Is Watkins trying to do to Labour what Woolas did to him?
One of the elements of September’s election court ruling on Phil Woolas was over the then Labour candidate’s claim that the Lib Dem was not telling the truth over “being a local”.
Now, in the final couple of days of the campaign the yellow standard-bearer is trying to make an issue over the veracity of his Labour opponent’s claim to “be local”. In a leaflet he picks up on statements made by Debbie Abrahams last year when she was fighting trying to become an MP at Colne Valley at the general election when she said she lived in Huddersfield.
This was always going to be an issue for Labour because, inevitably, if a candidate has stood somewhere else before then everything said during the earlier campaign is going to be scrutinised.
Maybe Watkins knows only too well the potency of this line of attack because he was a victim last May but doesn’t it make you despair. Should this really matter and is this something that electors care about?
But the lines of attack by Woolas then and Watkins now are not the issue itself – but what it says about the trustworthiness of their opponents.
The Tories obviously feel sensitive about localness as well because their main slogan about their man, Asif, is that he’s “Oldham born and bred”.
Maybe I’m being naive but wouldn’t it be great if we could have some grown-up politics where this is irrelevant.