Today at the full meeting of Salford City Council, Mayor Ian Stewart was all smiles as he announced his intention to stand down before the May 2016 mayoral elections (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
Last night, however, at a meeting of the city's Labour Party Group, Weaste and Seedley Councillor, Paul Wilson, had the Party whip removed for, basically, `upsetting the Mayor' as one Party member put it.
Wilson announced recently that he was going to put himself forward to get the Party's nomination to stand for Mayor, before Stewart said he was quitting. And that led to three charges against him...
The first charge had to be dropped as Party chiefs hadn't read their own rulebook – it only related to national issues and didn't concern local issues.
The second charge was that Wilson `disrespected the whip'. Apparently he was asked to attend a kind of tribunal but didn't know what he was being charged with, nor which Party rule he had broken.
The third charge was `disrespecting the Mayor' because he announced his intention to stand as a candidate in the press. Wilson's defence was that the press was told by someone else in the Party and a reporter phoned him up for a comment...
"He's been stitched up good and proper" said one Salford Labour Party member, while another added "Nobody's clear why this has happened, I think it's just for upsetting Ian Stewart...it's an attempt to crush any opposition to him."
The four hour meeting last night ended with Stewart's supporters winning by only a few votes – with two councillors who might have voted against the censure not being able to attend as they were, ironically, at a selection meeting.
"It appears that the Labour Group has narrowly ploughed through a decision based on some very dodgy evidence" said a long standing member of the Salford Labour Party "The closeness of the vote is heartening; it means that some of our councillors are still fair minded and do not kowtow to the hierarchy. But we now have a Labour Group split down the middle – it's bad news for Salfordians in austere times..."
The Salford Star understands that Paul Wilson will appeal against the decision but if it is upheld it will mean that he is excluded from the Party for a number of months and wouldn't be able to stand for the Labour Party mayoral candidate nomination.
At today's full council meeting, as Ian Stewart went through the motions of patting himself on the back for being "the listening Mayor", while waffling of "truly exciting times for Salford", Councillor Wilson was moved away from other Labour councillors by a Council officer, and made to sit on his own, like the naughty boy in school.
Salford really is becoming engulfed in playground politics, complete with bullying, cliques and secret meetings behind the bike sheds. For Labour Party members, who have never spoken to the Salford Star before about internal Labour politics, to be slating Ian Stewart and his supporters so publicly, something is seriously wrong.
And those new members who joined the Labour Party in the city on the strength of Jeremy Corbyn's new gentle politics must be wondering what the hell is going on in Stalinford...