LABOUR Councillors in Peterborough who drew widespread condemnation after using a convicted vote-rigger to help them ‘win’ their seats, last night saw voters reject them at the ballot box.
Bucking the overall national trend following a tumultuous year for the Tories, the local Conservative association in Peterborough managed to not only hold onto the trust given to its councillors by constituents, but even two key seats.
Whilst Peterborough has had two highly popular Members of Parliament representing its constituents of late, they have often faced an uphill battle against relentless scandalous local Labour politicians and attempts at vote-rigging by some of the local Labour branch’s activists and campaign teams.
In 2019, the city – described by Nigel Farage as ‘another rotten borough’ – made national headlines after VoteWatch exposed Labour MP Lisa Forbes and a string of councillors for using a convicted vote-rigger to help win their seats in local and general elections.
In 2008, Labour campaigner and close friend of the former local Labour leader, Tariq Mahmood, received a 15-month sentence for his part in a “systematic campaign of electoral fraud” in the city, and was imprisoned along with a Labour councillor and Peterborough’s former Labour Mayor, Mohammed Choudhary.
All three were convicted of forgery over a scheme to fabricate votes for the Peterborough city council election, the four-month case costing the taxpayer over £850,000 after the crooked trio were granted legal aid.
Despite his conviction, Mahmood was allowed to continue playing an integral part of Peterborough Labour’s campaign operation, frequently helping – under highly suspicious circumstances – Labour politicians ‘win’ their seats in key wards across the city.
Speaking in 2019, former Peterborough Tory MP and staunch Brexiteer Stewart Jackson said: “Tariq Mahmood should not be involved in politics at all. He has a record for voter fraud and the fact that he is so close to the Labour campaign speaks volumes about the rottenness of the current Labour Party.”
Last year, VoteWatch revealed that, once again, Mahmood was being allowed to work on Peterborough Labour campaigns, having previously helped to oust Jackson from his seat and replacing him with Fiona Onasanya, an MP who was later given the boot after being sent to prison.
Speaking to VoteWatch last year, Tory Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald said: “Voters should have 100% confidence in our electoral system and be certain that everything is above board.
“Sadly, here in Peterborough it seems that is not the case as once again a convicted vote fraudster is seemingly involved in election campaigning for the Labour Party!
“We have already had reports of them harvesting votes from the public and particularly from those that are vulnerable and mostly EU citizens.
“I myself personally knocked on a door only yesterday whilst out campaigning, and became very suspicious because the postal vote he had in hand was already pledged to the local Labour candidate and possibly in return for a payment of some sorts. In my book, if it smells wrong then it probably is.
“The authorities and the police do really need to crack down on this postal vote problem here in Peterborough and put some tangible resource into catching these election cheats.
“It is not acceptable to hand out bottles of spirits either from the back of 4×4’s on Election Day which I am told is another favourite trick from the Labour Party – we all know it happens and it should be investigated on the day at all Polling stations- it’s basic police work.”
Bowing to pressure, the Labour party in Peterborough have since replaced Shaz Nawaz with a new leader. Speaking to VoteWatch, Peterborough Conservative MP Paul Bristow said: “He [Nawaz] is leaving Labour for ‘business’ reasons. But the real reason is that Labour in Peterborough are in special measures and the selection of candidates (MP and councillors) is in the hands of the regional party following the anti semitism scandals.”
Last night, voters – clearly dismayed with constant scandalous behaviour carried out by local Labour politicians (some of which can be read about here) – increased their support for the local Conservative party, with Arfan Khan and Muhammad Asif winning seats in Park Ward, ousting incumbent Labour Councillors Junayd Hussain and Sabra Yasin.
At the end of the night Conservatives have 30 seats, Labour 14, Lib Dems 8, Green 3, Peterborough First 4 and Independent 1.
Last year’s results saw Conservatives with 28, Labour 14, Lib Dem 8, Green 4 and Independent 6.
Meanwhile, left-leaning journalists from the local Peterborough Telegraph – renowned for its biased ‘pro-Labour’ reporting and for seemingly attempting to downplay electoral fraud in the city and protect its perpetrators – appeared not-so-subtly unhappy about the results; begrudgingly announcing Tory gains whilst essentially attempting to place the blame on the new introduction of voter ID.
However, contradicting their qualms, yesterday, Peter Stanyon, the Chief Executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators said the the association was “not aware of any significant issues” relating to the implementation of voter ID, and that polling day was “running as smoothly as usual”.