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The paranoid style in Oldham politics
How Raja Miah is harnessing a town’s racial resentments for his own ends
“As for the fake liberal metropolitan elite, who as I write this are polishing off their articles for their readers in the South Manchester suburbs of Chorlton and Didsbury to read alongside their Sunday morning oat milk lattes. Write us off as racists and far right activists all you want to. We know what we are. We know what we just achieved. We pulled off an election campaign of the kind that has never been seen before in this country. This is our town. And we are taking it back.” — Raja Miah, Friday May 6, 2022
By Joshi Herrmann
It was a couple of hours before dawn when the petrol bomb landed. Nobody was hurt — Oldham councillor Riaz Ahmad, his wife and four children managed to escape to the lawn, where they stood and watched their home burn. It was the summer of 2001 and the preceding days hadn’t been much quieter: the Oldham riots marked the worst racial disturbances the country had seen for 15 years.
Oldham’s council leader Richard Knowles wrote a letter to the prime minister Tony Blair requesting urgent help. Ahmad said he knew both Asian and white families “who were actually sat on their doorsteps all night, guarding against the fear of petrol bombs.”
Sensing an opportunity, the British National Party’s leader Nick Griffin pitched up to contest that year’s elections, proposing that non-white Oldhamers should be given money to return to their countries of origin. "White people in Oldham are being made to feel like second-class citizens while the Asians are given a free hand,” he told one journalist, and proposed building a “peace wall” to divide the town’s communities.
Griffin didn’t crash and burn. Between him and another BNP candidate, the party got 12,000 votes in Oldham, and so concerned were the authorities about further racial tensions that they banned candidates from making speeches in Oldham’s Queen Elizabeth Hall after the count.
‘Are you fucking joking?’
At the time, Ahmad was living on Denton Lane in Chadderton, a traditionally white town in the borough of Oldham. He represented a majority Asian ward which includes Glodwick, a neighbourhood where thousands of Pakistani families had made their home in the 1960s, finding work in the area’s fast-declining mills.
They included the family of Arooj Shah, whose parents arrived in 1968 and found jobs in the textile industry. Shah was born ten years later, and grew up with six siblings, attending a mostly Catholic school where she was in a small minority. She lives in Glodwick to this day, in the same house as her mum. Five of her sisters live nearby.
The riots “took place at the bottom of my street,” recalled Shah, who was 23 at the time. “I just remember so many people that I had gone to school and college with got caught up in the moment,” she told me when we spoke soon after she became the leader of Oldham Council this time last year.
The 20th anniversary of the riots was coming up when we spoke. But Shah had decided since becoming leader that she wanted to steer clear of discussing Oldham’s racial divides, a strategy best exemplified by her focus on the issue of fly-tipping and litter. “My priorities are simple: Oldham should be a place that we’re proud to call home,” she said in her first press release. “That starts with cleaner streets.”
I pressed her for her memories of the riots, but she pushed back. “This whole concept around the 10 years from the riots, the 20 years from the riots, incredibly frustrates me because it’s just not something that me or my social circle make reference to or discuss,” she said. Oldham had moved on, and had lots of positive things to say about itself.
Shah had been a councillor since 2012, and became leader after the shock ousting of Labour’s Sean Fielding, who lost his seat after a concerted and vicious online campaign by a local activist called Raja Miah. Miah accused Fielding — without evidence — of covering up the gang rape of Oldham’s white children in return for votes from the Asian community, and built up an online following with weekly “transmissions” on Facebook. In his live videos, he attacked Fielding and the council and shared folksy interactions with his growing audience of supporters, known as “Raja’s rabble”.
Reporting that story (“Grooming gangs, cartels and the poisoning of Oldham's politics”) had been my first proper engagement with politics in Oldham, and I could understand why Shah wanted to put the ugliness of the whole episode behind her. In our interview, she avoided referring to Miah by his name, as if not mentioning him might somehow lessen his power. “The backstory of the individual you mentioned, and his issues with the council, are already in the public domain,” she said at one point.
She had a particular vulnerability, which Miah had been exploiting long before she became council leader — her friendship with a man called Mohammed Imran Ali, known locally as “Irish Immy”, who she has known since the age of 11. Immy is a convicted criminal, and Miah often refers to his well-established role as a getaway driver for the notorious murderer Dale Cregan, who killed two police officers in 2012 (Immy assisted Cregan in a different murder of a gangland rival in the same year). Shah has condemned Immy’s criminality, but also said she is “not responsible for what other people do” and in 2019 used a phrase in the council chamber that has dogged her ever since: “I can condemn their individual and personal choices but I can’t condemn them as people.”
Last summer, a car belonging to Shah was firebombed outside the house where she lives with her mother in Glodwick, in an echo of what had taken place at Councillor Ahmad’s home back in 2001. Despite two arrests, no one has ever been charged in relation to the incident, and Miah has suggested that the attack might have been staged in order to elicit sympathy for Shah.
Around the time I spoke to Shah, there was a Zoom call to discuss what was happening in Oldham and whether lessons could be learned from Fielding’s defeat. On the call were Labour’s general secretary David Evans, Shah, Fielding and an official for the party in the North West. When the regional official praised Shah for her focus on cleaning up Oldham’s streets, Fielding — by his own admission — lost his cool. “Are you fucking joking?” he replied. “Do you really think that it is going to change the minds of people who think we are covering up for child abuse?”
The rise of the rabble
Miah made his name in the wake of the Oldham riots. He was the charismatic co-founder of a charity called PeaceMaker, that worked to bring communities in Oldham together. After the violence in 2001, Miah grew in prominence, impressing local politicians with his ability to act as a bridge with the Asian community. He soon established himself as an expert on community cohesion, and in 2004, at the age of 29, he was awarded an MBE.
In 2012, when he announced his plans to open an innovative free school that would break down “ethnic and religious barriers in Oldham”, Miah had assumed the public clout to do so in The Times. PeaceMaker closed the year before with debts of at least £200,000. Then, very quickly, Miah’s schools (there was one in Oldham and one in Manchester) started to fall apart too, with teachers describing Miah as a charismatic but narcissistic and dictatorial leader, and parents complaining about basic safety failings and general disorganisation. The schools closed with more than £1 million debts, and a government investigation found they had paid more than £2 million to multiple companies linked to Miah.
The report landed in 2019, and that’s the key pivot moment in the Miah story — the moment he seemed to switch from peace maker to troublemaker. Miah was furious with Jim McMahon — then Oldham’s leader and now a shadow minister and close ally of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer — for highlighting the failings and apparent malpractice at his schools. But his first line of attack fell flat — he posted repeatedly on Facebook about McMahon and the council being too close to a mosque in Oldham, but the replies suggest he was no longer taken seriously within his own community. Some people called him a fraud, in reference to the schools.
At this point, Miah seems to have realised that if he wanted to wreak revenge on McMahon, he needed to try to mobilise a more receptive audience — a whiter audience. From the autumn of 2019, he began blogging about grooming gangs, alleging vast political corruption involving Asian block votes and a network of shisha bars used to sexually exploit white girls. You can see the striking shift if you analyse his social media from the time. In early 2019, Miah is retweeting Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders and posting lots about climate change. But after August, a switch is flicked, and grooming gangs are pretty much all he tweets about.
“The people of Oldham deserve answers from @OldhamCouncil,” he posts in September 2019. “Why was a Grooming Gang kept secret from parents whilst our children were lured in to these shisha bars and raped?”
Soon he is making videos on Facebook about that same topic and building a following with his weekly transmissions — the people he now calls his “rabble”. Who are they? Judging by their comments and other social posts, they seem to be the kind of people you would expect to be attracted to messages about corrupt councils covering up for Asian grooming gangs: mostly white; mostly over the age of 40; some comfortable with sharing racist jokes or slurs on Facebook. One of them, a white man named Stephen Walsh who has shared Miah’s posts in his Facebook group, was convicted for affray during the Oldham riots.
Several of Miah’s most influential supporters seem to have admired, at one time or another, the far-right activist and anti-Islam campaigner Tommy Robinson, the co-founder and former leader of the English Defence League. One member of the rabble is David Gidman, who attended a Robinson rally in Limeside and somehow ended up in the back of Robinson’s van. Debbie Barratt-Cole, one of Miah’s biggest supporters, who has joined his transmissions as a guest on several occasions, recently asked the large local Facebook group she runs why the far-right activist Tommy Robinson was considered racist. “I have found nothing racist in his content at all,” she posted. “I feel he is the only one actively fighting for our children”.
Miah has always reassured his followers that they are not racist, despite what the media might think, and offers his own identity as a guarantor of that. Who can accuse a rabble who follow a British-Bangladeshi man of being bigots? His videos are full of anti-Asian jokes and insults that would be immediately discounted as racist if they were uttered by a white person. He endlessly promotes the idea that Asian areas of Oldham are “cartel controlled.” His nickname for McMahon is “Samosa Jim” because the former council leader was once photographed eating samosas. Earlier this week, he posted a graphic that said: “With the samosas tasting sour, Arooj Shah loses her grip on power.” He has referred to Shah as a “Pakistani gangsters favourite good time girl” and headlined a blogpost about her “For the Muslim, Never mind the Many”.
For obvious reasons, this kind of rhetoric has proved attractive to people in Oldham who harbour clear racial resentments. One rabble member replying positively to one of Miah’s recent posts has far-right posts on his Facebook, including one condemning a Muslim call to prayer in Trafalgar Square. Another replied to a recent photo of Labour party activists with the comment “Good turn out from the East Asian community I have noticed.”
For some of these people, Miah has provided cover for expressing feelings about their town that decades of community work have sought to make taboo. “This platform has opened the eyes of so many in this town,” wrote one white man under a post on Miah’s Recusant Nine page this week. “Some of us knew what had been going on for a long time but it took someone to pull it all together, with the know how and the strategy to make the campaign count.”
Sometimes when I think about Miah, which over the past two years has been unfortunately often, I think back to one of my favourite essays, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics", published in 1964 by the American historian Richard J. Hofstadter. In that piece, he notices how often conspiracy theories seem to rely on the revelations of people who have emerged from the communities the conspiracies are about — in Hofstadter’s day that was mostly ex-Catholics (“the runaway nun and the apostate priest”) and ex-Communists. He writes:
A special significance attaches to the figure of the renegade from the enemy cause…the renegade is the man or woman who has been in the Arcanum, and brings forth with him or her the final verification of suspicions which might otherwise have been doubted by a skeptical world. But I think there is a deeper eschatological significance that attaches to the person of the renegade: in the spiritual wrestling match between good and evil which is the paranoid’s archetypal model of the world, the renegade is living proof that all the conversions are not made by the wrong side. He brings with him the promise of redemption and victory.
Really, really alarmed
On Saturday afternoon, I drove to Chadderton and hung around the area’s 1970s shopping precinct, a tired-looking stretch of shops notable for its large Asda and for having once witnessed the robbery about a decade ago — from a van parked here — of more than 3,000 British passports. “We’ve got all these bookies, I don’t know why,” says Maureen, 65, pointing at a Ladbrokes and a Betfred near where we are standing. Her surname is Keith-Wright (“A double-barrelled name in Chadderton!” she jokes) and she’s a Labour voter, although — crucially — not one who spends much time on the internet. That’s bad news for my chances of recruiting her as a Mill reader, but it also means she hasn’t heard about the grooming gangs or the block votes or the suspicious-seeming email from the former council leader to the BBC journalist about the dangerous shisha bars.
What she does know about is Chadderton and Oldham, and like many people you speak to in this neck of the woods, she defaults to talking about the past. Joan Didion once wrote of California that “time past is not believed to have any bearing upon time present, or future, out in the golden land where every day the world is born anew”. The opposite is true here, where people tend to look backwards, when Oldham was a white, Christian mill town that boasted about its market and put on new white dresses and socks for the brass band processions of Whit Friday.
Miah’s brand of local populism — invoking a lost and unified before-state in Oldham and presenting himself as the only means by which the pure citizens can “take back our town” — is cleverly tailored for a population who feel that something very important has been lost: the former identity of their town. The Dutch political scientist Cas Mudde defines populism as an ideology that ultimately sees society as separated into two homogenous and antagonistic groups — the pure people on the one hand and the corrupt elite on the other. That’s precisely the framing Miah promotes about Oldham, relentlessly branding the council and the ruling Labour party as corrupt, and suggesting that they are continually concealing important information from the populace. His videos suggest that if only the likes of Shah, Fielding, McMahon and their other Labour colleagues are removed from power, the town will be capable of recapturing its past glories.
“Oldham town centre used to be a really buzzing place,” says Keith-Wright, “The market…” she trails off. “I’m back quite a long way now, to my 20s and 30s.” Now when she goes to the town centre, she finds it depressing. “There are empty shops everywhere. The town is dead. You don’t feel that things are getting better.” Every community retains a healthy quotient of nostalgia, but in the case of Oldham, things really have changed a lot, certainly since it produced more cotton than Germany and France combined in the nineteenth century, but even within the lifetimes of its older residents.
Someone in their mid-70s grew up in a country where less than 1% of people were born outside Europe or belonged to an ethnic minority, and when thousands of Oldhamers still worked in the mills. In the 2011 census, 17% of Oldham residents described their ethnicity as Pakistani or Bangladeshi, and in some central wards that rises to more than half. The borough “remains a segregated space” according to a study published two years ago, and a council report from 2016 concluded that “There appears to be little White and Asian social mixing, as expressed by dual heritage or mixed ethnicity households.” It went on: “Geographical segregation, particularly between White and Pakistani and White and Bangladeshi, is exceptionally high and showing little sign of improvement.”
This isn’t surprising when you study local attitudes to integration. A few years before, according to a survey by the polling firm Ipsos Mori, only 35% of respondents in Oldham agreed that “having a mix of people in their neighbourhood makes it an enjoyable place to live.” When a Sky News reporter visited Oldham, she spoke to a white man in his 80s who flies a flag of St George on his street in a diverse neighbourhood of the town, one of many such flags displayed in the area. He told the reporter that if a lot of Asian families moved into the street, he would want to move out. Why? “Because of the smell of the Asian food, and things like that,” he said.
“A lot of people are struggling here and that creates more resentment,” says Keith-Wright, when I ask about community relations in Oldham. “You see some people getting more than others — it appears that way, I know it’s not actually like that. You see them [the council] building big council houses and they tend to go to Asian families because they live in bigger units.” She worked in a local school for many years, and she says students who don’t do well in places like Chadderton no longer have the opportunity to get decent jobs, a statement that is backed up by plenty of economic data. “They're finished. They end up in there,” she says, pointing at the Asda.
It’s simplistic and misleading to draw a direct line between economic deprivation and racism, but many local politicians I’ve spoken to think that Oldham’s poverty is a vital piece of context if you want to understand its community problems. Debbie Abrahams, the Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, whose own children are mixed race, says her constituents are struggling, which makes some of them more receptive to messages that say “that group of people there are the reason you are really struggling”. “It’s not to excuse behaviour,” she adds, adding that she is “really, really alarmed” by the situation in Oldham and in other places where online disinformation is spreading. “I do not think it is unique to Oldham,” she told me yesterday. “I think we are a little bit further along, because of the unique circumstances of Raja Miah.”
“What Oldham tells us is that there is a failure of the economic model that has been devised for Greater Manchester,” says Sarah Longlands, one of the country’s leading experts on regional economic development. I spoke to Longlands, who heads up the Centre for Local Economic Strategies think tank, on the day after last week’s elections, and we talked about why Labour had arrested its recent slide in many Leave-voting areas across GM, but not in Oldham, where it lost another six seats. She said the weakness of the economy in Oldham (and other towns like it) suggests we are placing too much faith in the “agglomeration” model of development, which relies on the idea that strong economic growth in the core of the city region will spill out and benefit the peripheries. That’s either not happening in Oldham, or it’s not happening quickly enough.
From the vantage point of Chadderton, Keith-Wright agrees. “I don't think we are benefiting from Manchester, not yet,” she says. “It might come, but not now. Is the money not stretching here?” Longlands makes the connection between economic underperformance and civic identity. “How do you start to create a sense that Oldham has a future?” she asks. “You have that profound and acute sense of that loss of identity. The loss of that sense of identity about what Oldham is actually for.”
Facing decline and disaffection from residents who are struggling economically while paying high council tax bills, Oldham’s leaders have compounded the already very serious problems facing them by repeatedly over-promising to voters. The people of Oldham have been promised a Marks and Spencer at least three times over the past 30 years, including by Jim McMahon. In doing so, the council has stored up further problems for itself by suggesting it can intervene in processes over which it has little control, like the investment decisions of large companies and the country-wide shift to using supermarkets and online shopping. “People want Royton to be like it was 50 years ago, with butchers and bakers,” says Hannah Roberts, who represented Royton North on Oldham Council for Labour until she lost her seat last week. “But that's not something that is within the council's control — those things have changed across the country. If the Conservatives take over the council, they are not going to be able to make people shop at Tommyfield Market.”
Those issues go back decades, but Roberts — who had been on the council since 2014 — noticed something very different in this year’s campaign, the first time she has defended her seat since 2018. “We had two households that asked us why Labour was covering up for paedophilia,” she recalls about her trips door knocking, and she assumes there were many more who wouldn’t raise it on the doorstep but have taken on Miah’s messages. “It's a kind of seeping thing, that starts to undermine people's faith in you,” she told me.
On election night last week, I was sitting in Stockport Town Hall, watching that council’s local results filter through. I was also texting The Mill’s reporter Alexandria Slater, who was doing the same at the election count in Oldham. Labour was expecting to have a bad night in Oldham, but there was one storyline we had been keeping an eye on: what would happen to the leader Arooj Shah?
The rabble were following the count online — on Miah’s Facebook page. The page was crackling with questions and comments about the results from his 4,000 followers, and like he often does, Miah was providing a kind of simulacrum of local news coverage. One race was “still too close to call” he told one follower when they asked about a particular ward.
Then, just after 1am, he went live — starting one of his signature live Facebook broadcasts. Sometimes, in these regular “transmissions”, Miah looks angry or hangdog, scowling as he spits out pithy denunciations of his enemies. This time, despite how late it was, he was brimming over with excitement.
“Arooj Shah is asking for a recount!” he told his followers, grinning. “Arooj Shah is asking for a recount. It looks like we got her. It looks like we took her out. Arooj Shah is asking for a recount.”
Confirmation came through soon after. Shah had lost by a margin of 96 votes, one of six losses by Labour in Oldham, the party’s worst performance in Greater Manchester and one of its worst in the country. And history had repeated itself. For the second year in a row, Oldham had lost its leader in a formerly safe Labour ward.
Miah was jubilant. “We knew turn out at the election would be low. We used this to our advantage,” he wrote on his page. “Though they call us rabble, what we implemented was the most sophisticated guerrilla styled insurgency election campaign ever witnessed in this town.” Then he addressed himself to his enemies in the media, with what reads like a very on-the-nose reference to journalists of this parish writing articles for “readers in the South Manchester suburbs of Chorlton and Didsbury to read alongside their Sunday morning oat milk lattes.” “Write us off as racists and far right activists all you want to,” he continued. “We know what we are. We know what we just achieved.”
And in one sense at least, Miah was right. It was a sophisticated political insurgency. Ever since he helped to unseat Fielding this time last year, he has been relentlessly promoting the candidates most likely to take out Labour councillors, and in particular the Conservative candidate in Chadderton South, Robert Barnes, who defeated Shah. Miah broke off ties with a hyperlocal party called Proud of Oldham and Saddleworth last year because they were not willing to be sufficiently pragmatic, and he knew he had more chance of destroying Shah and Labour if he backed the Conservatives in certain key seats. Fielding told me that disaffected voters have been abandoning Labour anyway in recent years, but that Miah was “very successful at corralling this disaffected group of people around one opposition candidate in each area.”
Miah suggested repeatedly that the independent review into child sexual abuse in Oldham, the publication of which has been delayed several times, is being covered up by the council. And he didn’t just rely on his weekly transmissions to get his messages across. He also created leaflets attacking Shah and distributed thousands of them in Chadderton South and other target wards. The leaflets are clearly designed to appeal to people who might harbour reservations about having a “Pakistani, Muslim leader” of their borough, as Miah refers to her. In one of the leaflets, Miah accuses Shah of disregarding the views of local residents by “welcoming asylum seekers to the area” and covering up the “gang rape of Working Class White girls from across the town.” Shah’s relationship with “Irish Immy” is heavily emphasised, and he accuses her of association “with multiple Pakistani mobsters”.
The Conservatives in Oldham seem to have realised the potency of Miah’s campaigning because they adopted similar themes. One meme shared by the local party on Facebook mocked up a news channel shot of Shah being re-elected, under which a news chyron reads: “Low turnout triggers block-vote Labour landslide.” Conservative candidates also chose to emphasise Shah’s name and perhaps also her otherness in their leaflets — one seen by The Mill refers to “Tom Lord from Oldham” versus “Arooj Shah’s candidate”. A doorbell video we’ve seen also seems to show local Conservative candidates distributing Miah’s leaflets attacking Shah. On Tuesday in the House of Commons, Abrahams referred to “people allowed to stand in last week’s elections who based their campaigns on misogyny, racism, division and hate, and with others dishing out leaflets containing Trump-esque QAnon conspiracy theories to rabble-rouse”. She did not name the Conservatives in that remark, but when we spoke to her yesterday, she did, describing the party’s literature and involvement with Miah as “absolutely appalling”.
The Oldham Conservative party has stated that it has nothing to do with Miah or his leaflets. And when we tried to interview Robert Barnes at the election count, he said he didn’t want to speak to anyone from The Mill. “They dehumanised me completely,” Shah told us after her loss, but she says Miah won’t run her out of town. “I'm absolutely not going anywhere,” she said. “I have to get up tomorrow sorry and do my best again and show people that actually I was born here. I've got nowhere else to go. The Conservatives might think I belong somewhere else, but I don't. This is my home.”
A question of trust
In late 2018, just before Miah emerged in his current guise in Oldham, the sociologist and political economist William Davies wrote a bleak essay for the Guardian about “why we stopped trusting elites”, in which he examined how technological change and a drip-drip of scandals about politics and business have progressively demolished the credibility of establishment figures.
Davies suggested that something fundamental is changing in societies like Britain and the United States, because technology has allowed all sorts of players to “chip away at the core faith on which liberalism depends, namely that power is being used in ways that represent the public interest, and that the facts published by the mainstream media are valid representations of reality”.
Social media makes it very easy to undermine public figures by examining their private relationships and past views, spreading information that we would never have known about in the past. But the converse — proving that a public figure is trustworthy — is almost impossible. Then, when trust sinks beneath a certain threshold, “many people may come to view the entire spectacle of politics and public life as a sham”.
Davies notes that the stunning decrease in public trust that we’ve seen in surveys in recent years creates room for “a new type of heroic truth-teller” to emerge, but these figures are usually not spotless themselves. "One of the great riddles of recent years is that declining trust in 'elites' is often encouraged and exploited by figures of far more dubious moral character.”
Miah has now been campaigning against the corrupt elites of Oldham for almost three years. At times his support has swelled and then fallen away, and there have been times I have sat up in my bedroom watching his videos late at night and realised I am one of only a few dozen people in the audience. At times like that, I could hear a voice in my head saying that I was insane for giving this man and his rabble so much attention. Then there are times, particularly in the run-up to local elections, when Miah’s audience grows to thousands again — or tens of thousands if you count the recipients of his leaflets too, and the posts that get re-shared in large local Facebook groups — and he attracts hundreds of comments on his page in a day.
But I’ve come to realise that Miah’s influence isn’t about the number of people who watch any individual video. It functions as a slow, steady chipping away at the core faith on which local democracy rests. The premise that your local representatives are mostly good people. That they are, more often than not, acting in good faith and trying to do the best for the area where they live. A veteran councillor who had no leadership ambitions told me how demoralising it is to be treated as if everything you are doing has an ulterior motive.
It’s also become particularly obvious during this year’s election campaign that Oldham’s unresolved racial resentments hold the key to Miah’s appeal. Years of community building aside, that latent prejudice — and the understandable unwillingness of Labour politicians to talk about it — means he is chipping away at a pliable surface. When he went to a local pub to celebrate defeating Shah last week, he was joined by a few dozen representatives of the rabble, who all posed for a photograph with their leader at the front. Bar Miah and one other man, everyone in the photograph is white. Smiling broadly, David Gidman — the man who ended up in Tommy Robinson’s van — stands at the back.
“My fear recently has been that we are heading back to the issues of 2001,” one Labour candidate told me recently. “Online, there is a lot of anger between communities. People seem to blame a transient immigrant population for every issue in the town.” Amanda Chadderton, who has just been elected as Oldham’s third leader in just over a year, said at the count that Shah had faced “a very personalised and negative” campaign. “I know you’ve documented it in The Mill. The council leader has been subjected to quite a lot of racism”.
After becoming leader, Chadderton vowed to "regain trust".
With thanks to Alexandra Slater for her work on election night and Xavier Greenwood at Tortoise for his reporting on our joint podcast last year, some of which fed into this piece.
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Corrections: This article has been amended to make two corrections. Firstly, a reader pointed out that Oldham has now had three leaders in just over a year, rather than three “in as many years”, as the story originally stated. Secondly, we reported Amanda Chadderton’s “no surprise to anybody” as referring to Shah’s defeat, when in fact she gave us that quote earlier in the night and was referring to the personalised nature of the attacks on Shah.