Phil Woolas guilty

… of breaching s106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983.

Not being in the court, I’m following this via Saddleworth News’ CoverItLive session.

It seems (and I stand to be corrected) that the election is now void and a by-election is in the offing.

He’s been found guilty of putting out leaflets about his Lib-Dem opponent, Elwyn Watkins, saying that he pandered to Muslim extremists and had illicitly received campaign funding from a rich Arab sheikh.

Woolas’ current constituency, Oldham East and Saddleworth (and his previous one, Littleborough and Saddleworth – or ‘Little and Sad’ as it was known) was always a Lib-Lab marginal and Woolas had a reputation for roughhouse campaigning there in the past. In the mid-1990s, he’d attacked his (pro-cannabis liberalisation) rival Chris Davies as being ‘soft on drugs and high on taxes’.

Over on Liberal Conspiracy, they’ve been calling for Woolas’ expulsion from the party even before the verdict was announced. Already, a few pro-Labour tweeters are muttering about a by-election making the seat safer in the current climate….

Update: Dan Hodges over at Labour Uncut is unpicking Labour’s crisis in dealing with immigration and the white working class – well worth a read.