This is, after all, the man who refused the Gurkhas the right to live in the UK and who was responsible for the Immigration system which attracted numerous court judgements castigating them for failing to consider the welfare of children it deported. This is the same guy Ed Miliband felt it was appropriate to appoint to his front bench Home Office team just a few weeks ago, after the Court case. That surely has to raise questions about the judgment of the new (generation) Labour leader. It certainly highlights the arrogance of Woolas, for thinking it appropriate to stand for the Shadow Cabinet despite the court case against him.
Well, his career has been ended today as judges declare the May election void and order a re-run after they found him guilty of breaching the Representation of the People Act by printing untrue statements about his Liberal Democrat opponent on an election leaflet. Woolas won the election by a mere 103 votes, so it's possible that that leaflet with the lies on it, changed the result.
I can understand why people on Twitter are whooping with delight at the demise of such a thoroughly illiberal and deeply unpleasant character, and at the fact that justice has been done. It's horrible to think, though, that an election was stolen by someone disseminating untruths about their opponent. It's deeply disturbing to think that a member of the Labour Party, who are so fundamentally opposed to everything the BNP stands for, stirred up racist tensions in order to try to clinch victory. I think that's why I'm more sad than jubilant at the moment.
I have to say a huge thank you to the Saddleworth News for setting up a Cover it Live site so that we could get the news as it happened. I know the BBC's out on strike, but the mainstream media has been very dilatory in reporting this story.
Fellow blogger Nick Thornsby was there to hear the judgment and recently tweeted:
Phil Woolas is sitting in Court with his head downI'm looking forward to reading his full report of today's proceedings. He covered the original hearings in September extremely well so make sure you keep checking his site for his views over the next few days.
Just as an aside, I have very many happy memories of that 1995 by-election, when our Chris Davies beat Phil Woolas. Maybe I'll get the chance to visit Delph and Diggle and Uppermill again for this new election. It is a gorgeous part of the country so I'd recommend it.