Friday, 17 September 2010
Phil Woolas MP Accused of Stirring Racial Hatred to Get Elected
Phil Woolas, current MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, stands accused of doctoring photographs, misrepresenting facts and fomenting racial and religious divisions in order to “make white folks angry” at his opponent, Lib Dem’s Elwyn Watkins, as part of a desperate bid to retain his seat in the run up to the May 2010 general election. Mr Woolas is accused of seizing on anti-Muslim sentiment in Oldham by claiming his rival endorsed a Muslim campaign to remove him.
A combination of Mr. Woolas’ voting record as Immigration Minister, his involvement in the expenses scandal, in which he claimed for tampons and women’s’ clothing, and a national swing against the Labour party were deemed to be unfavorable for his chances of re-election. His own election agent, Joseph Fitzpatrick, commented, “We are picking up the vibe that Phil is going to lose.” The Conservatives had chosen Kashif Ali, a Muslim, as their candidate, which, it was thought, would cause those Tory voters that disliked this selection to vote for the Liberal Democrats instead.
Given this situation, in the words of The Telegraph,
“Mr Woolas and members of his election team became convinced that he would be beaten by the popular Liberal Democrat candidate, Elwyn Watkins, who had sufficient momentum to wipe out the minister’s 3,590 majority.”
So in the weeks before the election, Mr Woolas’s team allegedly hatched a plan cynically to exploit racial tension in Oldham, the scene of race riots in 2001, by portraying Mr Watkins as a candidate courting the vote of Islamic extremists.”
Mr Fitzpatrick proposed to Steven Green, Mr. Woolas’ campaign adviser,
“If we can convince them that they are being used by the Moslems it may save [Woolas] and the more we can damage Elwyn the easier it will be to stop the Tories from voting for him.”
“We need … to explain to the white community how the Asians will take him out … If we don’t get the white vote angry he’s gone.”
This would lead to the publication of two pamphlets carrying such headlines as “Lib Dem pact with the devil” and “Targeted: militant extremists go for Phil Woolas”. A pamphlet released the day before the election even claimed that the Lib Dem campaign was backed by groups that had issued death threats against Mr. Woolas.
Two high court judges are presiding over the hearing against Mr. Woolas and, if found guilty, he could be fined and barred from public office. A new election would be triggered in the constituency.