BY JANET G
Publicly, Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and MP for West Bromwich East, has been supportive of other MPs who have suffered from anti-Semitism within the party and on social media. He has openly discussed individual cases and he’s been vocal about asking for bans from the Labour Party for anti-Semitic perpetrators.
So, why Watson’s apparent silence on the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rantings of long-standing councillor John Edwards, who is the Labour councillor for Greets Green & Lyng, part of Watson’s West Bromwich East constituency (Edwards is also Chairman of the West Midlands Fire Authority)? Someone Watson knows well and has stood alongside in the area for years.
Edwards posted tweets criticising his party’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism. He also dismissed criticism of suspended Labour MP Chris Williamson as an “outrageous smear campaign”. It was Labour Against Antisemitism activist Saul Freeman who flagged up the tweets, which included one from 2014 which he sent to to then-Prime Minister David Cameron after he visited to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
Mr Edwards wrote: “When you leave Auschwitz @David_Cameron go to Gaza.”
In 2017, Mr Edwards shared an article from pro-Corbyn group Jewish Voice for Labour which claimed an “outrageous smear campaign” had been launched against Derby MP Chris Williamson, who was criticised for saying there were “lies and dirty tricks” around the “anti-Semitism smears”. Williamson was suspended by Labour earlier this year after he told activists that his party had been “too apologetic” over its anti-Semitism issue, which has seen dozens of allegations made against members.
The Labour Party claims to have started a formal investigation over the comments. Watson’s Parliamentary office has been contacted – only for the Squires to be told by a very young sounding gentleman to email Watson’s Press Officer. Two emails have been sent but to date no response.
The Watson constituency falls under the solid far left Labour Sandwell Council where a number of councillors were up for election again during the recent local elections. Watson did not show up for the count in spite of the presence of the two other Labour MP’s in the council area – Adrian Bailey of West Bromwich West and John Spellar of Warley.
Meanwhile, the Sandwell Council Election Office has been confronted by hundreds of complaints about the presence of Britain First, an extreme right organisation posing and standing as Independents. The literature of their candidate Paul Rudge coming through the letter boxes of Rowley Ward made clear he was a Britain First candidate – something this magazine uncovered and reported to the Electoral Commission. Rudge’s literature was totally offensive to the Muslim community and would be classed as hate literature. The Britain First website has made it crystal clear that Rudge and others were their candidates.
As an organisation, Britain First was removed from the list of organisations allowed to stand at elections in November 2017. When informed last week of the Sandwell shenanigans a representative of the Electoral Commission said there was nothing they could do about it. Seemingly the EC are another toothless organisation which may not be worth the money.
Numerous other complaints that have winged their way to Sandwell Council about the conduct of the Local Elections count. There was clear bias towards the Labour Party by those counting and checking the vote who cheered and clapped when the results were announced; votes for other parties being slipped into Labour piles and spotted by scrutinisers. There was frequent use of mobile phones by counters when an announcement at the beginning of the count made it clear they should only be used outside the hall. Despite complaints being made to officials, no action was taken. When one Labour supporter was challenged the response was “We don’t take any notice, f*** off”.
The West Midlands police have been informed and other independent legal advice has been taken. A response on all accounts by the Rt Hon Tom Watson MP would be appreciated. Some explanation is clearly due on Watson’s silence – on both the anti-Semitism of his Labour colleague and on Sandwell Council which is one of Britain’s most corrupt. Investigations continue …