On Saturday, the SKWAWKBOX revealed that Brandhall Labour Club – home to the constituency office of right-wing Labour MP John Spellar and to right-wing faction Labour First‘s gatherings has been sending delegates to Spellar’s Warley CLP. Some of those delegates say they were unaware of being delegates and were not even club members.
Delegates from affiliated organisations can exercise considerable influence in CLPs organised on a branch/delegate structure – and small affiliated groups can wield voting power equivalent to a party branch of hundreds of members.
Now the SKWAWKBOX has discovered that the club has also been sending delegates to a second CLP: West Bromwich West, seat of Labour MP Adrian Bailey, who has often been at odds with Spellar and their neighbour Tom Watson:
Brandhall Labour Club, as its letterhead shows, is a private limited company. Carole Silvester, who signed the letter, is registered at Companies House as secretary of the company. Her husband, Vic Silvester, is a director.
John Spellar is not. But both the Silvesters work or worked for him – Carole as his constituency office secretary and Silvester as his election agent:
Vic Silvester, according to local Labour officials, is also Spellar’s proxy on the now-suspended LCF (local campaign forum). He was, coincidentally, among the recipients of an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list this weekend. Visitors to Spellar’s office say Silvester is a frequent fixture.
Labour members in the area have told the SKWAWKBOX that Brandhall is regarded locally as “Spellar’s club”.
Many West Bromwich West members consider the delegation to be a manoeuvre against their MP. A local Labour official told the SKWAWKBOX:
In May 2017 Brandhall Labour Club affiliated to WBW CLP for the first time in many years. They sent 5 delegates. This was clearly designed to try and maximise the forces against the MP Adrian Bailey, and the CLP officers, who had led the way against the suspensions of members in Sandwell.
The delegates themselves were quite interesting. One claimed to have never been a member of the Labour club and was unaware they were a delegate until it was mentioned to them. Two are related to a Labour councillor who was imposed as a candidate by the regional board in Spellar’s constituency following the death of [council leader] Darren Cooper.
Another delegate, a Labour Councillor, was prevented in 2016 from being the Conference delegate for the CLP as it was found they were not affiliated. The organisation they reported to represent had no knowledge of any affiliation.
I am told that the director of Brandhall is Vic Silvester (he got an MBE today). He sends delegates. He is the secretary of Warley CLP, so he sends the delegates to himself.
He also works for John Spellar, as does his wife who is the secretary of Brandhall Labour Club. They collect rent from Spellar for his office. He was his substitute on the suspended Sandwell LCF at every meeting and had a full vote.
Complaints have been made to the Labour Party by local members and councillors.
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