Former Sandwell Council leader Steve Eling referred to NCC – despite Watson’s ‘foul’ intervention last month
Labour member Tom Watson’s attempt to rally pressure on members of Labour’s National Executive (NEC) to change Labour’s policy on Brexit backfired yesterday when it earned him a public rebuke from a senior NEC member – and a backlash from left members demanding he step aside or fight a new deputy leadership contest.
Watson has also notched up another failure after a perceived attempt to protect one of his most prominent allies on the Labour right on his West Midlands home turf foundered.
Watson was accused last month of attempting to derail the disciplinary process against former Sandwell Council leader Steve Eling, when Watson – attending his first ever meeting of the NEC’s ‘disputes panel’ – prevented the scheduled discussion of Eling’s case.
Watson made a series of interventions with complaints and petty procedural questions, to such an extent that much of the business of the meeting could not be discussed. Eling faces a number of ‘serious’ complaints regarding his behaviour from local members and officials.
Witnesses at the disputes meeting ascribed Watson’s ‘foul’ and ‘appalling’ behaviour to a desire to delay a decision on Eling’s case in the hope of reinstating him as a Labour candidate for this week’s local elections in the borough. That goal was thwarted when the disputes panel simply held over the case until its next meeting – and the NEC appointed a blind, Asian candidate to replace Eling.
Any hope of defending his ally has now collapsed further – with Eling’s case referred to the party’s ultimate disciplinary body – the National Constitutional Committee (NCC).
The NCC has the power to expel from membership – and even if Eling’s case is ultimately dismissed, the process is likely to sideline him from any Labour involvement for a prolonged period.
Steve Eling was contacted for comment but did not respond. Tom Watson has not responded to a request for comment about his behaviour in the NEC disputes meeting.
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