As the run up to local council elections intensifies one mystery in a grand old East Lancashire mill town deepens: What has happened to the Twitter account of the Oldham Conservative Group?
Two separate enquiries, by the author of this article, Neil Wilby, have been stonewalled, following the apparent de-activation of the Twitter handle, @oldhamtories.
The working hypothesis is that there is no simple explanation, otherwise the reason would have been given, the issue rectified and the account restored. The usual reason for removing a Twitter account is that there is embarrassing content that could harm reputation of the account holder(s). Given their behaviour, in both the Council Chamber and elsewhere on social media, that would not be the biggest surprise.
Added to that, it would fair to say that the Oldham Tories are not paragons of transparency in dealing with media enquiries. A very good, and recent, example being the deceit over the abrupt departure of ex-Cllr Sahr Abid (read more here) where they have sought conceal the true reason: That being, her life and political values no longer aligned with the Party she represented.
The Oldham Tories have also steadfastly refused request after request to confirm whether, or not, one of their leading activists, and self-proclaimed ‘electioneering expert’, Khazir Rehman, is still a Party member, following his conviction, and suspended prison sentence, resulting from a deeply unpleasant campaign of harassment against a sitting Labour councillor.
Kaiser, as he is more commonly known, also recently lost a substantial harassment and libel claim in the High Court to another sitting Labour councillor (read more here).
There is also the concern, which, again, the local Tories again try to conceal, of close links between at least two senior Oldham Tories, Lewis Quigg and Robert Barnes, plus Rehman of course, with another disgraced political activist, Raja Miah. The unemployed, failed free schools operator from Mossley, Tameside has emerged as the Region’s most prolific, persistent and mendacious liar over the past three years. He is also on court bail awaiting trial over what Greater Manchester Police say are harassment and malicious communications offences (read more here).
Miah has pleaded not guilty and claims, frequently and publicly, that his prosecution is ‘politically motivated’ and part of a wide-ranging plot by the police, Oldham Council and the local media to influence the outcome of local elections in the Borough in May, 2022 (read more here).
He has been urging his supporters, whom self-style as The Rabble, to vote Conservative. His interest appears mostly confined to the Chadderton South ward where the Oldham Council Leader, Cllr Arooj Shah, is up for re-election against the Tory, Robert Barnes, and in Royton North where Lewis Quigg seeks to break his long-standing election duck against Labour’s sitting councillor, Cllr Hannah Roberts.
To most independent observers, the fact that the governing Party of the United Kingdom is linking hands with such discredited characters would defy belief. It is a fact that Conservative candidates and canvassers in Oldham, and the neighbouring town of Saddleworth, will face some awkward moments, both on the doorstep and on social media channels apart from Twitter, over these highly dubious associations and, of course, more generally, their almost complete inability to give a straight answer to a straight question.
Page last updated: Thursday 17th March, 2022 at 1605 hours
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