Raja to the rescue?

Screenshot 2023-04-10 at 13.41.23

Fresh from saving The Coliseum in Oldham (the only man who could do so, he said) and the town’s two professional sports teams, Oldham Athletic (The Latics) and Oldham Rugby Leage Football Club (The Roughyeds), from the evils of a £1 million investment at Boundary Park, it appears, in his mind only, that Raja Miah, a notorious, unemployed, Tameside-based conspiracy theorist is now the only person capable of running politics in the East Manchester suburb of Failsworth and healing the huge rift between the warring East and West council wards.

An ugly and now highly personalised dispute, exclusively reported by Neil Wilby in three articles published on 5th and 6th April, 2023 (read here and here), that has seen the perennially disgraced hyper-locals, Failsworth Independent Party, ripped apart amidst accusation and counter-accusation of impropriety.

Miah claims he was involved as mediator by both factions, at their request, attending a number of meetings in a supermarket cafe, a local pub and Failsworth Town Hall. An unsurprising move as four of the five FIP councillors sitting on Oldham Metropolitan Borough Council, during the past year, owe their seats almost entirely to a grotesque smear campaign, orchestrated on Miah’s frequently banned Recusant Nine social media platforms.

Essentially, it is claimed, completely without evidence, that Labour Party politicians, an entire police force, their safeguarding partners, senior paid council officers and the local and regional press all conspired together to ‘cover up’ child sexual exploitation in the Borough in return for Asian block votes at local and general elections.

A trope that has particular appeal to Failsworth as a town, with its 95% white British population, and, in particular, to its hyper-local political party who were identified as ‘a haven for racists and the far right’ by a Hope Not hate report in 2022 (read more here).

The East v West war in the town has seen the two FIP founders, based in Failsworth West, displaced. Chairwoman (as she described herself), Kathleen Wilkinson, and her husband and low-achieving tame proxy, Cllr Mark Wilkinson, are now very much on the outside looking in. Another West councillor, Sandra Ball, closely aligned to the Wilkinsons, has resigned from FIP and will, like Mark, stand as an independent in their home ward.

The FIP Group Leader on the Council, Cllr Brian Hobin, who represents Failsworth East is now Chair, also, and sits alongside other East-enders Cllr Lucia Rea and Cllr Neil Hindle. They now control FIP and its public output on its website and official Facebook page. Their debut in that sphere proved to be an unmitigated disaster as an official FIP statement under the headline ‘The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But’ turned out to be a maelstrom of lies, half-truths and critical omissions. Brutally torn apart in a Neil Wilby Media article published on 7th April, 2023 (read in full here).

Cllr Hobin and his East colleagues have, if Miah is to be believed (a dangerous presumption in the usual course as he is well recognised as the Region’s most persistent, mendacious liar), breached an agreement not to field a ‘cut-throat’ candidate against his former councillor colleagues in Failsworth West. In this case, Jane Cashinella-Vaughan, a retired, long-serving Greater Manchester Police officer. On paper, at least, the best candidate FIP has fielded in its history.

This is Miah’s solution to the ‘crisis’, posted on Recusant Nine earlier today (11th April, 2023):

“Regarding the fallout in Failsworth. A number of you have contacted me wanting clarification on how this crisis can be averted. It is simple. The election process allows 7 days from the registration of candidates to withdraw. The deadline is today. One of 3 things will happen.

“1. Brian Hobin, the leader of the Failsworth Independents, will issue a statement confirming he has stood down his candidate in Failsworth West.

“2. Jane Cashinella-Vaughan, the Failsworth Independents candidate in Failsworth West, who was at the meeting where the agreement was brokered between all parties, will take it on herself to go to the Civic Centre and withdraw her nomination.

“3. The Failsworth Independents will contest in Failsworth West, contrary to what was agreed, and I have more evidence to demonstrate this, and the people of Failsworth lose as this civil war will continue post the elections and into the Council chamber.

“My honest thoughts are that this situation is still retrievable. The division should not have ended this way because all parties agreed that such an outcome, where the people of Failsworth are fighting the people of Failsworth, was not why FIP was established or why anyone got involved.

“If BRIAN HOBIN will not do the right thing, and if I was JANE CASHINELLA, I would be on my way to the Civic Centre right now to stand down”.

A strategy which is embarrassingly and fatally flawed: The Electoral Commission is very clear that candidates cannot withdraw, or be withdrawn, after the nominations were published (read their rule on this point here). Which, in the case of Oldham Council, happened on 4th April, 2023, a day earlier than originally timetabled (read more here).

It might appear flawed in one other respect, too. Brian Hobin, on all independent evidence,  is an arrogant, self-absorbed individual who revels in his status as FIP Group Leader. Thriving on the exertion of power, however misconceived his perception of that might be. The chances of him bowing to pressure from Raja Miah or the Wilkinsons must, in those circumstances, be regarded as slim. Similarly, Jane Cashinella-Vaughan, given her long-term vocation, would not immediately strike one as a prospective councillor unduly concerned with what others might think or do about her decision to stand for election.

Presumably, her name would not be on the ballot paper, otherwise?

This is a story with plenty of mileage in it yet. Follow Neil Wilby on Twitter (here) and Neil Wilby Media on Facebook (here) for updates.

Page last updated: Tuesday 11th April, 2023 at 0925 hours

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Picture credit: Facebook

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2023. 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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