Beware this Woolfe in Labour’s clothing

by  Kevin Meagher

There’s a party leadership contest going on that could have a profound effect on Labour, but its not the one between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith.

Five candidates are currently limbering up to succeed Nigel Farage as the leader of UKIP and the implicaitons for Labour are very real. Having led the charge to get Britain out of the European Union, UKIP now has plenty time on its sides.

Where will the ‘kippers political energy and capital now go? Perhaps it will channel into building support in the 44 parliamentary seats where they are in second place to Labour, following last May’s general election.

Having neglected its heartlands for so long (and not particularly caring what voters there think), Labour now has a fight on its hands on hold on to some of them. But does the party actually recognise the threat?

Despite their other differences, what unites Blairites and Corbynistas is an unshakable belief that only racists are bothered about immigration and that London is the centre of the universe.

There is plenty political space (both physical and metaphysical) that Labour has chosen to abandon that UKIP is more than willing to fill, providing a sympathetic ear to provincial woes. All the more so if Labour continues to indulge its infantile gesture politics.

That said, UKIP still retains a massive inbuilt propensity to blow itself apart.

Whatever the liberal-left thinks about Nigel Farage, his straight-talking, un-PC, ‘flag and freedom’ shtick resounded with at least four million voters who backed the party in last year’s general election.

But will his successor be able to build on that?

Guido Fawkes reports on efforts to deny Steven Woolfe, one of the party’s rising stars and an MEP for the North West, a place on the leadership shortlist. He is said to have Farage’s support which seems enough to damn him in the eyes of others.

The national executive committee is said to be ‘dominated’ by supporters of Neil Hamilton (yes, that Neil Hamilton) who are said to want to keep Woolfe off the leadership ballot.

This is symptomatic of UKIP’s immaturity. Like Labour, it enjoys wallowing in its own comfort zone. In this case, the rugby club bar, (as one of its other talents, Suzanne Evans, who has already been denied the chance to stand, put it the other day).

Now it turns out Woolfe’s leadership application wasn’t accepted by the cut-off (although he has a receipt for the deposit that shows it was submitted on-time). His fate is set to be decided by party officials tomorrow.

While the likes of Hamilton have zero affinity with the industrial north and midlands, Woolfe is someone Labour should be genuinely concerned about. The party’s immigration spokesman, a barrister by profession, was brought up in inner-city Manchester. And, not to labour the point, he is also mixed race. In fact, he would be the first leader of a major British political party to be so.

His victory in the leadership race would single-handedly rebrand and reboot UKIP.

With the party’s deputy leader, Paul Nuttall, mysteriously ruling himself out, Woolfe is the best choice from an otherwise weak field. (Nuttall is a huge loss for the party. He is one of the few ‘kippers properly road-tested and tough enough to withstand the brickbats that will be thrown at Farage’s successor).

It’s a mark of how discombobulated Labour currently is that the goings on in UKIP should merit close attention. (Indeed, studying the Kremlinology of UKIP is a somewhat otherworldly new experience).

But nothing is inevitable at the moment and with UKIP polling in the mid-teens, it is entirely plausible an early general election could see Labour lose seats to a Woolfe-led party.

After being the poster boy for Tory sleaze back in 1997, Labour should perhaps hope Neil Hamilton is willing to damage a second political party and keep Woolfe off the shortlist.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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14 Responses to “Beware this Woolfe in Labour’s clothing”

  1. Tafia says:

    If BREXIT is sabotaged – or even perceived to be under threat of not happening, watch Farage return from the wilderness and UKIP take scores of Labour seats in the north of England the English east Midlands, the south Wales valleys and north east Wales.

    And then there will be the Tory seats that fall to them as well.

  2. Anon E Mouse says:

    Spot on. I also think that you ought to include how out of touch the Labour Party were when it came to Brexit and how important that vote will now be seen to be.

    If MP’s like David Lammy continue to claim people want another referendum because he doesn’t like the result he will drive voters into the arms of UKIP.

    Labour need to get a grip and get a grip quickly. They are finished in Scotland, in minority in Wales and doomed in their other traditional seats. If they think calling people rightly concerned about immigration racists then they are so out of touch with the real world they should go and join the Monster Raving Loony Party.

    The party is finished and with their behaviour quite rightly so…

  3. james says:

    I really rate Woolfe. If they pick him the only serious leaders will be from the Tories and UKIP. Lib Dems should have picked Lamb and Labour Benn.

    If they can get real, bring back Evans and have Diane James as dep leader they can pore over the GE and Referendum results and target local council seats in the North and Wales hoping to gain a few GE seats.

    How far they go is dependent on May and if Corbyn wins it’s game on.

  4. Richard MacKinnon says:

    It is already too late for Labour. Labour are now repeating the mistakes they made with the SNP with UKIP. It is counter productive to write articles like these. Repeating the mantra UKIPBAD is just not enough, it turns voters away. The electorate know instinctively when they getting insulted. Labour are their own worst enemies.

  5. Bob Crossley says:

    I understand why Corbyn’s appllication to join the leadership race in 2015 was delayed (he didn’t have enough nominations “to broaden the debate” ha bloody ha) but Woolfe is a barrister so the money and the organisation should have been no problem to him. Why then was everything done at the last minute?

    I hope they keep him out, just in case, but I doubt he’d make that much difference really – Meagher has over-egged this pudding.

  6. john P Reid says:

    apart from a clever headline, to be in labours clothing on using quotas for equality is rather a new idea in our parties 116 year history, to actually appeal to the blue collar working class which Ukip have been doing for 18 years, now ,is nothing new

    well said Richard Mkinnoin and TaFia

  7. TCO says:

    Any rugby club bar I’ve been to would kick out an arse like that.

  8. Mike Homfray says:

    But Labour isn’t only about the blue collar working class. Indeed that would not come close to winning us an election.

    I think there are issues of basic service provision which are important. But Labour in all its guises is not a socially conservative party and that section of voters who wants that above all else are very unlikely to choose Labour no matter who leads it. In addition the adoption of that sort of agenda would lose us far more votes than it gains.

    Labour will stay as a socially progressive party. We won’t be adopting Ukip style policies on immigration

  9. Tafia says:

    Mike Homfray – in that case you can never win either.

  10. Disenfranchised says:

    @Mike Homfray – Although I most probably disagree with everything that you stand for, I will agree with your comment.

    Labour has lost the “blue collar working class” (what we are really talking about here is the white working class, of whom people like McTernan said Labour no longer needed anyway)

    I have yet to speak to a fellow working man/woman who understands what the word “progressive” means – how the hell do Labour expect people to vote for them, when those workers don’t even know what Labour is talking about.

  11. John P Reid says:

    Mike, I thought you were one of those first to say labour wasn’t a liberal party
    Yes labour isn’t only about the blue collar working class, there are ways that appealing to that section, who may now read the Sun, and vote Ukip,voted to leave the EU up north, and appeal to blue labour, yet Denis healey just before he died, backed Uvette and said he would vote brexit

    But to ignore th blue collar working class thinking we could win, with stay at home mums, public sector workers and Muslim, for the 35% strategy, we walked away from our old core vote

    Ukip policies on immigration, that’s having more commonwealth immigration, the people who had a right to come here, before 2004 who have skills the UK need, who thanks to the EU, gave been prevented from coming here,

  12. Anon E Mouse says:

    @Mike Homfray

    If you stay as “a socially progressive party” as you describe it then it is finished. The general public will never buy into that nonsense – the working class aren’t stupid enough to believe that drivel anymore and Brexit has empowered us to realise change by voting can occur.

    Scotland, Wales and now the attitude towards UKIP will do for it I’m afraid…

  13. Rallan says:

    Woolfe is off the ballot. It’s all kicking off. UKIP is starting its inevitable post Brexit identity crisis/breakdown.

    It will be a short bitter civil war culminating in a leadership election that may result in a split.

    All the cool kids are doing it.

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