Friday, November 05, 2010

A Test for Labour or the Coalition?

I had to laugh at this tweet from Cathy Newman of Channel 4 News. On the face of it you can see what she means. But it's interesting to note that her first reaction was not to think it would be Ed Miliband's first test. Having said that, I suppose it isn't his first test. Because he failed that when he appointed Phil Woolas to a front bench position rather than wait to see the outcome of the Election Court. Will he now disown him? If Woolas is the candidate in the election re-run it will say much about Ed Miliband's all new Labour Party. UPDATE: Apparently Woolas is ineligible to stand in the rerun.

It will take some time to assess the full impact of this decision. Some will think it is totally over the top and will prevent proper robust debate about the merits of rival candidates, while others will believe that it will serve as a useful reminder that if you promote a campaign of hate, you might end up getting your just desserts.

UPDATE: Sayeeda Warsi has waded in with a pithy quote...

"This ruling exposes Ed Miliband’s terrible misjudgement. He was fully aware of Phil Woolas’s despicable and inflammatory campaign but still appointed him to a highly sensitive role on his front bench. After failing to act when Ken Livingstone directly contravened party rules, and dithering over whether to attend the TUC rally, Labour has another leader who’d rather duck a difficult decision than show real leadership."


Archbishop Cranmer said...

Everyone is jumping the gun over this.

There is absolutely nothing preventing Mr Woolas from requesting a Judicial Review.

This will go on for months and months and months - the cogs of judicial democracy grind very slowly..'

P. Stable said...

The tabloid press in this country - especially the Mail, Star and Express - make false statements and attempt to stir up racial hatred on pretty much a daily basis. So they'll be up in arms about this verdict. Right?

trevorsden said...

The posters were a disgrace - as shocking an episode as I can remember.

Its about time the likes of Woolas' actions were stopped. But its usually labour and the LDs who smear each other like this.

The LDs would be wise not to crow too much.

Malc said...


If there is a by-election (and I agree with the Archbishop, that's not a certainty at the mo) then the reason it would be a test of the coalition is that - presumably - both the Lib Dems AND the Tories will stand a candidate. The test is really how they deal with that - and don't fight with each other too much.

I don't think its too far of a leap to suggest that it is a test for the coalition (though I agree, a considerable test for "Red" Ed's "New New" Labour too...

Alan said...

I've noticed that Cathy increasingly lets her Jon Snow tendencies show, especially in her "fact check" (sic) blog

HampsteadOwl said...

By-election at Old & Sad

Presumably the Lib Dems will be calling on the services of Vince Cable

Osama the Nazarene said...

Newman's tweet is spot on. If Labour lose nobody will notice but if the Lib Dems lose their deposit and/or the Tory vote drops significantly the coalition will need a stiff drink and carry on regardless. Though there will be siren voices to reverse the correct policies undertaken.

Stephen Wigmore said...

Isn't this about the fifth "first test for the coalition" we've had. Can journalists not count or something?

theflashingblade said...

Trevorsden. Posters?

Have you read anything about the story you're so quick to comment on? Fool.

Nigel said...

The suggestion that the decision will "prevent robust debate" is nonsense.
Unless you are suggesting that "robust debate" requires the public acceptance of blatant lies ?

The propaganda put out by the Woolas campaign was tested in court and found not to be questionable or unproven, but to be clearly untrue:

"In our judgment to say that a person has sought the electoral support of persons who advocate extreme violence, in particular to his personal opponent, clearly attacks his personal character or conduct.

"It suggests that he is willing to condone threats of violence in pursuit of personal advantage.

"Having considered the evidence which was adduced in court we are sure that these statements were untrue. We are also sure that the respondent had no reasonable grounds for believing them to be true and did not believe them to be true.

"We also found that (in) an earlier election address the respondent had made a statement in fact, namely, that the petitioner had reneged on his promise to live in the constituency. This too, although made in the context of an election and said to arise from a statement made by the petitioner as a candidate in that election, was in relation to his personal character or conduct.

"It suggests that he is untrustworthy. The statement was false and the respondent had no reasonable ground for believing it to be true and did not believe it to be true..."

Bottom line: you may be as disobliging as you wish about your political opponents, but you may not libel them.
Seems reasonable to me.

rob's uncle said...

'Deserts' NOT 'desserts':

‘ Desert n. . . 3. That which is deserved; a due reward or recompense, whether good or evil. Often in phr. to get, have, meet with one's deserts.
. . 1483 CAXTON G. de la Tour Fvij, For god gyueth to euery one the deserte of his meryte.
. . 1756 BURKE Vind. Nat. Soc. Wks. 1842 I. 18 Whether the greatest villain breathing shall meet his deserts . . ‘ [OED]