Not a flantastic week for Woolas
by Carl Marsden
SOME weeks are more eventful than others, and Phil Woolas MP may not look upon the last seven days as being exactly flantastic.
The new Home Office minister endured a tumultuous few days in the national spotlight culminating in a pie being firmly pushed into his face.
He had initially made waves after announcing that the Governments new immigration policy would be toughened to cap growth in Britains population.
The MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth then courted controversy again after saying that stripping the Church of England of its special status is an inevitable result of forthcoming reforms of the House of Lords.
The latter resulted in Woolas withdrawing from the panel of BBCs Question Time on Thursday night, amid suggestions that his boss Home Secretary Jacqui Smith had gagged him.
He told the Advertiser this week: “It was a tactical decision to put a Government minister on Question Time with special focus on economic issues and put myself on the Today programme (Radio Four) it was one I disagreed with. Im leading the charge to change our immigration policy and draw in the criticism from all sides of this debate. The Prime Minister asked me to do this job because he knew that I am outspoken. I know I will attract controversy but I believe the public want reassurance and want to see changes. Estimates, on current trends, are that population will go up to 70 million and Ive said I wont let that happen. The new Australian points-based system allows us to control immigration and Im yet to meet anyone who thinks we should sit by and allow population growth to go unchecked.”
It is a stance that resulted in an unexpected gift at a meeting at Manchester University.
Woolas was on a panel talking about environmental issues on Friday night when a woman emerged from the crowd, raced onto the stage and launched a pie from a metre away into his face and upper chest.
The MP went to be cleaned up before returning to continue the debate.
“It was actually rather funny in hindsight it was a cream vegan pie and, frankly, tasted horrible,” he told the Advertiser. “In that split second before you realise what is happening to you, it is actually quite frightening because you dont fully know what is going on. But then I tasted this sickly cream and realised I was just dealing with a bunch of nutters.”
Manchesters No Borders group who believe in free and open migration without controls claimed responsibility for the attack. They say Woolas promotes “an increasingly draconian and reactionary approach” to immigration issues.