Labour Needs to Purge Itself
Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 6th November, 2010
Watching former Labour Immigration Minister Phil Woolas announcing that he is seeking a judicial review, following the High Court decision to declare his election in May null and void because of his dirty tactics against his LibDem opponent, brought back many memories of the arrogant and often corrupt Labour politics of the Lancashire in which I grew up. I spent the first 17 years of my life in Eccles (now part of the irrepressible and unrepentant — over parliamentary expenses — Hazel Blears’s constituency) and although I could never have been a Conservative (unlike the household in which I was brought up), I similarly couldn’t touch the Labour Party with a barge-pole, because of the way they had made the town a rotten borough and their vicious hatred of anyone who wasn’t ‘working class’. So I joined the Young Liberals, even though the Liberal Party was almost non-existent in the area (apart from two councillors, whose seats they held only because of a pact with the Tories!). The then Liberal leader, Jo Grimond, clinched it when he came to my school during the 1964 general election and genuinely inspired my young self. Anyway, Phil Woolas, in all his unpleasantness, has reawakened all those memories of the unprincipled nature of the Labour Party Up North (and doubtless in some places Down South, too, though in many of the shires, Labour Party activists tend to be very decent, principled people, CND members and the like). I feel this situation now presents two challenges. The first is to Ed Miliband, to accept that what Phil Woolas did in the May general elections was morally as well as legally wrong, and to purge the Labour Party of such pratices. The second challenge is to my fellow Liberal Democrats: to go to Oldham East and Saddleworth asap — or to telephone canvass from wherever they are — to make sure we win the by-election convincingly!