Sandwell Establishment’s ‘contempt’ for process as suspended officer appears at Labour bash

The SKWAWKBOX has covered at length the dramatic developments in Sandwell, the West Midlands core of the Labour right – including the ‘earthquake’ of the suspension both of the LCF (local campaign forum) and of its secretary, Tom Watson ally Derek Rowley.

rowley mayor
Former Sandwell mayor Derek Rowley

Mr Rowley was suspended after allegations not only of anti-democratic practices but also of bullying and of shoving a councillor to prevent her entry to a meeting, causing her a leg injury.

On Saturday, Sandwell council’s ‘Labour group’ held its annual garden party: a Labour event rather than a council one – and therefore not one that Mr Rowley should be allowed to attend during his suspension.

But in spite of the seriousness of the allegations against him Mr Rowley was at the event as the ‘plus one’, according to witnesses, of the council’s deputy leader and was seen conversing with various senior Sandwell figures.

Rowley’s presence was enough to prevent at least some Sandwell officials who have complaints against him from feeling they could attend. Some who opposed his presence described his admission as a sign of ‘contempt and arrogance’ on the part of senior council figures.

The SKWAWKBOX asked Sandwell’s deputy leader for confirmation that she had invited him, for information about the circumstances surrounding the invitation and his arrival and why, if she did invite him, she did so when he is suspended and should not be allowed at Labour events while the suspension lasts. She has not responded.

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  1. Being suspended doesn’t stop members from attending events. I’m suspended and can still take part fully in branch meetings, vote in CLP meetings (though not contribute) and attend any number of social events.

    1. Sounds like your not suspended to me. Is the process a sham alleging something is being dealt with. It has blairite all over it.

      1. That’s what the rulebook says. “suspension” often seems to be misunderstood – it’s mainly suspension from representing Labour in any office (hence eg MPs temp become “independent”) or becoming a candidate, rather than suspension of actual ordinary membership:

        “6.I.3 A ‘suspension’ of a member … shall require the membership rights of the individual member concerned to be confined to participation in their own branch meetings, unless the reason for the suspension in part or in full is their conduct in party meetings …, and activities as an ordinary member only and in such ballots of all individual members as may be prescribed by the NEC. A suspended member shall not be eligible to seek any office in the Party, nor shall s/he be eligible for nomination to any panel of prospective candidates nor to represent the Party in any position at any level. The member concerned will not be eligible to attend any CLP meeting other than to fulfil the requirement to participate in ballots.”

        The limits to attending CLP meetings would barely impinge in a Branch and GMC organised CLP, but in a General Assembly organised CLP where the branches barely function it would be a big restriction.

  2. As I understand it, there are different sanctions depending on the alleged offence. For example, someone who is under ‘administrative suspension’ (say, for a bullying and harassment allegation) would not be able to attend meetings (Branch or CLP) but is allowed to vote in national elections (e.g. NEC CLP reps) and is allowed to join in with local campaigning and go to local social events. Other members sometimes don’t like it but they are the rules and are usually set out with the suspension notice.

    SB – without seeing the notice is it possible to know what Mr Rowley is allowed to attend?

  3. Anyone who has ever represented anyone in a trade union (far fewer than there should be) and who has half an ounce of sense, would know that suspension is a neutral act pending a disciplinary process, and is no indication of guilt. I’m astounded that a blog which claims to be on the left thinks it is ok to have a presumption of guilt against people suspended.

    1. Who said anything about presumption of guilt? Suspension is exactly what you describe – but Labour rules say suspended members shouldn’t be at Labour events until the case is resolved one way or the other. And natural justice principles say those who may be guilty of an offence against someone shouldn’t be where they might intimidate those they’re alleged to have harmed..

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