Bill Gavan seen campaigning for Labour in Sandwell and insiders say he is being brought back into fold along with others expelled for supporting rival candidates against Labour
Late last month, Keir Starmer told local press in the West Midlands that:
My plan to change culture at chaotic Sandwell Council is working
Starmer claimed to be bringing a new broom to Sandwell, sweeping out figures from the council leadership in order to ‘restore voters’ trust’ and told the Express and Star:
We are making changes, and some of those changes are obvious in terms of some of the people who are now not in positions that they were.
More, or equally importantly, the group of candidates we have got going forward into these elections are an excellent, diverse group of candidates.
I’m really pleased to be able to field a team like that, so where we had to do work we are doing work. I’m very concerned that the Labour Party rebuilds trust and reconnects with the voters.
Starmer’s ‘change of culture’ appears to consist of… bringing back figures who left the party or were thrown out for supporting rival candidates – including one who tried to join the Tory party and was recorded boasting of arranging a ‘loan’ for a Labour MP to prevent her being barred from sitting as a Labour MP for bankruptcy.
Local councillor and former Tom Watson employee Paul Moore posted a picture during this local election campaign of himself and a group out campaigning for a West Bromwich East candidate – a group that included ‘independent’ councillor Bill Gavan:
Gavan resigned from the Labour party in 2019 during a council meeting . He subsequently denied that he had left the party but went on to try to join the Tories, who reportedly declined to accept his application.
Gavan was also recorded boasting to a colleague about arranging a loan of £25,600 for now-MP Naz Shah when she was a parliamentary candidate and faced bankruptcy.
The loan appears never to have been recorded in the register of MP’s interests and Shah did not respond to requests for clarification, despite parliamentary rules that say:
any financial or non-financial benefit received by a MP or Member of the Lords which might reasonably be thought by others to influence their actions, speeches or votes in Parliament or influence their actions taken in their capacity as a Member.
Sandwell insiders have told Skwawkbox that Labour plans to bring Gavan back into the fold, a claim that appears to be supported by Moore’s campaign photo – and that the plan extends to other former Labour councillors expelled from the party for supporting rival candidates.
Meanwhile, the ‘obvious changes’ that Starmer claims will ‘restore trust’ seem to be the departure of former council leader Yvonne Davies, who had become leader only in 2019 on a promise of exposing and clearing out corruption that she said had prevailed under previous Labour-right regimes, along with several councillors who were supportive of her clear-out. Davies had already resigned as council leader last July, accusing Labour of covering up corruption and planning a purge of left-wing councillors so that the right could re-take control of the council.
Keir Starmer’s ‘plan to change culture’ in Sandwell appears to consist of bringing back right-wing figures who left under a cloud and were very much part of the ‘chaotic Sandwell council’ scene.
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