In the early hours of this morning, the SKWAWKBOX described the chaos infecting the Labour right in its heartland of Sandwell borough in the West Midlands.
That chaos had been manifested in the calling of an unconstitutional meeting for the sole purpose of passing judgment on a councillor who has inconvenienced the local Establishment – followed almost immediately by the cancellation of the same meeting.
Sandwell is home to Labour First string-puller MP John Spellar, to deputy Labour leader Tom Watson and to Labour’s West Midlands regional office, which the right has controlled along with local Labour structures for as long as most people can remember.
The borough has been the scene of a huge number of complaints against party officials, councillors and MPs – and the suspension of Sandwell’s ‘LCF’ (local campaign forum) sent shockwaves through the Labour right in the West Midlands and beyond.
If Labour can bring the hard right to book in Sandwell, the right is not secure anywhere.
So the news that the cancellation of the ‘desperation measure’ meeting in Sandwell was triggered by the intervention of Labour central will be a rallying call to the left and send shivers down right-wing spines.
The meeting, which was scheduled to take place on Monday 16 July, was cancelled by the invocation of chapter thirteen of the Labour Party rulebook, which governs the behaviour of ‘local government Labour groups on principal authorities’ – specifically clause thirteen, point four of that chapter which says:
Where the NEC determine there are exceptional circumstances, the NEC Disputes Panel shall be charged with the responsibility to undertake procedures relating to a breach of these rules, thus in such instant relieving the Labour group and Local Campaign Forum executive of such powers.
The LCF has already been suspended by the party pending the investigation of a raft of complaints about anti-democratic practices and bullying – but faced with the prospect of Sandwell council’s Labour group also being relieved of its powers, the group backed down and a hasty message cancelling the meeting without explanation was sent to all councillors and the local constituency party executive officers:
The Labour right has been used to acting with impunity in the West Midlands and in Sandwell especially, with the assistance of its supporters in the regional office.
Cold sweats will be breaking out at the realisation that the national party under its new General Secretary is no longer prepared to stand by.
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