It’s been another bad day for former Saddleworth MP Phil Woolas. After he was stripped of his victory in May’s general election for knowingly lying in election leaflets, Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman has said he won’t be welcome back in the party in the future.
As well as losing his job as an MP, Mr Woolas was suspended by the Labour Party on Friday. That followed the verdict delivered by two High Court judges in Uppermill, who agreed with Liberal Democrat Elwyn Watkins that Mr Woolas had deliberately made false statements about him.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme, Ms Harman said: “It’s no part of our politics for Labour MPs to get elected on telling lies, so we don’t argue with that judgement.” She went on to suggest that the former Immigration Minister wouldn’t be allowed to return to the Labour Party, even if he wins the judicial review which he hopes to launch.
Mr Woolas is facing a three-year ban from holding public office following the election court case. Ms Harman has also said Labour won’t support him in his attempts to force a review of the judgement.
We’re due to get more information tomorrow from the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow. He’s expected to announce if a by-election will be held straight away, or whether the process will be delayed until after any judicial review.
Ms Harman promised today that Labour would fight a “vigorous” campaign in the by-election. Meanwhile, the Conservatives have stressed that they will field their own candidate in what is a genuine three-way marginal constituency, rather than supporting their coalition partners the Lib Dems.
Meanwhile, the Woolas verdict also featured in a special edition of the BBC’s Politics Show in the North West today. Presented from Uppermill, there was a long report on the background to the case, and a feisty studio discussion with MPs from Labour and the Lib Dems.
Sadly the interview I recorded in Dobcross a few weeks ago didn’t make the edited version of the report, but it’s still a fascinating film, with contributions from Mr Watkins, the Conservative candidate Kashif Ali, and senior local Labour figures Joe Fitzpatrick and Cllr John Battye.
The full background to the case from Saddleworth News is available here.