Councillor Davies announced her resignation as the leader of the council in an 18-minute statement during a meeting of the cabinet earlier this week.
In the Sandwell Council Cabinet meeting, she stood down as council leader, aiming a broadside at the Labour Party and “the white male old guard” who she said sought “only to preserve their own power base for its own sake”.
Her dignified video resignation came after a prolonged campaign to remove her from office finally achieved by making allegations she had posted anti-Semitic tweets ultimately leading to Councillor Davies being suspended from the Labour Party.
Councillor Davies told the cabinet: “I’m not anti-Semitic. I’m horrified I might even be considered so to be.
“Equally, I am as aware as our party leader, of the risks of unconscious bias and the dangers of perpetuating negative tropes.
“If I had been asked about this I could’ve apologised for my historic misjudged. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman, possibly it’s because I’m a strong woman, or maybe other factors have been at play about the approach I’ve tried to bring to the running of the council.
“I said that as public servants we answer to the people of this borough and they should expect that we will, at all times, conduct ourselves with the utmost integrity and uphold the highest standards in public life.
Councillor Davies had been told by the Labour Party not to comment until the investigation has been completed.
Councillor Davies refused to be part of the sham and publicly shared the allegations used to suspend her as did Crawley councillor Karen Sudan earlier this month.
The alleged antisemitic Tweets Councillor Davies was suspended, referring to an article by from Robert A. H. Cohen. Cohen is a British Jewish, anti-Zionist, a former senior broadcast journalist at ‘BBC Radio Five Live’ and is regularly published at Mondoweiss, Tikkun Daily, and Jews for Justice for Palestinians. The article titled ‘The Jewish establishment’s ‘War Against Corbyn’ risks bringing real antisemitism to Britain’ was described as a breath of fresh air!
In the article, Cohen writes ‘Fighting racism with both hands tied. This is where you end up when you allow antisemitism to become mixed up with Israel and Zionism. This is where the merger between Zionism, Judaism and modern Jewish identity leaves you: fighting racism with both hands tied behind you back.
Councillor Davies also tweeted a petition that asked parliament to debate the question, has Israel improper influence over British politics? The Irony here is that in 2017 The Labour Party called on the government to immediately launch an inquiry into “improper interference in our democratic politics” after the disclosure that an Israeli embassy official had plotted to “take down” UK MPs regarded as hostile.
The then shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, said: “The exposure of an Israeli embassy official discussing how to bring down or discredit a government minister and other MPs because of their views on the Middle East is extremely disturbing.”
Thornberry said: “It is simply not good enough for the Foreign Office to say the matter is closed. This is a national security issue.” As well as calling for an inquiry, she said the embassy official should be withdrawn.
The Israeli ambassador, Mark Regev, has apologised to one of the MPs on the “hit list”, foreign office minister Sir Alan Duncan, describing the remarks as unacceptable. As a result, the Foreign Office said it regarded the matter as closed.
Another of the alleged antisemitic tweets Yvonne Davies has been accused of tweeting was an article penned by Jonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Nazareth since 2001, the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and past winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be found at www.jonathan-cook.net asked the question ‘Is Israel’s hand behind the attacks on Jeremy Corbyn?‘
Who’s behind these attacks and why?
SKWAWKBOX exclusively reported the event and outlined a history of attacks made against Yvonne Davies.
Ms Davies has long been hounded by the Labour right. She went on the record in 2018 to accuse former local MP Tom Watson of ‘ma[king] my life a misery‘.
She had already been exonerated by the party once after right-wingers in the right’s heartland attempted to stitch her up, senior councillors accused last year by local councillors of falsifying the minutes of a council meeting to incriminate her and the former council leader and others accused of forcing her out of the council chamber, events that the Labour group’s then-chief whip did not deny.
In an explosive resignation statement, Ms Davies accused Labour’s so-called ‘moderates’ of:
- hypocrisy in hounding her when Labour leader Keir Starmer has just taken no action against a front-bench MP accused of antisemitism
- covering up racism, misogyny and corruption
- lying in court
- misuse of public funds for political purposes
- a string of false accusations against fellow councillors for political purposes
- planning a purge of left-wing councillors so the right can re-take control of the council
- acting to try to prevent a scandal of the right-wing’s spending on the ‘Wragge report’ into standards
Old enemy’s of the LeFT still attacking
When she first became Sandwell Council leader, Councillor Davies said she was on a mission to bring “justice and fairness” to a borough that has spent years dogged by scandal and in-fighting among members of its Labour group.
Councillor Davies outlined the roles of others in the witch hunt and draws her conclusion this is more about corruption than allegations of antisemitism.
The former Sandwell Council leader says clashes with Mr Watson led to her quitting Hateley Heath, which falls in his West Bromwich East constituency, and moving over to represent Langley, a ward in Warley.
She said she had been “quite uppity” over Mr Watson’s role in the MPs’ expenses scandal.
And the pair had also been at loggerheads over whether to cancel a St George’s Day parade over fears it would be hijacked by the BNP.
“He’s a very single-minded man,” she said of Mr Watson. “I felt it was in my best interests to move somewhere else. I’ve enjoyed it in Langley, although I don’t have any better relationship with Warley MP John Spellar if the truth be told.”
Ms Davies said she had backed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.
But she said her loyalty was based on rational argument – and “not in the blind, cult way”.
She added: “I’m not really sure what people’s problem with him is. I agree with most of what he says.”
In January, former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson called for Councillor Davies to stand down, saying she lacked the skill and “humility” to guide the authority away from its scandal-riddled past.
The former Labour deputy leader said Yvonne Davies, who has led Sandwell Council for the past eight months, lacked the skill and “humility” to guide the authority away from its scandal-riddled past.
He accused her of letting down residents and said her “arrogance” had foretold Labour’s disastrous general election performance.
“It’s not for me to decide as I am completely out of Sandwell politics, but if I was still there I would definitely be asking for her resignation,” he said.
Watson has a real talent for deflecting blame. Labour lost five Black Country seats in the 2019 election – including Mr Watson’s old one, Dudley North, West Bromwich West and two in Wolverhampton.
Watson said that “poor organisation” from Labour’s regional office had contributed to the defeat, with candidate selections increasingly organised by national officials.
“The results in the West Midlands were clearly, worse than anywhere else in the country and I’m sure Labour’s review will want to look closely at the operation of the regional office to see whether improvements can be made next time round,” he said.
But the reality of the election result was the fact that Remain MP’s like Watson pushed a second referendum Brexit policy telling his overwhelming leave voting constituency they got it wrong vote again was always going to be a vote loser. In the 2016 EU referendum, the constituency voted to leave by 68%, putting it in the top 10% of constituencies in terms of preference for leave.
Responding to Mr Watson’s call for her to resign, she said: “Mr Watson is a complete irrelevance in my life.
“What was the role of the local MP in all of this? Ask yourselves ‘how far does the collusion and malign intent reach up into the Labour Party hierarchy?”
She added the alleged corruption of the council needed to be “brought out” into the light of day.
“I won’t be here when this is done. I am resigning my position as leader but the questions and the choices will remain for the Labour Party, for the Sandwell Labour Group and for the people of this fine borough.
“Right now the choice is pretty stark. There is a group of old white men who want to go back, back to the vile bating, the poisonous leaking, and the misuse of public funds for political retribution.
“Millions of pounds, and I do mean millions of pounds, of public funds have been spent with little regard to the public purse.
“The white male, old guard will play lip service to equality and black lives matter but who will seek only to preserve their own power base for its own sake.
“Or the council can embrace a new future where its elected representatives are humble.
“Humble in their service to the public where they absolutely respect they serve only in the interests of the people of Sandwell. Where one gives real meaning to the fight against inequality.”
“People in this borough absolutely deserve the best council, led by the best councillors, driven by the right values.
“This self-serving, political malignancy and this interference in local leadership by outside party interests serves only to undermine confidence in this council’s ability to serve its people well.
“But that future is for others. I won’t be here to lead you. I’ve got other things to do; I’ve got places to go and people to see. But the questions genuinely really need to be answered long after my leadership is over.”
Former Dudley North MP Ian Austin previously described the tweets as “completely unacceptable”, while Warley Labour MP John Spellar called on Councillor Davies to apologise.