Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

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!

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3 Responses to “Labour Needs to Purge Itself”

  1. In the old days Labour used to stand for something and evenif one didn’t agree, it could be seen as something good. What do they stand for now? It has become a post-modern party, free of context and morallity. Woolas is exactly the kind of person who embodies New Labour.

  2. Brian Wright said

    Does my memory serve me right that when Woolwas orginally stood for the seat he lost in a by-election against Chris Davies. The whole event was marked by some really viscious Labour leaflets about drugs. I think Woolas won the seat at the following GenerL Election.

  3. David Christopher Somers Bartlett said

    Yes indeed I remember that by-election well tho’ I did’nt personally encounter him I heard all the comments of others who did and although campaigning can go pretty close to the bone with all Parties he was much much worse. But now I’ve seen his personal behaviour on TV such as Paxman interviews his undiluted and consistent unpleasantness makes him an individual, whatever his views, I am extremely pleased to see shafted.

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