Friday, March 05, 2010

George Reynolds & Miles Windsor allegations

It seems that Miles Windsor, the Tory candidate in Cannon Hill has been spreading false accusations against Siobhain McDonagh. In his blog he claimed that Cllr George Reynolds, "asked to be exempted from canvassing on a Sunday. A reasonable request most would think, especially as it isn’t just his beliefs that would be conflicted (although this would be reason enough) but also as it is his job. Siobhan wouldn’t agree it would seem. He has been de-selected."

In terms of Sunday morning canvasssing, it has never been a requirement to undertake it to remain a Labour candidate. Many of my group cannot attend canvassing on a Sunday due to church commitments and instead go out on Saturday or other days during the week. I also know that Siobahin, like myself is a regular attender at church and in the Labour Party people beliefs are always respected despite what is being claimed by Miles Windsor. He may want to check his facts next time.

Meanwhile, he should be asking questions of the Conservative leader, Cllr David Williams who was made remarks recently that the rising Merton birth rate "was the pope's fault". He claimed it was a joke, but many Catholics have been offended by his remarks. Now I wonder whether Miles has criticized him yet about his remarks? I see no sign of it yet on his blog.

Below is a full response that has been issued by the office of Siobahain McDonagh MP in response to the Miles Windsor allegations and the Archbishop Cranmer blog site

I am Siobhain McDonagh, and I would like to confirm that this whole story is completely untrue. It is also deeply offensive and should therefore be removed.

Most offensively, it suggests I am anti-religion. Anyone who knows anything about me would be aware I am a Catholic who goes to church assiduously every Sunday. I am very angry that you have portrayed me as conspiring against anyone for their beliefs or religious observances. What you have written about me is hurtful and 100% false. It is hard to believe anybody with any true religious belief could be so nasty as you have been in your blog, or could so deliberately damage another person’s reputation without checking any facts.

Your source is utterly unreliable. He cannot even spell my name correctly. This should have been a clue.

Indeed, the story is completely untrue. To be clear, the rules of the Labour Party expressly forbid exclusion on religious grounds, and neither can any individual veto anyone else from standing. In any case, in the fact of this case, Cllr Reynolds has never been excluded from standing, and his religious beliefs and commitments never arose during the selection process. This wouldn’t have been allowed anyway. The simple truth is that, while they praised Cllr Reynolds for his past efforts as a Councillor, local Labour Party members ultimately chose other candidates. And at all stages it is Labour Party members who choose who they want their candidates to be, not MPs, with the decision made by secret ballot. But since the source of this story seems to have been a Conservative candidate, he wouldn't know that.

This whole story is politically motivated smearing, with no bearing in truth whatsoever, and you should take it down. It is completely untrue, causes great offence to the many Christian Labour activists who give up so much of their time to help their communities, and should be of great embarrassment to you.

It is very upsetting to be accused of anti-religious bigotry, and I hope you will be brave enough to apologise for airing this untrue story and for portraying me in the way you have. I also hope that you will retract the accusations completely so that they are not continuously repeated on other blogs or elsewhere.

Yours sincerely,
Siobhain McDonagh