Friday, 5 November 2010

Farewell Phil

It couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke.

Over in Oldham, they're re-running the general election. The Labour MP, Phil Woolas, won by 103 votes after one of the nastiest campaigns in living memory. A special elections court has judged that his campaign deliberately encouraged  white voters to see the Liberal Democrat candidate as somehow sympathetic towards or linked to Islamic extremists.

I despise the Liberal Democrats, but Woolas deserves to lose his seat. He's emblematic of New Labour. Like many on the right of the party, he's never had a proper job: he went from university to a couple of years as a producer on Newsnight, then communications job with a union, leading to a safe Labour seat.

Phil's political philosophy encapsulates exactly what was wrong with New Labour. They hated and feared the working class, whom they saw as embarrassingly backwards and uncool. Parachuted into a working-class constituency, Phil decided that the only way to keep his seat was to appeal to the racism of the voters. Were the voters of Oldham racist? Some, probably, while others were encouraged to vote BNP as a protest.

Because Phil and his New Labour friends only associated themselves with thrusting businessmen and communications advisers, they were only too willing to believe that the working classes (the originators, let's not forget, of Chartism, Methodism, trades unionism and the anti-slavery movement) were all a bunch of bigoted racists. So - and this is utterly unforgiveable - they decided to run with that, and appeal to the perceived prejudice of the mob with campaign material like this:

Did it work? No. Phil's majority went from 3590 to 103.

Other selected highlights from Phil's career:

Giving a House of Commons pass to a lobbyist friend of his wife.
Attacking, in intemperate and uninformed fashion, a classroom assistant who wore the veil.
Claiming that cousin marriage is a major contributor to disabilities in Pakistani communities (debatable, but not the way he put it).
Accusing asylum and immigration lawyers of 'playing the system' by, er, doing their jobs.
Calling the head of the National Bullying Helpline 'this prat of a woman'!
Allowing Gurkha British Army veterans to settle in the UK if they'd served 20 years - knowing that the usual length of service is 15.

Did I mention that Racist Phil was a prominent member of the Anti-Nazi League? How far he's travelled.

(If you want a fix of Daily Mail, go here).

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