WALTER CRONXITE, political editor, on the latest twist in local Labour’s long-running psycho-drama
The Labour Party underscored its anti-democratic approach to candidate selection last night when its national ruling body imposed its own shortlist for the new constituency of Croydon East.
The four candidates who were long-listed last week – chosen by an unelected committee of unidentified officials from Labour’s London Region and the NEC, the National Executive Committee – have all been put through to the short list.
They are Olga Fitzroy, a councillor in Lambeth with a reputation for organising successful national campaigns in the music industry, Natasha Irons, a Merton councillor, Johnson Situ, a former Southwark councillor who now works for London Mayor Sadiq Khan, and Joel “Bodger” Bodmer, who has never been elected to any public office.
The four long-listed candidates were advised early yesterday evening that today’s short-listing meeting was cancelled, with an email from an official stating that “The NEC have decided today that the candidates that were long listed for Croydon East… can go through to the Shortlist without the need for interviews.
“Emails will be sent to members to advise them.” Which is nice…
The shortlisting meeting, involving a round of interviews by a panel of Croydon East members, was supposed to take place today.
The Croydon Labour Party has been under “special measures” for almost three years, since council leader Tony Newman and his numpties bankrupted the borough.
Newman and his former cabinet member for finance, Simon Hall, have been under administrative suspension from the Labour Party since early 2021 for their part in Croydon Council’s financial collapse. It is possible that, belatedly, their conduct over some of the dodgier deals conducted when they were in charge of the Town Hall, such as the council’s purchase of the Croydon Park Hotel, is subject to a police investigation.
The new Croydon East Constituency Labour Party has not yet staged its first members’ meeting and members have so far been denied the opportunity to democratically elect their local officials. The selection of the parliamentary candidate, however, is being pushed through.
Croydon East is part of a parliamentary boundary reorganisation, which will see Croydon have four MPs after the next General Election, up from the current three.
Made up of bits of the previously marginal Croydon Central and parts of Tory stronghold Croydon South, pollsters at Electoral Calculus reckon that Labout has a 98% chance of winning the seat.
So when it comes to the General Election sometime in the next 12 months, it won’t be the voters in Croydon East who pick their MP. That task will have already been carried out in a drab room at Ruskin House in two weeks’ time by 150 or so (maybe fewer) Labour Party members at the selection meeting. Whoever is lucky enough to be selected that day is likely to have a job in Parliament for life.
Many members suspect that the Labour Party machine has been trying to fix the selection to present Bodmer with the prize of a lifetime.
Bodmer is a close associate of Croydon North MP Steve Reed and widely acknowledged as the worst chair in the history of Croydon Labour’s Local Campaign Forum.
It is Bodger who is blamed for the disastrous Labour anti-mayor campaign in 2021 and for losing the mayoralty for Val Shawcross in 2022. An internal Croydon Labour report on the handling of those campaigns was completed 12 months ago and is said to be highly critical of Bodger’s part as chair of the LCF.
But the report has been withheld from members ahead of the selections.
“London Region don’t want the report published,” a Town Hall source told Inside Croydon.
“They view Croydon Labour as a basket case and publication would mean further embarrassment for the party.
“The report would reflect particularly poorly on whoever was chair of the Local Campaign Forum at the time – Joel Bodmer.
“And with Joel seeking selection as Labour’s parliamentary candidate in Croydon East, the last thing anyone who is trying to stich up the selection for Joel would want is local party members reading a report about the LCF’s incompetence and failures under his chairmanship.”
Another disgruntled member said: “We’re losing members every day, as people resign from the party over the conduct of Starmer, Steve Reed and the leadership over the Gaza genocide.
“Now, some are considering sending in their resignations over the mishandling of the Croydon East selection… No one wants Joel Bodmer as their candidate. Yet all the signs are that they are smoothing the way for him.”
Read more: The fix is in: Labour excludes members from Croydon selection
Read more: Bodger’s back! Reed’s chum being lined up for Croydon East
Read more: #TheLabourFiles: MP Reed, Evans and the Croydon connection
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