It is hard to comprehend that a double-sided A4 leaflet, distributed last weekend ahead of the forthcoming Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council elections can have spawned four articles in the five days since.
The first headlined ‘Will hate campaign claim second local council Leader?’ (read in full here) reported on plans by a discredited political activist to escalate his smear campaign against the Leader of Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, Cllr Arooj Shah, who faces re-election in the Chadderton South ward on May 5th. It also explored the close links between the activist, Raja Miah and prominent local Conservative Group members.
The second, ‘Fact check fallacy’, analysed the content of the leaflet distributed in Chadderton South, against the claim by Miah, that the leaflet had been checked for accuracy. The clear conclusion is that it hasn’t (read here).
The third article, ‘Commission says leaflet defect ‘a police matter’’, published yesterday (22nd March, 2022) essentially reflected the views of the Electoral Commission on the leaflet and its compliance with applicable law (read here).
The controversy over the leaflet cum newsletter intensified yesterday with a post on the Oldham Conservative Group Facebook page. This is the full text:
“This afternoon the leader of Oldham Council emailed us about a leaflet being distributed around South Chadderton by a third party.
“Despite it clearly not being a Conservative Party leaflet, which can usually be identified by the imprint, logo or contact details of any candidate/s she decided to email us making a complaint about it.
“Given Cllr Shah uses her official title and email, we have suggested she address her concerns and email to the author of the leaflet directly. We have now come across a copy and it has an imprint and website which she can google in order to contact the author. Recusant 9 and Raja Miah.
“We feel this should be shared with the public as a matter of transparency. So you can make your own mind up. After all that is what you should be able to do in a democracy”.
This is the text of the email sent by Cllr Shah to the Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Graham Sheldon, its Chairman, Sajjad Hussain and Chadderton South election candidate, Robert Barnes:
As the author of the Conservatives’ Facebook post correctly states, the public will make up their own mind about the leaflet, who is behind it and their motive. It is not the role or intention of the author of this article, Neil Wilby, to persuade them one way or the other. The facts presented in this, and the three earlier articles, will considerably aid the reader in developing their own thoughts on the matter. But what must be said is that the failure of the Tories to condemn the disgraceful, palpably untrue content of too much of the Recusant Nine publication, irrespective of whether they are associated with it, or not, and they appear to claim the latter, leaves them in a poor place. As does the absence of any contextual explanation of the close links between such as Political Chair, Lewis Quigg, and his Vice-Chair, Robert Barnes, with Raja Miah.
The press office at Oldham Council and the Conservative Group media relations officer, Cllr Dave Arnott, have been approached regarding any formal reply made to Cllr Shah’s communication.
The Oldham Conservatives Facebook page is now swamped by Raja Miah and his supporters, whom self-style as ‘The Rabble’. All either critical of Cllr Shah or cheering on their hero. There appears to be no attempt at moderating the content, some of it highly defamatory, by the page administrator. It is difficult to comprehend that such moral turpitude is tolerated the ruling Party in the United Kingdom.
Shortly after this article was published news of a second leaflet emerged from the Recusant Nine camp. It is on a similar theme to the first and is an untrammelled attack on the integrity and good standing of Cllr Shah. It is the usual Raja Miah cocktail of stretched narrative and untruth and not re-published here due to its, very arguably, defamatory nature.
Whether, or not, this was the final straw for Oldham Council, or not, a spokesperson has confirmed that they have now reported the matter to Greater Manchester Police.
Page last updated: Wednesday 23rd March, 2022 at 1305 hours
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