He’s hurt, of course. He’s lost his career, his income and his reputation. His name will be known for years to come as the MP who was disbarred for having “knowingly” lied about his opponent. It’s hardly surprising that Phil Woolas wants to claim that it’s all unfair.
But his interpretation of events just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.
He implies, just as he did in the hearings before judges, that what he did what just part of the run-of-the-mill of political knockabout, and that others have dealt with him in the same way over the years. “It is now unclear what is political and what is personal,” he says.
No, it is NOT unclear, and his opponents have not treated him in the same way as he treated them.
In the past his actions, the reason for them and the likely effects of them, have been subjectively interpreted– this happens to everyone in politics, it’s the difference between the Daily Mirror and Daily Telegraph view of events - but no-one invented those actions or put words into his mouth.
Phil Woolas says that the voters should be given the right to judge him. But those same voters have been deceived by him in the past. He told them lies, and he knew he was doing it. The judges who condemned him were able to hear what he hoped the voters last May would not - both sides of the case.
He was desperate last May. He faced election defeat and was ready to do anything to avoid it. So he listened to the words of his election agent, Joe Fitzpatrick, who thought that Woolas’s best hope was “to make the white folk angry.” Together, they bet everything on influencing opinion and swinging the votes with just a couple of leaflets. They were humdingers, quite vile.
The Immigration Minister of the United Kingdom didn’t just tell lies to try and secure his re-election, he told racist lies, intended to pander to the fears of white residents. That’s why what he did was so utterly beyond the pale.
I don’t feel personal animosity towards Phil Woolas. I hope he will pick up the pieces and get an alternative career; I am sure there are plenty of people in the Labour Party who will give him a helping hand.
But what he did was despicable, and democracy in Britain is the better for his defeat.