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 byelection 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,

Latest

  • Comment Featured Uncategorized Britain seems to be fragmenting but English socialism is being reborne

    Britain seems to be fragmenting but English socialism is being reborne

      by Tom Kelsey and Jon Wilson The referendum brought to light deep fractures that risk destroying the left, and with the prospect of a bruising leadership election the divisions seem to be getting wider. Working class voters in once industrial towns and cities think their political leaders are out-of-touch with no understanding of life in a country many feel is rapidly changing for the worse. The idea of the nation, particularly of a resurgent England, has become a channel […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Uncategorized As the dust settles on the vote for Brexit, it is time to reach out to our democracy’s missing millions

    As the dust settles on the vote for Brexit, it is time to reach out to our democracy’s missing millions

    At a critical point in the development of the Labour party leadership, this article offers a few thoughts on a future Labour agenda for democratic reform that transcends internal politicking. After four years of working at Bite The Ballot, a party-neutral youth democracy movement – and one that unites decision-makers of all persuasions in its work – I can say that British politics still has a long way to go on the road to democratic renewal. Though the pieces are still […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured We must bring politics back to our communities rather than leave people to rely on Westminster “elites”

    We must bring politics back to our communities rather than leave people to rely on Westminster “elites”

    All told, it’s not been a good few months for the standing of our politicians. Whether you think there was a good case to have a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU or not, the reason we were all put through it was ultimately one of internal Conservative party management. A fundamental question about who we are as a nation and how to best represent our interests was embarked upon because David Cameron thought it was his best […]

    Read more →
  • News Kinnock: Labour must show that its socialism can “work in practice”

    Kinnock: Labour must show that its socialism can “work in practice”

    Neil Kinnock has criticised “ideological flights of fancy”, and said that Labour needs to show that socialism can “work in practice” before it can be successful. The former leader has said that winning parties have to be “professional” as well as having a “sense of belief”, and launched a strong attack on “career politicians”. “You can enchant people by ideological flights of fancy, but that’s not going to help them at all,” Lord Kinnock told BBC programme Conversations this week. He said […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Featured Wayne David: Top-down change no longer works – we must boost democracy from the ground up

    Wayne David: Top-down change no longer works – we must boost democracy from the ground up

    If we are serious about extending political engagement and closing the gap between people and politics, Labour needs to do two things. Firstly, we need to have a coherent and powerful narrative about bringing power closer to the people. And secondly, we need to have a series of practical proposals to make the political process more accessible and relevant to people. Even though Labour was the party which introduced devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and recently favoured “permissive” […]

    Read more →
x

LabourList Daily Email

Everything Labour. Every weekday morning

Share with your friends










Submit