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Debbie Abrahams' fight for Oldham

Michael Crick | 13:02 UK time, Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Debbie Abrahams should win the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election tomorrow, but her real tough challenge - as so often with MPs - was in winning the Labour selection in the first place last month.

She was placed on a shortlist of three, along with two Asians who live in the seat - former councillor Riaz Ahmed, and current councillor, Bangladeshi Abdul Jabbar.

The Labour high command really wanted Abrahams, but it almost went wrong.

Ahmed was eliminated on the first ballot, and eleven of his 12 votes then went to Jabbar, I'm told, producing a tie between him and Abrahams.

Abrahams only won because she got more first preferences in the first ballot.

The full list of candidates (in alphabetical order) is: Debbie Abrahams (Labour) Derek Adams (British National Party) Kashif Ali (Conservative) Peter Allen (Green Party) David Bishop (Bus-Pass Elvis Party) The Flying Brick (Monster Raving Loony Party) Loz Kaye (Pirate Party of the United Kingdom) Stephen Morris (English Democrats) Paul Nuttall MEP (UK Independence Party) Elwyn Watkins (Liberal Democrats).


  • Comment number 1.

    Phil Woollas may have been kicked out in disgrace but I see that he is now claiming that his defeat will now help Labour to win this by-election
    tomorrow.Interesting spin there!

    I note that the two Asians who didnt get through the selection process are resident in the area.Is Debbie Abrahams? Or has she been parachuted in? Anyone know?

  • Comment number 2.

    Debbie has probably been parachuted in but the trail is very obscure as she has a long apprenticeship but she won't be from the left, parachutes are only for the preserve of the right....if Labour don't win tomorrow they are in serious trouble, VAT, tuition fees, Bankers excess, I mean, how can you not vote Labour even if in protest....Ed went on the Bankers today...much more productive and embarrassed Cameron...pip pip...

  • Comment number 3.

    It looks like the writ for the Barnsley Central by-election will be made sooner than later.

    Will we see the three major party leaders campaigning there, I doubt it. This is as safe a Labour seat as you can get, and you can be assured that there will be much stonger competition to be on Labour's shortlist to get selected there.

  • Comment number 4.

    missing the story crick?

    ..Abraham's has refused to engage the Muslim community and ignored requests to speak to Oldham Muslims at an event yesterday in Glodwick...$21386613.htm

    ..A Liberal Democrat by-election leaflet questioning Labour candidate Debbie Abrahams' truthfulness ...$21386612.htm

    do you think she doesn't want people to know her views on palestine etc or where she lives till after the election?

  • Comment number 5.

    Jaunty....Oldham is a long way from Palestine...and we all know that Ed Moribund`s gang are friends of Israel...once they are safely "parachuted" into power!

  • Comment number 6.

    Phone lines to Tel Aviv busy Mod? Can`t see them OK`ing it myself....what was it like in the Stasi?

  • Comment number 7.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 8.

    How ironic that Abrahams is pictured with Straw on the home page of her website.
    (no affinity link there then!)

    Hang on a minute...wasn't Straw criticising the Muslims earlier this week!

  • Comment number 9.


    The Straw man is - above all - a survivor. To survive in front line politics, you need to please all of the people all of the time, and that takes a certain sort of character.

    Nuff sed.

  • Comment number 10.

    Re my post #7

    "During times of universal deceit telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act"

    George Orwell

  • Comment number 11.


    looks like his card is marked?

    ...In a secret report produced by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) on Islamic extremism in Blackburn, "concerns" have arisen regarding Jack Straw's links with the Muslim Council of Britain ....

    given the powerbase of 'the friends', the profile of middle east advisers and uk ambassadors to the usa and the patrons of the JNF i have yet to discover if they also view this of 'concern'

  • Comment number 12.

    actually the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre is also the place that decides on the 'threat level' which is as much a political decision as operational? Keeping the threat level high may have political benefits?

    as in

    ...The immediate visual impact to the general public is that they will start to notice a greater number of police at all airports and London stations.....

    just when control orders are being debated?

    so whoever runs the JTAC has a great deal of political power? we must trust they are not idealogical in their calls?

  • Comment number 13.


    Remember how helpful the JIC were to War Leader Tony? Remember the Scarlett dividend?

    If we allow Terror to run unchecked in our streets, in a decade or so, the dead and injured might approach our losses in Afghanistan. How can that be right?

    Nuff sed.

  • Comment number 14.

    ...A company called Circle has taken over the running of Hinchingbrooke hospital. On November 25th, the mastermind behind the Coalition’s plans for a Big Society, Phillip Blond, tweeted that -

    Circle are an employee owned mutual – great news that they have won the contract to run hinginbrooke – its mutualisation not privatisation

    The Daily Telegraph picked up the theme. On same day it wrote that Circle operates a ‘John Lewis-style partnership model’.

    In fact the company is majority owned by private investors, as their website makes clear:....

    the 'big society' is very much looking like a mask for the old 'small society'?

  • Comment number 15.

    Stevie. "I mean, how can you not vote Labour even if in protest".

    I myself, right at this moment, would take my voting for the above as a sign I was losing my faculties, right up there with Caligula making his horse a Consul of Rome!

    I do wonder who the Asian voters will choose. There can be even fewer reasons for them to vote Labour in the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency than for any of the rest of us. Maybe they'll vote en mass for one of the other candidates.

    I note that Labour are six points ahead of the other parties at present. However, where are they in comparison to the coalition, perhaps even further ahead, or perhaps not? Have the opinion polls changed their questions in line with the advent of coalition politics, or are they still asking the old pre-coalition questions?

  • Comment number 16.

    Sometimes they have to try really hard to get the favourd one in. Look at Tristram Hunt or should that be the 'honourable' (can't remember now)-terrible job for Mandy to get him adopted for Stoke.

  • Comment number 17.

    Perhaps would be better asking ourselves whether the personal qualities of politicians matter anyway?

    We spent years working to get our first Labour MP in 1997 and in a constituency where there are no fox hunts he spent months of parliamentary time pushing a fox hunting bill through the Commons (smokescreen or what?)...and then proceeded to become a whip whose entire focus was on political tactics ....while his constituency was as neglected as it had been by a succession of Tory MP`s before him. Nice chap ...shame about our politics!

  • Comment number 18.

    This election has historic significance.

    It will go down in history, not (as the BBC and Ed Milliband would have you believe) as the "first chance for voters to pass judgement on the coalition government", but, rather, as the election in which Labour launched its sophisticated racist strategy for seats with significant Muslim minorities.

    Oldham is the testbed for this strategy.

    Newsnight producers have played a key role. Last May they tried to help "old mate" Phil Woolas by airing the ravings of Rebecca McGladdery. However, they certainly balked at his racist rabble-rousing in the desperate last few days.

    This election, they welcomed former Home and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw onto Newsnight, ostensibly to talk about an "unrelated" issue - again in the last few days of the campaign.

    However, his "easy meat" comment was anything but unrelated to the Oldham election. It sent an immediate, coded, message, to the entire constituency, even as it forced the BBC to move its self-assessed consensus demarcation line for what constitutes racism. Indeed, the comment has had an effect on relations between India and its neighbour Pakistan.

    The message is the old colonial "know your place" with regard to Muslims. To the "white folks" the message is "we, Labour, have taken over a BNP issue and made it our own. We will now regulate the Muslim enclave in (Name of Town or City) using this issue, instead of ineffectually foaming at the mouth the way Nick Griffin did. Vote Labour."

    Please feel free to visit the message board thread that I have been speaking my mind on for the past week.

  • Comment number 19.

    18...If your thesis is correct I think they would they chose people with names like Straw (Stravinski?) and Abrahams to appeal to us horrid old racist "white" Mrs Duffy`s?
    I think "foaming at the mouth syndrome" may have struck closer to home than you think !

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    18. Historic no. However, here we see a bi-election caused by the self serving careerist politicians of the Labour party abandoning any semblance of actually standing for anything, other than their perceived right to be in power (as long as the TUC keep paying), by descending into the pit of negative politics, even including racist slurs against their opponent during the last election designed to attract votes from the extreme right.

    Being all things to all men is a suicidal policy as long as we remain a democracy. But yet, even given the delicate state of our 'recovery' and our need to make sure we don't join Greece, Portugal, Ireland and others under the microscope of the IMF and the all-important creditor nations, they promote their own, and the unions that pay for them, policy of undermining a government trying in desperation, thanks to the mess they inherited, to achieve what I personally believe to be the impossible.

    If I hooked up the new Labour leader to a lie detector and I asked him a question like, 'Would you rather the coalition's policies failed and the British economy collapsed and you were, as a result, voted back into power, or would you, as any rational UK citizen would, like to see the extremely difficult choices the coalition are making to rescue our economy from collapse succeed?'

    What do you think he would say? And what would the lie detector make of his answer?

  • Comment number 22.


    The racist slurs were not just in the last election. Jack Straw's "easy meat" dominated this one.

    What Labour strategists have learned from Woolas is how to avoid leaving your own fingerprints at the crime scene.

    Instead of Woolas' "defend me against Muslim extremists and their death threats (which I made up and don't believe to be true)" we get "defend Jack Straw against the backlash (caused by his own inflammatory comments which he knows perfectly well have served to "get the white folks angry")".

    He could not have done this when Labour was in power. Then, he was in charge of the Justice department and therefore himself responsible for any police failure.

    What Straw couldn't resist was the opportunity provided by Newsnight. He knew, and Newsnight producers knew, that it was the last week of an election campaign, and that Oldham had already had a "grooming gang" trial not long ago.

    I don't think conspiracy is too strong a word for the attitude taken by Newsnight and BBC News - conspiracy to pretend that the grooming issue was separate from the election campaign.

    Michael Crick on another blog post wrote "The 2011 by-election, in contrast, has been a pretty tame affair. The parties fear being dragged into court. And race and the question of Islamic extremism have barely surfaced."

    Yet in the VERY NEXT paragraph he makes the mental connection "Nor has there even been a comment on Jack Straw's comments on Newsnight about some Pakistani young men seeing young white women as "easy meat"."

    Islamic extremists and Pakistani sex gangs are just variations on a racist theme.

    The only way to square Crick's two ideas - that race played no part in the campaign, and that his own very next thought was about an issue that Newsnight, himself, and BBC News consider UNRELATED to the campaign - is that they are all schizophrenic.

    Indeed, I spoke with Andrew Norfolk who wrote the original Times article, and he told me that although his paper timed the publication to appear a couple of days ahead of the sentencing of the two men in Derby, he had no thought about the Oldham by-election. I believe him.

    That cannot be said for Newsnight or Jack Straw. They knew only too well.

  • Comment number 23.

    22 Sam...I hate to get between a chap and his precious pet theory but the Labour Party has always been chock full of so called minorities and has NEVER had the slightest interest in the white original British population.

    As waves of immigration brought new minorities here they were quickly befriended by the liberal internationalists who really are the heart and soul of Labour... and carefully protected and promoted by them.

    Read biographies of Labour MP and media tycoon Sir Robert Maxwell or ask yourself why we know the Beeb won`t dare criticise Lord Paul or Baroness Udin while it just loves to stick the knife into Woolas and mock folk like Mrs Duffy.

    Or just look at how many Roman Catholics and Jews and Muslims (and many others) are among their number and how these minorities are far more powerful and beter off than the rest of us.....thanks to Labour.

    How many are really "socialists" and how many are opportunists?

    A climate of repression and fear have stifled free speech for decades while LABOUR have orchestrated a campaign of indiscriminate mass immigration.How does that benefit the existing poor and working people of Britain?

  • Comment number 24.

    Dear Michael,

    The public seem to have spoken about the broken promises and the disproportionate weight carried on the shoulders of the poor and the middle income voters.

    They face a trebling of tuition fees, VAT increases, fuel increases, food bill increases due to speculation on commodity prices whilst the highest earners particularly unaccountable banking staff are getting off scot free. I don't mean directors as their pay is published in annual reports. I am talking about the 3000 "talent" in 13 UK banks who are threatening to withdraw their labour if their bonuses and their anonymity is not safeguarded.

    AT Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday Cameron was under fire for being in bed with the bankers and yet his claim of Gordon Brown causing the financial crisis escapes media scrutiny. What is more deplorable is that it passes for fact.

    Gordon Brown's right hand man in the city who advised on City Regulation, bonus policy and knighthoods was a certain Sir James Sassoon.

    Do you remember what happened to him as one minute he is advising Gordon Brown and the next minute (In the wake of the Lehmann Bros collapse to be precise) he disappears off the radar.

    Is he not now newly enobled and David Cameron's minister for the city? Talk about a revolving door policy! Why is this fact not being reported in the media especially the Taxpayer funded BBC. Is Cameron threatening you with privatisation if you don't fall into line?

    You are an investigative journalist who I admire. I hope that you carry the torch for the beleaguered UK tax payer.

  • Comment number 25.

    Here's a few thoughts that occurred to me while listening to the Today program this morning.

    But first, a quote to hold in mind from Gyles Brandreth on Desert Island Discs. Speaking of his recognition that, despite all the other things he has done, the first line of his obituary will probably read "He was the man who wore silly jumpers on breakfast TV", he said this - "I realised that once people see you in a certain light it's very difficult to shift an image."

    During the Today show, both the Oldham election and the on-street grooming issue were covered - both more than once.

    The sense I get is that some kind of diktat has been issued that the two issues must never be discussed as being in any way related. Never. Ever.

    To do so - to do that one thing and link the two issues - is to invite the "conspiracy theory" tag.

    However, I live in Oldham. I could not help but see them as connected. I remember the shock of reading Phil Woolas' filthy leaflets in the last two days of the general election.

    So, when I see a national media campaign to establish a racial stereotype (I had been posting about it already for three days), and then an intervention by Jack Straw, on an issue the BBC had previously pigeonholed as BNP (Beyond Normal Politics), in the last week of another election, seeing them as somehow related was natural.

    In fact, it is the desperation inherent in all the attempts I see to suggest there is no relation - that it is all one ghastly coincidence - that convinces me something stinks here.

    Did Newsnight invite the BNP's Nick Griffin? No. If it had, the program would have been obliged to invite other party candidates - thereby being seen to have deliberately injected race into the ongoing election campaign - something to be viewed with horror by the great and good of the BBC Trust and senior management.

    Explanations for the loss of 5000 votes by Tory Kashif Ali - no one has mentioned the obvious simple fact that with race being a heightened factor in the background, this was a particularly bad time to be a Pakistani Tory looking for white votes in Oldham.

    He certainly didn't lose Muslim votes. His campaign team were almost all Asian Muslim men. So it stands to reason he lost white ones.

    Imagine if Labour's candidate had been (might have been, too) the Pakistani Muslim man and the Tory a white woman. Would the result have been the same?

    The tone of discussion around on-street grooming has become more temperate - a rather sudden lowering of the heat.

    There is as much political correctness stifling BBC political correspondents and interviewers as there is in the senior echelon of the police.

  • Comment number 26.

    Are you taking the Portillo... Maeven.
    Hewouldn`t keep his job for five minutes if he stuck his torch up the banker`s ample bottoms!

    Politics and journalism (and the sort of social science we get on Thinking Aloud) are carefully crafted expressions of what it`s possible to get away with saying in a world run by global capitalists....which deludes itself that it`s free and democratic...when the reaction to Wikileaks and Bradley Manning tells another story!

    Just as the victor writes history so "our" politics is defined and brought to us by agents of the powerful....and with their interests at heart....or else!

    Ever noticed how many issues there are which the media dare not "investigate" but that you would really like to know more about?

    It`s a matter of reading between the lines.....and putting up with being called a conspiracy theorist or racist or some "phobe" or another ....if you get too close to the truth.


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