Warley MP John Spellar is known for keeping a tight rein on his CLP (constituency Labour party). But recent information calls into question just how tight.
Spellar is a major figure in Labour First, the hard-right Labour faction that until recently was sending a trainer – until the trainer was suspended over misogynist tweets and other complaints – around the country to train right-wingers how to keep control of CLPs in spite of left-wing majorities.
A major influence on Spellar’s constituency party is Brandhall Labour Club. Remarkably, the club has affiliated to his CLP and sends numerous delegates to vote at its meetings. Locals say that he is extremely influential in the delegation process.
The club is the home of Spellar’s constituency office and receives thousands of taxpayer pounds a year in rent. It is also the home of Labour First’s conferences:
Chapter 7, Clause iii of Labour’s rules on the affiliation of organisations to CLPs describes which organisations can affiliate to a local party. Primarily, these are branches of unions, the Co-operative Party and Labour-affiliated socialist societies.
However, there is one further ‘catch-all’ category:
“which in the opinion of the NEC are deemed eligible”
And there’s the rub. The SKWAWKBOX has been unable to find any NEC (National Executive Committee) member able to confirm that the NEC ever approved the affiliation of Brandhall Labour Club to Warley CLP or any other – or has ever ‘deemed it eligible’.
A senior Labour figure told the SKWAWKBOX:
If John Spellar or Brandhall Labour Club are sending Brandhall delegates to any CLP without the NEC’s formal approval, those delegates have no standing and have been voting on CLP matters without any authority to do so. That’s a serious attack on local party democracy and the matter needs to be investigated immediately.
The SKWAWKBOX asked Mr Spellar yesterday morning whether he could provide any evidence that the club had ever been approved for affiliation by the NEC. He has not so far responded.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It’s possible that Brandhall Labour Club was approved for affiliation and no NEC members the SKWAWKBOX spoke to are aware of it. However, a request to Mr Spellar for any evidence went unanswered. No acknowledgement or request for more time to find it was received, nor any advice to contact a different person or office.
Labour’s administration needs to confirm urgently whether there is any record of NEC approval in the past. If not, serious sanctions need to be applied to anyone found to have been behind its longstanding practice of influencing Warley’s affairs.
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