Bodger’s back! Reed’s chum being lined up for Croydon East

Political editor WALTER CRONXITE reports on the latest anti-democratic and secretive stitch-up going on behind-the-scenes in the local Labour Party

Making a dog’s dinner of elections: MP Steve Reed and Joel ‘Bodger’ Bodmer, who is seeking selection as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Croydon East

“Welcome to Croydon East” says the less-than-charming email to members to announce the creation of a Constituency Labour Party, in anticipation of new boundaries at the next General Election.

Steve Reed has returned to his Lambeth roots with the new Streatham and Norbury constituency, Sarah Jones has opted for the safety of the reconfigured Croydon West seat, but that leaves everything to play for in the Croydon East, made up of bits of the previously marginal Croydon Central and parts of Tory stronghold Croydon South.

And the cold hand of Reed and his Blairite mate, David Evans, are already being suspected of laying the groundwork for a like-minded chum, Joel “Bodger” Bodmer to get the chance of a parliamentary sinecure for life.

Bodger has the richly deserved reputation for being the worst chair in the history of Croydon Labour’s LCF, the Local Campaign Forum. And that’s despite some fierce competition from various incompetents, buffoons and time-servers who held the post before him.

“In the current climate of Tory meltdown it might be hard for Labour to lose Croydon East,” according to one veteran Croydon campaigner. “But given Bodmer’s record, I’m sure he’ll have a good chance of doing that.”

Bodger is credited with running a campaign that undermined Val Shawcross so that she lost the Croydon Mayoral election last year by fewer than 600 votes. And this was after he spent £10,000 of precious funds producing anti-mayoral Labour leaflets featuring burning pound notes – this in a borough where Labour had just crashed and burned the council finances.

Yet it seems that Bodger, someone who has only a passing association with Croydon, is being backed by a rapidly growing number of councillors in his bid for selection as Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Croydon East.

Imposed: Melanie Felten is one of three ‘interim’ CLP officials

It had been expected that new CLPs would be formed after annual conference in Liverpool next month. But then the email arrived in members’ inboxes last week, revealing three unelected “interim” officers imposed by Labour’s London region – with, it is believed, the encouragement of former Croydon business owner, now party General Secretary, Evans.

“Your previous CLP may or may not continue to meet, and you may have communications from that CLP until 12 October,” the email said.

The imposed powerbrokers are led by chair Carole Bonner, the former councillor and cheerleader for Tony Newman. On the last two occasions Bonner stood to be chair of the Croydon Central CLP, the membership rejected her.

Melanie Felten is named as the interim CLP secretary – a position she has never held before. Felten’s claim to fame is a bins campaign near her home on Oval Road, in which she set out to embarrass her ward (Labour) councillors.

The interim CLP treasurer is another unelected Croydon Labour deadweight, but one with friends in low places.

Mark Henson is the husband of Newman Numpty councillor Maddie Henson, and the supplier to the Labour Party of the controversial, and error-plagued, Anonyvoter electronic vote-counting system. It was a gig awarded by Evans without any commercial tendering, so all perfectly above-board and legit we are sure.

Voting machinery: the Hensons, Mark and councillor Maddie, with Labour General Secretary David Evans (right)

Given the need to run a selection process almost as soon as the Croydon East CLP is in place, the role of Bonner, Felten and Henson could be crucial in deciding who gets through to the short-list.

As Inside Croydon has previously reported, there was originally a very large field of hopefuls for the Croydon East selection, although that appears to have whittled itself down over the summer – with some sitting Croydon councillors finally reading the runes and discovering that their applications are about as welcome as a dose of clap in a nunnery.

In this important respect, Bodger would seem a perfect candidate. He’s never been a councillor in Croydon. In fact, he’s never been elected as a councillor anywhere…

He is a Unison union organiser, which in his case may prove to be oxymoronic.

Among those known to be keen to be selected are Natasha Irons (a Merton councillor) and Olga Fitzroy (a councillor in Lambeth) have both got more experience of running (local) government and successful campaigning, and were thought to be the front-runners for Croydon East until Bodmer’s thwarted ambitions of getting picked for a seaside seat saw him turn his gaze back to Croydon, apparently with the backing of Reed.

Which might explain why Croydon LCF’s review into the reasons for Labour’s local elections defeat in May 2022 has yet to be published, despite being completed months ago.

“While the reasons for the election defeat rest largely with the well-documented failures of the Labour council, my understanding is that various concerns were also raised in the report around shortcomings of the LCF and the whole candidate selection process,” according to one well-placed source.

Inside Croydon performed better due diligence on some of the chosen candidates – such as the chancer who is banned from ever being a charity trustee again after an attempted property snatch – than the LCF did, and that was supposed to be one of Bodmer’s main tasks.

“You have to wonder whether the decision not to publish the election review is to try and protect the interests of Bodmer, the LCF’s former chair, as he seeks selection in Croydon East…”

Not very bright: as LCF chair, Bodger approved Labour’s burning bank notes leaflet

It was Bodger’s decision, and Bodger’s decision alone – despite pleadings from Shawcross herself and Clive “Thirsty” Fraser, then Labour’s council group’s chief whip – to insist that Andrew Pelling should be “re-panelled”, which led to the sitting councillor’s deselection and ultimately standing as an independent candidate, costing Shawcross her narrow defeat as well as losing a council seat to the Tories in Waddon.

Fraser, Shawcross and others, according to the source, “all recognised the risk to Val’s election prospects if Andrew was deselected and stood as an independent”.

They continued: “The narrowness of Val’s defeat shows they were right. Bodmer was either too stupid or too arrogant to listen to them and he may well have cost Val victory given she lost by only around 600 votes.

“It’s hard to envisage a more unsuitable person to be Labour’s candidate in Croydon East.”

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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7 Responses to Bodger’s back! Reed’s chum being lined up for Croydon East

  1. Ian Kierans says:

    I am sure Joel has many attributes that make him valuable to Labour. He is perhaps good at Organising.
    However, is he electable?

    His actions within Croydon have not endeared him to many groups, but you could say that about any party person in reality.
    But his actions campaignging against an elected mayor was against touted Labour policy. Not one rationale was ever put forward for those actions.

    He in effect was instrumental for Perrys success. That had an upside for labour by default. After Fisher and Newman whose regimes included Perry – Crtoydon Conservatives elected a Mayor that has eclipsed the shit the two previous leaders created. So he may have created a resurgance and blow back against the conservatives
    So realistically about as much use as the Ann Summers blow up doll would be to a porcupine. At least the porcipine would get a cool breexe from the doll. (to all the wags – not ever having had one I am assuming here – bite me!)

    But seriously. Does one think that Joel is electable having his mitts in a lot of stuff that did not exactly cover Local Labour in glory? All those Shawcross supporters? Those affected by Newmans regime?

    Loyalty is a good thing and rewarding party people may be how things are done. But that is what led to all the disrepute has it not? Give Joel a fighting chance in another area where he can be untainted and have a clean reasonable chance of doing some good.

    Let that local area have an open selection and choose a candidate that has a decent chance of election and not one tainted by previous history – otherwise history will repeat itself and hand another victory to the Conservatives of the south or one from another party.
    I do feel that having a candidate that is reputable and not previously involved in the shenanigans of the past would have a better chance of being electable and elected.

    But hey listen to the in crowd and see how that works for him if you think I am wrong

    • Les Parry says:

      My experience of his organisational skills was he was absolutely useless.

      I was a member of the South Norwood branch and endured the debacle of shortlisting and selection processes and meetings.

      He turned up at our branch late, ill-prepared and obstinate.

      I would not vote for him as a candidate or MP

  2. Bodger’s return would prove that under Reed and Evans, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. As we’ve seen under the Gang of Four, that doesn’t turn out well

    • For our newer readers, it is perhaps worth explaining that by the Gang of Four, Arfur neither means the Maoist faction which ran the Chinese Communist Party during the Cultural Revolution, nor the 1970s punk band from Leeds, and not even the splitters Jenkins, Williams, Owen and the other geezer who set up the SDP.

      No, what Arfur means is Tony Newman, Alison Butler, Paul Scott and Simon Hall, who when in charge of the council managed to pay millions over the asking price for a rundown town centre hotel, set up a house-building company that built virtually no council homes and spend £70m on an arts centre refurbishment that failed to deliver on three-quarters of the promised upgrades and modernisations promised. That Gang of Four.

  3. Les Parry says:

    Nothing surprises me regarding Reeds interference in Croydon Labour and him and Evans manipulating processes for Bodmer the utter failure. Nor does it surprise me that Bonner is involved, as councillor she was a noddy for Newman and I am not surprised she and others are involved also. This is the worst Labour Group I have ever come across in 50 years . I hope grass root members rise up and tell them where to go

  4. Les Parry says:

    Not moved yet but all progressing well

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