Phil Woolas loses court case over his election

The Guardian (and many others) reports:

Labour’s shadow immigration minister, Phil Woolas, was ejected from parliament today after a court ruled he had breached election laws by falsely claiming his Liberal Democrat opponent had “wooed” extremist Muslims in the run-up to the 6 May poll.

For the first time in 99 years a specially convened election court has overturned the result of a parliamentary poll and ordered a rerun after two high court judges ruled the result of the Oldham East poll void. They upheld the claim by Elwyn Watkins that Woolas knowingly made false statements.

UPDATE 14:20 – Elwyn Watkins has now issued this statement:

This verdict is a historic victory for the people of Oldham East and Saddleworth, a victory for fair play and a victory for clean politics.

Anyone who knowingly lies to the voters or looks to set constituent against constituent has no place in a democracy.

I hope this judgment makes it very clear that if you deceive your constituents you should be kicked out of Parliament.

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133 Comments

  • When this court case was launched, I really didn’t think this outcome would seem like bad news…

    Will people remember Labour’s lies? Or just our collapsed vote?

    *cough* I mean…onwards, to victory!

  • Colin Green 5th Nov '10 - 12:40pm

    Politico,

    “Will people remember Labour’s lies?”

    They will if you go up there and tell them. I’d want to paint the words “Labour Lies” all over the town in the style of “the Life of Brian”.

  • let’s see.

  • Great news!

    I say that as much on the basis that it removes an unpleasant individual from political life, as much as the fact that we might win a reheld election.

    On which point, I didn’t understand the Guardian’s report: “Labour will also be forced to at least temporarily remove Woolas from its shadow cabinet …”

    “at least temporarily”? Are Labour planning to send him to the Lords??

  • Richard Gadsden 5th Nov '10 - 12:48pm

    For those who have been asking questions:

    Phil Woolas has been effectively found guilt of an illegal practice – under S. 106 of the Representation of the People Act.
    The consequences are [S.160(4)] that he is unseated forthwith as an MP, that he is banned for three years from being registered to vote, voting, being elected to the House of Commons, and holding any other elective office.

    As for appeal, [S.157], appeal can only be by leave of the High Court, and only to the Court of Appeal – it can’t go to the Supreme Court.

    I assume that it could technically go to the ECHR, but they couldn’t actually overturn the verdict, just require HMG to change the law or derogate from the treaty. It won’t go that far because the ECHR can’t stay the by-election, so there would be no benefit to Woolas.

    The remaining questions are:
    Has Woolas applied for leave to appeal? [I believe the answer is “yes”]
    Has the High Court considered the application, and if so what was their decision?
    If they granted leave to appeal, what happens at the Court of Appeal?

    Note that the last time there was a S.106 case, Miranda Grell appealed, and the appeal was heard within two months of the original trial. I expect the Court of Appeal to get a move on in this case also.

  • My Lib Dem candidate’s literature promised:
    To reduce the defecit over a longer period of time – doing so too soon would be economic suicide.
    That the party would abolish tuition fees and fight hard any attempts to increase them.

    Given the party now holds completely the opposite views can I have my vote back?

  • paul barker 5th Nov '10 - 12:56pm

    Great News, for Democracy & the rule of Law. We should hope, for Britains sake, that Labour issue a swift & heartfelt apology & put up a decent candidate in the By-Election.
    This is a genuine 3-Way marginal & we have a good chance lets go & win.

  • David Allen 5th Nov '10 - 12:59pm

    Timak, I agree with everything you say, but in all fairness, it pales into insignificance compared with what Woolas did. Whatever the byelection brings, this is a great day for honesty and decency in political life.

  • Richard – my memory isn’t 100% but wasn’t the Miranda Grell trial a criminal conviction (rather than an election petition) in the Magistrates. In that case she had an automatic right of appeal.

    AIUI there is also the route of Judicial Review which is what some reports say Woolas is pursuing. Whether that can stay the pending by-election I don’t know

  • Richard Gadsden 5th Nov '10 - 1:18pm

    Hywel, Judicial Review utterly confuses me here. How can a court be judicially reviewed? JR is to overturn an administrative judgment, not a court, surely?

  • 7. paul barker: “This is a genuine 3-Way marginal & we have a good chance lets go & win.”

    Agreed, Paul.

    May 2010:
    Labour 32%
    Lib Dem 31%
    Conservative 26%

    Recent council by-election results have shown an apparent willingness for previous Tory voters to vote tactically for us in large numbers.

  • Great news. Couldnt have happened to a nicer guy.

  • “8.David Allen
    November 5th, 2010 at 12:59 pm Timak, I agree with everything you say, but in all fairness, it pales into insignificance compared with what Woolas did. ”

    I disagree and I suspect so will the majority of the electorate. Lib Dem MPs lying to the elecotrate in order to win seats is a far greater crime and will not easily be forgotten.

    If the seat was a three way marginal at the election then it certainly isn’t now, unless you live in a bunker and haven’t had a look at any opinion polls over the last six months.

  • ” I’d want to paint the words “Labour Lies” all over the town in the style of “the Life of Brian”. ”

    People would simply laugh at you, given the Lib Dem’s record with the truth.

  • LeftLeaning 5th Nov '10 - 1:47pm

    David Allen
    November 5th, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    “Whatever the byelection brings, this is a great day for honesty and decency in political life.”

    What?!?!?! Has Nick Clegg been sacked? That would be a tremendous day for honesty in politics. It will teach kids that deceit and bare-faced dishonesty does not pay.

  • @Timak: there is a considerable difference between an electoral promise that a party isn’t subsequently able to deliver, and knowingly lying about the character and actions of your political opponent for political/personal gain.

    Phil Woolas has never been an impressive MP (did you see Joanna Lumley wipe the floor with him live on national TV?) and he was clearly too lazy to (a) be a very good local MP to generate a strong personal vote and (b) campaign very hard, both of which plenty of MPs do in order to be relected. He thought instead that smearing his opponent was easier. I just hope this sends a message to others (I have heard of similar cases where the victims couldn’t afford legal action).

    Lib Dem councillor John Potter just wondered on Twitter if Mr Woolas and the local Labour party can now be sued for Libel by Mr Watkins (given that a court of law has found they lied)? I’m sure there must be a libel lawyer willing to take that one on!

  • Timak/Sarah
    Did Labour give us the referendum on voting reform? What happened to “our air is not for sale”. Labour told a few porkies – but the differences is a lot of people died because of Labour lies.

  • “isn’t subsequently able to deliver”

    Covering lies with more lies doesn’t advance your cause. The Lib Dems campaigned against the Tory VAT tax bombshell, the severity of the cuts and for the abolition of regressive tuition fees on the argument that they had considered the funding implications, based on publically available information that hass not changed subsequently. The implications for the economy and people’s livelihoods are far more significant than the stupid behaviour of Woolas.

    This issue is trivial compared to the issues the Lib Dems have u-turned on. The electorate hate being lied to about core issues far more than they care about personal political smears.

  • Mike(The Labour one) 5th Nov '10 - 2:02pm

    Fingers crossed he’s gone for good, let’s hope Ed Miliband’s mistake of making him a shadow minister will have rectified itself.

  • i I am a libel lawyer and it would be a pleasure. I understand Sarah’s anger but it partly arises from the fact that we are not used to coalition and compromise in this country. What option do the Lib Dems have-bring the coalition down with the racing certainty of an overall Tory majority in the ensuing election ? Everybody needs to reserve judgment for at least 3 to 4 years to see what the outcome is. you also need to look at the promises delivered as well. As to the by-election, I suspect the outocme depends on how seriously the tories treat it.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 5th Nov '10 - 2:14pm

    “What option do the Lib Dems have-bring the coalition down with the racing certainty of an overall Tory majority in the ensuing election ?”

    ????????????

    Projections based on the current opinion polls show Labour well ahead of the Tories in terms of parliamentary seats.

  • sarah and timak

    are you really saying that it is ok for Phil Woolas to knowingly tell lies about a political opponent as a person purely in order to get elected?

    I can understand that you might be cross because Labour are not running the country, and that you might be cross because you would like to see government policy being different than it is. But to suggest that the Lib Dems are worse than Woolas is utterly ridiculous.
    And, I might add, the reason the Lib Dems can’t do everything in their manifesto is BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT THE MAJORITY PARTY IN GOVERNMENT. Labour u-turned on manifesto commitments all over the shop when they had an absolute majority. Not that that will affect your blinkered views.

  • MrsB

    Nothing like a good straw man argument is there. Please tell me where I said it was OK for Phil Woolas to knowingly tell lies about a political opponent as a person purely in order to get elected? I don’t think it was OK. I agree with the judgement and I think it further erodes the confidencec the electorate have in politicians, slightly.

    The public don’t think much of politicians anyway, so it really isn’t going to make much difference to them to discover one of them lying about another one. What does matter to voters are the issues that effect them and effect society. They will judge who to vote for on the basis of the promises made and kept and not kept.

    Besides, given, that the average Lib Dem/floating voter tends to be a bit more middle class/well educated/objective/rational, do you really think that Woolas’s behaviour actually enhanced his vote? I would have thought it would have had quite the opposite effect.

    “BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT THE MAJORITY PARTY IN GOVERNMENT”

    Two guaranteed methods of losing a debate on the internet:
    1. Mention Hitler
    2. Use capital letters so you can get your message through to the thickies that don’t understand you.

  • Great news, glad to see that the odious Phil Woollas got exactly what he deserved

  • TheContinentalOp 5th Nov '10 - 2:42pm

    A great day for politics. I’m not sure the subsequent by-election will be a great day for the Lib Dems though.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 5th Nov '10 - 2:43pm

    “Recent council by-election results have shown an apparent willingness for previous Tory voters to vote tactically for us in large numbers.”

    Well, in that case it really should be a dream come true for Nick Clegg, because the Lib Dems only need one in a hundred Tories to vote Lib Dem tactically, and it will be in the bag!

  • Anthony Aloysius St 5th Nov '10 - 2:59pm

    The trouble is, of course, that these local by-elections also show uniformly appalling performances from the Lib Dems in urban areas. Here’s what happened to the Lib Dem share of the vote in yesterday’s urban contests:

    Cambridge City Council, Coleridge 10.9% (-14.6)
    Manchester MBC, Hulme 8.9% (-14.1)
    Swindon UA, Moredon 5.2% (-13.3)
    Lewisham LBC, Ladywell 10.6% (-5.3)

  • david thorpe 5th Nov '10 - 3:15pm

    timak

    we didnt win the election and so couldnt implement all of our policies.

  • david thorpe 5th Nov '10 - 3:16pm

    and thats the difference matt, the parlaimnetary standards committee have not ruled on laws, so at the moment he has broken no rules or laws, nor is he accused of breaking any laws.
    Until such time as that changes, there is nothing foer you to comment on

  • david thorpe 5th Nov '10 - 3:17pm

    anthony

    we won Easrls court recently
    and thats urban
    and we gained votes and seats around the country since the election

  • TheContinentalOp 5th Nov '10 - 3:35pm

    No sure what the point is of all this Labour “whataboutary”. It’s hypocritical to warn against political point scoring and then do exactly that over the David Laws case.

    Labour memebers need to put their hands up, acknowledge and accept the judgment and move on with some grace and humility. Any attempt to spin this debacle is in bad taste. What Woollas did was deplorable and an apology wouldn’t go amiss.

    If this issue is not handled with the honesty it deserves then Labour will be in danger once more of showing the contempt and arrogance they displayed too frequently for my liking while in Government.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 5th Nov '10 - 3:41pm

    “we won Easrls court recently
    and thats urban”

    Well, I suppose in a way even Tunbridge Wells is urban. But not in any sense that tells us how things are likely to go in Oldham East.

  • Is it too much to ask that Labour supporters conduct their private conversations on their own website rather than ours?

  • Mike(The Labour one) 5th Nov '10 - 3:50pm

    @tonyhill: God’s sake, if don’t want Labour people, don’t have this site’s articles up on politically neutral PoliticsHome. Say clearly that no opposing voices are welcome.

    Have your echo chamber, whinge among yourselves about how the public just doesn’t *understand* why you have no choice but to hit the poorest hardest. Live in your fantasy world because I’m out.

  • @Kehaar – confirmed as voting in line with the pledge so far are, I believe, Charles Kennedy, Sir Menzies Campbell, and Tim Farron. There’s also been rumours that Simon Hughes and Don Foster will do too, and I’m sure there’ll be more.

    Personally, I think the main outcome from this is that (a) Parliament is a better place without Phil Woolas, and (b) the effect of making unsubstantiated personal attacks in election literature is now clear. If we win the by-election, and I hope we do, it will be the cream on the cake; but the cake still tastes pretty good just now!

  • David Allen 5th Nov '10 - 4:47pm

    [1]Sarah,

    I have been using this site to warn my fellow Lib Dems of the harm that Clegg and his friends are doing for over two years now. Don’t worry, I am not going to stop doing it now, not now that we are making real headway within the party. However, there is a time and a place for everything.

    This thread gives us the chance to celebrate the defeat of a truly evil politician. A man who shamelessly made knowingly false accusations that his political opponent was effectively involved with extremist violence. A man whose acts were akin to blackmial. A man who should walk in fear of the jailer. Thanks to our judges, our political system has now become significantly cleaner. Let’s celebrate that. After all, there ain’t much else to celebrate!

  • Anthony Aloysius St 5th Nov '10 - 4:51pm

    Niklas

    Oh, I quite agree – trying to interpret local by-election results is fraught with all kinds of problems. That’s what I’ve been saying all along.

    The trouble is that a number of people here have taken to claiming that these local by-election results are actually a more reliable guide to national voting intention than the opinion polls. It was one of those people I was responding to.

    The fact is that even the local by-election results are far from favourable in _most_ urban areas (Earls Court excepted!).

    But I think the opinion polls are a better guide, problematical though they are.

  • Tony Greaves 5th Nov '10 - 4:53pm

    There are really two issues here. One is the technical election offence of misrepresenting an opponent that has now been proved.

    The second is that what Woolas actually did (as the judges say) was to seek to stir up the white vote and make them angry by making allegations about Muslims and trying to link them to the LD candidate. I.e. playing the race card. Woolas and his agent freely admitted all this in the trial.

    What the Labour Party should now do, instead of supporting any appeal, is to expel this man from the party.

    Tony Greaves

  • Anthony Aloysius St: “But I think the opinion polls are a better guide, problematical though they are.”

    I think you’re mistaken there.

    The problem with opinion polls is that some of them are clearly operating with unchanged methodology since the (unprecedented) formation of a Coalition Government.

    There are 3 gauges of true public opinion:
    1. Meeting people on the doorstep
    2. Local by-election results
    3. Opinion polls

    Currently, most Lib Dems I know are finding encouraging results from 1. and 2., particularly in the majority of the country which is not “staunch Labour”.

    The good news is that most of Oldham East and Saddleworth is not “staunch Labour”.

  • Phil Woolas has suspended from the Labour Party.

  • matt: “They are tending to lose shares of the vote.”

    I would agree with you, and so would anyone who has looked at results since May. It looks like Lib Dem support is down by around 4% to 5% since the General Election.

    It’s just not nearly as bad as you and some others maintain.

    Some pertinent facts:

    1. In 146 (principle) council by-elections in the 6 months to the end of October, Lib Dems were net 2 seats up. See http://birkdalefocus.blogspot.com/2010/10/lib-dem-by-election-results-continue_31.html

    2. Very recent ALDC analysis shows “post General Election defence rates” dramatically better than post-2001 and post-2005. (ALDC Campaigner, Oct 2010)

    BTW, I would say that this Thursday’s by-election results were poor – but that’s the first such poor day in 6 months.

  • Niklas Smith: “Face-to-face canvassing in particular is likely to overestimate support for whoever is doing it.”

    I’ve never been keen on projecting from canvass returns, and that is not what I was referring to.

    What I was talking about was “re-canvassing” areas over the last few months which might have been canvassed many times before – in my case, in a ward where I have been a councillor (on and off) for over 25 years.

    Based on that, we are clearly losing some support to Labour, but, at the same time, making gains from “soft Cons”. That is actually consistent with what matt, for example, has observed.

  • TheContinentalOp 5th Nov '10 - 6:04pm

    Hearing George Galloway is likely to run in the by-election.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 5th Nov '10 - 6:12pm

    “BTW, I would say that this Thursday’s by-election results were poor – but that’s the first such poor day in 6 months.”

    Do you really not accept that they have generally been poor for urban contests in Labour-held areas?

  • @Anthony Aloysius St

    Yes, I’ve said repeatedly that in strong Labour areas Lib Dems are finding the going difficult.

    Conversely, would you accept that in the overwhelming majority of the country which are not “strong Labour areas”, Lib Dems are doing well – in many cases clearly taking votes off Conservatives?

    In 146 council by-elections to the end of October, the (net) changes between parties were:

    Lib Dem +2 seats
    Labour +16 seats
    Conservatives -13 seats
    Others -5 seats

    http://birkdalefocus.blogspot.com/2010/10/lib-dem-by-election-results-continue_31.html

  • Philip Rolle 5th Nov '10 - 7:19pm

    I think many of us will think that the Lib Dems have been guilty of a breach of etiquette by bringing this case. The plain fact is that there are lots of MPs of all parties who have assisted their cause by lying about their opponents.

    If the Lib Dems don’t get off their high horse, they will be cut down in the by election.

  • Mike(theLabourOne) – you know perfectly well that I am not objecting to people from other parties coming on this site and holding us to account, debating with us, and expressing their views. At that point in the thread it was Matt asking Kehaar/Kehaar asking Matt etc (OK, I remember Kehaar has never voted Labour). If you want to have a private conversation exchange email addresses. As it happens I believe Matt’s analysis above (unfavourable to LibDems) of local by-election results is correct, and those LibDems who are suggesting that we are doing well are deluding themselves.

  • Kehaar,

    “Still, at least he won’t be able to say Labour/Blair lied over Iraq.”

    Eh?

  • For more information on the real record of Phil Woolas see:

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/11/05/woolas-authorised-use-of-force-against-children/#comments

    And for details of past campaigning see:

    http://www.saddleworthnews.com/?p=3928

  • Anthony Aloysius St 5th Nov '10 - 8:55pm

    “Conversely, would you accept that in the overwhelming majority of the country which are not “strong Labour areas”, Lib Dems are doing well – in many cases clearly taking votes off Conservatives?”

    Well, obviously the results are very variable. In some cases the Lib Dems are taking votes from the Tories, and in others the Tories are taking votes from the Lib Dems. Overall, your figures are indicating the party is roughly where it was when the seats were last fought. No doubt in a sense that can be considered as “doing well,” in comparison with what the opinion polls are showing.

    But coming back to this by-election, neither the opinion polls nor the results of local by-elections in Labour areas are at all encouraging. Obviously the Lib Dems will hope that they can enlist some Tory tactical voters, but on the whole it seems more likely to me that they will struggle to retain second place, or anything like the same numerical vote they had in May.

    I think the party would be very unwise to encourage expectations that this is going to be a famous victory.

  • Delighted the court made this as Woolas’ behaviour was reprehensible. The judgement would not have made lightly but clearly it went beyond robust campaigning. Whilst it will not be easy for the Liberal Democrats it gives heart to those who want to cleaner politics. With the unique circumstances Labour are not guaranteed tro storm to victory and whilst Woolas has been suspended it’s all damage limitation. What was Ed Milliband thinking of when he appointed him shadow Immigration minister.

  • @ AAS, I’m not sure opinion polls or council by-election results are helpful in determining a parliamentary by election. There was a time when everyone was saying the Liberal Democrats were doomed, 8% in opinion polls, but never the less went on to win the Eastbourne by-election.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 5th Nov '10 - 10:54pm

    “@ AAS, I’m not sure opinion polls or council by-election results are helpful in determining a parliamentary by election.”

    Yes, but if you read the foregoing discussion you’ll see that my comments about local by-elections were made in response to someone who was invoking them as a reason to be hopeful that the party was going to hoover up Tory tactical votes in Oldham East. I’m just pointing out that in fact the indications from local by-elections in this kind of territory are not at all promising.

    Regarding Eastbourne, I really do think that was a very different situation. The party benefited then from a very strong anti-government vote, despite its own lack of popularity. This time the Lib Dems are in government, and are incurring antipathy themselves – especially among left-leaning voters who are, by definition, numerous in a seat like this.

    We shall see what happens. I only hope that – if the result is not to their liking – those people who are currently aficionados of by-elections don’t immediately scurry around looking for reasons why by-elections aren’t a true measure of the party’s popularity. But, human nature being what it is, …

  • I suspect that some of the people pontificating about Liberal Democrat prospects in the forthcoming re-run election don’t know too much about Oldham East.

    Oldham East is a very odd constituency. It includes stone villages that were historically in Yorkshire, and were represented by the late Richard Wainwright during the 1960s. It also includes a slice of Oldham, a Lancashire redbrick milltown and virtual Manchester suburb, with a large Pakistani Moslem population – and strong Labour traditions (though with pockets of working-class Tories).

    The 1994 byelection (held on a blistering hot day) was the first outing for “New” Labour, and an extremely ugly affair it was. The campaign (visibly run by Mandelson) was the first to depict Labour as an authoritarian conservative party. It accused the Liberal Democrats of being soft on drugs, soft on crime, and – wait for it – wanting to tax the rich! If Woolas is Labour’s most shamelessly dirty campaigner (the view taken by the court), he learned his trade from Mandelson.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 6th Nov '10 - 8:58am

    “I suspect that some of the people pontificating about Liberal Democrat prospects in the forthcoming re-run election don’t know too much about Oldham East.

    It also includes a slice of Oldham, a Lancashire redbrick milltown and virtual Manchester suburb, with a large Pakistani Moslem population – and strong Labour traditions (though with pockets of working-class Tories).”

    So? What do you feel people have been getting wrong about the constituency? I hope you aren’t getting Delphic now, on top of everything else.

    But I realise it must be a strain, alternating between grim warnings that the party is on the road to disaster if Clegg isn’t (metaphorically) assassinated by his colleagues immediately, and hearty reassurances that everything’s fine on the ground and that the pessimists don’t know what they’re talking about…

  • Anthony Aloysius St,

    “and hearty reassurances that everything’s fine on the ground and that the pessimists don’t know what they’re talking about…”

    Er… can you point to where, in my above post, I have given a hearty reassurance that everything is fine on the ground? Actually, I have offered no opinion as to the likely outcome in the forthcoming re-run election. I can do if you want me to, but I think it would be a pretty futile exercise – in a few month’s time we will know the actual result.

    “What do you feel people have been getting wrong about the constituency”

    I am referring to the Labour supporters who make motivated, rhetorical assertions that the Liberal Democrats are going to do badly in Oldham East & Saddleworth on account of the party’s participation in the “coalition”. That may well happen, but there is no guarantee that it will. One also has too take into account factors such as Labour’s perceived attack on the local Moslem community, a possible Galloway candidacy, Saddleworth’s separate identity and strong Liberal tradition, etc.

  • Can Understand the views towards Woolas- awful claims and this just might stop the excesses in election campaigns

    but a question for the Lib dems – why does Simon Hughes have to be brought out to say what a good day it is for politics- some of us remember his less than clean campaign in Bermondsey against Peter Tatchell- what did The Liberal leaflets say at the time -” The Straight Choice”- hmmm

    another spokesperson would have been more appropriate

  • The vast majority of comments here seem to be from party activists. I guess I’m a floating progressive voter but far too cynical about politics to align to any particular party. I hope I’m able to take a step back and look at this as ordinary member of the public. So here’s my twopenny worth:-
    1) Phil Woolas acted despicably and deserves all he is getting. He should be imprisoned for inciting racial hatred and should be made to pay the costs of the bye-election.
    2) Ed Miliband has shown poor leadership and judgement. He should have declared his disgust at PW’s campaign.
    3) Simon Hughes, Liberals AND the Labour party acted despicably re Peter Tatchel and should be ashamed. Its irrelevant that its 27 years ago.
    4) The vast majority of politicians make false promises but signing pledges and then breaking them a few months later is particularly blatant. Excuses such as the economic crisis and we didn’t win the election are an insult to the electorate’s intelligence and really irritate.
    5) If in law you are allowed to tell outright lies to win an election but not allowed to tell lies about your opponent then the law needs changing. Perhaps such a change is long overdue.
    6) It is good that the legal system is able to reveal the truth and the politician cannot hide behind spin and evasion. This is what is missing from politics. I would like the speaker similar powers to a judge and be able to direct politicians to give straight yes/no answers and censure them for evasion and spin. If we all want open, honest politics AND an engaged electorate surely this is the logical conclusion.
    7) Please all politicians and political supporters-
    a) Tell the whole truth
    b) Admit when you are wrong or don’t know
    c) Praise your opponents when they get it right
    I know this is laughably naive- but you’ll always be able to sleep at night, you’ll actually be serving your country and, when we get over the shock, successful.

    Just reading this back I’ve just noticed that I haven’t criticised the Tories. Well just to be clear- they are taking a huge gamble with our country and economy for purely ideological reasons. They don’t know what they’re doing and are totally out of their depth.

  • Burkesworks

    its not an old canard- maybe you Libs dont like being reminded about some of the vile campaigns youve run- i worked at the Bermondsey by election campaign and everybody knew what Mr Hughes tactics were- he and all Liberals seem to need reminding of it – nobody took Other candidates seriously at that time

    im sure you know many years later Hughes apologised for the campaign and Tatchell being diplomatic accepted it –

    you didnt answer the question why is Hughes brought out to moralise given his ” previous” dont the Libdems have anyone else

    it

  • Anthony Aloysius St 6th Nov '10 - 2:09pm

    “Here are the facts;
    Yes, Simon used the campaign slogan “The Straight Choice”.”

    I thought it was “A Straight Choice.”

  • Anthony Aloysius St 6th Nov '10 - 2:13pm

    “Er… can you point to where, in my above post, I have given a hearty reassurance that everything is fine on the ground?”

    I didn’t say anything about your “above post.” I was referring to numerous posts you’ve made about local by-election results.

  • Anthony Aloysius St

    “I didn’t say anything about your “above post.” I was referring to numerous posts you’ve made about local by-election results.”

    Ah right. You were referring to me pointing out that the Liberal Democrat vote has not collapsed in real elections where real people vote, indicating that the party can bounce back quickly if the “coalition” is exited and Clegg is ousted.

  • AAS has pointed out, correctly, that the slogan was “a straight choice”, not “the straight choice”, and this is crucial.

    The phrases, “it’s a straight choice” and “it’s a two-horse race”, have been used by Liberal Democrats and the predecessor parties for as long as I can remember to encourage tactical voting. They have never been intended as a back-handed attack on anyone’s sexual orientation.

    The Liberal campaign in the 1982 Bermondsey byelection was not homophobic. The homophobia was whipped up by John O’Grady and sections of the media. None of it came from Simon Hughes or any Liberal.

    Liberals were, of course, trenchant in their criticisms of Peter Tatchell’s publicly expressed opinions, which were outre by any standard – so outre that he was disowned by the then Labour leader, Michael Foot.

    Perhaps Felipe would be kind enough to answer the following questions:

    (1) What do you make of Neil Kinnock using words like “queer” and “poof”, and cracking homophobic jokes, in working men’s clubs in South Wales during the 1980s?

    (2) How much respect do gay people have in countries that have the economic system that Peter Tatchell was advocating the UK adopt in the early 1980s?

  • @Jason
    November 6th, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Brilliant post. Spot on with every word.

  • Woolas is a weasel without whom Parliament will be a better place.

    What more needs to be said ?

  • Sesenco

    i will answer your questions

    1. if what you suggest happened i would condemn anyone Neil Kinnock or whoever it is- i really dont take a view on an indviduals behaviour simply because of which party their in- there’s bad ones in all of them- pretty simple answer i would have thought- you concur?

    it did amuse me in May when so many Lib dems leapt to the defence of David Laws when even he admitted – it didnt look right – can you not bring yourselves to condmen a lib dem when they cross the line

    2. Very little i imagine but whats that got to do with the question of behaviour in elections- a real diversion tactic if ive ever seen one

    so theres your answers as for your defence of the words A straight choice – its incredible that after so long Liberals are still in denial when even Simon Hughes himself in 2006 acknowledged how awful that campaign was – and my original question is still unanswered why is Hughes brought out to moralise about election conduct

  • Felipe,

    You allegation is pure fantasy. In 1983, “straight” didn’t mean “heterosexual”. You are hoist by your own ignorance.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Nov '10 - 12:26am

    “In 1983, “straight” didn’t mean “heterosexual”.”

    Oh dear, now you’re just getting silly again. It certainly did, as you can verify by a time-limited search on Google Books, for example.

    I doubt the Simon Hughes slogan had anything to do with Peter Tatchell’s sexuality, but it doesn’t help matters when people make patently false claims like this.

  • Anthony Aloysius St,

    Sorry, I can clearly recall people using the word to refer to people who weren’t into recreational drugs and counter culture. It might well have meant “heterosexual” across the Atlantic, or among Gay Lib afficionados, but not in Bermondsey.

  • “Yes, Simon used the campaign slogan “The Straight Choice”.”

    Except he didn’t
    http://www.by-elections.co.uk/bermondsey83/libber832b.jpg
    http://www.by-elections.co.uk/bermondsey83/libber834b.jpg

  • Hywel,

    The one phrase in those leaflets that does jar a little is “or we can face the future”. “Face the Future” was thte title of a book by Dr David Owen, published around that time.

    Joking aside, the leaflets do make it very clear that “a straight choice” was about tactical voting, not Tatchell’s sexual orientation. As you can see, the attacks on Tatchell focus on his political views, which were naive at best, outlandishly extreme at worst.

    That fact that Simon Hughes is still there 28 years later shows that, unlike some Liberal Democrats I could mention, he keeps his promises and doesn’t let people down.

  • Sesenco

    youre never going to accept it – fine but do tell us why Saint Simon apologised to Peter in 2006- politicians arent known for apologies even retrospective ones

    and you still havent answered why is Hughes brought out to moralise when you consider the “vile” – thats his word campaign of such personal abuse at the labour candidate

    sorry to keep on but the question is valid and pertinent

  • Felipe,

    Neither of your questions can be answered by me. I suggest you put them to the relevant people.

    Now, how about this one? Not long before the Bermondsey byelection, the Labour MP, Peter Hardy, was interviewed by Robin Day on “The World at One” about his updating of the Labour Party’s songbook. Day said: “How about some contemporary songs, like ‘Glad to be Gay’?” Hardy’s response was: “I’m not gay and I wouldn’t be glad to be if I was.” As we all know, there have never been any homophobes in your beloved Labour Party!

  • Anthony Aloysius St 7th Nov '10 - 6:52pm

    “It might well have meant “heterosexual” across the Atlantic, or among Gay Lib afficionados, but not in Bermondsey.”

    If you could be bothered to check instead of just pontificating, you would alos find that the word “straight” was used to mean “heterosexual” in the mainstream British press in 1983 – without any explanation of the usage being thought necessary.

  • Anthony Aloysius St

    Examples, please. Or should I say, “examples ALOS”?

  • Peter Chivall 7th Nov '10 - 10:53pm

    My understanding is that Simon Hughes, as Deputy Leader of the LibDems, is the most senior LibDem backbencher. Since Ministers cannot comment on a court case, especially if it is subject to appeal, then Simon is the obvious person to comment on a Parliamentary matter.
    The question that Labour has to answer is not just that Woolas was appointed as shadow immigration minister by Ed Milliband, given his appalling authoritarian record over child detention etc., but that the Labour Party paid for his defence when it was his (and his agent’s) personal conduct (in issuing the offending leaflets) rather than any political stance which was the subject of the election petition.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 8th Nov '10 - 4:06pm

    The Times, Friday, Mar 11, 1983, TV review:
    “The categories of “gay” and “straight” are in any case so narrow and exclusive that their relevance is strictly limited to the bedroom.”

    (How clever of you to pick up on my typo, by the way.)

  • Sesenco

    i think i made myself abundantly clear on homophobic behaviour by any politicians earlier in this debate- im sure we can all find examples from the mainstream parties if we look long enough they should all be condemend – that 1983 by election was a plague on all the parties yes including Labour- oh and by the way where do you get that im beloved of the labour party – i said i worked at the Bermondsey by election i never mentioned that it was for a political party – dont make assumptions

  • toryboysnevergrowup 8th Nov '10 - 5:14pm

    Re the Bermondsey byelection in 1983 some of us who were around at the time must have raised a somewhat ironic smile when Simon Hughes proceeded to lecture us on how to behave in elections. Liberal canvassers on the doorstep were openly homophobic in their comments and there were many other lies told about the Peter Tatchell. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but sureley the LibDems could find someone with a cleaner history in this regard.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 8th Nov '10 - 5:47pm

    Getting back to Oldham, here is an interesting bit of gossip from a blog post by Mark Seddon:
    “But then, thrown into the lively mix, I can reveal, is the plan by a former founder member of the old breakaway Social Democratic Party, Professor Stephen Haseler, to stand an anti coalition Liberal Democrat candidate. Haseler is a Professor of Government and Director of the Global Policy Institute, and thorn in the side of the Establishment. Haseler’s cunning plan should be taken very seriously by the Coalition, especially if he and his allies can find a strong local candidate to run. There are a number of local Liberal Democrats less than enamoured by the cuts agenda of the Coalition, and already there is talk of finding a high profile candidate to carry the banner for a more recognisable Liberal candidate, who local supporters with their long non conformist tradition might buy into. One name entering the frame is the former Leeds MP and lifelong true Liberal, Michael Meadowcroft.”
    http://bigthink.com/ideas/24855

  • toryboysnevergrowup,

    Do you have any evidence for this? Just thought I’d ask.

    Felipe,

    It is surely you who is making assumptions, the most egregious of which is your assumption that Labour propaganda about the Bermondsey byelection is true.

    Anthony Aloysius St,

    Having dealt with the sillies, I’ll move to the more substantial stuff. I think it unlikely that “The Times” had a particularly wide readership in Bermondsey at the time. A TV review in that paper is likely to have been authored by a “media person” au fait with the latest trendy jargon feeding in from gay insiders and from across the Atlantic, but yet to reach the bulk of the populace.

    My first clear recollection of the use of the word “straight” to mean “heterosexual” was a BBC play starring Anton Rogers and Nigel Havers whose name I forget (along with those of the co-stars). The Rogers character says he can understand why “straights” object to being chatted up in public lavatories, to which comment the dinner companions take deep offence. I think that was broadcast in the early to mid eighties, but my memory is a little hazy on the date.

    I am, however, very clear that a friend of mine complained that some uninvited party guests were “straights”, meaning that they didn’t wish to partake of recreational drugs. That was in 1978. If the word had also meant “heterosexual”, he would not have used it.

    I also recall that during the period from say 1978 to say 1983, the word “het” was widely used to mean “heterosexual”.

    As for alos, in Iberian that means “smith or carpenter”, as in Alostigi, a town mentioned only by Pliny and placed by him in what is now known as the Sierra Nevada. In Basque, the word is arotz. But that is getting off topic…

  • Anthony Aloysius St 8th Nov '10 - 9:48pm

    “My first clear recollection of the use of the word “straight” to mean “heterosexual” was a BBC play starring Anton Rogers and Nigel Havers whose name I forget (along with those of the co-stars). The Rogers character says he can understand why “straights” object to being chatted up in public lavatories, to which comment the dinner companions take deep offence. I think that was broadcast in the early to mid eighties, but my memory is a little hazy on the date.”

    Perhaps the Play For Today entitled “Coming Out,” broadcast in 1979:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078985/

  • toryboysnevergrowup 9th Nov '10 - 10:39am

    Sensenco

    Only what I was told repeatedly by Labour and other voters who I canvassed. It is only in recent times that we have discovered the importance of getting documented evidence of what LibDems actually say so that they may subsequently be held to account.

  • toryboysnevergrowup,

    It would be lovely to know what Tony Blair said to Dick Cheney when told to fabricate intelligence to justify UK involvement in the Iraq War.

    Question: Why should I believe you? After all, you do have an axe to grind, don’t you? The trouble with documentation is that when one does it, wishful thinking often withers.

    PS: Nice to see you are able to reconstruct proto-Vasconic on the basis of comparison with Caucasian and Burushaski.

    Anthony Aloysius St,

    That is definitely the one.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 9th Nov '10 - 3:58pm

    Sesenco

    Question: Why should I believe you?

    Believe what you want (you uusually do) – but I know what my ears heard. And remember even Simon Hughes felt he needed to apologise for something to Peter Tatchell many years later.

    As for leaving documentation – we all know that Andy Ellis (and where is that charm merchant these days!) was too smart an operator to leave any.

    And of course I have an axe to grind – don’t you?

  • toryboysnevergrowup,

    “but I know what my ears heard.”

    But we don’t. There were hundreds of Liberal and SDP activists working in that byelection. One can never be certain that one or two once or twice yielded to the temptation to mention Tatchell’s sexual orientation. What is missing is actual evidence that any did. If such evidence existed, be sure we would have been hit over the head with it a thousand times over. Tatchell’s sexual orientation was clearly an issue in the campaign, and it was the subejct of much interest and speculation in the media. Doubtless, Liberal and SDP canvassers would have been asked about it. “Is it true that Tatchell is (insert colloquialism)?” Answers like “yes” and “I believe so” or “so I understand” would indubitably be interpreted by you and fellow Labour tribalists, on second and third hand hearing, as attacking Tatchell on grounds of his sexual orientation. Now, tell me how many seasoned Labour canvassers went round those blocks in Bermondsey preaching gay liberation. Did you?

    Was Andy Ellis too smart to allow canvassers out on the street without him as chaperone?

  • toryboysnevergrowup 9th Nov '10 - 8:01pm

    Sesenco

    I of corse heard the same stories many other times from other Labour canvassers – and there were similar reports in the media at the time. But if you want evidence from a less hostile source perhaps you should look at the linked article. Of course under LibDem double standards it is quite permissible to take 13 years to apologise for elctoral slurs against other candidates. Presumably the only thing that is unacceptable to LibDems when campaigning is being caught, or at least only being caught after the period of statutory limitation is up?

    Perhaps you should also ask yourself why when disscussing things with Tories during campaigns, one of the few things that we can agree on is that LibDems usually fight the dirtiest of all the parties.

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-349.html/

  • toryboysnevergrowup,

    “and there were similar reports in the media at the time.”

    And you pray in aid the most authoritative source of all!

    Other things you can agree with the Tories on:

    (1) Candidates being allowed to tell lies about their opponents in election campaigns.
    (2) US imperialist wars.
    (3) Extending the gap between rich and poor.
    (4) Being incredibly relaxed about people getting filthy rich.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 10th Nov '10 - 9:36am

    Re (1), (3) and (4) – I can only presume that this is why the LibDems are now so comfortable in being in coalition with the Tories. Re (2) – I await the inevitable u-turn from LibDems when their new best friends come asking for support, you’ve done a U-turn on just about everything else when pushed so it is only a matter of time.

    I note that you conspicuosly fail to address the original issue – but then again that is standard LibDem tactics isn’t it i.e. attack your opponent rather than answer embarassing questions.

  • toryboysnevergrowup,

    It takes some brass neck for an ex-Spartist like you to excoriate Liberal Democrats for making U-turns, when the Labour Party made the biggest U-turn in history – abandoning any pretence to be socialist and becoming the party of the rich.

    As for the original issue, I am still waiting for actual evidence that the Liberal Party used homophobia to attack Peter Tatchell in the 1983 Bermondsey byelection. There isn’t any, is there? If there was, you would be sure to wave it at us.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 10th Nov '10 - 10:53pm

    Yesterday Mr Hughes repeated a previous apology for any homophobia in his party’s 1983 campaign. “I apologise for any part that I wittingly or unwittingly played. Nothing should require people to suffer the sort of abuse and indignity that he [Mr Tatchell] did in that campaign.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/the-homophobic-campaign-that-helped-win-bermondsey-524703.html

    So Hughes had nothing to apologise for did he??

    All you are really saying is that there is only an offence if you get caught – if you making slurs without leaving paper evidence and only verbatim accounts from Labour supporters then you believe there is nothing wrong. Most of the evidence I have is what I heard with my own ears – and I am not a liar, despite what you may think.

    As for me ever being a Spartist you clearly have no idea whatsoever.

  • toryboysnevergrowup,

    “only verbatim accounts from Labour supporters”

    Verbatim accounts of what? Hearsay?

    Ah, but you are now condradicting yourself. You tell us that none of these allegations was documented. If so, how can they be verbatim?

    “Most of the evidence I have is what I heard with my own ears”

    You have only claimed to have heard hearsay with your own ears. That isn’t evidence.

    Clearly you are contemptuous of due process, as one would expect of a partisan Labour tribalist. You want X to be true, and are unconcerned that the evidence to support your motivated conclusion is totally lacking. And you say you were never a Spartist?

  • toryboysnevergrowup 11th Nov '10 - 9:54am

    You have only claimed to have heard hearsay with your own ears. That isn’t evidence.

    Yes it is – it may not be admissible in court or sufficient to achieve a conviction, and at the time this was the view taken by most in the LAbour Party. But quite clearly Simon Hughes thinks that there was something going on for which he had to apologiose.

    Quite clearly you believe that it is acceptable to defame your political opponents – providing that you do not leave evidence of a standard that would stand up in court. You clearly fail to understand that there is a difference between morality and legality. You will search in vain for me saying that the evidence was of sufficient standard to warrant taking the matter to court. You on the other hand are happy to provide definitive statements that there was no homophobia in the Liberal campaign.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 11th Nov '10 - 9:57am

    Just to be pedantic – verbatim does not mean documented, look it up in a dictionary.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 11th Nov '10 - 10:01am

    @ Sensenco “The Liberal campaign in the 1982 Bermondsey byelection was not homophobic. The homophobia was whipped up by John O’Grady and sections of the media. None of it came from Simon Hughes or any Liberal.”

    So what was Simon Hughes apologising for 13 years later??

  • About time to stop feding this troll, methinks. Unless he can find some EVIDENCE to support his claim, that is.

  • toryboysnevergrowup,

    “Quite clearly you believe that it is acceptable to defame your political opponents”

    You are a liar. I think no such thing, and have said no such thing.

    On the other hand, dozens of Labour MPs think it is OK for Phil Woolas to defame Elwyn Watkins.

    As Lenin said, there is no morality in the class struggle. Anything that elects members of the Labour tribe is justified.

    As for the meaning of “verbatim”, I said that something cannot be verbatim unless it is documented, a point you fail to grasp. When you use big words, make sure you know their meaning first.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 11th Nov '10 - 12:39pm

    “Quite clearly you believe that it is acceptable to defame your political opponents”

    EVIDENCE

    “Clearly you are contemptuous of due process”
    “for an ex-Spartist like you”
    “Other things you can agree with the Tories on:

    (1) Candidates being allowed to tell lies about their opponents in election campaigns.
    (2) US imperialist wars.
    (3) Extending the gap between rich and poor.
    (4) Being incredibly relaxed about people getting filthy rich.”

    “You are a liar.”

    “Anything that elects members of the Labour tribe is justified.”

    “dozens of Labour MPs think it is OK for Phil Woolas to defame Elwyn Watkins”

    You still haven’t answered the quuestion as to why Simon Hughes felt it necessary to apologise.

    Verbatim definition – verbatim
    adj : in precisely the same words used by a writer or speaker; “a
    direct quotation”; “repeated their dialog verbatim”
    [syn: direct]
    adv : using exactly the same words; “he repeated her remarks
    verbatim” [syn: word for word]

    As I said look in the dictionary – quite clearly something can be verbatim without being “documented”, unless of course you are having trouble with what “documented” means.

  • Elwyn Watkins signed the pledge to vote against any rise in tuition fees. Was this a knowing attempt to buy votes or incompetence that he did not realise that this was the libdem central policy plank and it wasn’t really a disaster to raise them to 7,000 after all now they can rise to 9,000, but merely something that ‘could not be done’.

    Did Clegg know this pledge would be reneged upon before the election?

    If it is proven he did will you support his removal from office and parliament as a deliberate deceiver to obtain votes under false pretences.

    You are making a terrible mistake if you think this will not lead to terrible punishment in the polls and a permanent loss of support from a significant number of people especially young voters.

    Don’t dismiss this, I am not a labour supporter and I have been inclined towards the Libdems, that won’t be happening again.

    Libdems have taken leave of their senses if they think this is acceptable.

  • toryboysnevergrowup,

    If you cannot see that a report cannot be verbatim unless it is documented, then you are rather clearly incapable of any kind of logical thought process.

    Once again, for the umpteenth time plus: what evidence is there that the Liberal Party used homophobia to attack Peter Tatchell in the 1983 Bermondsey byelction?

  • toryboysnevergrowup 11th Nov '10 - 4:54pm

    People on the doorstep gave me (and others)verbatim account of what Liberal canvassers had said to them. I never said there was any documented report of those conversations – only you are saying that there should have been.

    “Once again, for the umpteenth time plus: what evidence is there that the Liberal Party used homophobia to attack Peter Tatchell in the 1983 Bermondsey byelction?”

    For the umpteenth time the evidence, apart from what I heard in verbatim accounts, is that Simon Hughes felt he had to apologise for such behaviour. There were other comments at the time of the byelection – but sadly the internet wasn’t around in 1983 so that everything is easily available. I could also ask why you are so definitive as to why there was no such conduct as you have previously stated.

  • toryboysnevergrowup,

    You’re doing it again. A verbatim report is one that is word-for-word. It is an exact record of what someone said, unimpaired by faulty memory, reporting bias, taking out of context, etc. A verbatim report can only be recorded in permanent form – ie, in writing, on tape, etc. It cannot be (half-)remembered then blurted out to someone else at some subsequent stage. That is hearsay. That is an oral account of what some unidentified person may or may not have said, and is subject to the defects I allude to above. You cannot invent the truth.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 11th Nov '10 - 8:29pm

    Sesenco

    I have never referred to verbatim “reports” – that is purely your construct. I always received to “verbatim accounts” which I heard. Please read what is actually said rather than putting your own interpretation on it and then criticising others for not following that interpretation. I am not claiming that what I heard would be sufficient to obtain a court prosecution – it wouldn’t. But I still believe it to be true to this day – just as I believe most verbatim (word for word) accounts from my family and friends. It’s a little thing called trust.

    You still haven’t answered the question as to what Simon Hughes was apologising for.

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