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Jerry Hayes


November 6th, 2010 by Jerry Hayes

The Woolas affair is all a bit rum. The Lib Dems behaved to form and did what they always do when they’ve just lost a seat they thought they should have won: cry foul. Usually it’s trawling through election expenses to find where the anomalies lurk. And there is always a lot of scope. Election expenses are the Turner Prize winners of election art as they are as shocking as they are creative. You’ll find more pork pies here than in Tescos.

In 1979 the Tories had a potential disaster on their hands. Thatcher’s Shadow Education Secretary, Norman St John Stevas ,was hanging on to his Chelmsford seat by a thread. The Liberal candidate, the splendid Stuart Mole, was destined to win. So the Tories did what they always do when faced with disaster. They panicked.

Chelmsford was invaded by a blue army. No resident was left undisturbed and the amount of money being spent would have done justice to Robert Mugabe’s printing presses. Well, Stevas won and the Liberals started to rummage through the accounts to discover spending that would make the Greeks blush. There was a court case and a deal where the agent took the blame, was hung out to dry and sent to prison.  A decision which was, squalid, unfair and taken within the bounds of morality of  a hedge fund manager. I always thought that, “the secret weapon of the Tories is loyalty”, was meant to be ironic.

So there is nothing new in using dirty tricks to win seats. And anyone who has ever stood will agree on one thing. The Liberal Democrats are the masters of it. Each election night the Tory and Labour candidates would compare notes on the utterly ruthless and cynical leaflets with the vilest of claims and  fictional opinion polls. Whilst the Lib Dem opponent would be weeping  in the corner for the victory he had convinced himself was his.

So nobody comes to this debate with clean hands. Although, I did shed tears of laughter when I heard Harriet Harman say with a straight face that, “it is no part of Labour’s politics to win elections by telling lies”. No dear.  Now you just toddle off with nice Lord Mandelson, who, after a few days relaxing water boarding will put you right.

What struck me about the Woolas election was that his cardinal sin was not smearing his opponent, which was not very bright, but by acknowledging his very existence by mentioning him. You just don’t give them publicity. And certainly don’t churn out leaflets telling everyone how to spell the bloody man’s name. That was one of the first ground rules that was drummed into me 1980s.

If there is going to a by election and I expect the Speaker to announce that there won’t be one until all avenues of  appeal are exhausted, how are the Tories and the Lib Dems going to play it? They can try and pretend that they are fighting it on local issues and that this is not a judgement on the Coalition. But it will be. The Lib Dem vote is falling through the floor at the moment and the Conservatives are only noticeable in this neck of the woods by the bells they wear round their necks. Perhaps, it’s time to take a deep breath and field a Coalition candidate. It will have to be the Lib Dem who was beaten at the last election. And the Tories would hardly be losing out. Or, if we are being really cynical, the Tories could withdraw out of, ” gentlemanly fair play” and let the other two parties slug it out. All parties are going to think this one through very carefully indeed.

I am very fond of Phil Woolas. He is a thoroughly decent man with a self-deprecatory sense of humour, which is rare for someone who has been a minister for so long. And he was rather a good minister. One of the stories he used to dine out on was when he was on the same platform as Edwina Currie. She, as a junior Health Minister had just finished her speech and it was time for Phil to wow the crowd. Slowly, he rose to his feet, surveying the throng. But before words could quiver from his lips he felt an excruciating pain in his nether regions. Out of the view of the audience a grinning Edwina  had reached under the table and squeezed his bollocks in a vice like grip. Poor Phil never recovered his composure.

Dear old Phil. A really nice guy.  I really do wish him well.

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Comments [ 15 ]

  1. Lorna Spenceley Lorna Spenceley says:

    Jerry, I’m finding real trouble squaring your description ‘a really nice guy’ with the vilely racist leaflets (designed to ‘make the white folk angry’) put out in his name in Old & Sad. Help me out here, will you?

    • Jerry Hayes Jerry Hayes says:

      I know. So do I. I’ve just known him for a very long time. This sort of behaviour is something which is quite appalling, but is totally out of character from the guy I know. Am only surmising that orders were given from on high in desperation. I can’t condone any of this. I just am very loyal to friends no matter how stupid they have been

  2. Ed Thompson Ed Thompson says:

    Shouldn’t MP’s be held to a higher standard. If any lib dem campaigner lies, every other party immediately brings it to the the notice of the electorate – yet if tory or labour campaigners lie, noone takes notice. One might say that is because they expect it.

    The sort of behaviour that Phil Woolas displayed was venal. If you don’t come down on it then others will follow his behaviour.

    • Jerry Hayes Jerry Hayes says:

      Of course it was venal and wrong and this sort of behaviour must not be tolerated. Sadly, all parties have allowed standards to slip at one time or another. I’m rather sad that it happens to be someone I like and respect

  3. vvv vvv says:

    There seems to be an awful amount of “gonad” molestaion going on in the corridors of power.
    Even Queensbury rules forbid blows below the belt.

  4. jerry jerry says:

    Woolas is a racist, and an electoral cheat.

    How can you defend him?

    I suppose you also support the murder of brown people, which seems to be a core policy of the labour party.



  5. Glyn H Glyn H says:

    A nice bloke? He is a typical New Labour toad. As a self employed sole trader I sought to take advantage of Prescotts Small Business Rate relief scheme. It exactly covered my situation (lots of individual coin operated telescope sites, some ludicrously individually rated). Woolas as a minister said that just ‘cos their lrgislation said x it meant y and I could go away. Typical insoucient incompetence which hall marked their vile malevolent administration.

    • Jerry Hayes Jerry Hayes says:

      He is a nice bloke. But just behaved really badly during an election. Sadly, there is nothing new in any of this.

  6. Pete M Pete M says:

    “orders were given from on high” – so he voz only obeying orderz? That’s a tad lame don’t you think? Judge a person by their actions not by their interpersonal projections. No doubt the “system” is to blame, but he signed up to it. The slavish party approach is the root of a huge amount of the amoral behaviour of these clowns. The fact that you find an individual personable should not alter your judgement – many politicians are actors who set out to play a role and the public often buy into this con. Woolas, Neil Hamilton, Heath, Blair, Alan Clark – need I say more?

  7. Iain BB Iain BB says:

    The problem of suggesting it was a ‘one off’ aberration is that he has previous. Radio 5 carried an interview with Watkins yesterday who made it plain that on of his motivations in bring the case was that it had happened before and Woolas would just keep doing it unless he was stopped. So I guess we have to conclude that it is an aspect of his personality he had kept hidden from you.

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