Thursday, October 09, 2008

Rochdale Lib Dem Franchise: Membership Shenanigans



My favourite troll Chris, of the Everybody Hates variety, has challenged the authenticity of the picture at the head of this story. He says it is clearly doctored.

The post of course is about the accounts submitted by Rochdale Lib Dems to the Electoral Commission which show inter alia a HALVING of constituency membership between 2004 and 2005. And here were 17 more members resigning.

Coinciding with the election of a Lib Dem MP. Quite strange. A far greater rate of attrition even that that suffered by the unconvincing Tory new Deal Dave Cameron. Here is another picture from the protest.

I've done some digging and I'm certain that such a picture was used by Rochdale Online, possibly by Rochdale Observer in their print edition too. The professional stylee placards may have been produced because the victim of Paul Rowen/Dave Hennigan reversal of the de-selection of one of their dodgy mates - Javed the postmaster, at the centre of the picture with documents allegedly demonstrating the Rowen/Hennigan scam - believed that Channel M, the local TV station would be covering the story.

Sadly they did not turn up. Our old friend Dave Hennigan claimed to his media contacts at first that the protest had never taken place! Despite the photographic evidence. He had been in the office all day on the Friday he said. In fact the picture was taken on the Saturday morning when we might speculate that Dave was lying in a drunken heap of empty bottles and donner kebab somewhere in Levenshulme. Or, let's be kind, not in the Drake Street office at any rate.

Anyhow, I digress. This instance - with Rowen's people disqualifying several of Javed's supporters but none of their man's from the selection vote - is not the first involving Rowen and disputed membership credentials.

Paul Rowen had to go through a re-run of his own selection as Parliamentary Candidate as there was an alleged serious irregularity in his selection. Involving membership status. Here's the full story:

‘Cleared’ Rowen set for Lib Dem rerun
Ben Turner
11/11/2003

THE battle to become the new Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Rochdale is back on.

After being scrapped in February due to claims of four breaches of selection rules, the contest is reopening - with the original four candidates standing again.

The election was not re-advertised because the party felt it would be unfair to allow anyone else to enter at this late stage.

One complaint which caused the postponement was that one of the candidates, Councillor Paul Rowen, who was beaten by sitting Labour MP, Lorna Fitzsimons, in the 2001 general election, had received the support of a delegate who was not entitled to vote.

Councillor Rowen, leader of the Lib Dems on Rochdale Council, welcomed news that the election was back on and claimed the decision had cleared his name.

"The main thing I am pleased about is that the appeal committee has completely dismissed the allegations made about the previous selection - that I brought someone to vote who wasn't entitled to vote.

"People were making accusations against me and I am pleased that I have now been cleared."

The only reason it was being re-run, he said, was an error in the numbering of ballot papers.

He did not believe that the delay in resolving the issue had affected his standing in the party.

One of the other candidates, Alison Firth, a Withington councillor in Manchester, said: "I understand the matter is moving forward and I look forward to having written confirmation of it as soon as possible."

The other two candidates are Alison Seabourne, a Liberal Democrat member in Tameside, and Jackie Piercey, a Gorton councillor. No date has yet been announced for the re-selection, but with an election likely in the next two years, it is expected to be soon.

Dave Smithson, North West regional chairman of the Liberal Democrats, said the contest had to take place entirely behind closed doors.

"This is an internal party matter, but when the selection has been completed, an announcement will be made. We want to get it done sooner rather than later so the chosen candidate can get on with the job of winning back the seat."


As we reported yesterday membership in the constituency PLUMMETED between December 2004 before the General election and 2005 afterward. Very strange. But then what isn't when it comes to Rochdale's Lib Dem franchise?

27 comments:

tory boys never grow up said...

I agree with EHC the picture has clearly been doctored - the bit about about Rochdale LibDems putting Rochdale first is clearly a fabrication

Sergeant at Arms said...

and is that an authorised use of the parliamentary crown and portcullis logo?

Chris Paul said...

I think Cyril Smith gave his permission.

Anonymous said...

what about the logo on the right?
The golden Fib Dem shite hawk.

Anonymous said...

Paul has got form on abusing the Portcullis logo.

He has knocked the logo out on political letters in Rochdale and other constituencies.

He got a smacked botty for that.

Cyril Smith's Whip Hand said...

Ooooh, smacked botty eh? Just like the old days. I was the Lib Dem Chief Whip once.

Everybody Hates Chris said...

Well, well, well. What a commotion. Anybody would think I had accused you all personally of killing all first born.

All I said originally was that, to my untrained eye, the photograph looked clearly doctored. So I decided to get the view of a fully trained eye and took it to our neighbouring reprographics company to give it the once over.

The repro man’s verdict was clear – the picture has indeed been manipulated. Firstly, the slogans on the posters HAVE been added after the event.

To be quite honest, I don’t really have a problem with that – although I do think it should have been accredited as such. If those were the slogans that people were carrying anyway but came out badly on the shot then I don’t think it is an untruth to retouch them later.

However, I’m told that it is almost certain that the placards themselves were added digitally. Now I think that potentially tells a completely different story. The expert also confirms my suspicion that at least one person has been spliced into the photo. His parting comment was that he would love to see the written permission of these protestors to appear in the picture and to be carrying those words.

Credit where it is due though. A quick consultation with Google maps shows that the shot was taken around noon, according to the shadows that have been thrown.

Anyway, like I say, it’s hardly a second holocaust that I’m implying.

So, back to the shitstorm that it generated. My, my, the comrades are touchy, aren’t they? It must be the time of the electoral cycle.

One cretin leapt in with the statement that Rochdale Lib Dems are ‘worse than Mugabe’. Others then jump in with similar imbecilic remarks along the same lines.

This can only have two causes:

1. You actually think that Mugabe is a totally misunderstood individual that is not guilty of the many horrendous crimes he has been accused of – which I will list if you really want me to.

2. You have lost (or never had) any sense of balance, perspective or rationality.

Even taking every single charge in your wildest, crazed ramblings that anyone has laid against Rochdale Lib Dems, there is no way on God’s earth that they can be classed as ‘worse than Mugabe’. I think that says far more about the state of mind of the people hurling this nonsense than it does about those having the finger pointed at them.

And then to cap it all, after I have made a fairly inconsequential comment about a photo being manipulated and there have been counter accusations that a political party in the North west of England is worse than a dictator of some thirty years that has carried out mass torture, slaughter of opponents, taken his country from economic bread basket to basket case and so on, it is me that is told I am ‘losing it’.

But thanks for the reminder that Idi Amin was a socialist. I was thinking more along the lines of Stalin, Pol Pot and Mussolini. (Or the regimes in North Korea, Burma and Sudan, if you want more up-to-date-references).

Cue another shitstorm. Maybe we should give them forenames like they do with hurricanes. Or should we call all of them Shitstorm Chris?

tory boys never grow up said...

Who said LibDems had no sense of humour - I wonder what's on EHC's other leg when we pull it (apologies in advance if EHC only has one leg!)

Robert Gabriel Mugabe said...

My government have been monitoring this website. Please do not compare me to Cyril Smith or ZANU-PF to the Rochdale Liberal Democrats.

We do have standards to maintain.

p.p
His Excellency R.G. Mugabe
Government House
Harare.

Everybody Hates Chris said...

Laugh! I very nearly did.

I had a private bet with myself that Tory Boy would be first up but with nothing material to say.

Looks like I owe myself a tenner.

Anonymous said...

As hurricanes, tropical storms etc are named alphabetically then before Shitstorm Chris must come Shitstorn Adam with Shitstorm Brian coming up behind.

Shitstorm Dave has been downgraded to a lightweight shitty drizzle.

Cheer up Dave me old mucker. We know you are surrounded by backstabbing morons and you deserve much better.

But you did make your bed so now you must lie in it.

Trainspotting in Heywood.

Anonymous said...

Shitstorm Adam? Shitstorm Brian? What on earth are you going on about anon?

Everybody Hates Chris said...

Maybe it should be Shitstorm Anon, anonymous.

Chris Paul said...

"Shitstorm Eejit" is I'm told the one Hennigan answers to.

Having traced the picture back literally to the person's camera it was taken on - that would be Javed the Postmaster - and considered the photo manipulation skills of those involved I have to say I believe in the authenticity of this photo.

We might wonder about the crispiness of the slogans. But then again the possibly illicit portcullis-libby combination on Rowen's shop front is crisp too.

I hesitate to suggest it Chris; but could your photo expert be about as imaginery as Norman Smith's solicitor?

Anonymous said...

Could EHC please scan in his repo man's NVQ I in photo appraisal? And also preferably send in some examples of pixel anomalies and the like? The woman in the middle is clearly just very camera shy and quite short.

Anonymous said...

To the left, you can clearly see on the grassy knoll......

Everybody Hates Chris said...

There are a few women in the middle of the photograph and yet somehow you seem to know exactly which of them I was referring to. Well done.

The crispness of the posters is remrakable indeed, luminescent even.

But good to see that you are in collusion with someone that you earlier labelled as dodgy. And an incredibly quick appraisal of the photo manipulation skills of everyone involved. The combined skills of Dog The Bounty Hunter and an NVQ Assessor. You are the very embodiment of a modern renaissance man.

In trying to find out whether there was any independent backing for your posts about the goings-on in Rochdale, I typed candidate selection rochdale into a search engine.

That brought to light a whole 'nother thang. I see what you mean about comparing Rochdale to Zimbabwe, though.

Chris Paul said...

Perhaps you'd like to share this research with our readers EHC? There were some shenanigans around the Labour selection you say? Hennigan involved in some letter ghost writing and in unpleasant defamatory stories you say?

Changing the subject from the matter of these two allegedly doctored photographs ...

Rowen and Hennigan are alleged to have recent form for manipulating membership eligibility. And they are clearly involved in a contrived tenancy and rent transfers at excess values without the declaration of donations to cover these.

And Hennigan is clearly getting paid only from Parlaimentary i.e. Taxpayer money but is clearly majoring on political attack work.

Let's be clear EHC:

- Do you support Cyril's Rochdale asbestos position?

- Do you support the Smith Brothers' non-position on building in Spodden Valley?

- Do you believe that there is no case to answer on the de-selection and magical re-selection of the useless councillor in this case?

- Do you condone Cyril Smith's lack of scruples and abuse of power?

- Do you agree with him that Stefan Kiszko should have been hanged?

- Do you condone the RLD soft shoe shuffle around rents at HQ and/or their lack of declarations of donations and/or their funding of party political activity from the tax payer?

- Where's your evidence that these Rochdale Online photos are not 100% authentic? Some imaginery friend?

tory boys never grow up said...

EHC

Totally agree that Cyril Smith is not as bad as Mugabe - now do you know any good LibDem jokes.

Everybody Hates Chris said...

If you think I am going to answer any questions along the "have you stopped beating your wife" line then you are sadly mistaken. We could all play that silly game.

Did you do the websearch I suggested, Chris? Do you want to tell your public what it revealed?

Thought not, so I will.

The "shenanigans" you refer to involve death threats immediately after the selection process, funeral wreaths being sent, a whole party closed down because of bullying and intimidation and evidence that the selection was fixed in favour of one of the candidates. In an amazing twist, it would appear that the candidate in question was not out of pocket in setting up this fix but actually got paid to do so. How enterprising.

There may well be more but I only looked for ten minutes.

Oh, did I mention that this was in Rochdale Labour Party?

TBNGU
I do have a copy somewhere of an absolutely briiliant Doonesbury cartoon about Liberal Democrats. A slightly different context to the UK, but still funny. If I can dig it out I will email it to Chris and see if he wants to publish it. (I suspect he will as it is not very complimentary to Lib Dems).

I do recall some other Lib Dem jokes, but I think most of them date back to the aftermath of the Thorpe case, so you can guess what flavour they are.

Chris Paul said...

Goodness me you're getting sloppy EHC:

The "shenanigans" you refer to involve death threats immediately after the selection process,

To whom, by whom, and how many of them? A death threat? More than one? In writing? Recorded? Alleged? Proven?

funeral wreaths being sent,

That would be _A_ funeral wreath singular BEFORE the finale of the selection process, sent to the shocked but eventually successful candidate? And subject of some serious defamatory accusations by the boy Hennigan who was apparently lurking and bullocking around at every twist and turn.

a whole party closed down because of bullying and intimidation

Closed down? Are you sure?

and evidence that the selection was fixed in favour of one of the candidates.

Evidence you say? Might be good to produce some of that.

In an amazing twist, it would appear that the candidate in question was not out of pocket in setting up this fix but actually got paid to do so. How enterprising.

You'll have to explain this EHC. All sounds a bit libellous. Have you been drinking cider to excess with that Hennigan character?

Rochdale politics of all flavours is a wonderful world of wonder.

But I think we can say categorically that Sir Cyril and Norman Smith MBE MBE will (possibly literally) outstrip anything offered by any other party ever in the history of the dark arts of Rochdale politicking.

And of that there is evidence. As of their rather pathetic replacements on the scene these days. Jimmy Cricket Junior? RAP Playmate of the Year? David Shenanigan? Paul Rodent?

The questions posed are not "have you stopped beating your wife" questions. they cut to the very heart of what you are on about. What is your motivation? Why do you want to help Uncle Cyril?

Some answers please ...

Everybody Hates Chris said...

Labourhome
The candidate selection (scheduled for last Saturday) for Rochdale constituency has been delayed. The reason of the delay was that a NEC officer discovered that some postal ballots had been opened by mistake.

Rochdale Observer headline
Candidate’s ballot win despite death threats

Private Eye
The wreaths were ordered with a credit card - so someone may be having their collar felt soon enough. It’ll be interesting to see if that ’someone’ is a member of Rochdale’s Labour party.

Labourhome
The selection for the Rochdale constituency, due end on January 22, has been described by one NEC member as "a debacle".
Before the selection began, a regional officer was accused of assisting Simon Danzcuk by allowing his company Vision 21 to conduct a survey of the attitudes of Rochdale members. The shortlisting meeting was halted when a vote of no confidence was passed in the selection process. Several branch nomination meetings had to be re-held after irregularities were discovered. At the reconvened shortlisting meeting, an all-male shortlist of eight was agreed, despite this being contrary to party rules. All members were issued with a postal ballot, after it was discovered that the original postal votes had been opened prematurely.

Chris Paul said...

1. Fair enough
2. Not sure this should have been plural will check
3. Wreaths plural? One I think
4. Bit tortuous that

1 and 4 are on what amounts to an open access forum - anyone can stick stuff up, including non-Labour people.

Everybody Hates Chris said...

Points 1 and 4 were covered by other media that I was able to find without really trying. And when I first looked, I didn't even know it was there to find in the first place.

I decided to included the coverage from Labourhome because I thought it was the one that you would trust most. I honestly didn't realise that it was an open access forum. I don't think it says anything that isn't alleged elsewhere and it isn't even written in a particulary disparaging way, more as reportage.

IMHO I think that point 4 is the most relevant. Points 2 and 3could have been as the result of some hothead(s) from inside or outside the party - although the general impression of everything I have just read, including internal Labour people, is that it was an 'inside job'.

Point 1 is very incriminating. Postal votes were opened 'by mistake'. Well, I can see one being opened in error. But all of them? Surely not. Who by?

Point 4 - the one you brush off - is the most telling. The company of one of the candidates carried out a survey of opinions of Rochdale Party members just before the selection. Just Rochdale? Just party members? And so soon before one of the owners was presenting himself to that group for selection!

Did he do this for free? If so, why? Did his firm get paid to do it? Sounds like a win-win situation to me. It may seem a bit strong, but I think I will stand my my assertion that it seems he actually got paid to fix the selection for himsalf.

As for the singular/plural debate. I haven't altered those pieces from the press and I didn't search for those that put them in the plural. If it was only one death threat then I totally apologise, I mean what's one death threat amnong friends?

It was a particularly graphic and specific one, though.

Was the guilty party ever caught? I couldn't find that out.

Chris Paul said...

I don't trust Labourhome. I wrote a column for The Parliamentary Monitor for this conference season explaining why. Another job better paid than checking ASDA's marketing by the way.

The muppets (sorry) responsible for running the constituency labour party and the selection were clearly capable of wrongly opening a PV or three in the initial process.

The whole thing was it seems ragged in the extreme. The eventual decision to separate the final hustings - where there is usually a live ballot - from the ballot and do that by post was understandable.

Also the case in Bethnal Green and Bow and/or Ealing Southall AFAIK.

I don't know when the research work was done with the CLP. Or why. or whether paid. Or by whom.

I do think the all postal approach will have helped some candidates more than others. But the fundamental thing was probably understanding the exhaustive single transferable vote.

Wally Range said...

Are you saying that the Labour party use the Single Transferable Vote to choose candidates.

The fucking hypocrites!!!!!!!!

Everybody Hates Chris said...

I have done your homework for you, Chris. Here’s a quick chronology of events surrounding the Labour PPC selection in Rochdale. I will post them without comment. I think it is true to say that I haven’t deliberately left anything relevant out. All these words are taken from Tribune, except for the very last one, taken from the website of the company concerned.


August 2006
Before the Rochdale selection began, a regional officer was accused of assisting Simon Danzcuk by allowing his company Vision 21 to conduct a survey of the attitudes of Rochdale members.


November 2006
The shortlisting meeting was halted when a vote of no confidence was passed in the selection process. Several branch nomination meetings had to be re-held after irregularities were discovered. At the reconvened shortlisting meeting, an all-male shortlist of eight was agreed, despite this being contrary to party rules. All members were issued with a postal ballot, after it was discovered that the original postal votes had been opened prematurely.

Local members were concerned that the shortlist was deliberately being manipulated in order to exclude Afzal Khan, a Manchester councillor, who had received the highest number of nominations.

The shortlisting was taken over by the regional party.


Early January 2007
Two funeral wreaths arrive at Danczuk’s home, one spelling out his name. Death threats also arrive, one written, one by phone. Both of them make clear that this is an attempt to get him to withdraw from the selection process.


18th January 2007
Downing Street insiders and senior ministers have confirmed that Ruth Turner, Number 10's director of government relations, co-ordinated party staff, MPs and ministers to assist in an internal Labour Party election. Ms Turner is paid by Labour and is technically a member of the party's staff. As such, she is bound by the party's rules, which state that staff are barred from actively supporting any candidate in internal party elections or selections.

Ms Turner was contacted on several occasions but did not return Tribune's calls.

Mr Danczuk and Ms Turner were co-founders of Vision 21


22nd January 2007
Danczuk selected as PPC


30th January 2007
An announcement is made that Kevin Lee, until then the North West Regional Director of the Labour Party, has been appointed as an Associate Director of Vision 21.