Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Do the Tories really intend to remain silent about all this?

After the news of Ian Oakley's conviction broke, Iain Dale in a wise posting commented:
I hope the Conservative Party will now launch an inquiry into how this was allowed to happen. Oakley has besmirched the good name of the Party in one of the most shameful ways imagineable.

No one in politics - least of all his political opponents - should crow about what happened today. Every party attracts the odd 'wrong 'un'

I agree that no one should crow, but it is impossible to refrain from commenting about the silence from both Watford Conservatives and the national party. After a sustained criminal campaign conducted by a Conservative parliamentary candidate, and aimed at benefiting the electoral position of Watford Conservatives, is there really just going to be this deafening silence, a shrug of the shoulders and 'not our problem'?

Had the Conservatives promptly expressed regret for what Mr Oakley had done and announced an inquiry into how this had happened, there would be an onus on all of us to await the conclusions of such an investigation. Instead it appear we are getting a stonewall operation, in the hope that it will all go away quickly - putting news management ahead of doing the right thing.

To be fair, on the day of Ian Oakley's arrest the leader of Watford Council's Conservative group rang me to deplore what had happened, and as Sara Bedford points out, the leader of Hillingdon Council has called on Mr Oakley to resign from the council.

But if there is no official response to this from the Conservative party, both in Watford and nationally, it will leave in the air the lingering suspicion that they are actually secretly rather chuffed at the way Oakley has managed to inflict damage on the Liberal Democrats in Watford, while they are now able to wash their hands of him as if nothing has happened.

PS: I am grateful to Alex Folkes for the reminder that Ian Oakley's strange public behaviour was drawn to David Cameron's attention more than a year ago.

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