Deputy leader Tom Watson behaved ‘foully’ in NEC disputes meeting to decide fate of suspended ally – but door closes as replacement candidate appointed for local elections
The Labour right is reeling in its West Midlands heartland after the NEC (National Executive Committee) appointed a left-wing candidate to replace former council leader Steve Eling – a close ally of local MPs Tom Watson and John Spellar – for May’s local elections.
Eling was suspended pending investigation into a string of complaints – and Watson was accused of ‘foul’, ‘vile’ and ‘bullying’ behaviour in two NEC meetings in what was perceived as an attempt to protect Eling’s candidacy.
But the NEC has now appointed left-winger Ahmad Bostan – a member in Spellar’s Warley constituency – as the party’s candidate for the borough’s Abbey ward.
Bostan, who is registered blind, has a well-established track record of standing up to Spellar and his ally Gurinder Singh Josan – a former NEC candidate on the right-wing slate promoted by Spellar’s Labour First group.
Watson’s interventions in March’s NEC disputes panel and main meeting backfired, as the decision on Eling’s case could not be reached because of the time lost – and the next meeting does not take place until well after the deadline for candidate declarations.
The appointment closes the door on any hope Watson and the right might have had of levering Eling back into the ward he occupied as leader of the council.
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