Perhaps as a result of a visit to Sandwell and his West Bromwich East constituency, Tom Watson MP has discovered a plot and, surprisingly, not one of his making.
He has been quoted as describing as “outrageous” and “anti-democratic” the de-selection by the Labour party of some current Sandwell Labour councillors to prevent their standing for election in May. Blame for this he attributes to “the hard left” and a “handful of hard left members” of Labour’s National Executive Committee.
Watson claims “Local members have been deprived of their chance to select their candidates” and with more than a tad of exaggeration claims Sandwell electors have been “deprived of hard working councillors who have served their communities dutifully for many years”
Had Watson kept a more focussed eye on Sandwell, he would have known that Labour councillors have been feuding among themselves unabated in the last few years. The vendettas the last council leader, Eling conducted against Labour colleagues he saw as threats to his throne or who failed to bend the knee to his dictates, provide a reason why Eling is presently suspended by the Labour party, had to resign as Sandwell council leader and is unable to be a Labour candidate for re-election in May.
There was something rotten in the state of Sandwell Labour that put Eling in control. It was the corrupt system of “posts of special responsibility” involving little responsibility but loads of cash which kept him there. Practically every Labour councillor, other than those in his disfavour, was awarded a job title and extra cash. The council tax-payer is funding this system which would have been ridiculed in any banana republic.
Yet Watson has a point. The extent of the de-selections read out at Tuesday’s full council by new leader Trow as a list of “retiring members” was startling. Conveniently, Cllr. Roger Horton was retiring because of ill health and so Trow had one person on whom he could lavish praise. Others had clearly been impaled on their own swords and resented it.
Cllr. David Hosell and his councillor spouse will both stand as independent candidates in the May election. Expelled from the snake pit that is the Sandwell council cabinet and well aware of the dirty tricks the jolly Marxists can play, Hosell was clearly nervous as he addressed the meeting. How the feeble have fallen.
It could have been worse but only just. Originally Cllrs. Olwen Jones and Ann Shakleton were deselected but both reprieved at the last minute. More than 40% plus of Labour councillors due for re-election in May were ditched. Long knives were abandoned and a combine harvester used to cull many who could be described as moderates.
Watson’s analysis poses a question for Sandwell electors. Are they to vote in May for the hard left Marxist candidates who have replaced those displaced in this latest coup? To do so will inevitably lead to more of the same. More feuding within the local Labour party with less attention paid to public service. More neglect of the interests of Sandwell people in favour of Marxist theory, consistently proved to be anti-democratic, arrogant and ineffective.