Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Rochdale's United Party or Labour Party Gulag?

by Les May
'WE are a very united party in Rochdale and have been for a number of years now … ', were Simon Danczuk's words in an article by Paul Waugh carried by the Huffington Post a few days ago.  So how was this marvellous unity achieved then Simon?  And if the local party is so united why did council leader Richard Farnell have to warn Labour councillors in October not to criticise Mr Danczuk on social media.

Private Eye's HP Sauce column recently carried an article reminding the world that while Simon Danczuk likes to posture as a 'Labour Rebel' ever in danger of being booted out of the party, his own record in accepting dissenting voices in the Rochdale Constituency Labour party leaves rather a lot to be desired.

As the Eye pointed out in 2009 he complained that seven members of Rochdale Labour Party had undermined him in seeking an investigation into his conduct towards his then partner Karen Burke during a holiday in Spain. Of these five were expelled and two suspended.

But the quest to get rid of dissenter's didn't stop there.  In December 2011, Danczuk wrote to the then Labour Leader Colin Lambert, who was himself later ousted after delivering a stunning Labour victory at the council elections in 2014, and himself the victim of a smear campaign in 2012, complaining about Councillor Farooq Ahmed the cabinet member for finance.

Danczuk is reported to have said:
'I supplied a letter to the council leader on December 19 about a variety of issues relating to Councillor Ahmed's behaviour.
'When serious concerns about a councillor's conduct are brought to my attention, no matter what party they belong to, it is my duty to ensure that action is taken.
'I am disappointed the council leader has dithered and has been indecisive but I am pleased the group nationally has acted.'
Note the word 'dithered' here. Danczuk clearly expects everyone to immediately dance to his tune. When Colin Lambert did not do what Danczuk expected he took his complaint to the national party claiming he 'had a duty' to ensure action was taken.  Note also the similarity between this and Danczuk's attack on Ed Milliband for failing to suspend Janner on his say so.
In an interview reported in the Manchester Evening News Councillor Ahmed said:
'I have decided to step down from council due to continuous attacks, false allegations targeted to my professional and private life channelled by Mr Danczuk.'
Councillor Ahmed seems to have had the overwhelming support of Labour group and later reversed his decision.
In the subsequent investigation Councillor Ahmed was completely exonerated, but the damage to his reputation and standing in the community had already been done.
Now the interesting thing about the media reports of this spat is that they start to appear on or after 10 January 2012.  This was the day a commercial media company, CavendishPressAgency uploaded a video to YouTube with the title 'Pot-ted! Labour boss quits over "cannabis film". '
How this video clip came into the hands of CavendishPressAgency we do not know but Farooq Ahmed is on record as saying that the sudden emergence of the video was part of a 'smear campaign orchestrated by Simon Danczuk.'
Interviewed by New Statesman Chris Mullins said:
'Now collaborating with the nastier elements of the Murdoch press to do down the party is quite a high crime in my book, and if I was in Simon Danczuk’s CLP, I would certainly be sharpening my sword. He might well go away to Ukip or somewhere in the end, but good riddance to him, I say.'
Richard Farnell's writ runs only so far.  He may be able to control any anti-Danczuk stirrings in the hearts of Labour councillors.  But there are some party members who are wondering if Danczuk
should be in the Labour party at all.  They may well be emboldened by the fact that Danczuk's record of bringing the party into disrepute is being added to by every article he writes for the Mail on Sunday, so he would look like a hypocrite if he claimed that any dissenting voices were doing just that.

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