…this isn't just about whether Harman was too rash or whether Woolas deserves a second chance; it's about competing visions of the future of Labour. It goes to the core of the party's soul.
Behind his support lies the belief by a number of Labour MPs that Woolas was right to be strident on immigration. It was the number one issue on doorsteps, they resolutely keep repeating (apparently no one cared about the economy)…To the dimwit Hundal, of course, immigration and the economy are separate things, matter and anti-matter, never to mix…
But this is a cop-out. It's a feeble response to the real debate that Labour wants to avoid: asking why immigration comes up.They know why. That’s why they don’t ask.
Sure, there are some who generally want to avoid people of other countries in their local area because it feels unsettling.Oh, really?
How can Labour respond? Being more honest with the electorate would be a start. If you sign up to the economic consensus on globalisation, free movement of capital and labour, free trade and an economy focused on reducing inflation rather than full employment, this is what you get. Of course, you also get inexpensive clothes, televisions, international food and dirt-cheap loans.And if the electorate wakes up, takes a good look around and says ‘Actually, I’d rather pay a little bit more for my stuff, and have less vibrant streets, thanks very much’..?
What then?At this point in time, I'm beginning to wonder if the Labour Party ever had a soul. Certainly, it doesn't seem to possess a spine. Or a brain....
"An ex-minister wrote last week of how we needed to 'crack down on the welfare underclass'. Others argue for us to become the 'anti-immigration party'. A new kiss up, kick down politics that blames the victim. There lies political death for Labour. No language, no warmth no kindness; no generosity, vitality nor optimism. No compassion. If you seek to outflank the coalition from the right, you will turn Labour into a byword for intolerance."He does indeed represent them. But he doesn't live amongst them, does he?
That was Labour MP Jon Cruddas, who represents some of the poorest working-class communities in London.
This isn't about race; this is about Labour's soul. Phil Woolas symbolised the people who sold the party's soul. It needs a new direction to get that back.