‘Grand National’-sized field in the running for Croydon East

Political editor WALTER CRONXITE on the short memories and absence of shame among Newman’s numpties seeking selection for ‘higher’ office

No shame: Labour leader Starmer at a recent fund-raiser with Manju Shahul-Hameed, one of the councillors who crashed Croydon’s finances

Boris Johnson is not the only politician with no shame.

One of the numptiest of Newman’s numpties, Manju Shahul-Hameed, continues to trawl the country in search of a Constituency Labour Party with members so gormless that they might actually select as their prospective parliamentary candidate one of the people responsible for bankrupting Croydon.

Last night, according to the ever-reliable political journalist Michael Crick, Shahul-Hameed, ward councillor for Broad Green in sarf London, was named as one of three hopefuls on the short-list for the Tory-held northern seat of Bolton West, together with Phil Brickell and Sobia Malik.

This is just the third seat that Inside Croydon has been able to confirm that Shahul-Hameed has made a pitch for.

Short short-list: how Michael Crick broke the news from Bolton last night

Such is the apparent dearth of real political talent among the Labour Party’s approved candidates, the Croydon councillor has also been included on the long list at Crewe and Nantwich, having previously been long-listed for the Cumbrian constituency of Barrow and Furness.

Even though she was the only BAME candidate on the Barrow long list, Shahul-Hameed didn’t manage to make it onto their shortlist, her 600-mile round trips to one of the most northerly English constituencies a bit of a waste of her time – and that of the Labour members there – after she had let it slip that “she only wants experience for the new Croydon seat”.

By that, Shahul-Hameed is thought to have meant Croydon East, created by boundary changes which will see Croydon have four parliamentary contests at the next General Election, and where there is a “vacancy” after Sarah Jones, the current MP for Croydon Central, which includes much of Croydon East, scarpered for the much less-marginal Croydon West and South Norwood.

“Cllr Dr Manju”, as she now describes herself on her social media profile (she recently achieved a PhD in health and social care), also concedes that she was “cabinet member 2018-2022” in the Tony Newman-led council that stoked up the borough’s debts to £1.5billion and became only the second council this century to declare itself effectively bankrupt.

Try, try, try again: Shahul-Hameed has been travelling the country to further her personal political ambition – which does nothing much for residents in Croydon

Shahul-Hameed, an arch-self-publicist, was among the most loyal supporters of Newman and Alison Butler, the leaders of the Labour group that crashed the council’s finances. Indeed, she was at the heart of the clusterfuck, having ostensibly been responsible for economy and jobs.

Shahul-Hameed was notorious for failing to be able to give away “free money”, in covid business grants in 2020, as delays in the council’s distribution system caused businesses to collapse due to lack of cashflow in those first months of lockdown.

She is also remembered for doing nothing to avoid the development blight in Croydon town centre, caused by a decade of dither and delay over the Westfield non-development.

In 2021, with a typically ill-considered campaign slogan of “I can do more for the people I care about”, she was unsuccessful in her attempt to be Labour’s candidate for Croydon Mayor. So she already has plenty of experience of being rejected by Labour Party members.

Her part in the council’s financial collapse should see Shahul-Hameed effectively debarred from ever being approved even for the long list in Croydon East, according to Croydon Labour insiders.

Yet that hasn’t dissuaded the “Councillor Dr” from trawling around as many Labour fund-raisers as she can, seeking selfies with the great-and-not-so-good, including none other than Keith Starmer, the leader of the party, and her old chum from Croydon Labour, David Evans, now the party’s factionalist General Secretary. What any of this actually achieves for the residents she is supposed to represent in Broad Green, Shahul-Hameed has never said.

Friends in high places: Shahul-Hameed, with her husband and Labour’s David Evans (right)

Failed Croydon Labour is still subject to what Evans’s party calls a “campaign improvement board”. Any major decisions – even Town Hall promotions for current Labour councillors – need the approval of Labour’s London regional party.

And Evans, the National Executive Committee and the party centrally is certain to be vetting very closely all those putting themselves forward for marginal Croydon East. “Anyone associated with the previous council is effectively debarred,” a reliable source told Inside Croydon this week.

Perhaps Shahul-Hameed didn’t get the memo. Or understand it.

Or maybe she really does think she can get selected in Bolton…

But the Broad Green councillor is not the only one hoping that the selectorate and electorate have imbecilically short memories.

“I’ve never seen so many runners and riders since the six-day declaration for the Grand National,” was how one unimpressed Town Hall figure put it.

But several of the “runners” might not even make it as far as the first fence…

Of those attending the recent campaign fund-raising dinner at the Grand Sapphire Hotel off the Purley Way, Maddie Henson, Patsy Cummings, Janet Campbell, Alisa Flemming and Sherwan Chowdhury are among those who have indicated that they seriously think that they might get picked for bigger, better things in Croydon East.

This despite their records of having served happily, indeed often acted as enthusiastic enablers, under Newman, Butler and Paul Scott.

Chowdhury’s involvement is definitely farcical: like Shahul-Hameed, he has thrown his hat in for parliamentary selection in the north, rolling up at one of the Clwyd seats, in north-east Wales, where he failed to impress. One CLP member told Inside Croydon, “I don’t think he understood much of what we were saying. And we were only speaking English, mind, not Welsh.

“But then, we didn’t understand much of what he said, either.”

Mayor’s aide: Johnson Situ, distanced from the Croydon omnishambles

Others who are also thought to be considering making a bid for selection for Croydon East include Amy Foster, Chrishni Reshekaron and Stella Nabukeera, all councillors elected in 2022. That, though, might not be enough “distancing” to satisfy Labour officials.

And then there’s the councillors from outside Croydon, unsullied by the omnishambles inflicted upon Croydon, including Olga Fitzroy, councillor for the St Martin’s ward in Lambeth, and Natasha Irons, a Merton councillor who tried, unsuccessfully, to get selected as Labour’s candidate in Croydon South.

Other outsiders who are thought to be trying to elbow their way through a very crowded field include Johnson Situ a senior adviser to London Mayor Sadiq Khan who was a councillor in Peckham from 2014 to 2021 and a Southwark Council cabinet member for five years.

Marianna Masters, a councillor for Streatham Wells in Lambeth since 2018, is another who, by virtue of never having had anything to do with Croydon, is thought likely to be more acceptable to Labour Party officials as a candidate for Croydon East.

The Boundary Commissioners are expected to confirm the new constituencies, including Croydon East, next month, with the Labour Party expected to hold its selection meetings for the constituency in October.

That’s only likely to change if the Tory Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is forced by the Boris Johnson psychodrama to call an early General Election. “In which case,” our insider notes, “the NEC will step in and impose a candidate. Which is pretty much what they will do anyway…”.

Read more: You can depend on Croydon Labour: they always let you down
Read more: #TheLabourFiles: MP Reed, Evans and the Croydon connection
Read more: Labour figures busy playing a game of selection musical seats

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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 inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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