Political campaigning is knockabout at best and downright dirty dealing at worst, and those of a gentle disposition are best advised to avoid it As far as egos and reputations go, this is by no means a non-contact sport.
Even so, Phil Woolas was sailing pretty close to the wind when he implied that his LibDem opponent at the general election was supported by muslim extremists.
Woolas also made veiled references to the other’s marital status and domestic arrangements, suggesting that his opponent was gay. This wouldn’t really sit well with his supposed muslim backers, but whoever said political smears have to be logical?
It was a surprise though that the LibDems should take the case to court given their party’s record for ‘robust’ campaigning. I recall them winning the Manchester Withington seat in 1992 on the totally fabricated claim that the last government wanted to close Christie Hospital.
But to court they went and the judge ruled that Woolas had been bang out of order and that the seat should be contested again. This has caused ructions in the house with MPs of all persuasions preening their collective ruffled feathers.
The implication of the ruling is that politicians shouldn’t spread malicious rumours about each other and that it would be a jolly good idea if they stuck to telling the truth.
Politicians not fibbing? Telling the truth? I think Dave Watts, MP for St Helens, was speaking for all his colleagues on the radio today when he said that this would set a dangerous precedent.