Exclusive: The Conservative Party is investigating its links to Raja Miah
Plus: Protesters in Cheadle think their leader has been kidnapped in order to silence him
Good afternoon Millers — in today’s bumper Thursday edition, we’ve got:
Another scoop from Joshi about Oldham’s very weird politics and the local Tory party’s links to Raja Miah.
Harry reporting from a protest in Cheadle, where anti-vaccine activists think one of their leaders has been kidnapped and is being held captive by the state.
A tour around Manchester, on which Dani chatted to newly-arrived refugees from Ukraine as they learned about their adopted city.
A great To Do list for this weekend, including a ramble at RHS Garden Bridgewater and a documentary featuring a 100-year-old Stretfordian.
As always, most of our Thursday edition is a members-only affair, but regular Millers will be able to read a few bits at the top. Join up now to read the whole thing, support our work and get all our journalism every week. You’ll even be invited to our 2nd birthday party next month.
Your Mill briefing
Exclusive: The Conservative Party is investigating a group of its candidates and councillors in Oldham over their links to Raja Miah, following our reporting this weekend. Yesterday we asked party officials why two of their candidates in Oldham were seen distributing Miah’s racially inflammatory leaflets during the election campaign. We also sent them a photo (see below) taken at Miah’s post-election celebration at a local curry house, in which he is flanked by the newly-elected Conservative councillor Lewis Quigg and candidate Gary Tarbuck. At the back is another Conservative candidate, Kaiser Rehman. Miah described the people who joined him at the curry house as “part of our struggle”. When we asked Conservative Campaign Headquarters if they are comfortable with their councillors and candidates being part of Miah’s “struggle” they initially suggested there was no link and Quigg just happened to be at the curry house at the same time. Soon after, having examined the photo, they changed tack and this morning a party spokesman said: “This matter is being investigated and we would not comment further while there is an ongoing investigation”. Max Woodvine, a Conservative councillor in Saddleworth, told The Mill: “It makes me feel ashamed really. As Conservatives we need to display the exemplary standards expected of us by the people who put us where we are and make us councillors.” Another Conservative councillor said the party’s apparent coordination with Miah makes her “very uncomfortable”. Click here to listen to our new podcast special about Miah and Oldham, which uses audio clips from Miah's “transmissions” to tell the story of his rise, including the moment he realises his campaign against Arooj Shah has been successful.
The British Pop Archive opened with a launch party at the John Rylands last night. Johnny Marr was there. Maxine Peake was there, chatting to Marr and his son Niall. The crowd had made lots of effort to look aggressively casual and they were soon sweating into their denim jackets — not only owing to their nerves about the presence of The Mill’s Sophie Atkinson but also because the library had inexplicably kept the heating on and everyone was baking as they peered into nostalgia-filled glass cabinets. The exhibition — organised to launch the archive — features notebooks of handwritten Joy Division song lyrics, a postcard addressed to Ian Curtis, Granada scripts, a Hacienda poster and the guitar on which Marr wrote some of the early Smiths songs. Plus, longtime Miller and former City Life founder Andy Spinoza has contributed his back-catalogue of magazines to the archive, so you can cast your mind back to the city’s last great era of independent journalism.
An underground station at Piccadilly — the holy grail of Manchester’s leaders for many years — was discussed at a parliamentary committee this week. Last year, the government opted for a much cheaper overground terminus for HS2, meaning trains will have to stop and turn around there. Will the underground option really cost £5bn extra, as the government says? One expert has cast doubt on the sums. “Even the proposed much larger HS2 station at Euston which is essentially underground is now budgeted as around £3bn,” says former HS2 design panel member Alistair Lenczner. “This £5bn figure therefore appears to be highly questionable.”
A controversial trial concluded in Manchester this week when four young men were found guilty of conspiracy to murder and another six were convicted for conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm. Campaigners — who have used the slogan “life sentences for text messages” — say the trial exposes how “GM’s racist policing has once again ruined lives” and accuse the prosecution of imposing a stereotypical gang narrative on the defendants, some of whom had no direct contact with any violence. The men will be sentenced on June 30.
The family of Yousef Makki has been granted a judicial review into the findings of his inquest. Held last November, the inquest reached no meaningful conclusion, ruling out both unlawful killing and accidental death and delivering a “narrative conclusion” — you can read one of our reports from the inquest here. When Justice Heather Williams granted permission for the judicial review, there was a round of applause in court.
Manchester's children's services have been rated “Good” by Ofsted, “eight years after the council was found to be failing vulnerable children and young people in the city” — that’s from Local Democracy Reporter Joseph Timan, who writes: “Social workers who have been at the local authority since the last Ofsted visit told inspectors about a change in culture which is improving children's lives.”
The leadership of Bolton Council was decided yesterday, with the Conservatives staying in charge after an election that left the borough under no overall control. Conservative leader Martyn Cox won 27 votes to Labour Leader Nick Peel's 19. Labour was hoping for some strong gains in Bolton last month but failed to make headway against the Tories and the borough’s many hyperlocal parties and independents.
And finally: The Portico Library is inviting applications for its Rewriting the North mentorship programme — open to anyone who writes about the North of England and hasn’t published a book-length work with a professional publishing house. The deadline is 5pm tomorrow. Apply here.
How a dark conspiracy theory poisoned a divided town
Our latest podcast is a special episode devoted to Oldham and the rise of Raja Miah. Using audio clips from Miah's “transmissions”, Joshi tells the story from the beginning, when he got a tip about block votes and grooming gangs. Listen to it now on your favourite podcast app by clicking here.
Thanks as always to our brilliant producer Rufaro Faith, our partners Audio Always, and our wonderful host Darryl Morris.
Our media picks
🎧 Listen: We enjoyed Radio 4’s recent Great Lives programme about Tony Wilson, “broadcaster, music mogul, social activist, local celebrity, publicity seeker, loud mouth, surreal politician and showman.” Listen here.
📖 Read: Legendary filmmaker Danny Boyle was born in Radcliffe and has gone on to create films such as Slumdog Millionaire. This piece takes a look at his latest project about the Sex Pistols. “You were young and then you were old, and there was nothing in between. The Pistols said, ‘Fuck that’. They blew that apart. The country genuinely did shake.” Read here.
👓 Watch: HOME is showing the 1932 film Vampyr by director Carl Theodor Dreyer this weekend. It’s described as a “waking dream” and the viewer enters a realm somewhere “between reality and the supernatural”. Book here.
‘I am the man using the name Clive’
By Harry Shukman
I’m standing on a grassy pavement in Cheadle listening to a nice woman tell me about how a wealthy group of Jewish paedophiles runs a trafficking network through which they purchase children and torture them to death. The woman is called Jane, and if I understand her correctly, she says social care legislation brought in by Tony Blair allowed the Rothschild family to exploit the adoption system for their own bloodthirsty ends.
“It’s all fixed up,” she says. “This is global.”
We’re outside Cheadle Royal Hospital, where a protest is underway on behalf of Simon Parry, a prominent anti-vaccine activist. Last month, he was sectioned under mental health laws, meaning he has to stay in hospital because he might be a danger to himself or others.
Parry, from Oldham, has become something of a martyr. His followers — he has more than 4,000 on Telegram, the social media app — say he has been kidnapped and they have launched a campaign to liberate him. In a video shot by friends visiting his hospital room, Parry claims to have been the victim of a government “stitch-up” and said he was waging an “asymmetrical war” with the authorities.