A former Tory candidate has pleaded guilty to a campaign of harassment against his Liberal Democrat rivals.Sal Brinton, the Lib Dem PPC and one of the chief targets of Oakley's campaign, gives further details on Lib Dem Voice:
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.
This campaign of intimidation included slashing of car tyres, graffiti (sexual and racist) sprayed on cars, homes, fences and posterboards, distribution of false and defamatory leaflets purporting to come from the Liberal Democrats and a range of other criminal acts aimed at intimidating Liberal Democrat supporters, councillors and candidates.And Iain Sharpe points out:
These incidents were of such a persistent and systematic nature that it became clear they were part of a sustained campaign, and that it appeared to be intended to influence and subvert the democratic process. Virtually all the targets lived in wards where we had made gains from the Conservatives.
It was also noticeable that damage to posters and vandalism was particularly targeted at houses on busy main roads, where the owners displayed Lib Dem posters at election time. The perpetrator would either leave behind a Lib Dem leaflet or poster board or write graffiti such as ‘F*ck the Lib Dems’ to intimidate people into not displaying posters in the future. Likewise, the false allegations appear to have been targeted at new and inexperienced candidates, with the apparent hope of discouraging them from pursuing their candidatures.
It has been a sustained campaign of intimidation, aimed at subverting the democratic process - and which arguably has made the difference to the results of elections in Watford (we have failed to win seats by margins of 2, 3 and 47 votes in wards where our candidates and supporters have suffered criminal damage during the election campaign.My own feeling is that no one who reads right-wing blogs will be that surprised by events in Watford. Some of the writers of those blogs, and many more of the people who comment on them, seethe with hatred and resentment of anyone who does not see the world their way. Perhaps the wonder is that we have not seen more of this sort of thing.
Sara Bedford repeats a number of blogs comments from the time Oakley was charged which sought to deny he had done anything wrong or make the whole affair a joke. I shall repeat one here, because it comes from a Tory PPC - Rachel Joyce from Harrow West:
‘Ian was nothing other than supportive, helpful and kind as a fellow candidate. The last few times I saw him he complained that he was having trouble with dirty LibDem campaigns. I would be amazed if he was really guilty of this but if it is true then I presume the stress of a nasty campaign would have got to him.’In other words, it didn't happen but if it did it was all the Lib Dems' fault.
Our opponents like to accuse us of dirty tricks, so it is worth pointing out that we have been the victims in the two most outrageous cases to come to light recently - this one and the Miranda Grell affair.
Nor, as he admits, can Danny Finkelstein escape his share of the blame.