Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hornet's Nest in Watford

I am truly gobsmacked by what appears to be happening in Watford, where the Tory Candidate has resigned, following his arrest over allegations of harrassment against political opponents. No one quite seems to know the full story here and the newspapers are being quite careful about what they are saying or alleging. It should be noted that while Ian Oakley has been arrested, he has not been charged, so if people are commenting on this, please bear in mind the legal niceties.

Perhaps we can all agree that any form of harrassment of political opponents is wrong, cannot be tolerated, and should be condemned.


Anonymous said...

Hmm.. Let us also bear in mind that in this P.C. Multi-culti statist world we live in, that John McCain would be seen as guilty of 'harassment' for occasionally getting a little bit hot under the collar...

Anonymous said...

I hope we don't get any stupid posts, saying, "Typical Tories...etc", because this is not typical of anything.

Anonymous said...

What does one mean by harrassment? If it means continually pointing out the failures in their policies - for instance a promise to keep council tax down yet continually increasing it or indeed emphasising the many paradoxes that are inherent in their policies and stances
Does it mean that one cannot initiate a letter-writing campaign to an elected representative?

The trouble may be that the law's view on harrassment is that it is defined by the recepient and bearing in mind the paper-thin egos of the typical Lib Dem, this may just be a manifestation of their notorious ability of being able to attack without impunity but reaching for their solicitor at the first sign of any criticism of themselves.

Anonymous said...

The Times online has an interesting article of the subject. A simple Google search will take you there. They are very very care not to

I could be wrong, but I sense politics at work here...

Anonymous said...

Actually it's typical of Watford. And I do live here. A three-way marginal in which the Tories come third (usually). This is the town that gave the world Elton John and Mark Oaten. About the only political certainty is that the Labour incumbent won't be after the next election. With two enemies to fight three ways there's not much hope. Be very, very grateful that a hung parliament is off the menu.

Anonymous said...

Nice headline!

strapworld said...

This is unfair. The man has resigned and he is INNOCENT until proven guilty.

Trial by media is something I frown upon. Sorry Iain you should remove this.

If he is found guilty then fair enough.

If he is not charged then Conservative Central Office should instigate a full independent investigation to report the truth!

Anonymous said...

Better to have it all come to light now - it gives time to put another candidate in place. Watford is an important constituency held by labour on less than 1200 majority that needs to be won if we are to regain power in 2010.

In view of the "sub judice" element I won't comment any further but to say that we can do without these sort of headlines which are a "gift" for our opponents

Anonymous said...

"No one quite seems to know the full story here and the newspapers are being quite careful about what they are saying or alleging."

We know he's a tory. String him up.

Anonymous said...

So Iain can we take it, you'll be interested, will it be, goodbye West ham, C'mon Watforf

Its a noticeable fact, that supporters of any political party always give the benefit of the doubt to any member of their party, but their opponents, are always assumed to be guilty.

Anonymous said...

Sandy: you asked, "What does one mean by harrassment?"

If you look at the media reports over the last four years, they include:

- Slashing tires on people's cars
- Sending porn through the post to them
- Repeated phone calls in the middle of the night, with the person hanging up when the phone is answered
- Distributed a fake leaflet claiming to be from one party (when it wasn't)

and so on.

None of this comes even close to the sort of legit behaviour that you mention - "Does it mean that one cannot initiate a letter-writing campaign to an elected representative?"

I suspect also that if you had been on the receiving end of this sort of behaviour, then I think you'd find it pretty offensive if someone else dismissed it all as just you being too soft and having a "paper-thin ego"?

We don't know who carried out these acts - as Iain says, being arrested is very different from being convicted - but I don't think that should be used as an excuse to talk away the events as being trivial or acceptable.

Anonymous said...

strapworld said...
This is unfair. The man has resigned and he is INNOCENT until proven guilty.

Trial by media is something I frown upon. Sorry Iain you should remove this.

He has resigned; which is as good as an admission of inappropriate behaviour from a PPC.

Are you suggesting a news blackout on his arrest and resignation?

If so, for how long? If he comes to trial then it could be many months. Maybe not till after the next general election.

Anonymous said...

Iain, thanks for your sensitive post. Many of us were also 'truly gobsmacked' when we started to hear about this criminality targetting the supporters of the Lib Dems in Watford. You are quite right to point out that at this time no-one has been found guilty of anything, nor it appears charged. However, contrary to the odd comment over at Convervative Home, I think we can be confident that these offences have taken place. The police have plenty of evidence to that effect. I think I saw media coverage of their appeal for information that could lead to a conviction, some time ago. Confirming beyond doubt the identity of the offender is, understandably, much more difficult.
I was visiting my parents the night that they had their tyres vandalised. Discovering what had happened the next day was horrible. There are a lot of victims of these crimes in Watford, and I hope that people from all parts of the political spectrum can have sympathy for them, as we would any other victim of crime.
The Lib Dems in Watford have been careful not to throw about wild accusations - pointing the finger, but have been determined that this spate of criminality be taken seriously, and the offenders caught and stopped.
What amazes me is that this criminal campaign has gone on for three years now. If, in due course, someone is found guilty, we should all ask ourselves how it was possible for this to go on for so long.

Anonymous said...

People in West Drayton have a different way of doing things!

Anonymous said...

As someone who has known Ian since we were both at University, all I can say is that he will not have been guilty of this. I just hope the true perpetrators are identified and prosecuted before what would otherwise be a promising career is ruined forever.

It is clear something very unsavoury has been going on here, however, and it is certainly something which no right thinking person could condone.

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Anonymous said...

What does harrasment mean - he could have just shouted something across the road. The objector could then go to the police. It means nothing until evidence is produced.

It could just be political opportunism, if it is the other candidate should resign at once and be charged with wasting police time.

Anonymous said...

Javelin: the police offered a £5,000 reward last year to help catch the perpetrator. Do you think they'd have decided to put up such an award if shouting across a street is all that was involved?

Stu said...

Hey, I'm in Watford right now, visiting the inlaws. Maybe I should apply to be the next Tory candidate?! (no really, that's a joke)

As anonymous of 11:39 says, harrassment is typical Watford behaviour. Regardless, if (stress if) he turns out to have done half of the things mentioned in The Guardian, Ian Oakley didn't deserve to become an MP. With all the recent discussion of 'who would want to become an MP' recently, it's a shame to hear that even those who make the effort to try are being subjected to "poison-pen letters, anonymous late-night phone calls and criminal damage" as the Lib Dem candidate apparently has.

If Ian Oakley is shown to be innocent of these accusations, then that's fair enough, but it's still worth considering the fact that Sal Brinton is having to suffer all of this, just for the audacity of wishing to represent Watford - an unenviable position to be in in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Dunno about Hornet's nest in Watford but Andy Marr and James Purrrrrnell (he of the cologne cloud of self delight) sure had a few bees up their bonnetts during Purrrnell's interview.

ANDREW MARR: Now we teased you a bit at the beginning with all those previous people holding your job saying much the same thing.

I mean I can remember Gordon Brown and Tony Blair standing side by side back in the late nineties saying we are going to get people off these benefits. We're going to be very tough about it.

JAMES PURNELL: But Andrew that's ..

ANDREW MARR: Again and again and again.

JAMES PURNELL: .. exactly what we've done. But Andrew that's exactly what we've done.


JAMES PURNELL: We started - no let me put, make this point Andrew


And another one bites the dust :)

Well done Andy Marr.

Anonymous said...

What an oddly fractured interview Marr's Purrrrrnell interview was too. Though Marr was brilliant.

Aside from Purrrrnell stammering and "sort of"..."yeah"..."sort of" "I mean"..."sort of"...yeah"ing so much that he had Marr doing it in the end too.

Purrrnell was saying, I'm going to change the world with this tough radical new policy of mine to get a million off incapacity Benefit & into work. So get up off the nulab.

Marr's attitude was: Yeah, yeah, Jeremy Bear, heard it all before - same old same old, empty promises - you're still going to be slaughtered at the next election, sonny.

There was an odd undercurrent of, not hostility, more p*ss taking, Marr was taking the mickey out of Purrrrnell

MARR: Those are the, the key headlines are they? Incapacity Benefit, at least the name Incapacity Benefit, goes?

PURNELL: Yeah I mean...sort of

PURNELL: People with really serious drug problems you know they're desperate to get back into work and to get clean so we...

MARR: Some are. Not all of them

JAMES PURNELL: No the vast majority are.

MARR: You're talking as if all of this is cuddly as if there's no hard aspect to it at all.

PURNELL: No I'm not at all... in an ideal world you don't want to use the sanction

MARR: But we're not in an ideal world

PURNELL: .. because we know, the key point is we know that the support works. So that's why conditionality as we call it is the abs.. absolute ally of social justice 'cause....yeah

MARR: You know it's going to be less tough than the current system.

PURNELL: No not at all.

MARR: All of this means that some people will be coming off these kind of benefits and back onto the unemployment register at a time when unemployment is already going up doesn't it?


MARR: But you accept my point?

PURNELL: Look! I don't think it's the ... the important point, the important point

MARR: Well...

PURNELL: .. is there are lives here which are being scarred ..

MARR: It's just, it's just, it's just that all governments you know defend themselves on, on their unemployment record and unemployment as a result of this if it works is bound to go up...

You said a very interesting ...You said that governments had been using Incapacity Benefit to massage the unemployment figures.

PURNELL: Actually what I said was that the Conservatives did that in the eighties when they created...

MARR: You didn't say Conservatives you said governments

PURNELL: .. when they, when they, when they created the, the system. And no, the point is we've got unemployment down by...

MARR: Has your government done that?

PURNELL: We've got the - no actually we've been acting on this for the last ten years.

MARR: Now we teased you a bit at the beginning with all those previous people holding your job saying much the same thing. I mean I can remember Gordon Brown and Tony Blair standing side by side back in the late nineties saying we are going to get people off these benefits. We're going to be very tough about it.

PURNELL: But Andrew that's ..

MARR: Again and again and again.

PURNELL: .. exactly what we've done. But Andrew that's exactly what we've done.

MARR: ... A

PURNELL: We started - no let me put, make this point Andrew

Anonymous said...

Another little gem from the Marr interview of Purrrrrrrrnell:

MARR: ...the Labour Party's heading for absolute slaughter or catastrophe at the next general election and yet ministers like yourselves do very little about it. You've just, there's a sort of sense that everyone's a bit stunned by this. No one quite knows what to do.

PURNELL: Andrew what do you mean do very little about it? You know we're trying to launch tomorrow a radical programme on welfare reform which is exactly the right thing to do. The right thing to do is to focus on policy, win the war for radicalism...

MARR: So what do you say to all those Labour voters or ex Labour voters who've sort of given up, who thinks it's all over and all of those Labour MPs and sometimes ministers who also have more or less given up when it comes to the next election?

PURNELL: I say people should pick themselves up off the floor, they should come up with the right policies and they should campaign on them....

MARR: And are you absolutely sure you've got the right leader for the next ten years or the next few years?

JAMES PURNELL: Yes absolutely.

Brilliant one, Andy Marr xxx

Praguetory said...

Funnily enough the only death threat I have received on the blogosphere came from a Green Party activist from Watford who goes by the name lobster blogster.

Unknown said...

The alleged 'harassment' is of a deeply disturbing nature; we're not 'just' talking about tyre-slashing.

What the LibDems who have been targeted have had to go through is truly horrible. I trust those guilty, whoever they are, are convicted and sentenced appropriately.

This matter is well beyond party political rivalry.

Anonymous said...

Being acquainted with Ian Oakley in Hillingdon, and thus being duly circumspect, I'm sorry to say that these allegations come as less of a shock than Oakley's selection was as a candidate in a winnable seat.

If the allegations prove true then it's better that it comes out now rather than after a successful election.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we can all agree that any form of harassment of political opponents is wrong, cannot be tolerated, and should be condemned.

WE, sorry I most certainly hope we do not agree any such thing.

Personally I would be happy if they take the time to rip each other literally limb from limb. Perhaps a local circus or theater could be hired just for this purpose.

It would make for excellent entertainment and would be far more fun then being on the receiving end of their collective harassment after the electorate has been blinded enough to have elected one of them.

It would however be unfair if the respective families were involved, its not their fault after all. We do not choose our parents, and long I hope will this remain the case.

Iain I really don't think you are made for a job in politics. You seem to think the game is played by some kind of cricket like rules by the sort of rather nice middle class boys and girls you went to school with.

Politicians, successful ones that is, could frighten a bunch of starving rabid dogs at a Pedigree Chum factory, into submissively 'handing' over their breakfast. While of course still taking the time to kiss the babies and look like butter would not melt in their fang filled mouths.

You can be absolutely assured that the idea of public service is reserved only for those that spend their entire political life making up the numbers sitting on the totally ignored, and taken for granted, backbench.

Al Capone never bothered more then once to get elected. Maybe the reason was that he could not take the heat. Much better to just throw the greedy buggers a few brown parcels every now and again.

There is no smelly nappy filled babies to deal with and you only have to rob murder and intimidate other rich gangsters, instead of unsuspecting innocent poor people.


Anonymous said...

Whoever is the perpetrator of this disgraceful behaviour in Watford should be hung out to dry. The offences as reported in The Sunday Telegraph are way beyond dirty politics.

Anonymous said...

Re: PragueTory's comment above. It seems a shame that lobster blogster missed.

Martin said...

Not forgeting that even under this government one remains innocent until proven guilty, there is nothing that has been reported that it any way surprises me.

My local Tories have always been a little 'naughty' but this year were frankly completely out of control in the local elections, probably not helped by the fact that they have lost 19 District and Town Council seats in my constituency in the last 15 months and don't seem to understand that that's democracy.

There has always beena minority in the Tory Party who believe that they are above the law. Seemingly the closer you come to success, the more that minority are putting it in danger.

Cameron really needs to act quickly and put his house in order.

Anonymous said...

Auntie Flo'

Well noted. The self-delighted Capital Gains Tax avoider is such an oily repulsive little squirt.

Most of the unemployed would be in work if jobs were ever offered to them. Not gonna happen while we import cheap labour from everywhere it can be found.

The good news about self-delighted's proposals is that they point the dagger ever-more accurately at the rotten heart of the lib/lab/cons. Just a few more years and it will be plunged in. Then twisted. A lot.

Letters From A Tory said...

Amazing stuff. Watford is an incredibly tight three-way marginal so the Conservatives must be wondering what hit them (pun intended).

Anonymous said...

Mark 20/7 12.10 p.m.

Trouble is the Lib Dems have got form on matters like this going back at least thirty years

" Distributed a fake leaflet claiming to be from one party (when it wasn't)"
Actually this is not harassment- its covered by the various Electoral Acts but such a tactic is straight out of the Fib Dems Campaigining Handbook i.e. use a type face similar or identical to that of your opponents

Now what is perplexing about this is that it is allegations of such behaviour go do four years i.e. before the last General Election when Ian Oakley wasn't even a candidate in Watford

Watford Conservatives must have been campaigning exceedingly well for the Lib Dems to set up a false flag operation such as this

Anonymous said...

I am wholly unsurprised by these allegations. It's all part of the descent down the slippery slope towards American-style political campaigning.

"Democracy" there (and increasingly here) isn't about finding out the people's will, it's about who can manipulate the system and 'play the game' most ruthlessly.

I don't care which side is doing it, this stinks and needs to be stamped out.

Anonymous said...

Sandy, Ian Oakley was the campaign manager for Ali Miraj in the last GE, something well documented here and elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Sandy - if this is a 'false flag' operation then the Lib Dems in Watford must be a pretty clever bunch - the incidents involved go back to before Oakley was selected as the Tory candidate.

Some of the anonymous leaflets may well constitute harrassment. These were not just political leaflets - they were making very serious (and unfounded) accusations against various Lib Dem candidates - the kind of accusations that can do serious damage to reputations.

Whether Oakley is found to be the perpetrator or not (and it is the police that have arrested him, not the lib Dems) the campaign of intimidation should be condemned by anyone enegaged in the democratic process.

Iain Dale said...

Hillingdon Conservative, I will be happy to print your comments should you actually have the guts to put your name to them. But you won't do that will you?

Anonymous said...

[Hi Iain, Thank you for your reply. There is nothing false or untrue in my comments and they are reasonable personal opinions. I'm not using my real name because I have been closely involved in LBH elections, both council and parliamentary for many years, (and thus know the individuals referred to) and have no wish to burn my bridges with other elected representatives who, as with any other citizen, it is sometimes necessary to consult with in order to make the machinery of the state function in the way it should. That doesn't invalidate what I've said. Perhaps its my characterisation of a certain type of wannabe MP that you object to - I have sadly come to the conclusion that in many cases, seeking to become an MP should disqualify one from becoming an MP, with MPs appointed like a jury perhaps. I also find it objectionable that councillors in Hillingdon are now on pretty fat expenses - which has a deleterious effect on the type of people who seek to become and remain as councillors, but that's another story].

Iain Dale said...

Sorry, not good enough. You are willing to besmirch others while hiding behind the cloak of anonymity. I have no idea if what you say is true. Your initial comments were almost certainly libellous and your more recent comments, while toned down are just plain nasty and vindictive.

If you are not willing to put your name to your allegations, why should I publish them?

You say you don't want to burn any bridges. Well don't make anonymous spurious allegations then.

I also think many people are becoming MPs who shouldn't. But at least you know who I am and where I am coming from.

Anonymous said...

Police charge Oakley
5:35pm Thursday 24th July 2008

Tory hopeful Ian Oakley has been charged by police for his alleged
involvement in a three-year hate vendetta.

The 31-year-old former Conservative parliamentary candidate, who quit the
party this week, was charged by police in relation to five counts of criminal damage and two counts of harassment.

Mr Oakley was questioned by officers at Rickmansworth Police Station for much of yesterday. He was then charged at around 5pm.

He has been bailed to appear at St Albans Magistrates on Tuesday August 5.

Nich Starling said...

It is worth noting that he pleased guilty and asked for scores of other offences to be taken in to consideration.

those Tories who offered excuses for his behaviour here and on other blogs (and I don't mean Iain, I mean those who commented) ought to hang their heads in shame, particularly those who sought to excuse this behaviour if it meant attacking another party.