Friday 15th September and we’re called to Oldbury to hear an appeal by Gurdev Manku as to why he was excluded from the Labour Party panel of candidates. Bill Challis and I accompany him to give evidence on his behalf of his unstinting work for Labour over nearly 20 years as a Birmingham City Councillor. Here he held high office, including Chair of the Transportation Committee. Gurdev has been given a piece of paper giving one reason why the panel turned him down. He had failed to canvass or leaflet in Soho during the 2006 local election campaign. It was explained that Soho never canvasses either on the doorstep or by telephone. The councillors and officers feel it not necessary since it is thought to be safe for Labour.
At the hearing the case against was made by the chair of the interviewing panel which had turned him down. He laboured the point about Gurdev’s alleged crime. The ppeals panel read out a letter from the Chair of Ladywood Constituency who confirmed SOHO DON’T CANVASS. Nevertheless hsi accuser felt he should have used his own knowledge and experience to conduct a campaign. The pertinent question was asked ” who runs campaigns?” “The candidate and agent came the reply”. Gurdev pointed out thathe had regulalrly tried to persuade Soho to campaign, but to no avail. Usually he was busy in his own (the former Sandwell) ward in any case.
Obviously the prosecution felt they were cutting no ice with the appeals panel, so he then began to make two further allegations, the first of which claimed that Gurdev had been involved in a brawl. Was he a fit candidate? Our breath was taken away. Gurdev involved in violence? He’s the most unlikely person you could think of to behave in even a mildly threatening manner. The only incident I could call to mind having worked closely with Gurdev and Phil Murphy as close comrades on the City Council. Shortly after 9/11 Gurdev was waiting for a bus ib Cape Hill, Smethwick, when a passerby asked menacingly if he was a Muslim. challenged the questioner. Dharm Singh kept him engaged in a debate while Councillor Chaman Lal called the police on his mobile phone. After a while and before the arrival of the police, the man suddenly took off punching Gurdev in the mouth as passed by. At this point Gurdev was standing by himself at the bus stop not wishing to be involved. I next saw Gurdev at the A & E Department of Birmingham’s City Hospital at 1 o’clock in the morning. We spent the rest of the night waiting there only to be sent across to Selly Oak Hospital the next day to try to secure Gurdev’s loosened teeth.
Where had the information come from? The accuser said he must of heard it at the meeting he chaired, but there was no statement among the papers or reference to it thta the appeals panel could see. They ruled it out of order and forbade reference to it.
Next point. Gurdev had not been able to give an account of the executive/scrutiny functions following the “modernisation” programme of local government. Agai this had not been included on the feedback information. Indeed there did not appear to be a question asking about it. Gurdev confirmed that he had not spoken about it at the interview. Once again the appeals panel overruled the accusation.
Since these matters had been raised I sought clarification about how these preposterous allegations had come to be raised in this manner. That they had come from someone who was given the power and authority to make judgements about fellow Labour Party members raises very serious questions about practices and procedures. West Mildlands Region, apologists for discredited New Labour, has long since ceased to have much credibility as an organisation practicing democracy and fair play. They remain under the direction of the untouchable Ian Reilly. One expects them to behave in a manner which is first and foremost political and indeed we weren’t disappointed on this occasion.