Whatever happened to the Nasty Party?

Oh, here’s a member:

A former Tory candidate has pleaded guilty to a campaign of harassment against his Liberal Democrat rivals.

Ian Oakley, who quit as a prospective parliamentary candidate in Watford last month, admitted five charges of criminal damage and two of harassment.

Oakley, of Ryeland Close, West Drayton, west London, asked for 68 other offences to be taken into account.

His case was adjourned until 16 September for psychiatric reports. He was warned custody would be an option.

The Lib Dems have called on Tory leader David Cameron to hold an “urgent inquiry” into the procedures and activities of the Watford Conservative Party.

St Albans Magistrates’ Court was told Oakley had damaged property belonging to the Lib Dems and had harassed rivals Sal Brinton and Russell Willson.

Letters

He slashed tyres and wrecked shutters at the Liberal Democrat headquarters in the town.

He made silent phone calls to Ms Brinton between August 2006 and March this year, and sent her gay and lesbian magazines, the court was told.

 

Letters addressed to “Sal Bitchton” were also sent to her workplace.

Oakley’s campaign against Mr Willson was mounted from February to May this year and included painting graffiti on his home, calling him a “perv”.

He also sent letters to him and his backers wrongly accusing Mr Willson of being a “child abuser”.

Donna Rayner, prosecuting, said Oakley had been driven by a “desire to change the political landscape in Watford”.

He also slashed tyres on cars belonging to councillors Peter Ray and Mark Watkin and smashed the rear light on a car owned by Nasreen Ajab using a hatchet and Stanley knife, she said.

‘Great distress’

Oakley’s fingerprints had been found on envelopes containing poison pen letters and CCTV had caught him in one of the graffiti attacks.

Adjourning the case, Barry Northrop, chairman of magistrates, told Oakley the offences were “very, very serious indeed, so serious that custody would be an option”.

He said he had caused “great personal distress” to his victims and their families.

“Both the harassment and the criminal damage offences were targeted very often to homes of the individuals involved and were vindictive in nature,” he said.

“By your own admission, this course of action was intimidatory.”

Oakley was granted bail until sentencing, on condition he does not contact a number of people named by the court.

Ms Brinton, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Watford, said she was pleased Oakley had pleaded guilty and was relieved “the nightmare of the last three years may finally be coming to an end.

‘Appalling’ events

“This has been a traumatic period for all those who have suffered from his vile campaign to defame, intimidate and terrorise people, simply for expressing support for a political party,” she said.

Oakley, who attended court wearing a dark grey suit, spoke only to confirm his name and address and enter the guilty pleas.

He had been the Conservatives’ general election candidate for Watford, but resigned from the party on 19 July following his arrest.

Edward Davey, the Lib Dem chairman of campaigns and communications, said he had written to Mr Cameron to find out why Watford Conservatives had “failed to investigate the matter properly and to ensure that such an appalling course of events is never repeated”.

He said: “This was a disgraceful and criminal campaign aimed at intimidating candidates and voters and subverting the democratic process.”

Labour MP Claire Ward managed to hold Watford by a slim majority of 1,148 over the Liberal Democrats in the 2005 general election.

The constituency is one of the few areas in the UK where there is a three-way split in votes between the major parties, making it a target seat for both the Lib Dems and Conservatives.

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About that windfall tax…

In France, caps on energy price rises for private users and promises of extending social tariffs to another million people.

But here?

Though ministers briefed the media that they were considering it, such consideration hasn’t taken long and the answer is: no chance.

Brown is more neoliberal than Sarko!

But it’s worth campaigning for:

A windfall for social & environmental justice
Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Rising energy and fuel prices are affecting everyone but it’s the poorest and those on fixed incomes who are paying the heaviest price. The warm summer weather will not mask the anxiety and anger at dramatically rising bills for the essentials of life – light and heat. We believe that the moment is right for the government to levy a sensible one off windfall tax to guarantee social and environmental justice both now and in the future. This is why.

The average annual spend on domestic energy per household has now breached £1200. Since 2000 we have faced gas price rises of 100% and electricity price rises of 61% – with further increases including British Gas raising its gas bills by a record 35%. Simultaneously the main energy providers have seen their profits rise from £557 million in 2003 to now over £3 billion. This alongside the recent news of profits made by oil companies – BP is now making £37 million a day with a 23% increase in profits to £6.7 billion for the first 6 months of 2008.

The current spike in the price of oil means these companies are receiving unearned and undeserved windfall profits that are damaging to the rest of society, not least because the unprecedented price rises are fuelling inflation and therefore the cost of borrowing and repaying mortgages.

The government estimates that 2.5 million families are living in fuel poverty, whilst Energywatch puts the figure at over 4 million. Yet despite the billions made in profits, the energy industry spends just £50 million a year combating fuel poverty and has only agreed to raise this to £150 million a year by 2010. But every 10% increase in energy prices mean an extra 400,000 people go into fuel poverty.

At the same time there is a lack of investment in securing renewable energy to help Britain become energy independent and more carbon neutral. By 2020 the UK wants 15% of all energy to be from renewable sources, this is currently only 2%. Increased investment is urgently needed if the government is to meet its target.

Just as government responded to the oil shocks of the 1970s and invested in North Sea oil – to the ongoing benefit of the now privatised energy and oil companies – so government must intervene again to secure sustainable energy supplies for the 21st century and reduce the fear of fuel poverty. It’s absolutely right that the corporations who are benefiting from that original investment and the later privatisation pay their fair share to society.

As precedent a similar windfall tax was levied when Labour came to power in 1997 on the unearned profits of the newly privatised utilities and raised £4.5 billion. Similarly in 1981 the Conservative government levied a windfall tax on the main clearing banks – justified on the grounds that increased interest rates led to substantial unearned profits. In 2008 the spike in the price of oil has today lead to substantial unearned profits for the main oil and energy companies – we therefore call on the government to levy a windfall tax.

Revenues from the tax should be ring-fenced to deliver social and environmental justice for all. Part of the money raised should be used to immediately help those struggling with rising fuel bills and should be particularly targeted at families in or facing fuel poverty. However the best strategy to eliminate fuel poverty forever is to ensure every home is insulated and energy efficient to the highest standards. Therefore much of the money raised should be used to kick-start a national programme of home energy efficiency and installing renewable energy, starting with the homes of the fuel poor.

Used in the right way this could benefit the UK economy as a whole – just as the New Deal in 1997 created new jobs for the long term unemployed, such an investment could see the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs in renewable energy production, insulation, building renovation and other sectors.

The 1997 measure took just three months to enact. The government can move quickly and decisively now – but it needs to know that this is what the people want:

To ensure social and environmental justice please:

1. Add your signature to the petition below!
2. Lobby your MP via the ‘theyworkforyou‘ website
3. You can also support this campaign by making a donation today

Signed by

Neal Lawson, Chair, Compass
Gavin Hayes, General Secretary, Compass
Friends of the Earth
Tony Juniper, Environmental Campaigner
Kate Green, Chief Executive, CPAG
Stephen Hale, Green Alliance
Lord Roy Hattersley
Michael Meacher MP
Chuka Umunna, Labour PPC, Streatham
Nicky Gavron AM
Cllr Jon Collins, Leader of Nottingham City Council
Richard Burden MP
Karen Buck MP
John Battle MP
Derek Wyatt MP
Diane Abbott MP
Frank Cook MP
David Crausby MP
Martin Caton MP
Ann Cryer MP
Chris McLaughlin, Tribune
Howard Reed, Economist
Heather Wakefield (in a personal capacity)
Mark Donne, Fair Pay Network
Nancy Platts, Labour PPC, Brighton Pavilion
Roger Berry MP
Ruth Lister CBE, Professor of Social Policy, Loughborough University
Doug Naysmith MP
Billy Hayes, General Secretary, CWU
Tony Robinson, Actor and Broadcaster
Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON
Colin Crouch, Professor of Governance and Public Management at the University of Warwick Business School
Keith Norman, General Secretary, ASLEF
John Harris, Journalist
Guy Palmer, Director New Policy Institute
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC
Tony Woodley, General Secretary, T&G Unite
Andrew Simms, Policy Director and head of the climate change programme, nef
Melissa Benn, Author and Journalist
Sunny Hundal, Editor, Liberal Conspiracy
Tony Benn
Wes Streeting, NUS President
Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, PCS