The SKWAWKBOX has covered at some length the serious question marks over the practice of Brandhall Labour Club in the West Midlands borough of Sandwell of sending delegates to vote at local CLPs (constituency Labour parties) – when there appears to be no evidence the club is an affiliated organisation entitled to do so.
Brandhall is run by two current or former employees of John Spellar, the right-wing Labour MP for Warley in the borough – and has sent delegates to at least Warley CLP and the West Bromwich West CLP of Labour MP Adrian Bailey, who has been at odds with Spellar over various issues in the area.
Now a remarkable email sent to Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby, which the SKWAWKBOX has obtained from its sender, has alleged that a disabled Labour member – who has asked not to be named – and others were delegated by the club to Spellar’s Warley CLP without his knowledge or permission and without even being a member of the club.
And according to the member in question, when he discovered he had been delegated – at the time of Warley CLP’s 2016 AGM (annual general meeting) and objected, he was told by one of the club’s shareholders that he had no choice and would just have to turn up when ordered.
Here are the key parts of the email – emphases/links have been added by the SKWAWKBOX:
I wrote to [Labour complaints team member] to ask him to take action in advance of the Warley Constituency Labour Party General Committee taking place on Thursday 17th May 2018 at which I expected important nominations such as that of NEC candidates, conference delegates and other such decisions would be taken, even though, as usual, the specifics had been omitted from the agenda, testimony to the opaque nature under which Warley CLP operates with John Spellar’s Parliamentary Secretary Vic Silvester serving as our CLP Secretary.
I was concerned, just like I was illegitimately put in as a delegate of the Brandhall Labour Club back in 2016, other delegates from Brandhall to Warley CLP may be in the same position thus removing the democratic credibility of votes such delegates partake in.
Predictably, as the October 2016 meeting in which myself and others were wrongfully ratified as Brandhall delegates was organised by [redacted] the now Acting Regional Director, though I wasn’t there myself, I understand Brandhall delegates attended the meeting as normal.
Since raising my initial concerns on this matter, I have learnt I was
certainly not the only Brandhall Labour Club delegate to Warley CLP
that has never been a member of Brandhall and therefore has no right
to attend as one of its representatives at the Warley GC meetings.
In fact, Cllr Steve Eling, the current Sandwell Council Leader has been a Brandhall Labour Club delegate for the past 2 years to Warley CLP even though he has never been a member of the Brandhall Labour Club as proven in his Declaration Of Members Interests on the Sandwell Council website.
Given the persistent abuse, the influential nature of my abuser and also being a disabled member of the local party, it took a long time for me to gain the courage to speak out.
Now I’ve done so, I write to you again in the hope the party will stand by me and investigate fully the issues I have raised by contacting witnesses and other victims I’m aware of, by taking immediate steps to allow myself and others to feel safe and adopting whatever other actions you deem necessary.
Our party upholds an exemplary record in standing up for the disabled and most vulnerable in Parliament and in local governments across the country, I feel it is imperative the same is shown in the implementation of our internal party procedures and it is in view of the unsatisfactory response I have received so far that I write to you again directly today.
The member told the SKWAWKBOX that he did not turn up as instructed at the 2016 AGM because of his serious concerns about the legitimacy of the process – and was lambasted for his decision by an official of the club.
He – along with many other Labour members in Warley and in Sandwell borough – is calling urgently for Warley CLP to be put into ‘special measures’ before the imminent AGM, to prevent what they consider to be further serious miscarriages of democracy.
John Spellar and his team were asked for comment on these issues last weekend but have not so far responded.
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