- In announcing that Phil Woolas was suspended from the Labour Party and implying that he had no future in the parliamentary party even if he won his appeal, Ms Harman was pre-judging the normal disciplinary machinery of the party.
- That no action should be taken against Woolas until all his appeals had come to an end.
- That judges should not be ruling on the conduct of elections anyway.
However, it is totally wrong to go further than that. Labour must dissociate itself from a man who has been found guilty of what, outside the political arena, would be libel, and of using racial suspicion as a political weapon. These are points of fact. If any of his appeals succeed, they can only be on technicalities. If Woolas is allowed to remain an active Labour member, the executive is sending a message that they approve of US-style character assassination and racism as valid campaign tactics.
It is often argued by Labour spokespeople that Liberal Democrats equally "fight dirty". However, when challenged, those people cannot come up with anything which a reasonable man would describe as "dirty". Staged photo-opportunities and misleading statistics are not in the same league as Woolas's antics, or what I know local Labour campaigners say on the door-steps but daren't put in their leaflets.
It's the third ground - that MPs are beyond the law - which really takes the breath away. Labour MPs are not alone in this arrogance: a Tory MP expressed the same view at the weekend. Do they still not get it? If judges cannot rule on electoral law, then who can? If Labour back-benchers don't like the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 1983, and preceding legislation which included the clauses against false statements, why did they not object before?