Phil Woolas ejected from parliament

Article published: Friday, November 5th 2010

Oldham East MP and shadow immigration minister Phil Woolas was ejected from parliament today after a court ruled that he had broken election laws by falsely claiming Muslim extremists were supporting the campaign of his Liberal Democrat rival.

One of the leaflets distributed during the campaign.

The decision by the high court judges is the first time in 99 years a parliamentary poll has been overturned in an electoral court.

Woolas won the election by only 103 votes after distributing campaign literature that Lib Dem opponent Elywn Watkins described as containing “numerous misleading and erroneous claims regarding my personal character and reputation, and that of my campaign”.

One leaflet claimed that “Extremists are trying to hijack this election” alleging that “they want you to vote Lib Dem to punish Phil for being strong on immigration. The Lib Dems plan to give hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants the right to stay.”

Another leaflet, named Labour Rose, claimed that “Extremists rant as Phil Woolas defies death threats”, whilst an eight page newsletter accused watkins of “wooing” the extremist vote and the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) of spreading “hate leaflets” for encouraging Muslim constituents to vote tactically for Watkins in order to unseat Woolas. Depicted on the page were images of Al-Muhajirun, an entirely separate organisation from the MPAC.

An internal email amongst the Labour campaign revealed to the court said: “If we don’t get the white folk angry he’s [Woolas] gone.” The team referred to this high-stakes strategy as “shit or bust”.

These tactics are similar to ones identified as contributing to violence in the Ritchie Report into the May 2001 Oldham race riots: “The BNP has exacerbated problems and undoubtedly by distribution of crude leaflets and other activity done much to stir up tensions. The mainstream political parties have a big role to play in countering this threat, as do churches and other organisations.”

It was also revealed today that Woolas authorised the use of force for private security companies Serco and G4S, even in the cases of children and people with mental health problems. G4S was the company that were restraining Jimmy Mubenga before he died.

There will now be a by-election in his Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency, in which Woolas will not be eligible to stand. He may be able to re-enter parliament in three years, however, and is understood to be launching an appeal against the decision.

Tom Fox

More: Election, Manchester, News


  1. Whoop! For once racist Islamophobic campaigning doesn’t pay.

    Comment by Bob Bobsworth on November 5, 2010 at 2:00 pm
  2. what a piece of shit

    Comment by Withingtonian on November 5, 2010 at 2:45 pm
  3. “Shit or bust” sums up New Labour, really.

    Comment by ragnor on November 5, 2010 at 2:48 pm
  4. Whiter than white.

    Sleazy New Labour comes back to haunt us.

    Comment by simon on November 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm
  5. Only recently he pledged his support to Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit as they face a massive cut to funding. This is the same person who accused asylum lawyers and charities of playing the system. He must have been desperate for friends!

    Comment by Michael on November 6, 2010 at 6:37 pm
  6. What a scumbag. Porridge would be too good for him.

    Comment by Slacker on November 6, 2010 at 6:41 pm
  7. […] and now they try to profit from it at home. This is less crass and offensive than Phil Woolas's "shit or bust" strategy, when he tried to "make the white folks angry" by spreading lies about his Lib Dem […]

    Pingback by Forget the Lib Dems – Barnsley is another indictment of Labour | Red Pepper blog | Red Pepper on August 5, 2011 at 8:55 pm

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