Even political editor WALTER CRONXITE’s ghast was flabbered when he heard how some of those at the heart of the council regime that bankrupted the borough are now shamelessly chasing after selection for a new parliamentary seat
Last week’s announcement that Labour MP Sarah Jones would be “seeking selection” (meaning: is a shoo-in) in the new parliamentary seat of Croydon West and South Norwood has prompted a stampede of wannabe parliamentarians looking to become the party’s candidate for Croydon East.
Among those making frantic phone calls to win over the party’s activists and rank and file members are two of the numptiest of Newman’s Numpties – Labour councillors who remained fiercely loyal to the ex-leader who did so much to cause the council’s spectacular financial collapse in 2020.
Alisa Flemming, straight off a year of being paraded around the borough as the ceremonial mayor, has made her ambition to become the new MP for Croydon East plain. This is despite Flemming playing a key part in the regime of now discredited Tony Newman which brought the borough to its knees.
Also among the borough’s bankrupters who still think they are worthy of the electorate’s trust is Maddie Henson. The Addiscombe East councillor is a partner in a tech firm that supplies the Labour Party with its controversial Anonyvoter online voting system – having been given that gig by General Secretary David Evans without there ever being any tendering process.
Jones has been MP for the marginal Croydon Central since 2017, and her decision to jump to the much safer Croydon West seat has divided opinion and attracted criticism from party activists left behind in Croydon Central, which forms the bulk of the new Croydon East seat.
The new constituencies, which will see Croydon having four MPs in Parliament after the next General Election, are the result of a Boundary Commission review intended to even up the number of voters in parliamentary seats. The Commission is expected to confirm its findings in July.
Some within the Croydon Central Labour party suggest that Jones’s decision to pursue her parliamentary career by representing a different part of the borough leaves Croydon East vulnerable to loss to the Conservatives. Especially so if whoever gets selected as the Labour candidate is associated with the disastrous omnishambles of a council.
Which is why many local members have been gob-smacked by the apparent intention to join the selection race of the likes of Flemming and Henson.
It was Norbury Park councillor Flemming, when the cabinet member for schools and children, who many see as having precipitated the council’s financial collapse, with an Ofsted inspection failure on her watch which proved hugely costly for the borough, reputationally as well as financially.
In 2017, Oftsed issued a damning report on Croydon Council’s children’s services, finding vulnerable children at risk of “significant harm”, and with children left in “neglectful circumstances” for too long. Extraordinarily, the council leader, Newman, took no action to sack the cabinet member responsible, Flemming.
Instead, he and his cabinet member for finance, Simon Hall, threw around £30million at the children’s services department over the course of the next two years, hiring in expensive agency staff and recruiting new social workers to try to address the issues Ofsted identified.
It took three years of “special measures” and was not until early 2020 that Ofsted gave Croydon’s children’s services the all clear – but the unexpected, huge extra expense incurred was one of the black holes in the council budget that led to its crash, and the eventual abrupt exits of Newman, Hall and council CEO Jo “Negreedy” Negrini.
Of Henson, few in her constituency party or who have worked with her at the Town Hall have been overly impressed, suggesting she lacks political nous and judgement. “She’s very good at organising a branch raffle,” said one source. “But that’s about it.”
Henson’s term in the ermine and scarlet robes as the borough’s ceremonial mayor came during the worst of the covid pandemic, which saw her attending public events without the then mandatory mask.
CLP sources suggest that there are at least four others who are already canvassing for a selection process that probably won’t take place until October.
Olga Fitzroy, a new councillor in Lambeth who was Labour’s losing parliamentary candidate in Croydon South at the last General Election, appears ready to seek selection in Croydon once again, having passed on repeating the pleasure of attending hustings with Chris Philp.
Croydon Central’s CLP secretary, Julie Setchfield, was contacting members today asking for their permission to pass their contact details to Fitzroy. Which is nice of her, and avoids any unnecessary nastinesses over GDPR breaches…
Natasha Irons, another councillor from another borough (Merton), is also back in Croydon after having lost that recent Labour candidate selection for Croydon South (where Ben Taylor, a council election candidate with some of the worst results in the borough’s history, was preferred).
Also reported to be preparing a run is Chrishni Reshekaron, a councillor for West Thornton but less tainted by the Newman years, since she was only elected for the first time 12 months ago. A charity worker, Reshekaron has been fast-streamed in to current Labour leader Stuart King’s shadow cabinet.
The very well-connected Sangeeta Gobidaas, a former parliamentary intern for Jones and David Lammy, is also getting busy with her social media and local profile. As a member of the Croydon Central executive committee, she may find it easier to contact local members than any outsider candidates.
Read more: #TheLabourFiles: MP Reed, Evans and the Croydon connection
Read more: #TheLabourFiles: Source of hacked data worked for Evans
Read more: #TheLabourFiles: Whip letters prove they knew hack was illegal
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Who will the Tories put up for Croydon East? Might the bashful Mario Creatura beat a hasty return to the town he abandoned for Reigate & Banstead, like the prodigal son / bad penny?
He reckons he’s got Reigate in the bag
Is Crispin really that happy with a Harry Potter fan taking over his seat?
To be Blunt, don’t think he’s much bothered. He’s just can’t wait to get out of that cess pit.
As an ex Labour member let me say that Fleming and Henson are part of disastrous previous administrations they are guilty of presiding over suffering, slum housing and financial ruin in Croydon. They are councillors through loyalty and support not capability. There must be an external candidate who is not tarnished by Croydon Labour.
I’m still a party member, have never been a Councillor and could possibly fit it into my busy schedule. Give me a tinkle and I’ll see if I can find a diary window somewhere in 2024…
If you think all of this is the ass-end of a bankrupted fuck-fest, just wait until the Mr Bean of local politics, Steve Reed MP SFl steps into the fray- that’ll be when the wheels properly come off.
Ps- are you saying Maddie Hanson is standing to be an MP?? Please God no, even by Reed’s standards! Hanson is black hole.
More a case of a bad state of the runs rather than who is running.
Unfortunately, looking at current MPs from across the parties, any of Newman’s Numpties would fit in just fine. They have no scruples, are completely incompetent, are only seeking power, influence and personal advancement, and don’t give a damn for any of the people they represent. Perhaps Butler and Scott should be in the running as well? This is politics in the 2020s. God help us all.
Yup being back the good old days of Geraint “Someone had to spend the most money, I’m proud it was me” Davies. I used to think I was lucky living in a marginal but then I realised most of the talented people stand in safe seats so what the unsafe ones often get is a selection of rotten apples from the bottom of the various party’s barrels.
The above is precisely why proportional representation is required .sort out the system together with a few others held a rally last week at Westminster . I did attend. Make every vote count
Talk of the devil…
But Anthony, we tend to avoid linking to external sites in comments, because there’s a number of risks associated.
And we NEVER link to Guido.