Friday, August 17, 2007

John Leech Watch: Doctor Yasmin to the Rescue?

There was a time when John Leech Watch was useful and interesting. Sadly that time may now be well past. The last "strand" (as linked) was started early in June. Ten weeks ago.

It has been utterly undisciplined and strayed off "topic" regularly. It is now closing on 400 posts. A world record. Hurrah! Most of them from HALF A DOZEN PEOPLE! Or less as some "are legion".

John Leech needs watching of course. He is good for nothing. Or at least for hardly anything. Miserable whining and irrelevant EDM signing he does. But having "the usual suspects" chasing their tails round and round? Pretty pointless.

Is John Leech Watch now performing the same function as the classic den of thieves for wild eyed Withington Lib Dem apologists?

These desperate hold outs are still claiming the Christie Hospital really was under threat of closure, even though John Leech MP beat off the threat just ONE WEEK after being elected?

That old people would be falling into abandoned graves at Southern Cemetary? How we laughed!

That poor Lib Dem supporting squirrels and pigeons are about to be replaced with multi-storey millionaire socialist property developers in a South Manchester park?

There is one ray of hope these last few days. Dr Yasmin Zalzala - who was the Lib Dem PPC in 1997 and 2001 (and 1999 for Europe), making good progress in closing down and overtaking the Tories - has started teasing.

Let's hope she finally spills the beans on the despicable way she was (by all accounts) treated by our perfidious Manchester Lib Dems.


Yasmin Zalzala said...

I would suggest that this topic be moved away from merely attacking one Lib Dem MP (his worthiness or lack of it should be discussed elsewhere).

I think what is needed is an intelligent blog/debate on the issue of 'ethnic cleansing' of candidates.

The Liberal Democrats did it and by all accounts got away with it and it was rewarded by the victor not only holding two jobs (MP + Councilor) but holding a shadow spokesman ship as well. Senior councilors, long standing members all rallied round and seem to accept the situation.

The justice system has proven to be perfectly useless and incompetent in giving victims of discrimintion justice.

We should not forget that it was Labour who started the process by using the race card to defeat me in successive elections. It was not until Tony Blair forced discipline that it stopped. We shall see how Gordon Brown does.

What do people think?

Chris Paul said...

Welcome again Yasmin.

I don't know anything about Labour using the race card to defeat you in previous parliamentary elections. I was watching the ball in Manchester Central not Man Wit.

If it had been me I would have been delighted actually that the opposition vote was equalising from the first position where Tories were just a thousand or so behind to their vote being stripped away and shared more evenly with a quality Lib Dem candidate of whatever race, ethnicity, religion, gender.

I don't think you would have won in 2005 as I certainly don't think you would have run with the dishonesty of the Lib Dem campaign or the overspending or the like. But I do think we'd have had a handful to deal with for next time. And even some Lib Dem strategists would no doubt argue that a genuine advance and eventual win would be better than one of these one hit wonder campaigns where two thirds of constituencies are lost back at the next election.

There seemed to be a very specific situation over the 2005 PPC Selection for the Lib Dems where despite your successes your 2001 agent (Leech) and people supporting his candidacy undermined you in all sorts of ways.

And of course their response to your understandable frustration and disappointment at this behaviour from them was both brutal and disappointing by turns.

Perhaps I am missing things you have observed in my own party. But I must say that the weird communalism and race card playing that I have noticed locally has been from Manchester Lib Dems NOT Labour.

But please do give any examples and back up that you can. LOL will not be censoring you or pre-emptively calling for good behaviour! That was quite a hilarious turn of events over at John Leech Watch given the way the "out" Lib Dems and their "closet" accomplices often behave. As do some of the Labour supporters.

If you would like to post a guest blog here Yasmin I'd be very happy to facilitate that. In the morning I may take your question onto the face of the blog though I have a dozen or more things to catch up with, not least Tony Wilson's death and the last two weeks of life in general.

Yasmin Zalzala said...


The General Elections that I fought were clean (to the best of my knowledge) re the use of the race card.

The reason I think is that they were controlled by the centre and all three main parties signed a declaration against the use of the race card.

It is about the only useful thing that the Commission for Racial Equailty has done.

I am talking local elections where there was fear of immigrants and refugees stirred up and so on.

I have this not just from local people disgusted by the practise but a lib dem councilor who overheard the Labour councilors bragging about it in the Town Hall and gave me a statement to that effect. This I have sent to David Triesman who was at the time the Labour Party General Secretary.

Chris Paul said...

That's news to me Yasmin. I'd be interested to hear more. Particularly to know who the Lib Dem councillor and the Labour people they claimed to have overheard, and saying exactly what, were.

Perhaps you could tell me, off-blog preferably - so I could check it out before deciding whether to publish the story?

Dare I say that some politicians tell fibs?! There are some members of the Lib Dem group who (a) have very iffy records in this regard (b) are renowned fibbers and twisters and (c) in some cases (read on) have even gone into print.

In the 2004 all-out I stood in Manchester City Centre alongside Ahmed Ali - who is a graduate in Engineering and a senior Race Relations professional - and was completely gobsmacked to hear him referred to in front of myself and several witnesses by a nasty belittling racial stereotype.

In broad daylight. In front of Ahmed, his friends and party colleagues. Actually also in the Town Hall. And this was not a one off. It was apparently quite a regular nickname for him in the Lib Dem group as another Cllr used it to me in front of witnesses from three or four parties in the ESU.

But at least this did not make it onto a leaflet.

In Clayton our candidate Mike Carmody was lampooned and his ethnicity questionned over his moustache. with a tableau on one Focus leaflet of his facial hair and that of Stalin and of Saddam.

Long before the latest Gulf War began. Implication was that he was an immigrant, an alien, an enemy etc and not a member of the Mancunian Irish third generation - which he is!

And as you will recall following your own treatment the newly elected Cllr Faraz Bhatti had his name on a letter in the Reporter claiming that the Lib Dems were innocent - despite the evidence you had in your hands - of any racial shenanigans whatsoever.

I was able to point out that that same councillor appeared - again in print!! - playing the race and communality card - in Aatish that very month. In a paid for advertisement placed by Lib Dems and with the Lib Dem bird-of-fibbery on it!

Please do send on the details of the incident that you report. I am glad to hear that there were no complaints on the three parliamentary elections.

Yasmin Zalzala said...

I am appalled to read what you are saying.

If you care to send me names and details, I am collecting a dossier on racism in politics.

One helpful comment is that if you have witnesses willing to testify to name calling etc you should take this to the police they might take it further.

I say 'might' although they should.

Another route is the Commission for Racial Equality but they will refer you to the Race Equality Council which in my case gave negligent incompetent advise that hindered rather than helped my case.

Anonymous said...

Never mind all that. Has Chris Paul unwittingly discovered the reason why John Leech rarely flashes his gnashers?

Yasmin Zalzala said...

We are trying to have a serious debate anonumous.........

On second thought, you might have a point

This could be a historical first!

Anonymous said...

Nah - Chris Paul's doctored the pic to give him Transylvanian gnashers. Can't all be "serious debate" in here!!

Anonymous said...

This is an extraordinarily curious cosying up. There used to be no quicker way to get a south Manchester Labour activist to spit than to mutter the word "Yasmin" in his ear. While, in those days, Yasmin normatively hurled her routine allegstions of racism and sexism in their direction. Now it's apparently common cause and a shared agenda. What fun!

Chris Paul said...

Anonymous 21:42 ... I think you'll find that Yasmin still feels the LP have been guilty of racism and sexism in her direction. However she has come to realise that if that were true the LP were not alone. It may even be dawning on her that the Lib Dems in the North West and indeed nationally are very very poor indeed when in comes to Equality.

You would have to admit surely that knocking her out of the selection race in Man Wit with a piece of writing claiming that as a woman, muslim, refugee she could never be elected was (a) rubbish and (b) very bad "politics" getting to the heart of the Lib Dem problem?

GW said...

I can't speak for what the Liberals get up to in Manchester,but I can vouch for their readyness to play the race card elsewhere.

Exhibit 1. Canterbury City Council local elections. We (Labour) had a first class candidate in Chester Crooks. A Nurse at a local Hospiutal. Chester was a Guyanan, withy and anglicised name.

Exhibit 2. Cheltenham 1992. Nuff said ! 'Cos I was there.

Anonymous said...

I can see that she does. But I also have recollections of Old Moat campaigns where she repeatedly made just those allegations against her Labour opponents! Not much love lost between you lot and her then, so to my mind it's still odd.

As to her selection, what plot knocked her out? She stood for selection, and didn't get chosen .. So what? They can't all win. And what's this piece of writing? Never heard of it!

Yasmin Zalzala said...

Subject: Sadness and regret
Date: Tue, 7 May 2002 12:22:13 +0100
Please don't take your defeat badly.
I do think you have taken my conversation with you the wrong way.
I know that the defeat was very hard to take.
I felt as bad as you do.
I never ever believed that you would loose.
You do not deserve failure. I feel I failed you.
All through the campaign we knew it would be close,
However the hostility felt towards you in the council estate is great, hence the reason I
never liked campaigning there.
The positive things to take out of the campaign are the great love and affection the Old
Moat members and deliverers have towards you. You must be very please to have so many loyal
and honest citizens. I was very please to work with so many excellent people. I really feel
extremely bad that I was not able to win for them. They deserve a Liberal Democrat
councilor and I am personally so upset that I was not able to deliver one for them.
-The other is yourself, you are a great candidate and you deserve victory. The party is lucky to have you amongst its ranks and realises that you are a great asset, however we must accept reality, however hard that is to swallow.
3/5 ths of Old Moat is good, however 2/5 are bigots, they say things to you to your face and then go out and vote for someone else. Personally I don't think they deserve you. I find it hard to stomach that we as Liberals will have to pander to their views, it sickens me inside that we will have to find a type of candidate just to appease them. I know its very noble of you to want to continue, however we must accept that the people of Old Moat don't deserve you and the party cannot waste your talents in trying to persuade 2000 bigots in what is good for them.
Now I know you feel deep attachment to Old Moat and the members feel the same to you, you love them and they love you. However we here in Manchester Withington are denying your true calling. You deserve to be elected and We, that's everybody in Manchester Withington, every councilor, every member, every supporter, especially me, want you to win. I wish I could wave a magic wand and give you a seat where your true talents would flourish. Unfortunately I cannot and even though I thinks its fantastic that you still want to take on the bigots yet again. The party should not waste your abilities. We should not watch you yet again, attempt to climb up Everest only to be beaten at the top and pushed back down once again.
I will not oppose your renomination for the Old Moat ward. Nor will anyone else on the jxecutive. However we must look at the Old Moat members, are we giving them the right
"candidate? They are a great group of people the best I have ever worked with and they deserve victory?

Yasmin Zalzala said...

In May 2003, Saj Karim, now MEP, wrote as part of a regional investigation:

“As an independent panel member I do find it very difficult to see how a person of ethnic minority origin could place anything other than a racial motive on a statement which sets out in basic terms that, after having put so much into a Constituency/ward, that an individual should move on because their race will always prove to a barrier in that particular Constituency/ward.

Yasmin Zalzala said...

I have asked this question on the LibDem Voice blog, but had no answe.

So I am going to ask it here

Could you please clarify something for me:

Did the Lib Dems in the election down south not claim that the labour candidate was 80+ or something like that when he was much younger?

I heard this in passing but would appreciate the facts please.

Chris Paul said...

They claimed Vivendra was 72. He is 60. They also claimed he missed most council meetings - and they sent John "Two Jobs" Leech to back Nigel up in claiming he would be a full time MP.

What irony. Or stupidity. I'll put the Southall leaflet concerned up in the next 24h.

Yasmin Zalzala said...

I think this should have been taken to AGE Concern or Help the Aged or some other similar organisation for comment.

Or may be the Electoral Commission.

This is distasteful and unacceptable.

I am not siding with Labour or the Tories merely advocating clean politics.

yzalzala said...

My complaint following the visit from David Kierman in May 2002 produced no reaction from the national or regional party. It was May 2003 when a regional committee was set up headed by Cllr Mike Ash with a fellow councillor and solicitor now MEP, Sajj Karim as members. Sajj Karim concluded that the inappropriate remarks by David Kierman did “lend themselves to both racial and sexual discrimination”. The following observation was made:

“As an independent panel member I do find it very difficult to see how a person of ethnic minority origin could place anything other than a racial motive on a statement which sets out in basic terms that, after having put so much into a Constituency/ward, that an individual should move on because their race will always prove to a barrier in that particular Constituency/ward. I accept that other characteristics may well also have been called into question but by far the most outstanding must be the reference to one’s race or sex in such circumstances”.

Although the Ash committee claimed that it found no evidence of direct racial discrimination, in relation to Mr Kierman’s comments regarding the need for a white candidate, it stated “we are far from happy about the way the Constituency might have drawn conclusions that this meant there should be another candidate”.

Following the publication of this report, the Manchester City Party Candidates Committee was planning to remove my approval to stand for elections in Manchester without notifying me. A fellow councillor who disapproved of this complained to the region. The head of constitution, cllr Paul Carter, contacted the leader, Simon Ashley to advice against such action. Paul Carter confirmed this in an email on 17th August 2003.

Simon Ashley wrote asking me for a meeting with the candidates committee ‘who have concerns about my conduct’. I was reluctant to meet the MCPCC because I had no confidence in their fair play. The minutes of meetings showed John Leech was a participating member and no account was taken of conflict of interest. I also had grave reservations about the committee’s constitution (more details following). I received no satisfactory assurance.

On 10 December 2003 the Manchester City Party Candidates Committee (“MCPCC”) decided without notifying me of the meeting to remove my name from their list of approved local authority candidates. Simon Ashley wrote on 15th December 2003:

“It was the unanimous view of the Candidates Committee that you should be taken off our Approved Candidates list as you had declined to meet with a panel of Committee members to discuss our concerns, particularly about working with and treating other with respect.

“This means that as it currently stands, you are not allowed to be a candidate for the Liberal Democrats in Manchester. In order to be considered, you will need to reapply, attend a training day and be subject to an interview. It is unlikely that you will be given approval to stand for the Liberal Democrats in Manchester unless the Candidates Committee see, over a sustained period, a change in attitude and behaviour towards your colleagues and fellow party members”.

I challenged this decision so the regional executive commissioned the Somjee investigation to consider the procedural fairness of this de-selection. Its report of 27 January 2004 was extremely critical of the removal procedure that had been followed in my case. Those procedural irregularities were as follows:

1. I was not informed of the date of the MCPCC’s meeting on 10 December 2003 when the decision to remove me from the list was made;

2. The decision to consider my removal was made only weeks after my allegations of racism and sexism were investigated and the Ash report released – strongly hinting towards victimisation;

3. Six of the nine MCPCC members had a conflict of interest. I had previously lodged complaints against five and the sixth John Leech was my opponent in the selection process. This gave rise to a real risk of bias;

4. Particular criticism was made of the local party’s constitution including:

(a) There were no criteria for membership revocation;

(b) There were no safe guards against unfairness;

(c) There were no alternative procedures if the impartiality of committee members was open to doubt;

(d) There was no right of appeal;

(e) It contained no reference to equal opportunities; paragraph 3 does not refer to ethnic minorities;

(f) Rule 22 allowed the MCPCC to revoke their approval “if it believes a candidate is no longer an appropriate or eligible person”, without any regard to competing or conflicting interest;

5. There is nothing in the de-selection procedure to prevent a perception of bias or conflict of interest in any form;

6. Even though legal representation was allowed there was a distinct lack of legal funding for the internal appeal process; and

7. There were no safe guards for procedural fairness or for ensuring the impartiality and independence of the decision-makers.

Strictly Private and Confidential
llth August 2003.
Revocation of Candidate Approval.
At its recent meeting the Candidates Committee reviewed and updated the Candidate Approval list. As part of that process the Committee was required to consider whether it might be appropriate to instigate the revocation procedure with regards to a number of candidates where issues had arisen since the approval had first been given.
I have been mandated by the Committee to write to you to give you notice that the Committee has decided to consider whether your approval should be revoked on the following grounds:
1) You have made allegations of impropriety against 5 members of the Group which have been found on independent investigation not to be true.
2) Notwithstanding the results of the investigation you have failed to withdraw the allegations and to apologise to the councillors concerned.
3) You have subsequently stated that you had been "vindicated by the report from the executive regarding the conduct of the executive and councillors to me" thereby implying that the allegations made by you had been found to be true when that was not so.
4) By reason of the above, you have shown an inability to work as a team, to show due respect to colleagues and have cast doubt as to whether you would comply with the Groups Standing Orders and Code of Conduct and therefore no longer meet the criteria necessary for an approved candidate.
No decision has yet been taken to revoke your approval. The Committee has only decided that it was appropriate to instigate the procedure for considering

whether your approval should be revoked. I enclose a copy of the Constitution of the Candidates Approval Committee for your information. The section regarding revocation is contained in paragraphs 22 to 25 inclusive.
In order for the Committee to consider whether your approval should be revoked it is necessary for there to be a hearing to determine the facts and decide whether it is appropriate to revoke approval. You are of course entitled to attend the meeting to put your version of the facts and to make representations as to whether revocation is appropriate. Because the Committee would like you to attend the meeting I would be grateful if you could contact me in the next seven days to arrange a date when you would be able to attend a hearing by the Committee.
If you require any further procedural information please don't hesitate to contact me.
Yours sincerely,
Cllr Simon Ashley
On behalf of the Candidates Committee

Complaint regarding Yasmen Zalzala.
On the 13th of January, I sent the regional Chair, Dave Smithson, 9 E Mails regarding Yasmen's complaint that David Sandiford and John Commons had acted in a "racist and sexist" manner towards Yasmen, asking the region to investigate. I also asked the region to consider whether,

"Yasmen makes complaints when she does not get her own way, abuses the party's procedures by making complaints with no evidence, and acts in bad faith.
I want the region to consider whether Yasmen acts maliciously by making complaints simply because she does not get her own way."
The reason I am asking the region the consider this matter is simple. A party as diverse as the one we have in Manchester can only be held together by a bond of mutual respect, tolerance of others and a large dose of discipline. We have activist and Councillors who are men, women, gay, straight, Muslim, Catholic and atheist, old and young.
Every other member of the party seems to be signed up to these value, but they are undermined if people abuse the system. There are, as you would expect, lots of disagreements on policy. Some you win and some you lose, but we need to know that we can have that two way dialogue without people's motives being questioned.
Two councillors, one who was reelected last Thursday with a 900 majority, with over 30 years service as councillors to the party, have been called "racist and sexist" by another candidate from the same party. 9 months ago. I asked the region to investigate this complaint, and Yasmen claims never to have made it.
I hope the region will reject Yasmen's complaints, particularly regarding the boundary review. My personal view is that Yasmen should issue a retraction and apology for the accusations made about Cllrs Commons and Sandiford and if not, should be taken off the Approved Candidates list.
Simon Ashley Group Leader 6th May 2003.