Labour members in the new Croydon East constituency are furious that unelected and unidentified party officials have gone ahead and begun the selection process that potentially will be handing a job for life to the ‘lucky’ winner. By Political Editor WALTER CRONXITE
Wannabe MPs who applied to be the Labour candidate in Croydon East were forced to endure a four-day wait before they were finally advised by the party that they had made it onto the long list.
You could almost sense the massive sigh of relief as some tweeted their good news with careful, party-approved banners.
Among those to confirm that they had made it through to the next stage of selection were Natasha Irons, the Merton councillor, Olga Fitzroy, the councillor in Lambeth, and Johnson Situ, a former councillor in Southwark, as well as Joel “Bodger” Bodmer, who has never been elected to public office.
Bodger does, though, have a track record of completely fouling up an entire election campaign in Croydon last year, seeing Labour lose control of the council, lose several council seats and lose the mayoral election, too.
Bodger has chosen as his selection catch-line “Living in Croydon”, which actually wasn’t true a few months ago when he was seeking selection in Southend…
Many suspect that Bodger is the candidate favoured by London Region and Steve Reed OBE, the MP for Croydon North/Lambeth South.
The final selection meeting is to take place on November 25 – before any annual general meeting has been held in order to conduct such mundane business as to elect officials democratically in the new Croydon East Constituency Labour Party.
Party members have lodged formal complaints about the way they are being frozen out of the selection process.
Members will get to vote at the selection meeting, but by then, the carve-up of the long list and the short-list selection will have already been done, by officials that have never been elected, but were installed by London Region in September.
The “interim” officers imposed by Labour’s London region are led by chair Carole Bonner, the former councillor and loyal cheerleader for Tony Newman.
On the last two occasions when she stood for official roles within her CLP, Bonner was rejected by members.
Bonner is working with Melanie Felten as CLP interim secretary and Mark Henson, the husband of another Newman Numpty, councillor Maddie Henson, as treasurer.
Croydon East is 178th on the Labour list of target seats. Made up of bits of the previously marginal Croydon Central and parts of Tory stronghold Croydon South, it is reckoned to be a 98% sure thing for Labour.
So the reality is that come the General Election sometime in the next 12 months, it won’t be the electors of Croydon East who pick their MP. It will be the 150 or so Labour Party members who bother to turn up at Ruskin House a fortnight on Saturday to scribble a name on a scrap of paper. Whoever is selected is likely to have a job for life – or for as long as they can stand the lifestyle that comes with working at the House of Commons.
And if the worst fears of rank-and-file Labour members in Croydon are confirmed, even then they won’t have a real choice, since the outcome will have already been heavily influenced by who Bonner and her mysterious selection committee allow through to the shortlist. And those who they decide to block.
Members who have sought to be included on the shortlisting selection panel have had their applications ignored by Bonner, not even getting the courtesy of a reply.
In an email to members sent on Friday evening – more than a day after the longlisting interviews had been held – Bonner (signing herself as “Procedures Secretary – Croydon East Selection”), wrote that a selection committee chosen by an “East Croydon Labour Party” (which has never actually had its inaugural meeting), will draw up the shortlist for candidates to be interviewed this Saturday, November 11, before announcing who will go forward to face the members on November 25.
“The Croydon East Labour Party have agreed a Selection Committee for this procedure. The Selection Committee will consider all candidate applications and draw up a shortlist based on the names submitted to the longlist by the NEC,” Bonner wrote.
“The shortlist will be confirmed following interviews conducted by the Selection Committee… The final decision will be made by local members at a hustings meeting where you will be able to question candidates before casting your vote.”
But Labour members who have contacted Inside Croydon complain about the secrecy and absence of any democracy around the process.
“We’ve no idea who is even on the selection committee,” said one. “The members have not been involved whatsoever. It’s a farce.”
Another member said, “Wards have been frozen out with no time to make nominations.” Most functioning CLPs operate on a branch system, in which activists at ward level are allowed some say in such important decisions.
“Instead, we have a small clique of clowns deciding who represents Croydon.”
Others have confronted Bonner, putting questions to her in writing. “How did we go about agreeing this selection committee? Who is it? How do we scrutinise it?
“I would be very grateful for some clarity on this.”
By the time of publication, and true to Bonner’s long-established modus operandi, there had been no response from the “interim”, unelected and entirely unaccountable chair of Croydon East CLP. Maybe she was busy playing Solitaire?
Read more: Bodger’s back! Reed’s chum being lined up for 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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