Sandwell: the one-party state
I spent much of my life living in Sandwell, a metropolitan borough in the West Midlands, sitting between Dudley and Birmingham. Although I was born in Dudley and lived there for four years, much of my life I grew up in Oldbury and Smethwick, before moving to Birmingham ten years ago in 2008.
The Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell was formed in 1974, merging several boroughs, Oldbury, Smethwick, Rowley Regis, West Bromwich, Tipton and Wednesbury, and became a Unitary Authority following the dissolution of the West Midlands County Council in 1986.
In all this time, Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC) has been controlled by the Labour party. In the last few years, Labour has enjoyed an unchallenged majority, with virtually no oppostion. A defacto ‘one-party’ state.
Growing up there, I’ve always known Labour councillors to win local elections. Even the MPs covering the area have been mostly Labour. It is what you would proverbially call a Labour ‘stronghold’.
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
There is a lot wrong with the area, and for many years there have been whispers, rumours and suspicions that there are a lot of corrupt activities that have been going on.
A council that has had no effective opposition for many years, I mean what could possibly go wrong? Checks and balances disappear, and what the majority on the council want, they get. A culture breeds itself, and what you end up with is a council with absolute power. That is absolutely corrupt.
I read today about how West Midlands Police have asked the Labour leader of Sandwell Council to “stop wasting police time” asking them to arrest a blogger.
The blogger’s crime? Reporting on “massive corruption and dodgy dealings by the council and councillors”, which the council leader, Steve Eling, is alleging is ‘libellous’.
I guess the truth hurts. The blogger, “Sandwell Skidder”, has a very detailed and comprehensive blog covering numerous examples of corruption in the council, and confirms a lot of my own suspicions that SMBC is a cesspit and a huge swamp that needs to be drained badly in order to restore some dignity to the area.
He details how cronyism and big business lobbying has influenced the Wednesbury Business Improvement District (BID), as well as questionable practices involving the sell-off of Lion Farm Playing Fields to a private developer (Tory donor) in order to build a brand-new (undesired) retail park, and the controversy involving the Commonwealth Games swimming centre on the site of the Londonderry Playing Fields.
It all stinks, really badly. But you know what is really sad?
Voters in Sandwell keep returning Labour councillors at local elections. Almost as if they have absolutely no idea what is going on.
But then again, the situation is so bad in this one-party state, that a majority of people don’t even bother to vote.
Just have a look at the local election results last year (2018), in particular the Princes End ward in Tipton, which was won by the Labour candidate with just 733 votes, from an electorate of 9017. The turnout was a shocking 16.8%.
This is just one example of how one-party states come into being: through voter apathy. Voters become so disillusioned with local politics (“they’re all the bloody same” etc) that they give up voting, because they feel that no matter who they vote for, nothing ever changes. Or the ‘defeatist’ attitude of “Labour always bloody win anyway” stops people voting, because they feel there is no point in voting for any other candidate.
And that’s the thing, if you want change, you have to vote for it. Apathy merely allows the minority to become a tyranny, because they rely on their ‘hardcore’ voters. The kind of people who will religiously head down to the polling station like good sheep and vote Labour because “love Corbyn”, or “hate Tories”.
If you really want to open your eyes to the crooked and corrupt dealings going on within Sandwell Council, then Sandwell Skidder’s blog is recommended reading.
I leave you with a story that was reported by Breitbart in 2017, to which there hasn’t been any follow-on since, and considering allegations made by ‘Sandwell Skidder’ regarding the close relationship between Sandwell’s Labour council and West Midlands Police are not entirely surprising, considering revelations in Rotherham and Rochdale in recent years.
Ask your own questions, and demand answers…