Woolas should go

5th November, 2010 12:45 pm

Phil WoolasBy Emma Burnell / @scarletstand

I don’t want to mince words. I found Phil Woolas’s leaflets inexcusable and indefensible. When I saw the Labour Party logo on them my stomach turned. I am ashamed that they were ever delivered in the name of this great party.

I am often accused of being a partisan, and I am, I’m a proud Labour partisan. But I do not believe in winning at any cost, and the price of Woolas’s victory was too high. Winning alone is not enough, we must have a mandate to be the party that champions community cohesion, not the party that plays communities off against each other for electoral victory alone.

Before the court’s decision today, I believed that Woolas should have been suspended from the party on the strength of the disgraceful leaflets alone. I see it as a clear case of bringing the party into disrepute, and we shouldn’t have such rules unless the NEC is willing to exercise them when called on to do so by ordinary party members.

Woolas wasn’t suspended. In fact he was even promoted – which was a rare but big strategic mistake by Ed Miliband. This court case wasn’t about the content of the leaflets. But, with this verdict, we have a chance to put right the wrong that was ignoring Woolas’s behaviour, and start drawing our red lines on how we talk about immigration and what is and isn’t acceptable.

I have some sympathy with Dan Hodges view that we are scape-goating Woolas to avoid a deeper conversation. The deeper conversation must be had, not just talked about. But our stalling on this shouldn’t let Woolas off the hook. He should go, and if he has the decency to understand that the party is bigger than his career, he will go – whether forced to by the judge or not.

I remain a Labour partisan. I know my party is capable of so much better than this, so even as I call for Woolas to step away from the mess he has created, my mind turns to how we fix it. The people of Oldham East and Saddleworth deserve good representation, and with all the damage the ConDems are doing to this country – particularly in the North, I believe that should be Labour representation. So we need – as a party – to come together to refight this election with a new candidate.

There is every reason to be optimistic about our chances of winning with an untainted candidate. Last night in a local council by-election about 10 miles from Oldham there was a swing from the Lib Dems to Labour of 14.5%. While in Oldham in May we were not the best party we could be, we are not the party who have lied to the electorate, broken pledges and formed an alliance with the Tories.

So let’s find the strength as a party to move onwards but also to examine how this happened, and how we can ensure it does not happen again,

Comments are closed

Latest

  • News Labour unveils new and improved zero-hours contract crackdown

    Labour unveils new and improved zero-hours contract crackdown

    Tomorrow Ed Miliband will unveil a significantly stronger plan to crack down on zero hours contracts – introducing legislation early in the next Parliament to ban zero hours contracts for those who are really working regular hours. The policy Miliband will announce tomorrow gives employees the right to a regular contract after just twelve weeks. That’s a big improvement on the party’s previously announced policy of a regular contract after a year on a zero hours contract – and it’ll be […]

    Read more →
  • Comment It’s time for stronger action to protect our children

    It’s time for stronger action to protect our children

    Today’s NSPCC ChildLine report has shown a hard truth – about how children and young people today are exposed to shocking levels of pornography. They are under pressure like never before to engage in sexual activities at a young age, and face harassment and bullying through digital and social media the likes of which we could never have imagined growing up. We are failing to support them as they face these challenges. We are letting down a whole generation. Last […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland New Scotland poll shows tight battle in Labour-held seats – but a divided nation

    New Scotland poll shows tight battle in Labour-held seats – but a divided nation

    A new poll by ComRes for ITV News shows Labour far closer to the SNP than recent Scotland-wide polls – with a gap of only six points between the two parties – SNP 43% to Labour’s 37%. However, to put this into perspective, in 2010 Labour recorded 51% of the vote in these seats, compared to a vote of just 19% for the SNP. On a uniform swing – which we’re unlikely to see – that would mean the SNP […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour’s top 10 party political broadcasts over the years

    Labour’s top 10 party political broadcasts over the years

    Labour released their latest party political broadcast (PPB) yesterday, in which Martin Freeman (accompanied by the voice of David Tennant) lays out “the choice” for voters at this election. This got us thinking in the LabourList office about our favourite PPBs over the years. Here’s our top 10 – though they aren’t in any particular order: The Road Ahead (2010) Stay on the road to recovery is the message from this PPB, following the 2008 financial crash and prior to […]

    Read more →
  • Comment As my elected MP Grant Shapps is supposed to fight my corner – instead he threatened to sue me

    As my elected MP Grant Shapps is supposed to fight my corner – instead he threatened to sue me

    Last year Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, the Chairman of the Conservative Party, threatened to sue me, a constituent of his, for libelling him on Facebook about his alter-ego as an internet marketing millionaire called Michael Green. He initially demanded damages and, eventually, to post a retraction which read: “I recently made a post suggesting that Grant Shapps MP had lied over the use of a pen name. I now accept that such an assertion was entirely false and that Mr Shapps MP has […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit