Monday, November 15, 2010

The electorate should have the right to freely express their rejection of Woolas in a rerun election

Given Political Betting's fixation with the Phil Woolas case over the last few months, I didn't exactly faint with amazement at Mike Smithson's instant dismissal of Iain Dale's stated reasons for (improbably) backing the ex-MP's legal fund. In one sense I agree with Mike - I don't think it's inappropriate for the courts to step in and nullify an election result in a case where the electorate's right to "free expression" has been infringed, and I also think this is clearly one of those cases. But there are so many separate issues bound up in Woolas' application for judicial review that I don't think it's good enough to just curtly say, as Mike does, that "Iain is wrong". You don't have to want to see Woolas reinstated to think, as a matter of principle, that -

* It's a denial of natural justice that there appears to be no right of appeal in this process.

* The democratic process is not enhanced by barring Woolas from standing for election for three years.

On the latter point, while the voters may have been denied their right to free expression in May, it's hard to see how that could be the case if Woolas was permitted to stand in a rerun election - they now have all the information they could possibly need to form a proper judgement of him. That being the case, shouldn't they revert to being the boss from now on, instead of having one option artificially denied to them?


  1. Could it be that Mike would be a tad annoyed if the court decision was overturned and therefore no re-run and therefore no betting market on it? Having been away for 6 months I might be missing something else. Having seen copies of Woolas's leaflet I thought it had been issued by the National Front.


  2. Yes, I think you're right, Marcia. In fact, to be fair, he hasn't made any secret of that - the night before the judgement, he said "but I WANT a by-election"! Apart from the betting angle, I think he wants to see a proper test of how the parties are doing.