Fergus Wilson – no charges brought

Last year I reported on prospective Police and Crime Commissioner Candidate Fergus Wilson, and alleged that he was disqualified from standing due to his 2014 conviction for common assault. Subsequently, after Mr Wilson submitted nomination papers, I reported him to Kent Police for making a false declaration in his nomination papers.

Last week I was told by Kent Police that their investigation into Mr Wilson has been completed. I’m informed that Mr Wilson was interviewed as part of that investigation, and that a file has been presented to the CPS, but that no charges are to be brought against him. To bring charges, the CPS must be convinced both that there is a realistic prospect of conviction, and that it’s in the public interest to prosecute.

I was quite happy to let the matter drop there. Mr Wilson’s candidature is at an end, the election is long over and done with, and most importantly he’d promised to “ride off into the sunset” after the failure of his election campaign. He’s not a professional politician and it was over.

However, I see that the following story appears in the Medway Messenger:


fergus nocharges

I’m the complainant. I can confirm that I’ve not been spoken to by the Police in relation to this matter. I stand by my reporting I believed then, and I believe now, that my reporting was accurate and in the public interest. If the Police speak to me, I’ll defend myself vigorously.

Perhaps I’m lucky. A few days ago Mr Wilson was offering to fight a journalist who’d been unkind about his racehorse.

Fergus, it was punching someone that got you into this trouble in the first place.

On leaving Labour.

cardI’ve left the Labour Party today, the Party I first joined in 1989 and I’ve supported ever since. When Jeremy was elected Leader last year, I thought the right thing to do was to stay and fight for the kind of Party I wanted: open, moderate, internationalist, pro-EU. I’ve nothing but respect for those of my colleagues who’ve decided to stay in the Party this time, too: but for me, the end of the road has been reached.

This isn’t the Party I joined. We were always on the right side of British politics, and we always knew we wanted to make the world a better place. Labour was a family I was proud to belong to. I was proud, once, to be a Labour Councillor and Group Leader (though when it was obvious my time as Leader wasn’t a success, at least I had the decency to resign).

Labour isn’t that Party any more. It’s intolerant, it’s authoritarian, it’s a toxic place where the worst kinds of abuse are at best tolerated by the leadership. That leadership regards Hamas and Hezbollah – anti-semites, misogynists and terrorists – as friends, and Jeremy Corbyn himself has appeared on the state propaganda channel of a regime that executes homosexuals. And that’s without mentioning SinnFein/IRA…

Jeremy handed Brexit to the Tories on a plate, and the morning after the referendum result he called for the immediate triggering of Article 50. It’s as plain as anything that he rejects our membership of Nato – an international organisation that Labour helped found.

It’s not just about electoral success – though it’s plain that Jeremy can never win a General Election – but it’s become more and more obvious that the toxic mix of people who now constitute the Party’s leadership don’t care about winning. They’re more interested in sixth form debating, on building an organisation which is ideologically pure. That’s a betrayal of everyone who depends on the kind of moderate, centrist politics which this country needs. It gives safe space to the Tories to do their worst.

All of this is a repudiation of the kind of Labour Party I joined.

I don’t believe Jeremy should be Prime Minister. My continued membership of the Labour Party gives him moral and financial support. My conscience won’t allow that. And that’s why, with a heavy heart, I’ve left Labour.

Kent PCC elections: the results in detail.

This post is strictly for politics nerds. Yesterday we looked at the result of the Police and Crime Commissioner and today I want to look at the results in some more detail.

First: a health warning. Direct comparisons between this result and the 2012 election are problematic to say the least. Firstly and most obviously, the winning candidate from 2012 didn’t seek re-election and, as an independent, there’s no party we can use as a basis for comparison. Secondly, the Lib Dems didn’t stand last time. Further, low turnouts in both elections may mean that lessons for other elections are difficult to draw. Nevertheless, I think it’s a worthwhile exercise, if only as a resource for later. Throughout this post, I’m going to talk only about the first round of voting, because that was the only one in which all the parties were represented. And,

This was the result:

1st round share

The following table is the 2016 result in full, with the 2012 result for comparison, and the movement between elections (I’ve not included the Lib Dems):

From this, we can see how the parties have fared in each of the Kent districts:

Change from 2012

All of the major parties have increased their vote share in every district (except the Tories in Gravesham). That’s unsurprising: all of Ann Barnes’s votes from 2012 were up for grabs. The English Democrats’ Steve Uncles saw his vote share fall everywhere: remarkably, on a much-improved turnout his votes went down in every district too. He did particularly badly in Dartford, the district he lives in. I’m not going to pay him too much more attention, except to observe that, on the day London elected its first Muslim Mayor, race-baiting seems to be the fast-track to political oblivion.

Though the Tories won, Ukip will doubtless be pleased with these results. There are some impressive increases in vote share: particularly in Shepway, where it seems to be building up something of a power base. Labour really ought to have done better, though these results are far from disastrous for them: the fact that they didn’t do so is probably more to do with their lacklustre national performance than their local campaign. There’s little here to remind us, however, that there used to be a handful of Labour MPs in Kent: these are just the sorts of seats they need to win back if they are to have any hope of forming another Government.

Finally, the Lib Dems have slipped further into irrelevance.

Update: The Political Medway has a very comprehensive analysis of the results which is well worth a look.

Kent PCC elections: the people have spoken. Well, some of them.

Never mind the Masterchef final, the London Mayoral election or the nomination of Donald Trump to be leader of the free world: the results of the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner election were announced today. Sadly, the election doesn’t appear to have captured the public’s imagination, with turnout at 21.5% (up from 16.3% in 2012, but that was in November).

Unsurprisingly, on a good day for the Tories generally, their candidate Matthew Scott was elected. Equally unsurprisingly, the second round also featured UKIP’s Henry Bolton, who had run a strong campaign with an impressive CV. UKIP has done well in Kent over the past few years and will be disappointed not to have snatched victory here.

I’ll post more analysis over the next few days, but it’s worth noting the other winners and losers: besides the Tories and UKIP, Labour’s Tristan Osborne did very creditably, increasing Labour’s share of the vote when the Party has been struggling to make an impact.

The big loser is undoubtedly Steve Uncles of the English Democrats: the only candidate to have stood in 2012, he saw his share of the vote slump to 3.1% (and kissed goodbye to his deposit).  Uncles had faced fierce criticism for his attempts to exploit an alleged rape in Bluewater, stating that the attack had been carried out by Muslims and then refusing to apologise when this turned out to be untrue, so it is perhaps fitting that on the same day that London elected its first Muslim mayor, Kent decisively rejected Uncles.

Steve Uncles – the truth comes out

So. A few days ago English Democrat PCC candidate Steve Uncles was declaring that the men who had allegedly raped a woman at Bluewater were Muslim. When the Police confirmed that the people arrested for this offence are white, English and non-Muslim, Uncles claimed that the Police were lying.

Now Uncles claims have come unravelled. In a bizarre rant posted today, Uncles appears to have abandoned his claim that the people arrested are Muslims.

Rather desperately Uncles blames everyone else. First, he blames the media:

No details were given by the Newspaper that broke the story.  In the current world of political correctness the implication was the culprits were “Ethnic Minority” or some of the groups given special status by multi-culturalism e.g. Muslims.

So, the newspapers are responsible for Uncles thinking the people are arrested are Muslim, because they didn’t mention that they’re not Muslim. Clear?

Secondly, he tries to distract attention from the fact that he posted inflammatory nonsense about this issue, by making a quite strange claim that the Police are still lying: he has announced that the people arrested are members of the travelling community, and according to Uncles travellers aren’t English – so the Police weren’t being honest when they described them as English.

He backs this up with an extract from the ethnic monitoring part of a benefits form, in which there is (along with boxes for other ethnic origins) a box for Gypsy/Traveller. That you might be a member of that community and English, in the same way that you might be black and English, appears not to have occurred to him. We might also remind ourselves that it’s not up to Uncles to decide who is English.

Quite why he thinks we should trust him now is unclear.

And in all of this, he continues to use the victim for a cynical political game.

Oh Steve Uncles, what have you done?

Putting other people’s work on your website seems to be a feature of the no-hope candidates in this election. First, we had Fergus Wilson and the curious case of those photographs.

Now, it appears, English Democrat Steve Uncles has also been indulging in a little cutting-and-pasting. One of these is quite funny, but the other really isn’t funny at all.

First, a little light relief. On April 16th an article appeared on Uncles’ official website: The wasted years of Anne Barnes – Kent Police Commissioner by Adam Hignett. A very interesting article is is too: it doesn’t actually mention Uncles at all. It could almost have been written by a professional journalist.

Actually, it was written by a professional journalist: the whole article has been lifted from the Times of Tunbridge Wells (here’s the article on their website: Uncles appears to have taken it from a digital edition). I asked the newspaper whether they’d given Uncles permission to reproduce it, and their response was rather interesting:

Oh. And, looking closer at the image they kindly supplied, we see that Uncles has made one change to the article. This is from the original:

frontrunner1

and this is from his reproduction:

frontrunner2.PNG

That’s right, he’s crudely photoshopped his own face into it, describing himself as the frontrunner: remember, that’s into an article that doesn’t mention him at all. Shameless.

Perhaps spurred on, Uncles went in for a bit more cutting-and-pasting: and here the story gets a lot darker.

On April 20th the media reported an alleged gang-rape at Bluewater shopping centre: here’s Kent Online’s report.  The same day, Uncles reproduced that article on his website: here it is. This time, he didn’t just paste a picture in: he changed the words in the article to make a political point. He changed the headline from this:

Young woman ‘gang raped’ at Bluewater shopping centre 

to this:

Seven Muslim Men rape Young Woman in Bluewater Carpark in Kent

…and he made other changes to the body of the article to claim the attack was carried out by seven Muslim men. The original article makes no reference to the alleged attackers’ religion at all. So Uncles has – to put it mildly – misrepresented a shocking and tragic situation in order to make a disgraceful political point.

None of the men are Muslim: Kent Police have released a statement confirming it:

Due to the widespread attention this incident has received, investigating officers can confirm that all the 11 men who were arrested are whie, English and non-Muslim.

Rather desperately, Uncles has gone into attack mode, throwing accusations at everyone who has called him out, starting with accusing the Police of lying:

Well, exactly. Why would they lie? They’ve nothing to gain from doing so, and everything to lose: if and when the suspects were charged it would become obvious. I submit that we can discount the possibility that the Police are being untruthful.

Then he went into conspiracy mode, claiming to see something sinister in reports of the incident emerging some weeks after it took place:

In fact there’s nothing to suggest that the Police have suppressed news on it at all: we don’t know when the offence was reported to them. Their statement says that officers “promptly identified the suspects and 11 arrests were made” which suggests that it wasn’t reported to them for some time. It’s not unusual for victims of this kind of offence not to come forward for some time, and understandably so: many never feel able to come forward at all. But even if the Police have known about it for some time, there may be very good reasons for not releasing information about it immediately: sometimes it’s important not to tip suspects off.

Next, Uncles demands that Police release CCTV of the event:

Yes, that’s right: he demands Police release CCTV footage of a woman being raped. That’s not going to happen, and he knows it: the Police are not in the business of releasing that kind of thing to make political points, either for him or against him, and it may well not be their property to release. And not only could releasing too much evidence at this stage jeopardise the suspects’ right to a fair trial, but it could lead to the identification of the victim: something that is absolutely forbidden.

Uncles tried to draw comparison with grooming incidents in Rotherham, making the same response fifteen times, even when it didn’t make much sense:

Now, what happened in South Yorkshire was shocking and unacceptable. But the circumstances were really quite different, and a lot has happened since then. There’s no reason to suppose the Police are covering up this incident, for the reasons we’ve discussed again. This is just an attempt to distract us from Uncles being caught out.

Finally, Uncles has posted all of these claims on his website, repeating his bizarre claim that the Police are lying, and claiming that they are under instructions to cover these matters up. He posts a copy of information received from Bedfordshire Police under the Freedom of Information Act which he says contain these instructions: you can read them for yourself on his website, and I’ll leave you to make up your own mind whether you agree; but to me they look like a set of guidelines for Police Officers to exercise some sensitivity when going into Muslim households – certainly there are no instructions to lie.

Somewhere out there, a young woman has gone through the most awful ordeal, and now has to endure the double agony of being cynically exploited for political gain. It is disgraceful for anyone to seek to use her suffering to incite fear and hatred of others.