Oldham’s controversial Labour Party Organiser is set to leave the Borough at the end of June, 2023 after a turbulent two years which has seen two Council Leaders and eight other councillors lose their seats at the local elections in 2021 and 2022.
Tony Short was also involved in a complaint against another Labour councillor, Cllr Graham Shuttleworth, in which the core issues were not upheld and, it is maintained, dishonestly grounded.
Cllr Shuttleworth received a rebuke from the Party’s National Constitutional Committee over calling his Organiser a ‘twat’, which he admitted, but was cleared of all other allegations (read more here).
Mr Short denies any wrongdoing, but a significant number of other Oldham councillors were troubled by the complaint against a senior and highly respected Member and his refusal to withdraw it, even when it became clear that the damage to the Party, once it became public knowledge, far outweighed any conduct concerns even if his complaint had been upheld in its entirety.
His inability to answer straight questions with straight answers, hiding behind a process that was, at the time, completed, also troubled the author of this article, Neil Wilby.
One of those questions, for example, simply sought confirmation of the date the complaint was made as there appeared to be a four month delay between the incident and the objections arising out of it.
An approach about his future role, either within the Labour Party, or elsewhere, remains unanswered. He did, however, provided this rushed statement to councillors, via WhatsApp, once he became aware that knowledge of his departure had leaked to the press. It is apparent that he would not have said anything otherwise:
“I don’t want it to distract from the election but I have some personal news that I wanted you to hear from me.
“I will be moving back to the Midlands in June so will be leaving my job here after the election. I have a new job, still working for the party.
“I will work out my exact leaving date with Amanda, Elaine and Debbie shortly and will have some sort of social thing before I go.
“I have grown to love Oldham since I have been here – and even become quite fond of some of the councillors here – and look forward to staying in touch but this is the right decision-making for me right now”.
Political pundits say that Labour will cling onto power at next month’s Oldham Council local elections with, perhaps, a nett loss of a further four seats (losses in Coldhurst, Failsworth West, Hollinwood, Saddleworth North and St James, balanced, in part, by a gain in Chadderton South).
In the latter ward, Tony Short was blamed for a poor campaign and late delivery of leaflets that contributed, in part at least, to a narrow loss by the then Council Leader, Arooj Shah.
UPDATE: Since the article was published earlier today (24th April, 2023) it has been pointed out by several Labour activists that the finger of blame for the debacle in last November’s by-election in Hollinwood, when the Party almost snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, was pointed firmly at Tony Short. Others have expressed incredulity that he is going to employed elsewhere by the Labour Party given his record in Oldham.
Hollinwood is one of the wards where an upset is predicted next month with popular local businessman, Kamran Ghafoor, expected to take one of the three seats up for grabs in this year’s ‘all-out’ elections. He was a very narrow runner-up in the by-election (read full story here).
Mr Short has been asked again to give details of his new job in the Midlands but has declined to do so. A matter entirely for him, of course, but does little to lift the negative impression he has created in the Borough during his tenure in Oldham.
Not a single Labour councillor has come forward to speak in defence of their Organiser since the article was published. A remarkable commentary of itself.
This exclusive is a story with more to come: Follow Neil Wilby on Twitter (here) and Neil Wilby Media on Facebook (here) for updates.
Page last updated Monday 24th April, 2023 at 1930hrs
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