LETTER : Why Walsall was suspended

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The Independent Online
From Mr Brian Powell

Sir: Basic principles of natural justice have been confounded by the national party's decision to suspend Walsall Borough Labour Party ("Labour suspends 'loony' local party", 9 August).

As chair of the borough party, I might reasonably have expected Walworth Road to consult me before taking this peremptory decision. I have been inundated with calls from members of the borough party expressing anger at what has happened and asking for clarification. Like them, I learned of the decision from radio news.

No matter how it is now dressed up, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the national party acted in haste and for no other reason than the chairman of the Tory Party was visiting Walsall.

In the wake of this ill-judged decision, we discover in press reports that a local MP and one or two councillors are "unhappy" with the party's style and policy. Again, it is interesting to note that they did not raise this during the exhaustive process of drawing up the manifesto on which Walsall Labour Party fought and won the May election.

Accusations of "intimidation and abuse" at borough party meetings is surprising in view of the fact that they have been attended by regional party officials who have not raised this as an issue.

The anger and resentment of a majority of members who helped shape a policy unanimously endorsed by the party and which secured a Labour victory in the polls is understandable and justified.

Whatever their motives and whether intentionally or otherwise, the party nationally and a few local discontents have helped the Tories to divert attention from a policy intended to secure more efficient and accountable public services.

Yours faithfully,

Brian Powell

Chair

Walsall Borough Labour Party

Palfrey, Walsall,

West Midlands

9 August

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