Woolas should go

November 5, 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 Commons pass vote on Clive Efford’s NHS bill

    Commons pass vote on Clive Efford’s NHS bill

    The Private Member’s Bill brought forward by backbencher Clive Efford passed its first vote in the Commons today, by 241 votes to 18. While the opposition benches were almost full, there were a distinct lack of Government MPs in Westminster for the debate: The Labour MPs who turned out in force were joined by ex-Conservatives UKIP MPs Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, who were both voted in favour of the bill – which would repeal aspects of the 2012 Health […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Scotland Here’s our opportunity: the policies people want are real Labour policies

    Here’s our opportunity: the policies people want are real Labour policies

    There are a couple of very basic facts that underpin Scottish politics at the moment. Simply put, people are fed up and they’re angry. They’re fed up of business as usual in politics and of a system that means they work hard for very little while those who already have the most get more. They’re angry with a political establishment that’s seen as out of touch and just not listening as people on the ground struggle. The question we have […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Carswell, Farage and Reckless – stock brokers and merchant bankers, not champions of the working class

    Carswell, Farage and Reckless – stock brokers and merchant bankers, not champions of the working class

    We knew Mark Reckless had a brass neck. You’d have to have one to show your face again after you fell over blind drunk in the Commons on practically your first week in the job. Which, by the way, doesn’t bode well for him when it comes to keeping up with Nige in the pub after work. But I didn’t think even the Rochester rebel would have the nerve to claim the Chartists (and the Levellers, and the Suffragettes) for […]

    Read more →
  • News Scotland Gordon Brown outlines proposals for a stronger Scottish Parliament

    Gordon Brown outlines proposals for a stronger Scottish Parliament

    Today Gordon Brown will give a speech to the 17th State Of The City Economy Conference in Glasgow where he will propose his plans for a stronger Scottish Parliament Brown, who was widely heralded as one of the strongest voices in the Scottish referendum campaign, will say that this plans will not just mimic the SNP’s one-dimensional focus on constitutional change but will unite the people of Scotland. He will propose using 17 new powers to the Scottish Parliament, which […]

    Read more →
  • News LabourList readers predict hung parliament

    LabourList readers predict hung parliament

    As the general election is just around the corner, the attention we pay to opinion polls is at it’s peak. And with the latest polls showing that there’s not much between the two biggest parties – the Tories and Labour – we wanted to know what LabourList reader through the election result will be in May. The news isn’t so great. As is reflected in the polls, most (46%) don’t think either the Labour Party or the Tories will win […]

    Read more →