The Effects of Collective Muslim Lobbying: The Case of The Labour Party's Phil Woolas and his Anti-Muslim Election Campaign of 2010

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Narrow Victory:— In the aftermath of the 2010 general election for the Oldham East & Saddleworth constituency Phil Woolas, having won very narrowly (by 103 votes[1]) was evicted as an MP[1] for smearing his political opponent Elwyn Watkins.[2] The BBC reported he'd spread "leaflets" that "had accused Mr [Elwyn] Watkins of pandering" to "Muslim militants",[2] offensively referring to the Muslim[3] community (who only made up around 15%[4]—17.7%[3] of the resident population); after his eviction he was still found grieving about the ruling.[2] Investigations later found that Woolas was losing the popular Muslim vote for his pro-Israel past;[2] and for his belligerent attitude towards Muslim countries.[2][n. 1] Eventually it transpired that Woolas' campaign was so desperate to win that one his campaign advisors, councillor Joe Fitzpatrick,[5] wrote that if they didn't "get the white folk angry" at Muslims, Woolas would lose.[2][n. 2] Woolas would later attempt to clarify his comments by protesting that "[w]hat that meant" was to "make the low turnout vote angry - not at the Muslim people - but to make people angry at the Lib Dems for failing to distance themselves from those extremists".[2] The courts also ruled that that Woolas knew his rival had "not sought the support of Muslim extremists" who had allegedely "advocated violence".[2] The alleged "extremists" Woolas kept referring to turned out to be "MPACUK",[n. 3] however judges declared that MPACUK were innocent, rubbishing Woolas' claims as "bogus".[2]

Woolas' leaflets targeted Muslims.[4]
Joe Fitzpatrick is a Muslim hater.

Birth of the Muslim Lobby:— MPACUK managed to raise acute awareness over Woolas' political allegiances during the election, giving conservative Muslim candidate Kashif Ali a dramatic increase in votes to around 26.4%[6] (a swing of 8.7% - the highest out of all the candidates for that election cycle).[7] Though Ali came third with his 26.4% share,[6] he was extremely close to winning: Watkins had achieved 31.6% of the vote,[6] and Woolas 31.9%[6] of the electorate.[7] Woolas saw his vote decline by 10.7% and only won by 103 votes.[7] After Woolas was suspended, and a second election was called, Ali's vote share in the 2011 election saw him receive only 12.8% of the vote. Through direct actions MPACUK had increased the political strength of Muslims in the constituency, and almost clinched the election for the Muslim candidate. In the aftermath of the first election, Woolas went on the BBC falsely claiming that he had lost the election owed to his son's Christian name being a "Jewish name"[2] (despite the fact that many Muslim names are also "Jewish names"[8]). He further complained that he was the victim of a mass anti-Semitic conspiracy by the entire "Asian population"[2] (despite not being Jewish) bemoaning that "[t]here was vehement anti-semitism going on in the area, canvassing amongst the Asian population in the area saying: don't vote for the Jew".[2] This, like many of the claims made by Woolas, has never been verified. Woolas' campaign was wholly based on the persecution of Muslim population—in an area that was already inflamed by the infamous race riots and murders of 2001.[4]

Aftermath:— Harriet Harman later suspended,[9] and then expelled Woolas.[10] MP, David Milliband,[n. 4] was extremely sympathetic to Woolas' case however.[10] The row had exposed a potentially deeper anti-Muslim resentment amongst the Labour Party, as "dozen's" of Woolas Labour allies came out in support of him,[10] Political blog "Liberal Conspiracy" noted the disgraceful attitude of these Labour MPs who continued to support Woolas for his "disgusting" campaign propaganda leaflets, who had sought to rebel against Harman's decision.[11] The blog had also found that Woolas had given more blatant lies to the press in the aftermath of his conviction.[12] Woolas however, had effectively almost cost Labour one of their strong-holds, and had in addition proven himself as a liability for the party that has traditionally been backed by Muslims.[13] The 2010 general election also saw the voter turnout at a record high of 61.2%,[7] countering Woolas claims that he was only attempting to make the "low voter turnout"[2] angry. Voter turnout was the highest it had been since 1997 (when it was 73.9%[14] - but which had declined to 57.3% by 2005 under Woolas regime,[15] the year of the previous election). After Woolas was evicted as MP, he was barred from standing for 3 years and also fined £5,000,[1] the 2011 election saw Debbie Abrahams (Labour) win. Voter turnout fell to an all time low of 48.0%, with Muslims facing deliberate isolation, but MPACUK had however shown how powerful lobbying can be.

Woolas has attacked Muslim women in the past.[16]
Woolas' leaflets targeted Muslims.[4]

Narrow Victory:— In the aftermath of the 2010 general election for the Oldham East & Saddleworth constituency Phil Woolas, having won very narrowly (by 103 votes[1]) was evicted as an MP[1] for smearing his political opponent Elwyn Watkins.[2] The BBC reported he'd spread "leaflets" that "had accused Mr [Elwyn] Watkins of pandering" to "Muslim militants",[2] offensively referring to the Muslim[3] community (who only made up around 15%[4]—17.7%[3] of the resident population); after his eviction he was still found grieving about the ruling.[2] Investigations later found that Woolas was losing the popular Muslim vote for his pro-Israel past;[2] and for his belligerent attitude towards Muslim countries.[2][n. 5] Eventually it transpired that Woolas' campaign was so desperate to win that one his campaign advisors, councillor Joe Fitzpatrick,[5] wrote that if they didn't "get the white folk angry" at Muslims, Woolas would lose.[2][n. 6] Woolas would later attempt to clarify his comments by protesting that "[w]hat that meant" was to "make the low turnout vote angry - not at the Muslim people - but to make people angry at the Lib Dems for failing to distance themselves from those extremists".[2] The courts also ruled that that Woolas knew his rival had "not sought the support of Muslim extremists" who had allegedely "advocated violence".[2] The alleged "extremists" Woolas kept referring to turned out to be "MPACUK",[n. 7] however judges declared that MPACUK were innocent, rubbishing Woolas' claims as "bogus".[2]

Joe Fitzpatrick is a Muslim hater.

Birth of the Muslim Lobby:— MPACUK managed to raise acute awareness over Woolas' political allegiances during the election, giving conservative Muslim candidate Kashif Ali a dramatic increase in votes to around 26.4%[6] (a swing of 8.7% - the highest out of all the candidates for that election cycle).[7] Though Ali came third with his 26.4% share,[6] he was extremely close to winning: Watkins had achieved 31.6% of the vote,[6] and Woolas 31.9%[6] of the electorate.[7] Woolas saw his vote decline by 10.7% and only won by 103 votes.[7] After Woolas was suspended, and a second election was called, Ali's vote share in the 2011 election saw him receive only 12.8% of the vote. Through direct actions MPACUK had increased the political strength of Muslims in the constituency, and almost clinched the election for the Muslim candidate. In the aftermath of the first election, Woolas went on the BBC falsely claiming that he had lost the election owed to his son's Christian name being a "Jewish name"[2] (despite the fact that many Muslim names are also "Jewish names"[8]). He further complained that he was the victim of a mass anti-Semitic conspiracy by the entire "Asian population"[2] (despite not being Jewish) bemoaning that "[t]here was vehement anti-semitism going on in the area, canvassing amongst the Asian population in the area saying: don't vote for the Jew".[2] This, like many of the claims made by Woolas, has never been verified. Woolas' campaign was wholly based on the persecution of Muslim population—in an area that was already inflamed by the infamous race riots and murders of 2001.[4]

Woolas has attacked Muslim women in the past.[16]

Aftermath:— Harriet Harman later suspended,[9] and then expelled Woolas.[10] MP, David Milliband,[n. 8] was extremely sympathetic to Woolas' case however.[10] The row had exposed a potentially deeper anti-Muslim resentment amongst the Labour Party, as "dozen's" of Woolas Labour allies came out in support of him,[10] Political blog "Liberal Conspiracy" noted the disgraceful attitude of these Labour MPs who continued to support Woolas for his "disgusting" campaign propaganda leaflets, who had sought to rebel against Harman's decision.[11] The blog had also found that Woolas had given more blatant lies to the press in the aftermath of his conviction.[12] Woolas however, had effectively almost cost Labour one of their strong-holds, and had in addition proven himself as a liability for the party that has traditionally been backed by Muslims.[13] The 2010 general election also saw the voter turnout at a record high of 61.2%,[7] countering Woolas claims that he was only attempting to make the "low voter turnout"[2] angry. Voter turnout was the highest it had been since 1997 (when it was 73.9%[14] - but which had declined to 57.3% by 2005 under Woolas regime,[15] the year of the previous election). After Woolas was evicted as MP, he was barred from standing for 3 years and also fined £5,000,[1] the 2011 election saw Debbie Abrahams (Labour) win. Voter turnout fell to an all time low of 48.0%, with Muslims facing deliberate isolation, but MPACUK had however shown how powerful lobbying can be.

Sources

Footnotes

  1. ^ Campaigning by MPACUK saw his vote share decrease dramatically.
  2. ^ MPACUK also exposed Fitzpatrick as an Islamophobe.
    1. Joe Fitzpatrick, Woolas's Election Agent Exposed. 30 September 2010. Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK). Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  3. ^ The Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (abbreviated to "MPACUK" or simply "MPAC") is a non-profit pressure/lobbying group campaigning for the civil liberties of British Muslims, and is headed by right-wing hate figure, Asghar Bukhari. The committee has been praised by numerous notable figures, such as Clare Short, Anthony McRoy, and also by the Institute of Community Cohesion for their work in aiding Muslim activism and participation in British politics. MPACUK was formed in early 2000 during the Second Palestinian Intifada (itself arising out of Israeli persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people), although some sources claim it was formed in 1988. According to their website one of their "aim[s] is to empower Muslims" to fulfill" their "Islamic duty to strive for justice...strive for freedom...enabling a revival of Islamic civilisation" and that a "secure Muslim Ummah will fulfil its Islamic responsibilities toward Allah’s creation, supporting the universal rights of humanity". Campaign efforts by the pressure group have resulted in the ousting of MP's and also severe reductions in votes for others, and even proven Islamophobic hate amongst other Members of Parliament. Though the organisation has routinely been accused and alleged to be "anti-Semitic", even "violent", and also as "repugnant" (by right wing anti-Muslim racists such as Douglas Murray), no charges have ever been proven against the organisation in a court of law.
    1. Muslim leader condemns protesters. Saturday, 4 February 2006. BBC News. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    2. Davies, Catriona (20 November 2006). Muslim's 'grave error' over Irving. The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    3. Green, David. (21 April 2005) Labour threatened by Muslim vote. BBC News. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    4. Hayes, Alex. (Saturday 8th May 2010). MPACUK claims responsibility for defeat of Andrew Dismore in Hendon. The Times. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    5. Andrew Dismore Fanatical Supporter of Israel. 22 March 2010. Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK). Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    6. About MPACUK. Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK). Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    7. Denis MacShane MP, Kevin Barron MP (Labour, Rother Valley), Tim Boswell MP (Conservative, Daventry), David Curry MP (Conservative, Skipton and Ripon), Iain Duncan Smith MP (Conservative, Chingford and Woodford Green), Nigel Evans MP (Conservative, Ribble Valley), Bruce George MP (Labour, Walsall South), Lady Sylvia Hermon MP (Ulster Unionist, North Down), Chris Huhne MP (Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh), Daniel Kawczynski MP (Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham), Barbara Keeley MP (Labour, Worsley), Khalid Mahmood MP (Labour, Birmingham, Perry Barr), John Spellar MP (Labour, Warley), Theresa Villiers MP (Conservative, Chipping Barnet). Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism. September 2006. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    [1] [2] [3] [4]
  4. ^ Who is actually Jewish unlike Woolas
  5. ^ Campaigning by MPACUK saw his vote share decrease dramatically.
  6. ^ MPACUK also exposed Fitzpatrick as an Islamophobe.
    1. Joe Fitzpatrick, Woolas's Election Agent Exposed. 30 September 2010. Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK). Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  7. ^ The Muslim Public Affairs Committee UK (abbreviated to "MPACUK" or simply "MPAC") is a non-profit pressure/lobbying group campaigning for the civil liberties of British Muslims, and is headed by right-wing hate figure, Asghar Bukhari. The committee has been praised by numerous notable figures, such as Clare Short, Anthony McRoy, and also by the Institute of Community Cohesion for their work in aiding Muslim activism and participation in British politics. MPACUK was formed in early 2000 during the Second Palestinian Intifada (itself arising out of Israeli persecution and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people), although some sources claim it was formed in 1988. According to their website one of their "aim[s] is to empower Muslims" to fulfill" their "Islamic duty to strive for justice...strive for freedom...enabling a revival of Islamic civilisation" and that a "secure Muslim Ummah will fulfil its Islamic responsibilities toward Allah’s creation, supporting the universal rights of humanity". Campaign efforts by the pressure group have resulted in the ousting of MP's and also severe reductions in votes for others, and even proven Islamophobic hate amongst other Members of Parliament. Though the organisation has routinely been accused and alleged to be "anti-Semitic", even "violent", and also as "repugnant" (by right wing anti-Muslim racists such as Douglas Murray), no charges have ever been proven against the organisation in a court of law.
    1. Muslim leader condemns protesters. Saturday, 4 February 2006. BBC News. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    2. Davies, Catriona (20 November 2006). Muslim's 'grave error' over Irving. The Telegraph. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    3. Green, David. (21 April 2005) Labour threatened by Muslim vote. BBC News. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    4. Hayes, Alex. (Saturday 8th May 2010). MPACUK claims responsibility for defeat of Andrew Dismore in Hendon. The Times. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    5. Andrew Dismore Fanatical Supporter of Israel. 22 March 2010. Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK). Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    6. About MPACUK. Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPACUK). Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    7. Denis MacShane MP, Kevin Barron MP (Labour, Rother Valley), Tim Boswell MP (Conservative, Daventry), David Curry MP (Conservative, Skipton and Ripon), Iain Duncan Smith MP (Conservative, Chingford and Woodford Green), Nigel Evans MP (Conservative, Ribble Valley), Bruce George MP (Labour, Walsall South), Lady Sylvia Hermon MP (Ulster Unionist, North Down), Chris Huhne MP (Liberal Democrat, Eastleigh), Daniel Kawczynski MP (Conservative, Shrewsbury and Atcham), Barbara Keeley MP (Labour, Worsley), Khalid Mahmood MP (Labour, Birmingham, Perry Barr), John Spellar MP (Labour, Warley), Theresa Villiers MP (Conservative, Chipping Barnet). Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism. September 2006. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
    [5] [6] [7] [8]
  8. ^ Who is actually Jewish unlike Woolas

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Phil Woolas says legal fight has hit 'end of the road'. BBC News. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Kemp, Philip (9 December 2010). Phil Woolas defends campaign tactics as appeal fails. BBC News. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d Religion by Rural Urban (Oldham). NomisWeb. 2011 England Census. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Oldham election disaster – where next?. Heritage and Destiny. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  5. ^ a b Local Election 2010. Joe Fitzpatrick Waterhead Ward, Address: 3 Fontwell Lane, Oldham, OL1 4TE. Oldham Evening Chronicle. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Oldham East and Saddleworth. Politics Resources. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h UK>England>North West>Oldham East & Saddleworth Election Results. Election 2010. BBC News. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  8. ^ a b Sciolino, Elaine. (October 3, 2011). Heroic Tale of Holocaust, With a Twist. New York Times. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  9. ^ a b Labour 'had to act' over Phil Woolas election verdict. 11 November 2010. BBC News. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Harriet Harman faces Labour anger over Woolas comments. 9 November 2010. BBC News. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  11. ^ a b Paskini, Don. (9 November 2010). #IagreewithHarriet – sign our open letter backing expulsion of Woolas. Liberal Conspiracy. Retrieved 6 April 2014.
  12. ^ a b Hazlehurst, Cory (9 December 2010). A final goodbye to Phil Woolas and his rubbish. Liberal Conspiracy. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  13. ^ a b Jorgen S. Nielsen (28 February 2013). Muslim Political Participation in Europe. Oxford University Press. p. 304. ISBN 978-0-7486-7753-5. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  14. ^ a b General Election result, May 1997. Politics Resources. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  15. ^ a b UK General Election results May 2005. Politics Resources. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  16. ^ a b Duff, Oliver. (Tuesday 29 August 2006). Woolas dismisses young Muslim's views as 'crap'. The Independent. Retrieved 6 April 2014.

External Links

BBC Podcast on the Woolas Affair from BBC Radio 4