Nationally and locally the Labour party is in turmoil with open warfare between Corbynista trots and the heirs of Blair. This explains the suspension of Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s parliamentary front bench spokesperson for Work and Pensions. The official line is that she “stood aside”. Mrs. Abrahams denies this, talks of “a bullying culture of the worst kind at the top of the party” and claims she was the victim of ten months “aggressive, intimidating and wholly unprofessional” conduct from those close to Corbyn. Perhaps, another indication that Jezza is not just an amiable old loon but a highly dangerous ideologue.
Not since the days of the French revolution have so many been riding high in power one day and literally for the chop on the next. All this is particularly confusing for those Sandwell Labour councillors who only want to go on pocketing the dosh and those, not so little treats, they get in the way of special responsibility payments, thrown to them by their Leader, Cllr. Eling, like bones to dogs.
So numerous are the sinecures to which these payments attach that, despite putting Wednesbury North Cllr Meehan on perpetual gardening leave, Eling can’t find anyone, who he wants to reward, to replace Meehan as Wednesbury deputy town lead. Everyone acceptable to Eling already has a special non job. So Meehan, we understand, is drawing the cash but doing nothing to earn it. No change there then.
It’s perplexing for those Sandwell Labour councillors wanting to keep or looking for future perks that Eling’s own immediate prospects are so uncertain. There are serious allegations against him, but the Labour party, nationally and locally, is so inconsistent in the way it deals with complaints and much depends on who is spinning fortune’s wheel. The cats simply don't know which way to jump.
So far the Labour party has been proceeding at a snail’s pace when it comes to dealing with Sandwell councillors who have brought the party into disrepute by bullying and abusing council employees and pursuing vendettas against fellow Labour councillors, while appearing to cover for cronies.
Now there is a whisper that the party has, at last, suspended Cllr. Richard Marshall bankrupt builder and con-artist. So very quietly has this been done that even he may not yet have been told.
Unfortunately, Labour faces a real difficulty as a result of Marshall’s misdeeds. There is strong evidence that Marshall was a mere tool of Sandwell’s Labour leader, Cllr. Steve Eling.
No one has contradicted the evidence of Julian Saunders that a meeting took place between him, Eling and Marshall to set up the arrangement whereby the Sandwell Skidder blog would be used to attack fellow Labour councillors and intimidate council employees. The fact that the Skidder was waiting in one pub and Eling and Marshall were waiting in another in a different town has all the DNA of the organisational geniuses running Sandwell.
After a feeble attempt to suggest that the transcripts, released by Julian Saunders of his consequent Whats App communications with Marshall, were not kosher, the tactic of denying their authenticity now seems to have been abandoned. It was unmaintainable. Their content, volume and context establish they are genuine.
While the conversations were with Marshall, it’s unthinkable that he was off on a frolic of his own without Eling’s knowledge. Why, otherwise, Eling’s presence at the pub? There are references to Eling and his wishes, offers of further meetings with Eling and matters specifically said to come from Eling in the conversations.
Then there is the special relationship. After a mere two years as a councillor, Marshall was appointed by Eling to be a cabinet member. Admittedly, the Eling cabinet is not overstuffed with intellect, Costigan is on it, but Marshall had so very little to recommend him.
Eling is up to his neck in these dirty politics. He’s the organ grinder, Marshall the monkey. Embarrassing though it may be, particularly as local elections loom, to suspend the Leader of Sandwell Labour party and council Leader, suspended he must be if the local party is to retain any shred of decency. The knives are already being sharpened for him after the election. We think that the people of Sandwell ought to know who will be the Labour leader in Sandwell before that election. No one wants to buy a pig in a poke.