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

  • Featured Scotland The Smith Commission is an opportunity for Scotland – and maybe for England and Wales too

    The Smith Commission is an opportunity for Scotland – and maybe for England and Wales too

    This morning, the Smith Commission’s recommendations have been announced, as Westminster continues to make good (and then some) on the promises made in “The Vow” before the Scottish referendum in September. There’s no doubt in my mind that when 55% of the Scottish people voted to stay in the Union with the knowledge of more powers to come, what’s being offered today would have exceeded their expectations. Indeed I’m sure that even the majority of those who voted in favour of […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour can be the party to tackle the climate crisis

    Labour can be the party to tackle the climate crisis

    A week ago today, a little article in the Evening Standard did the rounds in which Green leader Natalie Bennett received quite the monstering for travelling around Europe by train because she is opposed to flying on principle. “I haven’t flown for seven or eight years,” she said. “I quite like train travel because you can work on a train and I sleep very well on them. I would do it again.” One of Bennett’s detractors was Labour MP John […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News “Absurd”: Labour react to East Coast railway sell off

    “Absurd”: Labour react to East Coast railway sell off

    Labour have reacted angrily to the news this morning that the rights to run the East Coast Main Line, which is currently run by a public operator, has been won by a consortium of Virgin and Stagecoach. The franchise has been in public hands with East Coast since 2009, after then operator National Express ran into financial trouble, and has since returned £800 million to the public purse. However, under current rules, East Coast could not bid for the franchise as […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Ukip: this rhetoric has repercussions

    Ukip: this rhetoric has repercussions

    Yesterday, I witnessed a horrible act of racism. At a bus stop, a well dressed and well spoken man started literally screaming in the faces of a family of tourists how much he hated foreigners, how they were freeloaders and how they should go back where they came from. It was horrible. I haven’t seen anything like it in a very, very long time – and certainly not in London. I felt like I had stepped back in time to […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Labour will move civil service jobs out of London

    Labour will move civil service jobs out of London

    Tonight, Ed Balls will give a speech in Birmingham where he’ll explain that the as part of a next Labour government’s devolution agenda they would move more civil service jobs outside London and transfer more powers over the economy and funding to city and county regions. This comes ahead of the publication of Labour’s second interim report Labour’s Zero-Based Review tomorrow. This is part of Labour’s efforts to account for how money is spent in the UK – to analyse […]

    Read more →