Why Woolas Was Right To Be Found Guilty

The last time an election court heard a case similar to that which has just overturned Phil Woolas’ election victory was in 1911 in Ireland (The ‘North Louth’ case). The following quote is from the judgement in that case, and is a great defence of why a legal remedy of this nature is necessary:

The primary protection of this statute was the protection of the constituency against acts which would be fatal to freedom of election. There would be no true freedom of election, no real expression of the opinion of the constituency, if votes were given in consequence of the dissemination of a false statement as to the personal character of conduct of a candidate…


7 responses to “Why Woolas Was Right To Be Found Guilty

  1. Can you see any problems whatsoever with this law Nick? Or is it a marvellous thing?

    • This law is not perfect, Chris, but show me any law that is. I believe that section 106 is actually pretty good, and I believe in principle that there should be a legal remedy if candidates tell outright lies about their opponent.

      • Smiling Carcass

        It is an anomaly that had Woolas made his comments in Parliament he would likely have been immune from prosecution under the 1689 Bill of Rights which gives force to parliamentary privilege.

        Lies are the life blood of politics and Parliament. No truly honest politician would make it to selection, much less election. That is the rot in our system, the much lauded ‘mother of parliaments’.

        No politician for 30 years has been honest. They have all lied about policy to get elected. They have all made excuses after the fact why they cannot honour their pledges.

        I believe in principle that there should be a legal remedy if candidates tell outright lies about their policies and intentions. But then, most politicians from at least the last 30 years would not have made it to parliament.

        Maybe not such a bad thing.

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  3. Smiling Carcass: Your point about Parliamentary privilege is probably true, but remember that smears like that lose much of their impact if the victim is given time to rebut them. Labour saved most of their leaflets to the very end of the campaign, so there was no time for Mr Watkins to squash the allegations. Given that by law several weeks have to pass between Parliament being dissolved and voting day, any accusations made in Parliament would be rebutted before election day.

    • Smiling Carcass

      Niklas, I find it amusiong that many commentators take one particular case that suits their agenda while ignoring the corruption rife in politics, despite claims of ‘clean ups’.

      The whole system stinks and will continue to do so as long as lies and deceit go unpunished and are rewarded with a £64,000 a year job.