One of the more outrageous claims of the Labour party is that it represents the interests of working people. Well, Sandwell’s Labour party under the unbenevolent dictatorship of Cllr Eling, Is doing its best to explode that myth.
We have seen how individual council employees were targeted and vilified by Cllrs. Eling and Marshall, operating as an axis of evil, through the medium of the Sandwell Skidder blogsite.
Then there was the case of the suspended secretaries. It was revealed at a standards hearing to discipline a councillor that the panel had been privately and secretly briefed by the monitoring officer, who incidentally was the prosecutor, who had made the complaint. Even at Sandwell council, the impropriety of this, or perhaps, more likely, embarrassment that news of the meeting had leaked, caused a flutter in the hen house. Parts of the computer system were put into lock down, the secretaries who serve Sandwell’s cabinet members were suspended and a leak investigation started. So much for open government in Sandwell.
A side issue is whether Sandwell’s Chief Executive, Jan Britton was also present at this meeting. The official version is that he was “off site” or “on holiday”. Our informant says he was there. Anyone who has seen Britton or even his photo will appreciate he’s very unlikely to stand out in a vast crowd of half a dozen people.
The mills of rumour started to grind. Some said Eling had finally lost the plot. Others that some forewarning of the councillors on the Standards Committee was necessary if they were not to act in the usual mechanical nodding dog mode, (the response customarily demanded from Labour councillors by their Leader,) and were made to look stupid when the proceedings were broadcast.
Things only calmed when the person who had revealed the undercover meeting came forward.
There was then an explanatory e.mail
Following various reports in the local media I am writing to all Members to make clear that the suspension of employees in the Cabinet Secretariat was taken by Council Managers on HR advice.
Suspension is a neutral act and does not automatically imply wrongdoing.
No Council Members were involved in this decision.
These suspensions have now been lifted.
Executive Director – Resources”
Only cynics might suspect back covering here. “No Council Members were involved in the decision” is code for saying it was not Eling throwing his weight about. The decision making “Council Managers” are not identified and anyway the buck is passed because they were acting on advice from unnamed person/s in Human Resources. So everything is clear as crystal.
Subsequent events serve to reinforce cynicism. At the height of the brouhaha, there was a meeting of the West Bromwich West Constituency Labour Party at which a motion addressed to the council Labour group was passed deploring the secretaries’ suspension and demanding their reinstatement.
The reaction of the Labour Group follows;
“The Labour Group agrees that the Motion received on 30th January 2018 from West Bromwich West CLP be ruled inadmissible for consideration by the Group; and that the Executive Committee report relating to this Motion be referred to the Whips and to the Party NEC for appropriate disciplinary action to be considered.”
The majority of Sandwell Labour councillors (some did not agree) were having no truck with any move to support council workers and those West Bromwich West councillors who had were to be reported to the group’s disciplinary body, the Whips, and to the National Executive for bringing the party into disrepute.
Seems like most Labour councillors are more concerned with keeping themselves on council than with workers’ rights. In Corbyn’s Sandwell party it’s “For the few not the many”.
As for the disciplining of dissent, we thought Stalin was dead.