Published 04 Aug 2018
In order to make sense of the current goings on with the Hartlepool Labour Party, one first has to understand the processes which led to an ex-benefits clerk running the council.
The Hartlepool Labour Party is reportedly made up of around 600 members. Some are Labour stalwarts whose membership has been passed from father to son and mother to daughter like a treasured family heirloom. Many however, are new to the Labour Party and new to local politics. Invigorated by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and filled with a sense of hope, generation snowflake have swelled the local Labour ranks. Some new members have even managed to gain significant ‘behind the scenes’ positions within the local group such as secretary and public relations adviser.
This may sound trivial but it’s actually quite significant. For as recent events have revealed, it is the 600 strong grass roots Labour members who select (or deselect) the prospective local Labour councillors.
The Labour Leader however, is selected not by the members but by the councillors themselves who occupy seats within the council chamber, of which there are currently 19.
It is only when one examines the 19 Labour councillors individually and collectively, that the move to end the calamitous reign of Christopher Akers-Belcher (CAB) reveals itself fully.
So long as Labour hold a majority in the council, all CAB needs to remain as leader of the council is the support of the majority of the 19 Labour councillors, in this case 10 or more.
Chistopher Akers-Belcher, Stephen Akers-Belcher, Mammy Belcher, Allan Barclay, Paul Beck, Kevin Cranney, Mad Dog, Jean Robinson, Anne Marshall and Jim 'Loads of money' Lindridge appear, perhaps for different reasons, to firmly make up that core 10 votes needed to remain leader.
Stephen Thomas, who relies on the Health Watch contract controlled by CAB to pay his mortgage presumably brings that to 11. Also appearing to support what we’ll call ‘Team SCAB’ is, or was, Katie Trueman, with Carl Richardson, like any good Stalinist, most likely to support whichever side he thinks will win.
So let’s say ‘Team SCAB’ currently has 12 votes of the 19. Holding this position will ensure CAB remains as leader and continues to ruin the town and destroy the reputation of the local Labour Party.
Reportedly, what we’ll call ‘The resistance’ is likely to be made up of the following current councillors; Paddy Brown, Lesley Hamilton, Brenda Harrison and Dave Hunter.
Rob Cook and Dr Pothole appear at this stage to be ‘fence sitters’, but sources suggest in the event of a vote, they may well side with the resistance.
So, Labour insiders suggest that the current break down of the situation is ‘Team SCAB’ have 13 (one of whom is Carl), ‘The resistance’ have 7 (one of whom is also Carl).
A swing of just 4 votes from within the current group of Labour councillors is needed to oust Akers Belcher as leader. However, because it has become very clear over recent years the ‘Team SCAB’ 12 votes are unwavering, a plan was formulated to change that.
The new younger members who have swelled the ranks of the local Labour Party hatched it (supported by senior Labour Party figures and advisers) and we’re currently in the middle of its execution.
The de-selection of Allan Barclay, Katie Trueman and Mammy Belcher, in time will reduce ‘Team SCAB’ to 9 hard core members. Assuming Labour replace those 3 with more anti-SCAB candidates and they hold the seats in May’s election, that will take ‘The resistance’ to 10 and at that point work shy Carl will more than likely jump on board and boost that to 11. At that point they call a Leadership Challenge and CAB would be replaced, most likely by Dave Hunter.
And it is because of this precarious situation faced by ‘Team SCAB’ that ‘The honourable’ Paul Beck resigned.
It was clear as a fully paid up member of ‘Team SCAB’ Back was facing certain de-selection. Such a situation would have loosened the power grip of Akers-Belcher even further were to lose a 4th member of his core supporters in little over a fortnight.
Beck resigned in what was supposed to be a surprise tactic to catch the resistance of guard. Whoever is selected to stand for Labour in the Hart ward by-election automatically becomes their candidate in May’s election.
Beck resigned hoping to give the Akers-Belcher and ‘Team SCAB’ enough time to lobby the Labour membership in the Hart Ward and replace him with a new member of their team. Had they been successful and ensured a ‘Beck clone’ was selected, that would have strengthened their position and most likely allowed CAB to cling onto the leadership.
It’s a fact that Stephen Akers-Belcher and Mad Dog were observed in the HBC members lounge openly phoning Labour members who live on the Hart Ward.
The plan failed and Aileen Kendon was nominated and IF she is elected, in time that will strengthen the resistance and reduce Team SCAB to 8. At that point, Carl’s position as Hartlepool’s very own ‘co-op Quisling’ becomes irrelevant.
So, to summarise, it would appear that to get rid of Christopher Akers-Belcher, the forthcoming Hart Ward by-election is VERY crucial.
If Labour retain it, and Aileen Kendon occupies the seat, a chain of events should bring to an end what is surely the most calamitous leadership of Hartlepool Borough Council in its history.
However, if Labour were to LOSE the by-election and the seat is won by an Independent, ‘Team SCAB’ are likely to attempt to cling on to continue the battle. They would be in a position to try to tempt the likes of Cook, Carl and the good doctor into shoring up ‘team SCAB’. Their block vote of 9 would mean they only needed to find one Judas amongst the rebels and the chance to remove Akers-Belcher quickly would have slipped away. Or at least until the de-selections have their impact next May.
There is an emerging school of thought that if Alieen Kendon wins the Hart Ward by-election for Labour, CAB will be gone by Christmas. He’d go on his own terms as his ego wouldn’t allow him to be formally ousted from within.
So what now? What’s happening behind the scenes?
Reportedly, the Labour resistance are gearing up for throwing everything they have at the campaign to try to make sure Labour hold the Hart Ward seat.
Team SCAB on the other hand, are likely to be less enthusiastic about the battle for Hart. Stephen Akers-Belcher has in fact, according to a well-placed Labour source, already stated that he will play no activate part in campaign coordination. Although quite who will be hindered by that is debatable.
So we now have a curious situation where it would appear certain elements within the local Labour Party would actually be better served if Labour LOST a by-election.
There are even unconfirmed reports leaking out from The Conservative Party that to Tories may NOT field a candidate in Hart. This would strengthen the position of a candidate put up by either Putting Hartlepool First or The Hartlepool Independent Group as Tory voters are still like to exercise their right to vote, but are very unlikely to vote for Labour.
If, and it’s a big if, the Conservatives do NOT field a candidate, that would be a clear red flag indicating there are elements trying to prevent a Labour victory in Hart. In the past the Tories have fielded candidates to dilute the opposition vote and shore up Labour’s position. If they were to do the opposite on this occasion that would indicate that despite Ray Martin-Wells removing himself from the front line, the coalition is still alive and kicking.
This whole situation of course leaves the likes of Putting Hartlepool First and The Hartlepool Independent Group in an unusual position.
On one hand there’s the argument that they should work together, put up ONE candidate and try to win the Hart Ward seat for themselves. If successful they would reduce Labour’s overall number of seats in the council to just 18, soften Labour up have a crack at overall control (via a coalition) next May.
On the other, there’s the view that Labours opposition should, in this instance, field no candidates and allow Aileen Kendon a walk over.
It really comes down to what you believe to be the bigger danger to the future prosperity of Hartlepool.
It that danger a Labour council as a whole? Or is that danger a Labour council led by Christopher Akers-Belcher?
However the next few weeks pan out, one thing is for sure. The local Labour Party is in civil war and it’s getting ugly, very ugly.
Paddy Brown has reportedly been excommunicated by Team SCAB for refusing to lobby the Jesmond membership to vote to select Mammy Belcher.
Allan Barclay is cutting a sad figure knowing he’s out of pocket to the tune of £700 a month come next May. Equally upset at this is the manager of the King Johns Tavern.
Paul Beck has retreated to the safe haven of Macauley Road and is reportedly denying having ever legally been the owner of a spine.
Stephen Akers-Belcher can be found stomping up and down the corridors of the civic centre sweating and chuntering about the freedom of information requests reportedly submitted about the Rifty Youth Project.
A multitude of complaints have been submitted to Labour North, reportedly by BOTH sides in the battle, some of which apparently alleging quite serious allegations.
In terms of national politics of course, Brexit still dominates the landscape. With a ‘No Deal’ departure looking more and more likely, there’s even talk of food shortages.
So to conclude, my advice to people is simple. Stock up on popcorn.
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