Former Stoke-on-Trent City Council Leader Resigns From Labour Party

Former leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council Barry Stockley has resigned from the Labour Party.

He has also revealed that he will not be standing in the upcoming local elections and has pledged his support for his former colleague and official Labour Party candidate Terry Crowe.

Two separate sources had claimed that Mr Stockley was 99.9% certain to stand, the only question was the ward he chose to stand in.

It is now thought that certain political activists has presumed that Mr Stockley would stand upon announcing his resignation from the Labour Party.

Other sources are claiming that Mr Stockley’s name was used to boost the campaigns of certain former prominent Labour Party members as they seek election to the council in May.

Barry’s decision has ended his 32 year relationship with the Labour Party.

Mr Stockley has written the following letter to his friends, colleagues and supporters clarifying his position:

Former Chair Stoke Central Labour Party and Assistant to Mark Fisher MP

March 2011

Dear Friends

City Council Elections 5th May 2011

It is well known that for some time now I have been concerned about the unwarranted interference by Labour Party officials from outside our City into the running of Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the selection of candidates for the forthcoming City Council elections.

This interference may well have contributed to the way that the Labour dominated City Council has dealt with its budgetary problems ““ voting to reduce funding for children’s centres by £2.25 million, voting to close Shelton Pool, voting to close more care homes for the elderly, voting to close Willfield Community Centre and voting to slash the funding for child and adolescent mental health services whilst at the same time wasting vast sums of money on unnecessary consultancy fees and dodgy Icelandic investments.

I have therefore resigned my membership of the Labour Party which stretches back to 1979

Whilst I shall not be standing as a candidate at the City Council elections I would urge you to seek an assurance from any candidate that asks for your support that he/she will stand up for our area and consider the needs of our community before any instruction from a political hierarchy or political group.

It is not for me to tell you how to vote but I shall be voting for Terry Crowe – not because he is the Labour Party candidate but because he has proved over many years that he is a man of the highest integrity, strong enough to challenge instructions from unelected officials and will always put the needs of our community first. .

Yours sincerely

Barry Stockley

Mr Stockley’s letter urges the electorate to seek assurances that any candidate seeking election will stand up for the area and consider the needs of thr community.

His concerns are ironically mirrored in the recent blog post

It is obvious that Barry Stockley had his differences with the Labour Party in recent times, but in all the time I have known him, I have never heard him say a bad word about any fellow party member. Likewise, I have never heard a Labour Party member say a bad word about Barry.

Differences?…. obviously. Mutual respect?….absolutely!

Stoke-on-Trent Needs Committed Councillors, Not Activists with a Grudge

I know that this blog article is going to make me mightily unpopular in some quarters of the Stoke-on-Trent political arena, but here goes.

Following on from my last post about the far right England First Party, which was fantastically well received, I climb up on my soapbox for round two.

You see i have a real worry about the upcoming local council elections, in fact I would go as far as to say it is boarding on a mortal fear, that our city will end up with a load of councillors that are in it for all the wrong reasons.

My fears were further realised following a disturbing telephone conversation with an ex-member of the Labour Party here in Stoke-on-Trent.

It appears there is a group of disenfranchised ex-Labour party members that are to throw their hats in the ring and are to seek election to the City Council with their number one priority to smear the Labour Party and its candidates as opposed to actually wanting to represent their communities.

I admit that I was absolutely flabbergasted by this revelation.

These people are to focus their campaign on what the Labour Party have done to them in the past, how the Labour party has broken their own rules [in their opinion anyway] and they are to publicly smear some of the Labour candidates.

I’m sure that you don’t need me to mention their names in this article, but you will know who I mean when I describe them as the usual suspects.

It would appear that the labour Party’s crime is to select 44 candidates to fight every available seat across the City.

They stand accused of not producing a manifesto on which to fight the election and they are definitely guilty of fielding candidates that are not legitimate and have been selected by the Regional Office so the dissenters claim.

One poor candidate that has got it coming to her is Alison Wedgwood, her crime? She doesn’t live in the City according to this group. “We are going to nail her” was the phrase used. She won’t be the only one.

This group are marketing themselves as “Ëœoriginal Labour’ ““ you know, a throwback to those halcyon days when the Labour Party that the ultimate power in our city. A time when all 60 candidates were Labour and the only arguments, and there was a few, were between themselves.

But those days were blighted by some of the most monumental cock ups in our city’s history. The Cultural Quarter, World Gate, the Britannia Stadium deal to name just a few ““ hardly the city’s finest period of history, do we really want to go back there?

In fact it is rumoured that Barry Stockley, the Council Leader at the time of those Keystone Kops like incidents will stand in the election alongside the usual suspects against an official Labour candidate thus ending his long association with the party.

None of current crop of Labour councillors were in office at the time of the darkest days in our council’s history.

Please don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying vote Labour in this post.

As I have said in the past we will have a real choice of candidates in these elections ranging from mainstream parties, community councillors from the City Independent Group and Community Voice, and true Independents who seek to serve their communities and wards and to help make the areas in which they live a better place.

But we have a duty to vote for councillors who will make a real difference to the city.

By and large we will have a single councillor to represent the majority of wards across the city and we will be stuck with them for four whole years. If we vote in the wrong calibre of person we will be able to repent at leisure.

I therefore ask a genuine question.

Do we really want to vote in a group of individuals or are standing against a party, it’s rules and regulations [or the lack of them] and it’s candidates?

Do we genuinely care if this crew were thrown on the scrap heap for having a different ideology to that of the modern day Labour party?

Why should we the general public get embroiled in a war between factions when the likelihood is that it will be us that get caught in the crossfire whilst the two opposing sides will be battling it out?

Are we really bothered who is right and who is wrong in this dispute?

Activists fall out with their parties every day, just like in the case of Shaun Bennett. But the fundamental difference here is that Shaun has walked away and is standing for the City Independents. He hasn’t spat his dummy and is standing on an anti-Conservative agenda.

It has been said that the Community Voice group is made up largely of ex-Labourites and that’s true. But Community Voice have their own identity. They have their own set of political principles. They will seek election on a set of their own pledges. To their enormous credit they rejected a number of advances from this “Ëœoriginal Labour’ group because they did not want to go down the anti-Labour route why? – Because they have their own vision.

And what of the suggestion that the City labour Party have no agenda?

My understanding is that the Labour collective will have a very definite set of priorities, policies and pledges that will be communicated to the electorate during the election campaigns.

So in summary I find myself pleading with all communities to use their votes wisely.

The majority of us will be represented by a single councillor, we will be stuck with him or her for four long years, so let’s get the right ones in eh?

Whether you are far left, left, middle, right or god help us far right, let’s get people into the chamber who want to put communities ahead of their own personal vendetta’s.

We want people who will support, represent and help the elderly, the disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society and we want councillors who are progressive and can improve the areas in which we live.

If I lived in a ward where there is an “Ëœoriginal Labour’ candidate standing I would be “Ëœnailing’ them to be open and transparent for their reasons on why they are seeking election. I would be “Ëœnailing’ them on what they intend to do to stand up for their ward. I would be nailing them to say what their priorities are.

And if one of them gave an answer which contained what the Labour Party did to them, or which rule it did not follow, or how the candidate selection was wrong, or why a certain candidate should not be standing ““ I would shut the door in their faces. Their leaflets would be flushed down the toilet so that it can meet the other sewage that lurks in the city’s drains.

No doubt my politics will be “Ëœnailed’ as a result of this article. I simply do not care. Anyone who reads my articles [10’s of thousands] and the people who know me personally [hundreds] know that I have socialist principles but when it comes to the local election, my family and I always vote for those who we think will best represent our community and who will do the most for the people who live in it.

Apart from the BNP and heaven forbid the England First Party that applies to pretty much any candidate.

Discovery Academy – The Final Piece Of The Jigsaw?

The Building Schools for the Future [BSF]controversy has rumbled on and on in Stoke-on-Trent for some 6 years.

It should have been a good, good news story, a win win for every family in the 6 Towns.

But from the moment that the then Elected Mayor and Serco decided to stand in front of secondary pupils, their parents, their teachers and their headteachers and tell them what they were getting instead of asking them what they want, it all went belly-up!

The Elected Mayors Board and Serco described this process as ‘Consultation’ – Oh how the communities laughed.

Citizens and schools staff united and turned into community action groups and gave birth to Hands off Haywood and the Trentham Action Group and the battle lines were duly drawn.

Just like the old Max Boyce sketch, ‘I Was There’! I witnessed the on-going fight that the Head of Heywood had with the leaders of Serco.

I watched with interest the walks to London, Bike Rides to Europe, the sit in in an EMB meeting – yes the Trentham lot were a feisty bunch.

Eventually those two action groups won the day for their communities and the BSF process seemed back on track – or did it?

The last ‘Academy’ site to be finalised was that of the Discovery Academy.

The lead school going into the Academy was to be Edensor High School largely down to the fact that the Head at the time, broke from the ranks of a very united group of ALL the secondary heads in the city and reached an agreement with Serco to move his staff a few miles to the other side of Longton to a new build that would eventually be known as the Discovery Academy.

The council then started looking for suitable sites to house this project. The original ‘preferred’ site was the old Gasometer, this was doomed to failure due to the costs of decommissioning the structre and stabilising the ground.

The site of the old Willfield High was always on the scene but there seemed a reluctance to recognise it as viable option.

Berryhill Fields and Mossfield Road were also contenders.

The Longton High School site was proposed by Rob Flello MP, some suggested that this was politically motivated as it was on the run up to the General Election.

But of the blue, the council announced that their preferred site was now Springfield. ‘Where is Springfield?’ – the residents of Adderley Green asked. ‘Just look out of your kitchen windows!’ – the council replied. The battles lines were drawn once again.

The Springfield Action Group were formed and they took on the council with a little help from PnP’s Nicky Davis who had been an integral part of TAG.

They lobbied, protested, held meetings and lobbied some more and eventually managed to convince a planning meeting that the land was to contaminated to build on and would pose a health risk.

All the time that the BSF proposals were being discussed, objected to, welcomed by some and hated by others, Mitchell High School fought for survival.

They wanted to be merged with Berryhill and a school for both communities built on the current Mitchell site. The school results were phenomenal, one of the most improved in the country. Their arguments however fell on deaf ears.

The Community Schools Action Group have fought a hard campaign, but it’s message has always struggled to be heard.

Finally last week, the decision was made to build the Discovery Academy on the land currently occupied by the Willfield Community Centre.

The decision did not shock me at all. It was a case of damage limitation in my opinion and if I’m honest, I was shocked that this conclusion was not reached a lot sooner.

Yes, it means that Edensor pupils will have further to travel, but many at that end of the City have always believed that the current Edensor catchment area will opt for alternative schools anyway.

Mitchell High have failed in their bid to get a school on their existing site, but have managed to get the new school location closer to their community.

The decision is probably in part due to finance as the City Council own the land that Willfield stands on.

The focus now is that the swimming pool and the City Learning Centre located on the Longton High site is retained and maintained for community use.

Let’s hope that this can be done without the need for yet another Community Action Group.

In the audio interviews below you will hear the relief, tinged with some sympathy from the Springfield Action Group and the disappointment of the Community Schools Action Group.

Labour Party Stalwart Barry Stockley Placed Under Administratative Suspension

The Labour Party have placed party stalwart and Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent CLP under administrative suspension.

The move comes after a series of high profile bust ups in the months leading up to the Local & General Elections.

A number of leading Stoke Central Labour Party activists have since walked out of the party.

The trouble began with the controversial selection of candidates for the local elections, There were then a series of bust ups between officers of Stoke Central CLP and the Labour Party Regional Office West Midlands which included declaring an AGM null and void and the selection of Mick Williams as a “Ëœcandidate in principle’ for the Hartshill & Penkull ward.

The selection was later overturned by the ROWM and a candidate was selection from 2 names chosen by them.

The selection of Tristram Hunt as the Labour Party PPC was also shrouded in controversy.

Gary Elsby, the Secretary of the Stoke Central CLP, left the party in protest at the selection of Mr Hunt and stood against him in the General Election.

The Labour Party appeared to be somewhat vindicated by the results of the Party both locally and nationally.

Locally the Labour Party made 12 gains on Stoke-on-Trent City Council, taking 17 out of the 20 available seats.

In the General Election Tristram Hunt defeated the Lib Dems into 2nd place, the Conservatives into 3rd and the BNP into 4th place. Gary Elsby finished in 7th place with 399 votes.

Barry Stockley today confirmed that he had been suspended and that the party were holding an investigation that could result in a disciplinary hearing. He also said that he has the support of new Stoke-on-Trent Central MP Tristram Hunt and his predecessor Mark Fisher.

Mr Stockley has also been praised for the amount of work he put into the General Election campaign and several ex and current members have appealed that the Regional Office take this into consideration when imposing any punishment or sanctions upon him.

While the suspension is in force Mr Stockley is prevented from holding any office within the Labour Party which could mean he will be unable to put himself forward for the Chair of the CLP at their upcoming AGM.

A spokesperson for the City of Stoke-on-Trent Labour Party confirmed that Mr Stockley was under administrative suspension and that the AGM would take “Ëœplace as soon as possible’ and that it was important to get all members of Stoke-on-Trent CLP to attend the meeting to have their say on the direction that the CLP takes in the future.

It was also confirmed that several CLP members had expressed an interest in standing for office within the party.

Labour – Dead As A Dodo!

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, clichés 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.

MP outraged at Labour Party rejections.

Stoke Central MP Mark Fisher is outraged at the decision to exclude several key Party members from being candidates at the 2010 local elections.

Barry Stockley, Gary Elsby, and Mick Williams have been rejected despite a long and sometimes heated appeal hearing. They must now consider what action to take next. It is expected that there will be an emergency constituency party meeting.

Terry Crowe had been rejected but was successful in his appeal. It is unlikely that he will face the electorate in 2010 as he is determined to support the failed trio.

Stoke Central MP Mark Fisher said that he found the appeals panels decision, “amazingly incomprehensible”.

Talking to Pits’n’Pots today Mr Fisher MP said: “I can not see how the panel have come to their conclusions based on the evidence placed in front of them”.

” Barry Stockley gave 4 out of 5 very strong answers, this was recognised by the panel, so how could he not be considered a suitable candidate”

“Gary Elsby has been accepted on the MPs’ panel list and yet these people deem him to be an unsuitable candidate for councillor”.

“I feel I have no alternative but to take this issue and challenge Harriet Harman to investigate this selection process”

Stoke Central Constituency Chairman Barry Stockley has said that he is incensed by the Regional Office’s interference in the selection process.

He said: “This is all about Regional office’s refusal to accept Mick Williams as the Co-Op delegate on the City Party. The have excluded him for no good reason”

“There are two Stoke Central resolutions against the Regional Office and the City Labour Party”

“The first is condemning their interference in the selection of local candidates for the 2010 local elections. The second is condemning the use of foul and abusive language in a Constituency meeting by City Labour Party Chair Sarah Hill toward another member and her subsequent refusal to offer and apology now, or at anytime in the future”

“We feel that we had no option but to withdraw from the City Labour Party. I think this has had an impact on the way that the Regional officers have dealt with our application to be candidates”

“There are double standard here, Gary Elsby has been refused to go on the candidates list, one of the reasons is that he used foul and abusive language on a web site 2 years ago in a private capacity. Sarah Hill does the same In a Labour Party meeting and gets selected, it’s unbelievable”

Terry Crowe is today considering his position in the Labour Party. He is extremely angry at the treatment of him and his fellow party members by the Regional Office.

He said: “I love the Labour Party and I love the communities of Stoke-on-Trent. I have served both for over 30 years. I am disgusted at how I and others have been treated”.

“One of the things that the appeals panel threw at me is that I don’t understand equal opportunities. I have been disabled for many years, nobody understands equal opportunities better than me. I have campaigned for years for equal opportunities and for people with disabilities”

” I found the panel’s treatment of me insulting and even though I won my appeal I don’t feel in a position to commit to the regional office agenda. They have not got a clue about what is needed for Stoke-on-Trent”

“I resent people from outside coming in and taking over the selection of our candidates”

Gary Elsby has been a Labour member for nearly 30 years and is the Secretary for Stoke Central CLP. He has been told that he does not understand the aims and values of the Labour Party and that he lacks political judgement.

He said: “I am disappointed and hurt but I will have to consider what action to take when we have had a discussion over the proceedings”

“I was grilled for 2 hours and I felt I gave a good account of myself, but I feel that this is about more than the reasons given”

“Everyone who opposed the elected mayor or was a member of Democracy for Stoke has felt the wrath of the Regional Office. I am and will remain a committed Labour Party supporter and I constantly tell people that we will win the general election in 2010″

Mick Williams refused to comment publicly pending his request for written clarification of the reasons for his rejection.

City Party Chair Sarah Hill refutes the allegation that she has not apologised, she said: “I have apologised to the NEC and I understand that apology will be forwarded on to the Chair of Stoke-on-Trent Central”

All four of the rejected party members remain committed to Mark Fisher’s election campaign and all stand by Mick Williams, the man most credited with returning democracy to Stoke-on-Trent with the removal of the mayoral system via D4S.

This matter has already attracted the attention of Labour Party National Executive Member Peter Kenyon who wrote on his website:

“I have already asked whether or not the Labour Party is operating a scorched earth policy in Stoke on Trent. There is mounting evidence of purges being conducted all round the country in the name of the National Executive Committee. The NEC’s so-called representative in Stoke is a trade unionist. He is no longer a member of the NEC. I am starting to question the role of trade union paid officials in the governance of the Labour Party”.

You can read the whole of Peter Kenyon’s article by clicking the link below.

Labour Party in Stoke-on-Trent ““ Stormy seas or heading for calmer waters?

I suppose you could say it hasn’t been the easiest time lately for Labour Party activists in Stoke-on-Trent.

The departure of Cllr Dave Conway, the comings and goings of Cllr Joan Bell and Cllr Joy Garner plus Mike Barnes and the “ËœReportergate’ scandal have set the party adrift on stormy seas.

At grass roots level there is the stand off between Stoke Central and the City Party and the constant accusations that the Labour Party is run by the Regional Office West Midlands.

In the last week or so there has also been the outcry at the rejection of a number of senior party members as candidates for the local election in May 2010. This has been fuelled by the acceptance of Joy Garner onto the candidates list. There has been a rumour circulating that Joan Bell had been accepted also, but Joan has telephoned me to tell me that she has no intention of standing in 2010.

Barry Stockley, Terry Crowe, Mick Williams, Gary Elsby and Majid Kahn have all been knocked back in their attempts to make the candidates list.

Strangely all these operate out of Stoke Central and could all make the claim that it is because there is a dispute between their constituency party and the City Party as the main reason for their rejection.

But is this really the case?

Over the weekend I had a very interesting conversation with a very senior party figure who sees it a very different way indeed.

It appears that the Labour Party have a “Ëœtwo year’ plan to re-invent the party in the eyes of the electorate. This Labour Party source confirmed that they are unlikely to field 20 councillors in the upcoming 2010 elections. The party feel that it is more important to have the right candidates representing the party than merely fielding candidates just for the sake of it.

There is a selection criteria and standard that all Labour Candidates have to achieve before they can be appointed to the candidates list. It may be the case that the candidates that have been rejected may well have not reached the standards, or fill the criteria required.

The party, it would seem are willing to accept some damage if the end game can be realised. Whoever is pulling the strings in the Labour Party in Stoke-on-Trent is willing to take a couple of steps backwards if it means that eventually the party can march forward ““ together.

The candidates from Stoke Central have faced, and been rejected by, the electorate in their chosen wards in the recent past. These candidates were chosen and were presented by, a jury of their Stoke Central peers. It can not be argued that the BNP has prospered in the Centre of our great city.

Could this move by the Party be a positive step to really taking on the the politics of the far right?

The BNP now claim that they are the party of the people and it is they who have usurped the Labour party in their traditional winning grounds.

Whilst Gary Elsby improved his vote last time out, he has failed to remove the candidates and the party he despises the most on successive occasions. Gary has been approved to be on the parliamentary candidates list but has been rejected to stand as a councillor for Stoke-on-Trent this time round.

Barry Stockley and Terry Crowe are seen as damaged goods and have the stigma of the Cultural Quarter and Worldgate added to their long list of achievements. Let it not be forgotten that these two Labour stalwarts did great thing for the city back in the day, but the memories of the electorate is very short. The Cultural Quarter is the finest “Ëœjewel in the crown’ of this city and yet what is remembered the most is the massive overspend and the protracted legal battle.

In the case of Mick Williams it may well be the case that his work for D4S has gotten under the skin of some of the major players from within the Labour Party.

This story has become the issue to watch within the Labour Party. MPs and even Peter Kenyon of the NEC are standing by waiting for the outcome.

As I understand it, most of the candidates are appealing the decision to prevent them standing as councillors in the forthcoming elections.

The end result may well be that some of the Stoke Central party faithful may well be faced to walk the plank, or may even throw themselves overboard over this issue.

This in-party dispute is set to continue and whether there is something in the claims of those rejected is for other people to decide. The Labour party hierarchy seem to have set sail for a destination known only to themselves at the moment. But if that journey delivers more candidates of the caliber of Tom Reynolds, Mark Davis who are young, dynamic and have a vision for this city, then I for one would be more inclined to join the cause and to cast my vote in their direction.

Time will tell, do you support the efforts of the party’s movers and shakers in their stance against candidates that they may well see as “Ëœnot fit for purpose’?

Democracy4Stoke ““ The Revenge

Is the Labour Party taking its final retribution on those campaigners that led to the overwhelming public victory of getting rid of the Elected Mayor. This weekend the City Labour Party in Stoke, which is chaired by Sarah Hill, former assistant director of Adult social Care in Stoke, with the West Midlands Regional Labour Party in control, interviewed applicants for Labour candidates for the local elections in 2010. The Labour Party locally has prioritised and targeted 6 seats in the city for extra resources and campaining: Abbey Green Bentilee and Townsend Burslem South Tunstall Fenton Longton North Sources from the event which lasted for 2 days, have revealed as little as 17 Labour members applied for the 20 seats to be contested. More telling is that 6 of those were rejected. Who you ask? Joy Garner or Joan Bell, who left the Labour Group? No. 5 of the 6 were active campaigners to get rid of the Elected Mayor: Gary Elsby Terry Crowe (former councillor) Barry Stockley (former council leader and current PA to Mark Fisher MP) Mick Williams (D4S organiser and former councillor) Denver Tolley (current councillor and Deputy Lord Mayor) Majid Khan This comes on top of the loss over the last couple of years of others who actively campaigned to get rid of the Elected Mayor and are still currently councillors: Cllr Dave Conway Cllr Alan Joynson Cllr Pauline Joynson Cllr Mick Salih Cllr Peter Kent Baguley For the first time in decades, there is real possibility that Labour will not be able to contest all 20 seats. Down to 14 councillors and only 11 candidates – is this the end? This witch hunt is brought about by those that want to blame everybody but themselves for the mess the local Labour Party and more importantly, the City is in. They cannot see that they completely disconnected with the people: that the whole experimental disaster of the Elected Mayor is directly responsible for this monumental downfall. Lets take Cllr Denver Tolley. Some may not agree with his politics, but this man has dedicated and given years of his life to the Labour Party and the City. He is also currently the Deputy Lord Mayor and supposed to be the Lord Mayor next year, but now ruthlessly tossed aside by the New Labour machine. As the casualties pile up, as BNP grows in strength, and as they arrogantly manipulate local party structures and members to suit their own ends – will they ever see that the people of this City are not all blind to these games. It would not even surprise me if Mark Meredith, or his other failed Elected Mayor cliché colleague, Mervin Smith, have the brass neck to put their name forward? We wait with baited breathe as the City Party selects its candidates on the 27/ 28 November 2009, with a “policy” conference to follow on 5 December 2009