‘I think they were very lucky’: Peterborough locals react to Labour win

There was a by-election in Peterborough (Cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, Roman foundation, Catherine of Aragon’s tomb in the cathedral, grew as a new town in the 1970s, considerable ‘diversification’ since the 1990s) last week. The previous MP (Labour), one Fiona Oluyinka Onasanya of Nigerian heritage, was recalled by petition of the people of Peterborough after an inconvenient little matter where she ended up in prison for three months after being convicted of perverting the course of justice. She set her brother Festus up to take the rap for her motoring offences. He got 10 months imprisonment. She was expelled from the Labour party but refused to resign as MP. Shortly after her release, while still wearing an electronic monitoring tag round her ankle she attended the House of Commons and voted against the Brexit withdrawal agreement, a motion which failed by one vote.  Her recall by a petition signed by over 19,000 constituents is the first time that legislation has been used to remove an MP. Previous criminal MPs have at least had a sufficiently guilty consience to resign. 

Peterborough had been a Conservative safe seat; Onasanya was elected in 2017 with a majority of 607 votes (above, with Jeremy Corbyn). The contest was between another Labour candidate, anti-semitic clicker Lisa Forbes and the Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene (local man, built a very successful business, returned to his home town to live, former trustee of the cathedral). 61% of Peterbourgh constituents voted for Brexit in 2016.

The Brexit Party was expected to win by the Bookmaking firms (betting for non UK readers) but as they also predicted Tommy Robinson to be elected an MEP for the North West they are good, but not infallible. In the event Forbes won with a slightly increased majority – 683 votes. 

About Lisa Forbes (below) – Jeremy Corbyn says she is not racist in any way. Which means she is almost certainly an anti-semite.

(Forbes) had clicked the Facebook like button on a video showing solidarity with victims of the Christchurch terror attack to which text was appended accusing Theresa May of having a “Zionist slave masters agenda”. She also commented under a post whose author claimed that Islamic extremists were the creation of the CIA and Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, writing: “I have enjoyed reading this thread so much.”

The Jewish Labour movement, including some very senior Labour MPs think she is as well and there are immediate calls to suspend her. 

There has been a bit of speculation as to how she, or Labour (put a red rosette on a donkey and some people will vote for it) won the election. I have been told that 5000 of the Labour Party’s 10,484 votes were postal votes; there is continuing suspicion of the potential corruption around abuse of postal votes. According to Politicalite

In 2018, Tariq Mahmood, now 51, was convicted alongside fellow Labour members Maqbool Hussein and former Peterborough Mayor Mohammed Choudhary for forgery over a devious scheme to fabricate votes for the Peterborough City Council election of June 2004. “They were able to get hold of postal votes and proxy votes which belonged to voters in the Central Ward,” Prosecuting QC Anthony Leonard said. “They arranged for postal votes and ballot papers to be sent not to the voter but to addresses which each defendant was connected”.

Despite his proven lust for vote-rigging and disregard for British democracy (or perhaps because of it), Mahmood was quickly snapped up by the local Labour Party to “help” win the Parliamentary seat for Labour in 2017, in which Fiona Onasanya went on to beat popular incumbent Tory MP and staunch Brexiteer Stewart Jackson by a mere 607 votes.

Other reports from concerned residents (all reported to Onasanya but inevitably ignored) included complaints of large groups of young Pakistani men loitering menacingly outside key polling stations wearing Labour rosettes, members of the public being pelted with eggs and verbally abused, a local election candidate’s team member being physically assaulted, and a volunteer Tory teller having a camera phone held in his face inside one of the polling stations (a highly illegal act) whilst being racially taunted in a disturbing online video. Other eyewitnesses detailed seeing lines of Eastern Europeans and young Brits being ushered into central polling stations – allegedly having been coerced into voting red in exchange for cash. “Someone came to my door and said they’d give me £10 if I vote for the Labour guy” one young local Polish resident informed us, 

And today, Politicalite can exclusively reveal that – despite repeated complaints to the electoral commission and to the Labour Party Head Office, Tariq Mahmood is STILL being allowed to act as a key member of the Labour Party’s campaign team in Peterborough.

Mahmood has been spotted wearing his red rosette, accompanied by a throng of abusive Labour trolls, loitering outside polling stations and speaking to voters ‘off the record’. “When are they ever going to get that man to f*ck off?” One angry local resident asked. “He makes a complete mockery of democracy and the right to vote. It’s been the D-Day anniversary today – marking when soldiers died to protect our right to vote in a free country. Labour letting a criminal like him walk around opposing democracy, is a p*ss take”.

And last night in the Guardian the Labour party practically admitted it was true. Oh, not the illegal stuff, but the emphasis on the postal vote, and the mobilisation of the new ethnic vote, 

For Amjad Iqbal and Shabina Qayyum, two Peterborough councillors, the result highlighted the importance of Labour support in the Asian community. “I would say the Muslim vote played a vital role in Lisa Forbes’s success,” Iqbal said. Iqbal enlisted the help of his cousin Shoukat Farid, a politician in Kashmir, who had been in Peterborough campaigning since 31 May. Farid said lots of Kashmiri people in the constituency knew him and he hoped he had helped to get out the Labour vote.

Labour realised its core supporters might suffer from voter fatigue after four years in which there have been two general elections, an EU referendum, and local and European elections. So Labour voters were encouraged, more than any other year, to vote by post. It appeared to work – turnout among postal voters was 69.4%.

Momentum claims it mobilised nearly 1,000 activists to knock on doors or make calls in the runup to the byelection. This included activists carpooled to Peterborough from North Wales, London, Winchester, Leeds, Grantham, Leicester, Brighton, Bretton, Northampton and Norwich. One councillor told the Guardian he had visited one road four times before the end of May, and one activist said they had knocked on some doors up to nine times on polling day to get the vote out.

None of the Seven reasons Labour won the Peterborough byelection are actually illegal. Just some of them I personally believe would have been manipulated corruptly and others verge (again in my opinion) on intimidation. Breaking the two party, not-a-fag-paper-to-put-between-them dominance of English politics is proving very difficult. They have a vested interest in keeping it that way, you see. But we persevere. 

Looking on grimly as Labour activists gathered to hear a victory speech from Jeremy Corbyn in Peterborough on Friday morning after the city’s byelection, Robin Parkin, a retired businessman and Brexit party supporter, said he was disgusted. “We need something new. What is the matter with people? I’m sick of the same old parties. I’m an old man but I can’t understand why young people can’t support something a little bit new and more energetic.”

Sign the petition Investigate the postal votes that were counted in the Peterborough by election. here


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