The loss of Zac Goldsmith and the Lib Dem revival

zac-goldsmith-now-former-mp-pic-credit-bbc

Zac Goldsmith: defeated at yesterday’s by-election by the Liberal Democrats Pic credit: BBC

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I have very mixed feelings about the defeat of Zac Goldsmith in the sensational by election victory for the :Liberal Democrats in Richmond Park.

I completely disagree with him over Brexit and I felt he had been seduced by Lynton Crosby’s dog whistle sub racist and Muslim terrorist smear campaign in the Mayor of London election. Anyone in the Tory Party with any sense should know that this would not work in multicultural and multiracial London from the 2015 General Election result- Labour actually gained seats in the capital. And whatever one thinks of Sadiq Khan he is not remotely a terrorist sympathiser.

But I think Zac should be praised  for a rare  quality in British politics. He is a real democrat who believes MPs should be accountable to the people who elect him.

His plan was to give 5 per cent of the electorate the right to start the process of  forcing an MP to stand down  if they misbehaved badly or were suspended from the Commons. He failed to get such a radical idea accepted in  full – but nevertheless an act was passed which could allow the triggering  of such a process.

He also was a man of his word. He asked approval of his voters to stand for Mayor of London as it would mean giving up his seat and he kept his word  by asking his electorate to approve his stance against Heathrow’s third runway.

This time he lost because  of his stance on Brexit.

It is also to his credit that he is a genuine environmentalist who campaigns on green issues – hence his opposition to Heathrow and his support for renewable energy. It is a bit ironic that the Greens contributed to his defeat as he would agree with a lot of their policies in this area.

He also took a brave  stance on child sexual abuse – particularly when it became clear that his constituency was a venue for historical  child sexual abuse in the 1980s. His stance was justified  when ,under Operation Fernbridge, Southwark Crown Court heard about the abuse of boys at Grafton Close children’s home and a Roman Catholic priest was sent to jail for his part in abusing kids with the now dead head of the home  John Stingemore.. Richmond Council under both the Tories and the Liberals had hidden this at the time.

He also was the driving force to get an all party initiative to set up a national independent inquiry into child sexual abuse because he thought it was such a serious issue. It is not his fault that it is at the moment facing serious disarray and needs to get its act together. He had good instincts and is really concerned about the plight of survivors.

Now why has he lost and what does this mean for the Liberal Democrats and Labour Party.

Political commentators should have seen this coming. The Liberal Democrats have won over 20 council seats since the General Election in by-elections – in some cases with increases in vote share of 30 per cent or more. They are winning in both pro Remain and pro Brexit  areas.There have been gains  in pro Brexit cities like Sheffield – when the Lib Dems leapt over second place UKIP to take a seat from Labour and only last night in Chichester  the Lib Dems took a seat from the Tories in a pro Brexit constituency. In Newcastle – wafer thin remain majority – it is the Lib Dems that are again challenging Labour for council seats not UKIP.

The reason I think is clear. Everyone knows where the Lib Dems stand on Brexit- it is a simple message – and it is getting through and people also remember some Lib Dems as  good conscientious local councillors.

For Labour it is not clear where exactly where they stand. In poor  areas – like central Carlisle and Hackney – where it is clear  that Labour stands for supporting those on the margins – their vote is going up. But in many marginal seats they are starting to lose to the Tories and the Lib Dems. This will not win them the next election and they can’t do it on just defending the NHS – because no party is going to be stupid enough to stand for abolishing the NHS. They are only to chip away at it.

So Labour needs as a matter of urgency to work out some simple messages that voters understand. Otherwise they will lose the plot.An army of  new members will not be enough if they have no simple message.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Elm Guest House: Child abuse charges to be reinstated

A very important decision has been taken by the Crown Prosecution Service to reinstate charges against John Stingemore,the former deputy manager, of Grafton Close children’s home in Richmond.

Stingemore and Father Tony McSweeney,already face  a trial next February on a series of child sex abuse charges and have pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.

The full story by my colleague Mark Conrad is on the Exaro website.but in essence it involved the CPS reviewing the  charges after a complaint from Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale, who revealed the scale of the scandal against Sir Cyril Smith, and planned action by Tom Watson MP to help the witness involved.

Exaro revealed last December that the CPS had withdrawn four charges based on accusations by one witness, but had made a serious mistake about the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police Service’s paedophile unit under Operation Fernbridge. It led to an adverse view of the witness’s credibility.

 

While it would be wrong to reveal the full details of the circumstances of the case in order not to prejudice the trial, the decision is important for two reasons.

First it shows that survivors accounts should not be brushed aside and second it suggests that the pressure the police and the CPS are under to handle so many child sexual abuse cases at the moment that they may not have had the time to examine all the details.

If it was not for active MPs like Simon and Tom who are prepared to take up cases like this, we would still be facing the danger of further cover ups and evidence not being tested by the courts.

The last thing we want is anything else not properly investigated when people have waited so long for justice.

Cyril Smith: New evidence of cover up of the Liberal Democrat’s leading child sex abuser

 Child abuser Sir Cyril Smith secret files and  new evidence Pic Credit: dreamcatchersfor abusedchildren.com

Child abuser Sir Cyril Smith secret files and new evidence
Pic Credit: dreamcatchersfor abusedchildren.com


My colleague on Exaro News, Nick Fielding, reveals a secret cache of documents from Knowl View School in Rochdale disclosing widespread sexual and physical abuse of children who had special needs.
Cyril Smith who help found the residential school was a governor there and according to Exaro he sexually abused at least one of kids himself.
The documents seen by Exaro reveal that up to a quarter of children there may have been involved in serious sexual abuse and staff there were accused of a ” dereliction of duty” in not protecting them.
They come as a police cover up of the crimes committed by Sir Cyril Smith, who got away with a life of serial child abuse will be revealed tonight on a Channel Four Dispatches programme.
The disclosures – including the police cover up – may explain why Greater Manchester Police have abandoned an investigation into allegations against Cyril Smith, which could lead to other perpetrators being caught.
The Met Police unlike Manchester, are pursuing the child abuse scandal at Grafton Close children’s home in Richmond, Surrey – with two people already charged- despite allegations of an original police cover up in the 1980s.
Cyril Smith has also been identified by some survivors of the Richmond child abuse scandal, as an abuser at Elm Guest House in Barnes.
Mainstream media coverage of these new revelations will be muted, particularly at the BBC.The Corporation is still frit after its bruising encounter with McAlpine over false accusations that the former deputy chairman of the Tory Party had sexually abused a boy in North Wales.
Newsnight, despite having a new editor, Ian Katz, is avoiding the issue like the plague. But Ian Katz won’t be able to claim there is no public interest. Boring, snoring it is not.

Will Elm Guest House man quit Britain?

The former Elm Tree Guest House Pic courtesy: Exaro

The former Elm Tree Guest House Pic courtesy: Exaro

Harry Kasir, the former co manager of Elm Guest House in Barnes, appears to be on the verge of leaving the country.

Mr Kasir, a central figure in the scandal involving investigations into child sex abuse at the guest house, was convicted  with his wife, Carole, of running a gay brothel after the police raid on the place in 1982.

The full story by my Exaro colleague Fiona O’Cleirigh and myself (http://bit.ly/YA42MS)  reveals that Kasir has recently sought  to raise nearly £60,000 from his ex-partner –  part of his share of  their house. He wants the money under a legal agreement by  next Monday. The story also appeared in the Sunday People in a  more shortened form.(http://bit.ly/11V6sMC)

He is also thought to have applied for a residential visa to move to the United States so he can live with his 40-year-old son. Kasir has two passports – a UK and a Pakistani passport.

Exaro has informed the police . Certainly Kasir might have many reasons to move – his home has been raided by the police and he has been pursued by journalists from us, the  Sunday People and Channel Four News. He has reserved his right not to speak to anyone.

However if he does go abroad – given the weakness of the US UK extradition treaty – thanks to  former home secretary Mr David Blunkett, it is going to be difficult for anyone to get him back.

Justice will need to be seen to be done in this criminal investigation and I suspect that Mr Kasir should be telling the police everything he knows.