Last week, the SKWAWKBOX highlighted a discrepancy in Sandwell council’s report exonerating council leader Steve Eling – a close ally of right-wing Labour MPs John Spellar and Tom Watson – of involvement in damaging leaks to a local blogger. The report has been described by locals as a ‘whitewash’ – and as ‘falling apart’ after an Eling statement to investigators was shown to be fundamentally inaccurate. That inaccuracy still seems to remain uncorrected.
But just over a year ago, West Bromwich West CLP (constituency Labour party), met to discuss the a motion – proposed by the local Labour MP, Adrian Bailey – to conduct its own investigation into the same leaks. The plan was agreed overwhelmingly, with only one vote against:
The CLP notes, with great concern, the revelations on social media concerning the relationship between Julian Saunders (commonly known as the Sandwell Skidder) and the Leader of Sandwell MBC, Cllr Steve Eling and Cabinet Member, Cllr Richard Marshall, which sought to publicly denigrate Councillors from this CLP.
Their activities would appear to be in complete contradiction to the Nolan principles for behaviour by Councillors in Local Government and breaches the Labour Party rules for:
– Conduct detrimental to the Labour Party (Chap 2 Clause 1.8)
– Comradely behaviour (Chap 13 Clause 2 – 1B & IC)
– Local Government Labour Groups (Chap 13 Clause Xl.2)
This CLP agrees to compile evidence, draw up charges for disciplinary action to be taken against them to be presented to the Local Authority Standards Committee, the Local Authority Chief Whip and the NEC, as appropriate.
At the end of last month, the CLP met again to discuss the findings of the report by the three investigators it had appointed.
The conviction among local Labour members that the council’s report was a whitewash appears to have been overwhelming, because when the CLP’s own investigators reported that the case was found against the council leader and his (now former) cabinet ally, the meeting agreed it unanimously, apart from the three original investigators who, understandably, were not considered eligible to vote on their own report.
Those voting included an array of councillors – including the deputy leader of the council – and West Bromwich West MP Adrian Bailey:
- Cllr Syeda Khatun MBE – Deputy Leader of the Council
- Cllr Elaine Costigan – Cabinet Member
- Cllr Peter Hughes – Sandwell Labour Group Treasurer
- Cllr Bill Cherrington
- Cllr Luke Giles
- Cllr Bob Lloyd
- Cllr Sharon Davies
- Cllr Maria Crompton
- Cllr Pete Allen
- Cllr Stephen Jones
- Cllr Mushtaq Hussain
- Cllr Joanne Hadley
- Cllr Olwen Jones
- Adrian Bailey MP and CLP Delegate
The CLP also agreed that the pair had brought the party into disrepute and that the case should be forwarded to Labour’s NEC (National Executive Committee) and its supreme disciplinary body, the NCC (National Constitutional Committee).
It further asked that the team continue to investigate the evidence for further involvement from others not mentioned in the original investigation motion last September.
These recommendations were also passed unanimously
The vote is a damning verdict on the council’s own report on the matter – and a blow to the council leader, as well as the other two local Labour MPs and a number of councillors from the Labour right.
Steve Eling was contacted for comment but responded only to state that the CLP had not been in touch with him about the matter.
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