’s London dominance reached new highs last May with the party gaining control in long-standing Tory bastions of Westminster and Wandsworth, here in Croydon, Labour was stinking the place out.

Wishful thinking?: latest polling suggests Labour might win Croydon South from Tory Chris Philp. Croydon realities suggest otherwise

Labour lost both the Croydon Mayoralty – and therefore control of a council they had held since 2014 – and seven council seats across New Addington North and South, Fairfield, Upper Norwood and Crystal Palace and Waddon. Labour didn’t only lose council seats to the Tories in Croydon. They lost seats to a LibDem and the Greens as well, the first time in the 57-year history of the London Borough of Croydon that Labour had lost council seats to these parties.

But after eight years of the residents in the south of the borough being sneered at and ignored by the now discredited ex-leader of the council, Tony Newman, the malaise for Labour in Croydon is deepest there.

In the Croydon South constituency at last May’s council elections, Labour finished in third place in every ward with the exception of Waddon, South Croydon ward and the two Selsdon wards. In a subsequent Selsdon Vale and Forestdale by-election, Labour was beaten into third place by an energetic and organised Green Party campaign.

Those sorts of results suggest that extrapolating the opinion polls to suggest Labour is going to have an MP in Croydon South any time soon is very wide of the mark. The selection of a Labour candidate for the constituency who has a record losing performances at the ballot box underlines that point, and probably reflects how Labour has little real intention of seriously contesting Croydon South.

Croydon Labour’s priorities, come a General Election between now and December 2024, are more likely to be getting Sarah Jones re-elected in what is likely to be a reconfigured Croydon East seat that will be more marginal than the current Croydon Central seat.

Better organised: expect Croydon’s Tories to produce many more leaflets like this one for years to come

Bewilderingly, Croydon Labour, and Labour’s London regional office, have so far shown no real sign of having any strategy to recover from the damage that Newman, Alison Butler, Paul Scott and David Evans’s other mates managed to inflict on the borough, and upon their party’s own political fortunes here. All we see is a hope for the national tide to raise the firmly beached SS Croydon Labour. That and a dependency on demographic change to help paint the town red again.

Such complacency is reflected in really poor performances by Labour councillors at meetings since the local elections.

Labour is a neutered, impotent opposition. They have little credibility after crashing the council’s finances, and are unable to call Mayor Jason Perry to account. Their ill-judged questions are easily dismissed.

The Green and LibDem councillors have no such baggage as bankrupters of the borough. It is fair to say that their questions come across as intellectually cogent, unlike much from the Labour benches.

Stuart King, Labour’s leader on the council (their third in two years), was made to  look foolish at the December meeting in the Town Hall Chamber when he taunted Mayor Perry about which libraries will be closed. Perry resorted to his stock answer: Labour’s bankrupting the council is the cause of any cuts. We can expect to hear that line trotted out many more times between now and the next council elections in 2026.

The Conservatives look far better organised at council meetings, with a consistent line about Labour’s “toxic legacy”. The Tories are determined to make Labour take all the blame for Croydon becoming what the Conservatives call a “minimal council”.

Labour councillors’ contributions at council meetings either lack self-awareness or reflect inexperience. Those councillors who were responsible for bankrupting the borough and shamelessly chose to stay on the expenses gravy train have mostly been relegated to the back benches… out of sight, out of mind. That, or handed the ceremonial mayoral robes of office.

Others, meanwhile, are compromised by having failed to back Labour’s Mayoral candidate, Val Shawcross, in her condemnation of Croydon Labour during last May’s election.

This leaves Labour’s Town Hall front bench populated mostly with novices. And it shows.

Questioning from Mike Bonello, the party’s education spokesperson, reveals that he is unaware that councils don’t run much education these days.

Numpty: ‘Thirsty’ Chris Clark is one of the Newman loyalists who continues to feature in Town Hall debates

Chrishni Reshekaron decided to use the last full council meeting to complain that there is not a landlord licensing scheme in place. It did not take long for it to be pointed out that this was because her Labour council did not even have a basic housing strategy in place to allow for approval to be given for the scheme to continue. Tory Lynne Hale politely schooled the rookie.

And Chris Clark, one of Newman’s numpties who has been given a front-bench job, just takes the mickey out of the Croydon public when he told the council that the Conservative council was building on “the work of the previous council on improving council governance”. Seriously.

It’s seriously unfunny when you take into account how the council of which Clark was an enthusiastic member lost at least £163million of Croydon residents’ money through failed governance.

Labour also lack all discipline in having one councillor after another ask for more spending by the council they bankrupted. They also appear hypocritical in complaining about the impact of cuts on the needy when less than a year ago they were cutting up to £200 a month from the household budgets of some of the poorest residents with their reductions of Council Tax benefit. And it is Labour who “left council tenants living in squalor” at Regina Road and elsewhere, as Mayor Perry was able to mention.

Perry’s charge that Labour are not reconciled to what they have done, that they “can’t admit that they did it”, strikes home and Labour needs to confront that issue to be successful in Croydon again.

Labour cannot rely on the national political tides to rescue them. The 2022 Croydon elections show that there are real problems for Labour which might yet impact forthcoming parliamentary elections.

Read more:#PennReport: Cover-ups and denial over Brick by Brick failure
Read more:
Newman and Negrini’s pay-off: no papers, no notes, no reasons
Read more:
#PennReport wanted police probe into possible misconduct
Read more: Watchdog suggests Negrini’s pay-off may have been unlawful



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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in 2022 council elections, 2022 Croydon Mayor election, 2024 General Election, Alison Butler, Chris Clark, Chrishni Reshekaron, Croydon Central, Croydon Council, Croydon Greens, Croydon South, Lynne Hale, Mayor Jason Perry, Mike Bonello, New Addington, New Addington North, Paul Scott, Sarah Jones MP, Selsdon Vale and Forestdale, South Croydon, Tony Newman, Waddon and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Labour’s ‘toxic legacy’ in Croydon proving hard to shake off

  1. Peter Underwood says:

    I spoke to hundreds of Croydon residents last year during the Council election campaign in May and the two by-elections later in the year. For people who normally vote Conservative, there was a lot of disappointment and disgust at the Conservative Party in Government, but their biggest fear was that Labour might win in Croydon. Amongst traditional Labour voters there was no enthusiasm for voting Labour either, but they just wanted to ‘get the Tories out’. This attitude was reflected in the leaflets produced by those Parties – both devoted more of their leaflets to saying how bad the other one was than they did talking about themselves.

    More people are starting to realise that they are badly served by both Labour and Conservative. Councillors Ria Patel and Esther Sutton are showing the residents of Fairfield ward the difference when you have active Green Party Councillors who will work hard for the area. In my campaigns I have tried to focus on the positive changes electing a Green Party representative would make. As the article states, in the recent Selsdon Vale and Forestdale by-election the Conservative vote halved, and the Green Party moved up into second beating Labour into third place.

    I hope that more people will realise that voting Green is the best way of both stopping Labour winning in Croydon and the best way of getting the Tories out. Even better than that, electing more Green Party people means having fewer politicians who just spend their time criticising the opposition and more politicians who are working hard to make things better for all of us.

  2. David White says:

    Walter Cronxite hits the nail on the head with this article. It doesn’t make sense for the Labour Group to condemn library closures and cuts when their former administration proposed or implemented similar cuts.

    They cannot realistically hold the Tory Mayor to account over the handling of the Council’s finances when Labour councillors locally were principally responsible (along with the Tory Government) for the Council’s effective bankruptcy.

    Some of the best Labour councillors from the previous administration, the ones who questioned the actions of the Labour leadership at the time (such as Jamie Audsley and Andrew Pelling) were blocked from even standing this time. As a result the current Labour Group is a combination of failed politicians from the past and novices.

    The Labour Group needs to have a vision for Croydon. This is not apparent at the moment in the Council Chamber, or in their lack of positive message to voters.

  3. Leslie Parry says:

    I resigned my Labour Party Membership two weeks ago and agree 100% with this report and more. I live in S Norwood and the three current councillors do not deal with or represent the people. Mr Herman asks silly questions in committee and council and references the people but he never meets with them.

    For over 50 years I supported this party and Croydon Labour are the worst I have experienced and they are not trusted and that includes Reed MP

  4. Robert Smith. says:

    A very well written article.

    Anyone watching a meeting of Full Council would see all is not well in the Labour Group. They consistently look miserable. They can’t work out what questions to ask the Mayor – Cllr King declined to ask a follow up a while back saying he knew the answer would be that it was his own fault!

    Labour are totally and utterly lost in opposition. A party broken and shattered, and led by the man who shared a job with Cllr. Paul Scott (how was a job-share ever allowed?).

    Fortunately there are third parties in the chamber who along with the Mayor’s own backbenchers do more than Labour to hold the administration to account.

    As for Labour harking on about winning Croydon South…Tories are more likely to win the new Croydon East that swaps Fairfield for Selsdon.

  5. Alan Malarkey says:

    And yet the party of the Mayor is implicated in the policies of destruction meted out nationally by his leaders. He and they cannot be absolved. Admittedly Labour locally lost its way which has had some impact. However, national policies and the terrible state of conservative infighting has been far more punishing to Croydonians than the previous Council’s problems. Let us take heart that the intentions of Labour Party members and councillors are generally for the betterment of all communities – we have yet to see much at all from the ‘listening’ Mayor so maybe, some time on we can get beyond the recriminations of the past and ask of our politicians what are the values and principles you represent?

    • Stands back and waits for reaction…

    • Ian Kierans says:

      ”Let us take heart that the intentions of Labour Party members and councillors are generally for the betterment of all communities” i

      That is where the difficulty lies.
      You are right – but it is not just the Mayor.

      Very little evidence has been displayed by Labour where it’s actions have been for the betterment of all in this Community. Inf act many of the attitudes and actions have displayed the opposite. Many members and residents were directly impacted and suffered detriment by prior actions and attitude. There has not been much apology for that – or any answer.

      Many are trying to carry on with business as usual but the actions of the past are tainting that and its credibility.

      Still surely a new Labour Councillor would be replying to Mr Perry the following.

      Mr Perry – Yes Mr Newman speculated and lost a lot of money from a position of poverty but we would know more of that if the RIPIs were released and had a full public investigation into all the factors that led to it. Might it not be the case that the Borough poverty and perhaps desperation was created by Mr Fisher and this Central Government? . Did not Fisher and yourself not leave a large hole in the Finances?. Did this Governemnt not drastically reduces funding to this Borough and did you not support your party in this? Are you therefore taking ownership of your actions and some culpability or ,just muck raking those not involved and assigning to them the deplorable standards set by your party?

      You Mr Perry personally were part of that shambles were you not a Councillor and voted for those activities?. You apparantly failed to prevent Fisher or Newman and did little to say that Central Government policy was detrimental to this Borough or did you?

      Perhaps the new Councillor should say – I did not support any of that nor was involved. Councillors of the Party I represent did, and some have done the decent thing and resigned, others have been suspended by the Party.
      But you as an active participent in that shambles have not
      So what exactly is your point? Do you not feel somewhat of a hypocrite? Are you not still stuffing the residents of Croydon with cuts and poor performance? Is it not time to actually stand up for the Borough and residents?

      We have quite a few Councillors who should be able to do exactly what you said. So why has there been no evidence of that? Why are many in the Communities of Labour Councillors feeling abandoned and unanswered?
      How come those party members – allowed Councillors who were actually representing them and against some internal party politic’s to be de-selected and those that did not be elected?

      You should be right but sadly the actuality is not evident as yet.
      That may not be the fault of the Councillors either.

  6. I think the poll by pollingreport.uk was showing a general trend across the country. The poll shows Labour winning 380 seats. That means a swing big enough for them to win Croydon south. But, as this article from W. Cronxite shows, Croydon south is unlike the rest of the country.

    Labour have seriously discredited themselves with their reckless financial actions, ignoring and blocking advice from their own members and councillors. In other tory strongholds libdems have taken disaffected tory voters such as in the North Shropshire by election.

    In the last election there were more votes for Labour than libdem in Croydon south but this could really change next time. Libdems gained from both labour and tory in 2019. However, who knows, Sunak might work miracles but I doubt it.

  7. Sarah Bird says:

    Looking at the results and the rise of the Green party’s share of votes in Croydon It looks increasingly likely that the Green party and Liberal democrats and independent candidates will do well. None of the current incumbents MP ‘s are safe even in Croydon south

  8. Vagabonds and liars the lot of them, and less than an ounce of common sense between them. Politics are no longer about what will benefit the people, it is all about what s best for them.

    From paying PM’s a salary for life after a mere two weeks of employment to paying the same to one who was virtually sacked for what amounts to gross misconduct, I bet the general public didn’t agree to that!

    As for Croydon, it would seem that the residents of the borough knew exactly what was going on under Tony Newman and the bleeding of public funds and yet those who are still under scrutiny today, were allowed to leave with golden handshakes.

    It is a shambles at best and has made us the laughing stock of the world.
    I’m sure that the people of Croydon know exactly what is in their interest and what isn’t but as I’ve said, those voices only get listened to when elections are in the air.

    • Ian Kierans says:

      Not even listened to then just lip service- Perhaps too many now feel the same as you and cannot be bothered to vote anymore?

      But they would be wrong.
      Change occurs when people vote – that means all people.
      Parties listen when non party individuals who represent constituents get elected against those that have not by those party members
      Parties understand how wrong they are when the non voters vote against them en mass.
      Then they change or they cease to exist.

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