Labour MP Phil Woolas told lies about the character of his Liberal Democrat opponent in order to discredit him. It wasn’t a mistake. He knew what he was doing. The judges decided it was beyond reasonable doubt that he had broken the law, and ordered the election to be re-run.
But, amazingly, Labour MPs are up in arms at the injustice of it all. Harriet Harman, Labour’s Deputy Leader, is under attack from all sides for making it clear that Woolas would not be allowed back into the Labour Party even if he won his appeal on a technicality.
It is very revealing to observe the things that really get Labour MPs angry. The freedom of a Labour candidate to lie in pursuit of an election victory would not be top of my list of causes to fight for.
But what really disgraces Labour MPs – and the Labour Party as a whole – is the fact that the election leaflets produced by Phil Woolas were ever thought of, never mind printed or distributed.
Woolas, and the Labour Party in Oldham, circulated disgusting leaflets; propaganda that could only be read as inciting tension between communities. To what depths had Labour sunk when their election agent could say “We need … to explain to the white community how the Asians will take him out … If we don't get the white vote angry he's gone”?
This revolting attempt to stoke the flames of racism should have produced anger and dismay among Labour MPs. But no, it appears that this kind of behaviour is “all in the game” at election time.
Harriet Harman is right. Phil Woolas should have no place in the Labour Party.