Blow for Watson as NEC appoints candidate to replace close ally Eling

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

Steve Eling, left, and Tom Watson

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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  1. In relation to Tom Watson allegedly foul behaviour I would like to know what the chair of the NEC did about it. I presume the NEC Standing Orders lay down a code for behaviour at meetings. If Watson breached the Code he should have been out on his ear.
    I really do feel that the NEC should not shy away from a confrontation with this unpleasant man. He needs to know that he is not above the rules of conduct and his nasty behaviour will not be tolerated.

    1. Good question. Timescale is important : but so is process.

      In terms of NEC intervention – it has probably lost Sheffield Hallam after the last ‘appointed’ candidate (parliamentary rather than local – but the principle holds).

      At the local level in that area, I reckon the LibDems are quids in with a combination of that cock-up and the Party’s lack of fundamental opposition on Brexit.

      I’ll be happy to be proved wrong.

  2. Boormingammons bowthevum orr thuy?

    (Sorry Birmingham – love you xx)

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