Lib Dem councillor denies tactical vote slur

by Stephen Tall on July 11, 2007

The Lib Dem Voice posting on Monday, ‘Five Labour councillors switch to the Tories in Ealing’, provoked a large response – 54 comments at the last count.

Four of these comments (Nos 16, 20, 23 and 24) purported to be from Cllr Abid Latif Chohan, a Lib Dem city councillor in Manchester, claiming he would be supporting the Tory candidate in the Ealing by-election: “I have many friends in Southall, mainly muslim, who plan to vote for Mr Lit. I really hate Labour. Could we withdraw at this stage to give Lit a free run? We could devide the anti-Labour vote and let them back in. I don’t normally endorse tactical voting, but this time its right to do it. Have looked at the 2006 results and its clear that we’re not going to take it. As a liberal democrat councillor, I wish Mr Lit well.”

This was picked up by a couple of Tory blogs, and given wider circulation.

But all this has come as news to Cllr Chohan himself, who has written a letter to Simon Ashley (a fellow Manchester Lib Dem councillor) – which he has given permission to LDV to publish – categorically denying that he made the comments posted in his name:

Dear Simon,

Thanks for your E-mail regarding the Ealing Southall By-election.

I was disgusted to read these postings, which clearly were not done by me. I’ve never met this Tory, and would not urge Liberal Democrats to vote tactically for the Tories.

We were in second place at the General Election and have the best chance of beating Labour in the By-election.

Please forward this letter to our campaign team in Ealing, and let them know that they can use it to rebut these Tory dirty tricks in any literature they like.

I am proud to be a Liberal Democrat, and will be actively supporting Nigel Bakhai in Ealing Southall.

Yours sincerely,

Cllr Abid Latif Chohan
Longsight Liberal Democrat councillor
Manchester City Council

So, once again, someone has decided to impersonate a Lib Dem in an attempt to belittle the party’s chances in the Ealing by-election, and big-up the Tories’. This is now the third occasion on which LDV has reported what appear to be dirty tricks, and follows Mark Pack’s exclusive yesterday, Grant Shapps says “realistically we’re not going to win” in Ealing, which was picked-up by today’s Times and Guardian.

However, this one is more serious, as it was not simply a question of impersonating an anonymous activist – this was an attempt to suggest a named Lib Dem councillor was openly backing a Tory opponent, with all the potential embarrassment that could cause Cllr Chohan. It’s high time some folks just grew up.

I’ve edited Cllr Chohan’s comments in the original posting to make clear that he has denied being their author. They will remain up for a couple more days to help put this article in context, and then they will be removed.

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Ha! I had a feeling it was an impostor (hence my challenge to him), but it’s nice to have confirmation.

How unfortunate that his name should be dragged through the mud by our opponents for no other crime than being a Liberal Democrat Councillor (and Asian, I might add…)

I hope you’ve logged the impostor’s IP – impersonating a Councillor may not be in and of itself a crime, but I’m sure this comes under the headings of libel, defamation of character, and attempting to win votes by deception…

I’m sure their ISP will co-operate – I doubt this sort of thing is permitted under their terms of service…

by Joe Taylor on July 11, 2007 at 7:11 pm. Reply #

It isn’t defamatory to call someone a Tory, but imputations of hypocrisy, and of underhand disloyalty to collegaues, most assuredly are.

The reason I called Tim Crowley “Young Mr Crowley” is because I assumed he had to be some kind of Tory student to write such puerile postings.

I actually borrowed the phrase from Steve Pound, who bellowed at Stewart Jackson MP across the Ealing Council Chamber: “No-one calls me a liar, YOUNG Councillor Jackson!” Poor Councillor Jackson was quaking in his shoes, and apologised meekly.

by Angus Huck on July 11, 2007 at 8:41 pm. Reply #

Same old Tories. Same old lies.

by Stuart on July 11, 2007 at 10:57 pm. Reply #

This is beyond a joke.

A criminal offence HAS been committed.

Without boring you with too much legalese it’s likely to be an offence under Forgery Act 1981 (creating a false instrument). It’s also a criminal offence under Computer Misuse Act 1990 s. 3(1) and 3(2)(c) (unauthorised modification of contents of a computer program to impair the reliability of its data).

It might also be an election offence but I would have to think about it.

Anyone who discussed this with the main culprit and agreed it should be done is guilty of the offence of conspiracy (max sentence life).

It’s that serious and someone should report this to the police either right now or as soon as the election is over.

The ISP are bound to disclose the identity of the user to the police or on a court order.

by Antony Hook on July 11, 2007 at 10:57 pm. Reply #

Amazing. Though to be honest Longsight is in many ways as wild and whacky politics wise as E Southall.

by Chris Paul on July 11, 2007 at 11:41 pm. Reply #

(Unless he has been deposed recently Cllr Ashley is leader of the Group)

by Chris Paul on July 11, 2007 at 11:48 pm. Reply #

To paraphrase Iain Dale…

… has Cllr Chohan written to the Electoral Commission asking them to confirm that the practice is illegal and what sanctions would be appropriate if evidence were brought forward?

by Tim Ireland on July 12, 2007 at 8:51 am. Reply #

I know Abid well, having ran his election campaign in May. I was shocked to see the posts – because it clearly wasn’t from Abid, he is a committed man who held his seat when no-one expected him to do so. More Tory misbehaviour,

Dave Hennigan

by Dave Hennigan on July 12, 2007 at 9:16 am. Reply #

Well Cllr Chohan has moved across the floor to Labour as of yesterday!! LOL!

by Rabnawaz Akbar on February 18, 2008 at 11:10 pm. Reply #

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