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 Ed Miliband’s speech: instant reactions

    Ed Miliband’s speech: instant reactions

    Ed Miliband has just finished speaking – his final leader’s speech before the general election. We’ve got instant reactions from well-known figures from across the Labour party: Grace Fletcher-Hackwood:  Ed’s speech in numbers: 3,000 more midwives; 5,000 more care workers; 8,000 more GPs; 20,000 more nurses; 4 standing ovations; 6 goals for Britain’s future and 10 years to get it all done. As a speech it wasn’t the most impressive we’ve seen, but once Ed got around to actual policies they […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour Conference 2014: Liveblog

    Labour Conference 2014: Liveblog

    17.05: Survation will have 1,000 respondents eventually but at the moment data is from 500 people because they’re still collating data. On Ed’s speech: world class healthcare came first, followed by minimum wage (positive:66%, negative 18%), joint third was apprenticeships (positive 57%, 17%) and self employment (positive 57%, negative 17%),  then house building (positive 51%, negative 21%) and lastly was carbon environment (positive 50%, negative 20) – and because it’s at 500 people the margin of error is just under […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Ed gives the country hope for the future of the NHS

    Ed gives the country hope for the future of the NHS

    LabourList readers said this year’s conference should be about the NHS.  They were right and it looks like they could leave Manchester happy. This morning’s papers lead on an expected announcement from Ed Miliband that Labour will increase NHS spending if they are returned to government next May through a mansion tax on homes worth over £2 million and a windfall tax on the profits of tobacco firms. Eight months out and party members in Manchester know that the next […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Labour needs a vision to inspire its roots

    Labour needs a vision to inspire its roots

    As the election approaches, Unison is continuing to work tirelessly in the marginals. For the past year we have been funding local organisers and winning support for Labour. Not for a party of business or a party of the middle, but for our Labour Party. We know of course that the party must stand up for the squeezed middle who have lost so much. But so have the roots of our party’s support – the millions who have borne the […]

    Read more →
  • News First look at Ed Miliband’s speech

    First look at Ed Miliband’s speech

    Ed Miliband seems to have set up an Instagram account simply to give us a teaser of today’s speech.

    Read more →