Does the Woolas case open up a whole can of worms?

I have stood for Parliament twice. I have lost twice. I have seen plenty of election literature which frankly is close to the line with regards electoral law, but would have been perfectly legitimate if somewhat annoying to a candidate.

So the election is to be run because Mr Woolas knowingly made false statements. Hang on – lets go through some of the manifestos of each opposition party before they came into Government. I would suggest many would say they knowingly made false statements.

But lets put that to one side. Aren’t we now in a situation where a disgruntled candidate who thinks their opponent has said something untrue about the will take them to court to try to get the election re-run? I can show you a leaflet which gave the impression that my job meant I didn’t live in the locality. It didn’t state that, but it gave the impression, even though what was written was factually accurate. Isn’t that just the cut and thrust of politics?

UPDATE:- I wonder what the electorate make of this? Will they punish Labour for forcing a re-run of an election, or will they punish coalition candidates who Labour will accuse of implementing draconian cuts? I have an appalling record at tipping election winners – but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Labour romp home.

UPDATE :- Bookies think I am right Ladbrokes: Oldham East re-run – Lab 1/3, Con 7/2, LD 8/1

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7 Responses to Does the Woolas case open up a whole can of worms?

  1. Pingback: Will Woolas defeat set a bizarre precedent? | Westminster Blog: The latest on UK politics |

  2. Matt says:

    While I see your point, there has to be a distinction between suggesting you don't live in the constituency, and making clear racist statements regarding your opponents?

  3. editor says:

    Matt – I think (could be wrong) its the fact that false statements were made. It isnt the fact that as you allege racist statements were made that the election is being re-run.

    My worry is that election will faced with the same issue that councillors face when they all start reporting each other to the standards board, which just doesnt help democracy.

  4. cynicalHighlander says:

    The Labour is full of these corrupt practices and if the compliant media would do some proper investigative journalism the whole of the UK would benefit.

  5. Andy says:

    It has absolutely NOTHING to do with policy manifestos. Section 106 of the Representation of the People 1983:

    (1) A person who, or any director of any body or association corporate which—

    (a) before or during an election,

    (b) for the purpose of affecting the return of any candidate at the election, makes or publishes any false statement of fact in relation to the candidate’s personal character or conduct shall be guilty of an illegal practice, unless he can show that he had reasonable grounds for believing, and did believe, that statement to be true.

  6. editor says:

    Yes Andy I get that.

    Im pointing out there may well have been alot of students who voted Tory as they said they would keep the EMA for example. We arent. That policy influenced more I am sure than a Woolas leaflet. Can they take any Tory to court, and if not why not?

    What about candidates who pretend that a hospital is closing and campaign about that even though they know full well it will not? It isnt an attack on a specific candidate – by by god its put out there to "affect the return of any candidate at the election".

  7. keynesianism says:

    Well if the lib dems win it I shall leave the country as it will be clear that people have completely lost their marbles and there is no hope left for the country.

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