Alastair Campbell rules himself out of Croydon North by-election
LABOUR is to begin the difficult process of selecting someone to continue the late Malcolm Wicks's legacy.
National party delegates are to discuss the by-election with local members following a memorial service next Friday.
A date for the by-election has yet to be finalised but it may take place on the same day as the Corby by-election and the police crime commissioner elections on November 15.
The Advertiser understands that Val Shawcross, former leader of Croydon Council, will put her own name forward.
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Ms Shawcross, a friend of Mr Wicks for 20 years, is currently a member of the London Assembly for Lambeth and Southwark, and was Ken Livingstone's running mate in May's mayoral election.
While Croydon North – a safe Labour seat thanks to Mr Wicks – is expected to attract interest from across the country, it is understood the party favours a local candidate.
Ms Shawcross lives in Upper Norwood and was a member of Croydon Council between 1994 and 2000.
Another potential candidate is Thornton Heath councillor Louisa Woodley, who stood for Croydon & Sutton in the London Assembly elections in May.
One person who has ruled himself out is Tony Newman, leader of the council Labour group.
All the potential candidates who spoke to the Advertiser emphasised selecting who would stand for the party in Croydon North was of secondary concern to mourning Mr Wicks.
Selhurst councillor Gerry Ryan, who lost to Conservative Gavin Barwell in Croydon Central at the last general election, declined to comment on speculation linking him to the seat, but paid tribute to his former colleague, saying: "If the person who is selected does the job half as well as Malcolm, I would hold them in very high esteem.".
Stuart Collins is among the councillors who have attracted speculation, but ruled himself out, saying: "Malcolm was someone I had a great deal of respect for. He would be incredibly tough to follow.
"For me it's too soon to consider doing it."
Those who do want to stand for Labour in Croydon North will have to apply to the national party. The National Executive Committee will then interview the candidates before drawing up a shortlist, which will be put to party members in Croydon to be voted on.
Mr Newman said: "There will be huge interest. No one would surprise me in terms of who would apply. Given that it is one of the safest Labour seats in London, it think there will be applicants from across the country."
One shock name who had been mentioned by Labour sources was Tony Blair's former spin doctor, Alastair Campbell, but he told the Advertiser the speculation was untrue. A Memorial Service for Mr Wicks will be held at 11am on Friday at the Croydon Minster. Donations to Carers UK via www.justgiving.com/malcolmwicks. Enquiries to Louise Szpera on 020 7219 4418.