Sandwell Labour group stands for photo to send to Formby as council leader ‘heaps praise’ on Labour general secretary – apart from two employed by ‘bullying’ deputy leader
The behaviour of Labour’s notional deputy leader Tom Watson toward the party’s general secretary Jennie Formby has been widely condemned – but Watson has also received a stinging response on his ‘home patch’.
Watson and his local parliamentary colleague John Spellar were long considered to have an iron grip on selections and decisions in the West Midlands borough of Sandwell borough – but the extent of recent changes can be seen in a photograph taken yesterday after a meeting of Sandwell council’s Labour group.
After ‘heaping praise’ on Jennie Formby, Sandwell council leader Yvonne Davies told the gathered Labour group:
We are going to do a card for Jennie Formby. It is going to be a photograph, and we are going to send our best wishes.
We just want to say all the very best for what she is going through.
The resulting picture shows the massed councillors standing in solidarity with the unfairly-targeted general secretary:
All Sandwell’s councillors represent the Labour Party, except a couple now sitting as independents after expulsion for support for rival candidates in the recent local elections.
Only two Labour councillors present declined to participate in the group shot. Both work for Watson.
Watson’s cronies in the area tried – of course – to paint this show of solidarity as a sign that Labour’s interventions in the area were factional. However, Formby’s involvement referred to by Davies was in suspending local councillors against whom serious complaints had been made, primarily by women councillors, to safeguard the women while the complaints were investigated. Formby also suspended the ‘Local Campaign Forum’, the body that controls candidate selections, after complaints of rigging and improper behaviour.
The adjudication of the cases has been by the National Executive Committee NEC) in accordance with Labour’s rules. A number of the complaints have been referred by the NEC to the National Constitutional Committee, Labour’s ultimate disciplinary body.
Some of the people who know Tom Watson best, from long experience of him on his home turf, are unequivocally supporting Jennie Formby. Council leader Davies has also accused Watson and his allies of attempting to bully her, saying that they “made my life a misery”.
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