Tories head for acrimonious split

Oldham and Saddleworth Tories Special Meeting

The present shenanigans in the Conservative Party at Parliamentary level are, of course, very well rehearsed on network television, the national press and on social media.

Less well known is the discontent and, at times, raw acrimony between Tory elected Members who sit on Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council.

This has been alluded to on a number of occasions elsewhere on this Neil Wilby Media website as the split between those five ‘True Blue’ councillors representing Saddleworth wards and their counterparts in four Oldham wards, more akin to UKIP or BNP in their nationalist output and behaviour, has grown ever wider.

A key point of contention over the past year, at least, is the association between the four Oldham councillors, Dave Arnott, Bethany Sharp, Robert Barnes and Lewis Quigg with an infamous unemployed conspiracy theorist from neighbouring Tameside.

Indeed, the latter two owe their seats in the council chamber almost entirely to a Raja Miah created, and promulgated, smear campaign against their election opponents (read more here). Both are also close friends of Gary Tarbuck, de facto leader of a group of malcontents attached to Miah whom self-style, appositely, as The Rabble (or Raja’s Rabble).

At the time, the most vocal of the Saddleworth Tories, Cllr Max Woodvine, said the four were ‘not proper Tories’ and condemning the association with Miah. The other four, Cllrs Graham Sheldon (the Group Leader), his Deputy, Pam Byrne, Luke Lancaster and Chris McManus are rather more restrained. but it is obvious that the rift between the two groups is deep.

In a notice sent out earlier this week, members of the Oldham and Saddleworth Conservative Federation were informed of a Special General Meeting due to take place on Sunday 30th October, 2022 and to be chaired by the Greater Manchester Area Chairman, James Pearson. The single meaningful item on the agenda is to discuss whether the Federation reverts to its former status wherein two seperate Associates more closely represented the Parliamentary constituencies. Namely, Oldham West and Royton – and Oldham East and Saddleworth.

Cllr Barnes has mysteriously ‘gone missing’ over the past few weeks and, apparently, dropped out of sight in the ward he represents, Chadderton South, and where he lives, Hollinwood (read more here). His Party colleagues refuse to respond to welfare concerns as to where he is or what has happened to him.

It will be of considerable interest to see whether Robert Barnes reappears at the Special Meeting, scheduled to take place in the Royal Sultan Indian restaurant in Chadderton, at the end of next week.

Another of the Oldham Tory councillors, Beth Sharp, also recently did a ‘disappearing act’: going missing from the council chamber between March and September, 2022, but she re-appeared looking fresh and well at the last Full Meeting of Council. Will ‘work commitments’ keep her from the Special Meeting, also?

Page last updated Tuesday 18th October, 2022 at 1310hrs

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Picture credits: FIP

Right of reply: If you are mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let me have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory it will be added to the article.

© Neil Wilby 2015-2022. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Page last updated Tuesday 27th September, 2022 at 1510hrs

Thank you for reading and a polite request: If you wish to make a contribution to the running costs of this website it would be very much appreciated. Donations can made securely, via PayPal at this link.

Corrections: Please let me know if there is a mistake in this article. I will endeavour to correct it as soon as possible.

Picture credits: FIP

Right of reply: If you are mentioned in this article and disagree with it, please let me have your comments. Provided your response is not defamatory it will be added to the article.

© Neil Wilby 2015-2022. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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