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


Anonymous Miles Windsor said...

I am Miles Windsor, and I chose to blog on this subject because I was horrified to hear about the treatment of Cllr George Reynolds. This wasn't intended for political gain but in support for Cllr Reynolds who himself believes that his refusal to canvass on a Sunday was the reason for his deselection. The Labour Party has said nothing so far that adequately deals with these allegations and have only engaged in subterfuge.

I myself am a committed Christian and I'm appauled at the way the Labour Party has systematically sought to undermine the Christian values that are the bedrock of our fine nation and have used their political position to attack the church. If Whelton is himself a Christian he should be ashamed to support such a party. And as for Siobhain McDonagh, one need only check her voting record to see that her religion doesn't impact in the slightest on her politics.

Archbishop Cranmer suitably dealt with Ms McDonagh's response here:

I did check my facts Cllr Whelton, and my sources were Labour sources. Your have made an error of judgement in pursuing this line of attack. Thank you for keeping this report alive.

2:53 pm  
Anonymous said...

Of course I will be recognised and am indeed known to many Labour party Activists. However,I wish to take every opportunity as someone who is not an officer in the party therefore maybe not immediately the obvious for trying a damage limitation exercise on Siobhain's behalf, to say how very sorry I am to see her falsely represented in this way and so clearly upset.
Many of those who like myself see it as a priviledge to come into regular contact with her know that her usual response is a dignified silence.
I am someone who would be considered a statisticians dream, middle aged, with disabilities, a christian, from a lower social background, divorced,not working and having many of the resulting legal and financial problems which come with such circumstances. Siobhain and indeed the Labour Party have never for one moment treated me with anything other than respect,dignity, affirmation and encouragement. I have been constantly welcomed, valued, included and accomodated, encouraged to keep and use the skills I do have and to develop others. There are events and occassions which either I cannot make or my particular circumstances exclude me from, but I know that I can state with confidence that this account did not happen, and I would be more than happy to set the record straight on Siobhain's behalf.

We would go a very long way indeed to find a constituency which is so inclusive,respectful and reflective of the local community as Siobhain has created in Mitcham and Morden. Events and consultations are held for every community, culture and faith, and anyone who believes these deeply hurtful, unkind and false accusations should come to our events, or come and work with us. If you wish to contribute to the Party and be part of Labour, and indeed the victory we still believe we can win there are opportunites for everyone, whenever and however they are able to contribute, and one of my proudest claims is that I come from Mitcham because of who my MP is. Heaven help us if we have more years of David Williams leading Merton Council, fed up with Mitcham, cutting services to the most vulnerable people in outr community and disliking Catholics it appears, and Melanie Hampton with her eyes on Siobhains seat who cannot even get information to my estate about her local meeting until two days after it was over!

Of course, I am also happy to confirm to anyone who still does not believe how the selection process works for councillors, that it is ordinary people like myself who choose at the selction meetings the ones who we think will serve the ward best, that is how it works.

Many of us are indeed aware of the importance to Siobhain of her own faith,it is a central part of what makes and motivates her and her desire to use her skills and gifts to help peole who need her help and support,but it is yet another of the many demonstrations of her grace that she keeps her faith quiet, never, ever using it as an excuse for actions taken or not. By keeping it quiet she never favours or excludes anyone It is in part along with so much else,this attitude which makes her an MP respected in the community by those of all faiths and none and this is reflectd by the inclusive and mutually supportive Labour group which has grown around her..and which I and others are so proud to be part of.

I am so sorry to see Siobhain misrepresented in this way and for her sake hope this dies a death, treated with the contempt it deserves, but if necessary to help t put a stop to further spread of this totally false and malicious story I will of course be happy to have my opinion circulated wherever it may help.


9:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think Siobhain getting annoyed about people misspelling her name is a bit rich - I think you've done every combination in your article.

It's a bit like Siobhain claiming that Mitcham Eastfileds station was down to her, when in fact it was down to Diane Neil Mills and you were quite vocal in saying that we couldn't deliver - and we did!

12:20 pm  

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