Phil Woolas was an immigration minister in the last Labour government (don’t worry if you hadn’t heard of him, it doesn't matter now). At the general election in May he beat the Liberal Democrat candidate by 103 votes. But in his election campaign he told a number of lies about his rival; nothing new there – politicians throughout history have thrived on being economic with the truth about each other, and generally just laugh it off (usually thinking that well it could have been worse).
Not when you lose by just 103 votes. The vanquished libdem had no intention of playing the grin-and-bear-it game, so he took Mr W to an election court (the first for 99 years) where he got his revenge with the judicial ruling that the former minister of state had indeed told lies. So he is out of parliament, cannot stand for election for 3 years and the May result is declared void leaving the constituency without an MP. Who can possibly say that justice has not been done?
Even Labour Deputy Leader Harriet Harman condemned the guilty man, saying that it was unacceptable to tell lies during an election campaign (stop laughing), and promising that he would have no future in the party even if he wins his appeal against the court’s decision.
And suddenly there is a backlash. Politicians love a backlash and being branded by a court a liar and a deceiver has given the disgraced ex-MP a street cred beyond his dreams. Labour MPs have turned on their deputy leader, calling her a disgrace (but not him), suggesting she resigns and saying she “has gone too far”. Pots calling the kettle black. Meanwhile Mr W has become a kind of anti-hero amongst his former honourable friends, and they are queuing up to pledge him money to fund his appeal. If he were also wearing a tag around his ankle and was under an ASBO, he would probably have received a rousing chorus of "for he’s a jolly good fellow".