When the Mail titles get an election result they don’t like, there is inevitably a slew of articles claiming foul play. So it was when Theresa May lost her majority in 2017, it did not take long for the Daily Mail to tell the world about its “PROBE INTO STUDENTS WHO ‘CAST TWO VOTES FOR CORBYN’”. Except they had to put it in quote marks, because they had no evidence. Now the Mail on Sunday is doing something similar.
After Labour held on to Peterborough last week, actually increasing the party’s majority, there had to be postal vote fiddle claims. It’s always postal vote nod-and-wink, unless it’s the 2016 EU Referendum, where postal voting was strongly in favour of Leave - had it been only down to votes cast on the day, Remain would have won.
So it was that the MoS told readers “Labour's by-election victory is marred by claims that a convicted vote rigger was at the centre of campaign after he was pictured with Corbyn and new MP at centre of anti-Semitism storm”. That’s the paper whose daily stablemate launched a vicious anti-Semitic smear of Ed Miliband’s late father. But hey ho.
So what’s the beef? “Labour’s narrow victory in the Peterborough by-election was marred last night by claims that a convicted vote rigger was at the centre of their campaign … Ex-local Labour branch secretary Tariq Mahmood received a 15-month prison sentence in 2008 for his part in a scheme to fabricate votes for a Peterborough council election”. Sadly, this election was not a local one, and it did not take place in 2008. But do go on.
“But local Tories claimed Mahmood … was ‘front and centre’ of Labour’s bid to mobilise the Muslim vote … He was also photographed with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn last month, as well as being pictured with eventual by-election winner Lisa Forbes”. Being photographed with Jezza is now punishable with, er, oh, who cares?
What’s the source of this dubious claim? “Last night, Wayne Fitzgerald, deputy leader of the Conservative-run Peterborough council, said: ‘Tariq Mahmood is a villain and he was front and centre of the Labour campaign within the Muslim community … We receive repeated reports of postal fraud and personation within the largely urban central parts of the city where the Labour vote is strongest.’” So what’s he doing about it?
Well, “Last year, Mahmood, who runs a letting agency, was accused of racism for calling Home Secretary Sajid Javid a ‘coconut’ on Facebook, a racial slur aimed at those deemed to have betrayed their heritage”. What the merry fuck does that have to do with it?
Any more smears? Sure thing. “Labour were forced into the by-election after a recall petition ousted sitting MP Fiona Onasanya who had been convicted of lying to the police about speeding”. That’s got fuck all to do with it, either.
If Wayne Fitzgerald, or the Mail on Sunday, really had one scrap of evidence that there had been electoral malpractice, they would already have gone to the Police. They haven’t, because they haven’t got any. It’s the Daily Mail 2017 smear reheated.
Sometimes the press can’t con the voters. That is not the Labour Party’s fault.
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