Ben Stevenson, the Communist Party candidate for the Croydon North by-election, reacted with incredulity to the news that the Labour Party has selected Steve Reed to fight the Croydon North by-election.
“Under Steve Reed’s ‘leadership’, Lambeth Council has developed a damaging reputation through the destruction of local jobs and services, all in the name of what he dubs a ‘co-operative council’. His pet project aims to keep the ghost of Tony Blair alive and well in the Labour Party by dressing up pro-big business and pro-austerity policies in the cloak of staff and user empowerment”, Mr Stevenson exclaimed.
“Mr Reed’s record in Lambeth speaks for itself, it’s one that any Tory council leader would be proud of – hundreds of council workers have been made redundant, children’s services have been outsourced and he’s proposed replacing professional council workers with volunteers.”
Lambeth Council is also at an advanced stage of selling off the last of its “short life” properties to private property developers which will further exacerbate the shortage of social housing in Lambeth. Evictions of occupants are starting next month and those emptied are being sold at auction. The Council have rejected offers from local co-ops and social landlords to take over these houses and instead has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on legal bills to pressurise occupants into leaving.
Ben went on to say, “Reed’s thrusting, self-serving political ambition is highlighted by his willingness to promote a form of class-cleansing and support for vanity projects such as expensive new council offices next to the Town Hall at Brixton. This is the last thing the people of Croydon North needs. Local people want someone who’s prepared to fight back against this totally unnecessary austerity agenda, someone who will join with trade unions and other community organisation to support local jobs and services and hold this illegitimate coalition government to account.
Responding to Reed’s narrow victory – reportedly by a single vote after second preferences were counted – Mr Stevenson added “once again the Labour Party has failed to elect a candidate who represents the interests and diversity of the people they purport to represent. Its been left to the Communist Party to offer the only genuine working class voice in this election.”