Saturday, 25 April 2009

Broxtowe MP forced to apologise for Taliban slur

With sleaze and corruption allegations now enveloping Gordon Brown and the Labour Party, it seems the strain is beginning to show with local MP's desperate to hold on to their seats by slurring opposition candidates.

BROXTOWE Labour MP Nick Palmer is being forced to apologise for a remark about a parliamentary candidate after he was threatened with legal action.

Mr Palmer used his email blog to claim his Liberal Democrat rival, David Watts, would have supported sending aid to the repressive Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, which ruled the country until late 2001, was notorious for its cruel and repressive rule, particularly towards women.

The row first emerged at a public debate held in Kimberley involving Mr Palmer and Mr Watts, as well as Conservative parliamentary candidate, Anna Soubry.

Then, in his regular email, sent this week, Mr Palmer said: "The LibDem candidate told our debates that he thinks we should have sent foreign aid to the Taliban after 9/11. He pointed to the 'love thy enemy' injunction in the Bible – well, yes, but it doesn't actually say 'send thy enemy a cheque'.

"Much though I favour well-monitored foreign aid, the murderous and misogynist Taliban don't seem suitable recipients."

Mr Watts, who is a lawyer, reacted with fury and immediately emailed the MP demanding a retraction and apology.

He wrote to Mr Palmer: "What you have said about me here is totally untrue and is a vile smear. Moreover, it is something that you have said before in one of our debates and had to accept you were wrong then.

"I said that I would have sent aid to Afghanistan. I have never said that we should send aid to the Taliban."

Mr Watts, who is also a Liberal Democrat councillor on Broxtowe Borough Council, argues that foreign aid could have been directed to the Afghan people without benefit to the Taliban.
He highlights other cases when aid has been sent to people in countries such as Burma, Zimbabwe, and Palestine.

Mr Watts wrote to Mr Palmer: "A clarification will not be enough. I insist on a full and unreserved apology and retraction immediately, and I regret that if you will not do so I will be forced to take legal action. This is no empty threat – the comments you have made are a vile smear and I cannot allow them to stand."

Faced with legal action, Mr Palmer has been forced to back down. He has drafted a statement to send out on his blog, in which he proposes to withdraw "unreservedly" his remarks and apologise.

Mr Palmer told the Post: "I am obviously keen that we get a correct understanding of what was said. We are discussing the issue and we hope to agree on a statement."

Mr Watts said: "Provided I get a wording we are happy with, and I think we are more or less there, that will be the end of it. I am very disappointed he said it in the first place."

Mr Palmer has held Broxtowe since the 1997 General Election. It promises to be hard fought next time around, with the Conservatives targeting the seat.

(Report from Nottingham Evening Post, Friday, April 24, 2009)

We find it rather hypocritical of the LibLabCon tri-party to be upset over any "vile smear" allegations, as this tactic seems to form an integral part of their electoral campaigns!

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