Well done Gary Elsby, Barry Stockley and Mick Williams for finally taking a stand in that they are taking legal action against their treatment by the local Labour Party.
I only wish I had done so when I could, and should have done.
Needless to say, any assistance I can give, I will gladly do so. I know with the meetings I went to that there was no way Gary Elsby was going to be Labour candidate.
This action is a sad consequence of a party with a great chasm between itself and local party members, let alone ordinary citizens of Stoke-on-Trent. A party that wants to bulldoze its own agenda through whilst ruthlessly bullying and crushing any other opinions leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.
Those that now run the local party have little experience and a totally lack of understanding for politics, Labour, social justice, Stoke-on-Trent and its people.
Yet they are right ““ everybody else is wrong ““ only in their blinkered minds.
Without doubt this is one of the most dramatic and spectacular collapses of a local Labour Party in history.
Only 13 years ago Labour had 60 councillors out of 60. Its complete dominance the envy of many throughout the country. Now its collapse in almost total: down to 13 councillors, struggling to find 20 candidates willing to have their names associated with Labour, and a membership average of just 20 per ward (some are down to less than 10). This could drop even further as I know a number of members who have contacted me asking me to set up an alternative which they would join. Even some trade unions that have left the Labour Party are sounding out for an alternative. There is now even the possibility that Labour will lose an MP.
The bad news just keeps on coming:
* Disastrous mishandling of the Budget
* Accusations of racism
* Accusations of bullying and intimidation
* Legal Action
* Weekly revelation about secrecy and financial irregularities under Labour’s Elected Mayor and his caucus within the council
Some good news however, in that Martin Garner, husband of Cllr. Joy Garner, has had to withdraw as a candidate ““ apparently he forgot to tell or ask his employer whether it was ok or not!
Six years ago Labour in Stoke had a temporary revival, bucking the national trend and regaining a majority on the council.
This was quickly destroyed with the election of a Labour Elected Mayor. Worst still an Elected Mayor with no respect for other people’s views, no time to listen and absolutely no political understanding whatsoever. Secrecy, personality politics, mistrust, bullying, clichÃƒ©s and in-fighting consumed the party.
The blame for the demise however, does not rest with the rather dislikeable Mark Meredith, but with the regional officers of the Labour Party and the NEC.
Why do I say this ““ because its is their complete inconsistency in the treatment of local party members that has led us to this point, and still continues to this day.
There is no doubt that these bodies made decisions totally biased towards the Elected Mayor and his supporters, regardless of the consequences. They joined in and fed the personality politics of Stoke on Trent. The saddest thing of all is that Stoke-on-Trent and its people are the ones that suffered the most.
For example complaints about bullying, threats and intimidation put forward by non elected mayor supporters were ignored, forgotten or lost.
Complaints made by the elected Mayor and his entourage ruthlessly pursued at every level.
Region and the NEC should be the place where every member feels that they can go when things go wrong. Where they will be treated equally regardless of position. It just does not happen as the legal action now demonstrates.
Take Democracy for Stoke ““ through the Labour Party, indeed many other parties, special interests group and organisations are the norm.
D4S’s main initial objective was to get rid of the Elected Mayor system ““ not personal ““ it was set up long before Meredith’s arrival. There were other organisations like the New Local Government Network, who campaign and support Elected Mayors, and were invited to participate in the debate locally even attending a Labour City Party meeting.
Yet the only people pursued by the NEC and region were D4S members. In an interview with representatives from the NEC just prior to my elevation to Group Leader I was left in no doubt that D4S had to go, that membership would banned by the Labour Party ““ to take the pressure off other members I publicly left D4S, not because I wanted to, but because they thought it would die without me, and therefore other Labour members could continue to be in D4S. If I had not then I am sure they would have taken action.
But does the Labour Party raise the same concerns about the pro Elected Mayor NLGN ““ an organisation packed with Labour members and funded by businesses to the tune of millions ““ the same businesses bidding for local government contracts. Of course not.
The message is clear.
If you want a council that is secretive and closed vote Labour.
If you want to be ignored, bullied, intimidated, manipulated and not supported, join the Labour Party.