Good riddance: Woolas cut adrift from Labour


11:40 am - November 5th 2010

by Don Paskini    


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Phil Woolas has been found guilty of breaching section 106 of the 1983 Representation of the People Act, by making false statements about where his Liberal Democrat opponent lived and his relationship with Muslim extremists.

The election has been declared void, and there will be a by-election – Woolas will not be eligible to stand, so it is the end of his political career.

On behalf of all of us at Liberal Conspiracy, good riddance.

Update 1: The judgement is here (via @virtualstoa)

Update 2: The press release by the Libdem lawyers is here.

Update 3: Statement from Phil Woolas at the Guardian. Hilariously, he says the judgement will have a “chilling effect” on political speech.

Update 4: Harriet Harman statement:

The court has found that Phil Woolas said things that he knew were untrue during his election campaign.

It is no part of Labour’s politics to try to win elections by telling lies. We believe in good community relations – in fact that is central to our politics – and Phil Woolas has been suspended from the Labour party.

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Reader comments


Seconded.

It’s difficult to think of enough appropriate adjectives to describe Phil Woolas, but isn’t it more than a little ironic that the Liberal Democrats, masters of toxic campaign literature nationwide, have managed to bring down somebody for … um … use of toxic campaign literature?

Sad that this happened. Mr Woolas’ actions, in my opinion, show him to be the sort of chap Labour’s better off without. We could have done without the shame he has brought upon us by association. Glad to see him go. 🙁

The election has been declared void, and there will be a by-election – Woolas will not be eligible to stand, so it is the end of his political career.

Are you sure? The MSM – Guardian, BBC, Telegraph – seem to be suggesting that Woolas can stand again in a “re-run” of the election.

Good!

The implications of the ruling (that someone can be removed from parliament because they made false statements in their election campaign) are also potentially important.

5

I agree. I’m glad to see the back of Woolas. I’d also like to see Ed M explain himself.

As I’ve blogged, ding dong the witch is dead, very good news.

However, I’m not really happy that, without fear of libel, I can now say that Ed Miliband welcomes liars in his shadow cabinet.

Are you sure? The MSM – Guardian, BBC, Telegraph – seem to be suggesting that Woolas can stand again in a “re-run” of the election.

If, as it seems, Woolas has been found to have breached s.106 of RPA, and as being guilty of an illegal act, he won’t even be allowed to vote in the re-run election, much less stand in it.

Penalties laid out in s.173:

173. Incapacities on conviction of corrupt or illegal practice.—
(1) Subject to subsection (2) below, a person convicted of a corrupt or illegal practice—

(a)shall, during the relevant period specified in subsection (3) below, be incapable of—
(i) being registered as an elector or voting at any parliamentary election in the United Kingdom or at any local government election in Great Britain, or
(ii) being elected to the House of Commons, or
(iii) holding any elective office; and

(b)if already elected to a seat in the House of Commons or holding any such office, shall vacate the seat or office subject to and in accordance with subsections (4) and (5) below.

Worth noting that he appears to have applied for leave to appeal, which will delay the actual effect of all this. It’s only a first instance ruling after all.

Fantastic result!

10. cynicalHighlander

Lets hope he’s not the last one of that party.

http://newsnetscotland.com/politics/928-labour-and-the-smear-gone-wrong-

It’s certainly a blow for Ed Milliband.

He’ll have to find another race baiter to put on the front bench.

Yay!

13. George McLean

@ 8. Tim J

I’m still unclear about this. Section 173 appears to refer to criminal penalties. The decision was a civil action in the High Court. Won’t the CPS now look at the evidence in that civil case and decide if a criminal action should proceed?

Is this the first post ever to receive universal acclaim from commentators on this site? (I was about to suggest there may have been one wishing Merry Christmas, but knowing the commentators one of us would have picked a fault in that…)

In which case you do realise Mr Woolas is a force for good – he unifies people and brings them together!

@13,

Wasn’t this a specially convened election court, which has jurisdiction over such matters?

What would be more contrarian right now: the Flat Earth Society or a Campaign to Defend Phil Woolas?

17. Southpawpunch

No, no universal acclaim, I’m afraid (No.14).

Like any far Leftist, my contempt for Woolas is bottomless and the disgusting leaflets he used in the election, never mind his political career as scum, make me glad to see the back of him and with a lot more consistency than those here who are in the same party as him.

However I do wonder about the specifics.

Reading through the BBC news report, it would appear he has been booted out for ‘knowingly making false statements about Mr Watkins’ (the LD candidate) in campaign literature about three things – that the LD had ‘pandered to Muslim militants’, ‘had refused to condemn death threats Mr Woolas said he had received from such groups’ and had ‘reneged on a promise to live within the constituency prior to the election.’ .

I think this is problematic for anyone fighting elections.

Could a socialist candidate be guilty of the same for accusing another of ‘pandering to big business’. (pandering is a word capable of a wide interpretation). Could we also fall foul of saying something like another candidate doesn’t live in the constituency haved missed missed a statement saying they have recently recently moved there (it may be hard to prove you weren’t knowingly making a false statement – in court: Come now, Mr Socialist, are you telling the court you did not see the news release saying the candidate moved into the area just before the election? No, really, we didn’t spend time reading every item on his website.)

On balance, I think Woolas may have a point here.

18. Southpawpunch

Sorry that point being

Woolas: “Those who stand for election can participate in the democratic process must be prepared to have their political conduct and motives subjected to searching, scrutiny and inquiry.

“They must accept that their political character and conduct will be attacked.

“It is vital to our democracy that those who make statements about the political character and conduct of election candidates are not deterred from speaking freely for fear that they may be found in breach of election laws.”

I don’t think this is a conviction for the purposes of s. 173. ‘Conviction’ implies a criminal prosecution; this was a civil case concerning the validity of the election.

Haha – goodbye Mr Scape the goat Woolas

*cheers*

here, here

one less shit politician in office

13/19 – I do’t think that’s how it works. Once the Lib Dem candidate made the complaint, a special electoral court was convened to determine whether it should be upheld or dismissed. Look at the wording as it follows:

s. 106 (abbreviated…)

A person who…before or during an election,for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate at the election,makes or publishes any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct shall be guilty of an illegal practice, unless he can show that he had reasonable grounds for believing, and did believe, that statement to be true.

Did Woolas make a false statement of fact about the candidate’s personal character or conduct? Yes he did (according to the judges). So, since he had no reasonable grounds for believing it to be true, he’s ‘guilty of an illegal practice’.

So, what happens?

s.173 (abbreviated…)

A person convicted of a corrupt or illegal practice shall, during the relevant period specified in subsection (3) below, be incapable of being elected to the House of Commons, or holding any elective office; and if already elected to a seat in the House of Commons or holding any such office, shall vacate the seat or office…

The time specified is 3 years for an illegal practice, and 5 years for a corrupt practice. (The bit about not being allowed to vote only applies if you’re guilty of voting fraud – that’ll teach me to read the whole thing…).

So, if I’m right, the electoral court will have barred Woolas from standing as an MP (councillor, MEP etc) for three years.

Labour minister barred from Commons for three years

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/8112536/Labour-minister-barred-from-Commons-for-three-years.html

Oh, and from that report, the bit that really rubs salt in the wound is as follows:

He was ordered to pay £5,000 to Mr Watkins, whose costs he will also have to pay.

Best part of £100,000 I’d have thought, if not more.

If only we could get rid of all lying politicians…

@17/18 southpawpunch

The point here is that the accusation was of deliberately lying. I don’t think you could get that problem if , for example, you highlighted that a Conservative candidate was part of a party with bug business backers – that would be a fact, regardless of how you used it. Indeed, the accusations about funding and the like were not upheld in the final judgement as being attacks on Mr Watkins’ character.

It is making stuff up which means this is a problem – your concern about the getting the address wrong is dealt with in section 209 of the judgement, which indicates that this would not have been an issue worth a by-election on its own (and note that this was in context of this being a known and provable falsehood, not a mistake!) – it was the other two offences (that Mr Watkins had sought the support of Muslim extremists and not condemned threats of violence to Mr Woolas) that were the problem, which considering the nature of them and the cyncial and racist manipulation of voters they were designed to achieve, is kind of reassuring.

The judgement is actually quite reassuring – I see nothing in there that would make the normal Liberal Democrat creative use of facts leaflet a problem for example. It is simply creative (and cynical) use of fiction to bring oneself an electoral advantage that is the problem here.

Miserable weather but I can’t stop smiling.

@3

“Sad that this happened. Mr Woolas’ actions, in my opinion, show him to be the sort of chap Labour’s better off without.”

Heartened as I am by the result, the list of people Labour’s better off without would leave yu with a fairly empty shadow cabinet…….

…… one can but hope of course! 😉

What would be more contrarian right now: the Flat Earth Society or a Campaign to Defend Phil Woolas?

Don’t worry, Tom Harris has taken up your call

It should make for an interesting bye election too…… who to vote for… the slightly soiled Newer Labour…. the principle voids who agree with Nick….?

Not as if the unfortunate voters are spoilt for choice is it!

Good.

I’ve looked at the Act in more detail, and it seems clear that the sanctions in s.173 only apply to criminal conviction under ss.168 and 169.

The sanction for a finding under s.106 is dealt with in s.159, and did use to contain a similar provision that the candidate was to be disqualified from standing again. However, this provision was repealed in 2001 by the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. Therefore it seems that he can stand again, unless convicted in a criminal prosecution.

What is odd is that Woolas has said he will apply for judicial review. The election court has the status of the High Court and is a superior court of record; it should not be subject to judicial review. I think he has to appeal to the Court of Appeal instead.

Tom:

The relevant clause in Woolas’s case is s136 of PPERA 2000, which amends s173 of ROTPA 1983 and provides for a three year disqualification for any illegal practice.

Incidentally, Woolas is also automatically suspended from the House of Commons, pending the outcome of any appeal.

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/41/section/136

I wish that were right, but it does look to me as though s.173 only applies to conviction for the criminal offences in the act and not for a mere finding of an illegal practice.

My apologies, I have now read the judgment of the court and their lordships refer to s.160 of the RPA 1983. This is now the relevant section for disqualification for illegal practices under s.106 and does indeed impose a three-year disqualification.

Gregg Beaman has announced his decision to run for the Libertarian Party in Oldham East.

I thought you’d all want to hear this important news exclusively on Liberal Conspiracy.

The court decision raises fundamental questions as to why Ed Milliband has kept him on the front bench until today.

36

Probably a combination of not having a great deal of choice (rarely can there have been such a collection of political lightwieights as evidenced in the Shadow Cabinet), and the fact that he isn’t much interested in actually changing the Labour party; he isn’t a radical, and he isn’t progressive – go figure!

Will he be one of the first beneficiaries of IDS’s new benefits system? Saaad!

So now we will have to read lots of libertarian defences of race baiting on the grounds that punishing it infringes freedom of speech. After all, in the USA (such a healthy democracy) telling lies and slinging filth is the essence of campaigning. You get slimed? Just suck it in and slime back bigger. I can see a British Geert Wilders building his career on this, while Labour and the rest cower for fear of alienating the “working class white” vote. Good for the judges though – Woolas has behaved despicably and deserves this disgrace.

Good riddence to bad news.

Well maybe it`s “good riddance” from a soft America-worshipping “leftist” perspective ….but it just brings a period of serious racial/cultural tension all the closer and makes Enoch Powell`s chilling prophecy more likely to happen with every day that passes.
National social democrats like me are now utterly sick of living in a multi-apartheid Britain where white indigenous working class people are a submerged reviled underclass….and every crook in the world can swan in and take us to the cleaners.
What if Mr Woollass had not been a real indigenous Briton but a Sir Robert Maxwell or a Lord Paul or a Baroness Udin? What if Ian Tomlinson had been a person from Brasil working here illegally as an electrician taking work from honest taxpaying British electrician?
What if the London bombers hadn`t been home grown dissidents from our own silly Mad Hatter`s multicultural menagerie?
It would have all been treated so differently….wouldn`t it boys and girls?
Stuff your BBC/Liberty/Guardian-inspired dictatorship….it`s time for something better!This isn`t social justice ….it`s active institutional racism/culturism!


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. RupertRead

    RT @libcon: Good riddance: Woolas found guilty http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  2. Don Paskini

    RT @libcon: Good riddance: Woolas found guilty http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  3. Rooftop Jaxx

    #NuLabScum: Another one bites the dust >> RT @libcon Good riddance: Woolas found guilty http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  4. Cornelius Griffiths

    @therubykid See this: http://bit.ly/c5HSB7 (Woolas shafted) hope you're all good mate 🙂

  5. Christopher Gurr

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  6. Tab

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  7. Martin Tod

    RT @libcon: Good riddance: Woolas found guilty http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  8. Jose Aguiar

    Good riddance: Woolas found guilty | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/bUdIzqe via @libcon

  9. Matthew Deaves

    RT @libcon: Good riddance: Woolas found guilty http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  10. Tom Scott

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  11. Nicholas

    RT @libcon: Good riddance: Woolas found guilty http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  12. Martin Tod

    Good riddance: Woolas found guilty | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/vl4Arn7 via @libcon

  13. Ben Leto

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  14. blindasabat

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  15. Andy Bean

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  16. Nick H.

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  17. Malcolm Evison

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  18. Ellie Mae

    RT @libcon: Good riddance: Woolas found guilty http://bit.ly/c5HSB7 << yup

  19. Mark Smithson

    RT @libcon: Good riddance: Woolas found guilty http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  20. Ding Dong the Witch is Dead « Left Outside

    […] Via, I see Woolas’s career is over. Couldn’t have happened to a viler man. […]

  21. Gareth Penn

    Good riddance: Woolas found guilty | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/8tF9cga via @libcon

  22. Jonathan Abourbih

    RT @libcon: Good riddance: Woolas found guilty http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  23. Robin Morris

    RT @libcon: Good riddance: Woolas found guilty http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  24. Steve Wins

    RT @libcon: Good riddance: Woolas found guilty http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  25. Liberal Conspiracy

    Phil Woolas suspended from the Labour party. Who knew @donpaskini was that powerful? Updates here: http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  26. Ellie Mae

    RT @libcon: Phil Woolas suspended from the Labour party. Who knew @donpaskini was that powerful? Updates here: http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  27. Brit Lefit

    RT @libcon: Phil #Woolas suspended from the #Labour party. Who knew @donpaskini was that powerful? Updates here: http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  28. Liberal Conspiracy

    Labour Party will not support Phil Woolas' appeal, says Harriet Harman. His political career is over http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  29. Anna Hedge

    RT @libcon: Labour Party will not support Phil Woolas' appeal, says Harriet Harman. His political career is over http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  30. mariecx99

    RT @libcon: Labour Party will not support Phil Woolas' appeal, says Harriet Harman. His political career is over http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  31. Alex Mitchell

    RT @libcon: Labour Party will not support Phil Woolas' appeal, says Harriet Harman. His political career is over http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  32. Don Paskini

    RT @libcon: Phil Woolas suspended from the Labour party. Who knew @donpaskini was that powerful? Updates here: http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  33. yorkierosie

    RT @libcon: Labour Party will not support Phil Woolas' appeal, says Harriet Harman. His political career is over http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  34. earwicga

    RT @libcon: Labour Party will not support Phil Woolas' appeal, says Harriet Harman. His political career is over http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  35. yorkierosie

    Good riddance: Woolas cut adrift from Labour | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/J9dnb6o via @libcon

  36. Don’t Let The Door Hit You In The Woolas On Your Way Out Phil » Ten Percent

    […] like the stink is too much to hide from, Labour can’t wait the weekend so Harman takes point- Harriet Harman has just said: “It is no part of Labour’s politics to try to win elections by telling lies… […]

  37. MultiTask Computing

    RT @libcon: Labour Party will not support Phil Woolas' appeal, says Harriet Harman. His political career is over http://bit.ly/c5HSB7

  38. Patrick Devlin

    Good riddance: Woolas cut adrift from Labour http://bit.ly/9bPrxI /cc @feedly

  39. The rise and fall of Philip James Woolas « Paperback Rioter

    […] at immigration was that few people are shedding tears at his demise. Quite the opposite, in fact. Good riddance, says the most popular left-wing blog. Toxic, says another. Enemies of reason, in one of my […]

  40. Blairite liar and warmonger Woolas expelled from Labour | dearkitty1

    […] From Liberal Conspiracy blog in Britain: Good riddance: Woolas found guilty [updated] […]





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