Saturday, 6 November 2010

Good riddance to Phil Woolas

Phil Woolas, formerly immigration minister, lied and exploited racist sentiments to win his seat in the General Election. As a result, the High Court has overturned the ballot and banned him standing for public office for three years. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving piece of scum.

As the Guardian explains, he "knowingly misled voters in Oldham East in a desperate bid to stir up religious tensions in the last days of the election by claiming" that his Lib Dem opponent Elwyn Watkins "had "wooed" Islamic extremists." Confidential campaign emails apparently also stated that "if we don't get the white folk angry he [Woolas]'s gone." All of which tactics should be familiar - to antifascists.

As if that weren't bad enough, Liberal Conspiracy has revealed that Woolas authorised the use of force on children. And I have previously noted his callous attitude to the rights of refugee children. This amongst a myriad of remarks and policies that would do the BNP proud.

The difference, of course, is that Phil Woolas isn't just following the far-right's lead in stirring up tensions, and leading the anger of the working class down a nationalist blind alley. He spent two years in government, putting those reactionary ideas into practice in ways that had a significant impact on untold numbers of desperate people, especially children, trying to make a new life for themselves.

In practice, many of the same accusations could be levelled at many other ministers and politicians. "Beating the BNP" by refusing to debunk their lies, mirroring their rhetoric, and further twisting class issues to look like race issues is all par for the course within British party politics. But where Woolas was different was the enthusiasm he brought to the game. The almost sadistic ecstasy as he lurched to the far-right, egged on by a media so reactionary that it could call him "soft" on immigration and keep a straight face.

Or, as Anton Vowl put it;
Your lasting achievement in Government was to be the person who represented a caving-in to mythology, the man who represented a new strategy of trying to outflank the right on immigration, and a failure all round. And now you're still trying to cling on with your dirty fingernails - and no-one's trying to stop you. You should be ashamed of yourself, but of course you're not - if you had any shame, you wouldn't have produced those election materials, and you wouldn't have said and done the things you did when you were in government.
So here's hoping that this marks the beginning of Woolas's long march into political obscurity. If he's honest, the wretched toad could even join the BNP. At least, without the prospect of any political power in the near future, he'd do a lot less damge.