There’s no question that the contest in Oldham East and Saddleworth was one of the toughest (and roughest) of the 2010 election. Indeed, a special election court will sit in Oldham on 13 September to adjudicate over Phil Woolas’ victory, which has been legally challenged by his Lib Dem opponent, who alleges the Labour campaign materials “contained numerous misleading and erroneous claims regarding my personal character and reputation”.
The controversy surrounding another aspect of the contest was re-ignited yesterday with the publication on the (excellent) The Straight Choice website of the following leaflet, delivered on the day of polling. Although the race aspect of Labour’s campaign in East Oldham has already attracted national comment this is the first time that this A6 card has been distributed online:
Having been an MP for the area at the time, it surely cannot have escaped Woolas’ notice that there were race riots in Oldham nine years ago. Violence errupted in May 2001 after a gang of white men threw a brick through the window of an Asian household in the Glodwick area of Woolas’ constituency. Days later that the home of his Labour colleague, the Asian Deputy Mayor of Oldham, was fire bombed.
Perhaps Woolas should have a rummage around his constituency office for a copy of the Ritchie Report into the disturbances. He’d do well to look at point 3.17 on page 10:
One wonders whether Daily Express editor Peter Hill had been retained as a consultant to the campaign? Suffice it to say that this has gone down with Labour activists and others like a pint of cold sick.
What a disgrace.