Cllr Steve Reed, the leader of Lambeth Council, has been chosen as Labour's candidate for the Croydon North byelection. The good news is that this will have annoyed Ken Livingstone – who favoured Val Shawcross for the selection. She was his running mate in the Mayoral election and a fan of the RMT.
There has been speculation that Mr Livingstone will support his old colleague, the Respect Party candidate Lee Jasper. Mr Livingstone says he will support the official Labour candidate. We've heard that one before. What is clear is that Respect will fight a divisive campaign – in this video George Galloway says he will focus on the Muslims while Mr Jasper will concentrate on the black voters.
Cllr Reed is a member of Progress, the Blairite faction of Purple Bookers and he voted against Ed Miliband in the Labour leadership election. As council leader he has done some good things – notably privatising the youth service.
Yet the overall record of Lambeth Council under Cllr Reed's leadership has been shocking. His hypocrisy on spending cuts has been analysed by Mark Wallace. On his watch Lambeth Council have used Council Taxpayers money for partisan propaganda. Its Council Tax collection rate is the worst in London. There is £38.4 million a year spent just on interest payments on the Council's debt.
There has been a series of housing scandals but even worse has been the Council's education record. The council made a deliberate effort to thwart Katherine Birbalsingh from opening a free school in Kennington. There was also the Council's disgraceful behaviour in driving out a successful headmaster, James Walker.
Cllr Reed is also soft on crime. He opposes evicting rioters from social housing. Croydon was badly hit in the riots last year and I don't imagine Cllr Reed's view will be widely shared among the victims of the rioters. A YouGov poll found that by 62% to 24% the public support evicting rioters from council homes. The policy is also favoured by most Labour voters.
The Conservative candidate Andy Stranack is the only local candidate.