Priorities. It's important to remember them, isn't it? Indeed, it is almost always assumed that your average politician will be aware of them, if only for reasons of self-preservation. So it's nice to see that George Howarth, Labour MP for Knowsley North, realises what his priorities are....by grubbily raising cash among other Labour colleagues for the benefit of disgraced MP Phil Woolas (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/09/harriet-harman-phil-woolas-backbench-mutiny ).
Woolas, now ex-Labour MP for Oldham East & Saddleworth, was responsible for election leaflets last May which plumbed the depths of what is euphemistically termed the rough & tumble of local politics with a shameless appeal to bigotry & racism (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/gallery/2010/nov/05/phil-woolas-campaign-literature ).
Taking a leaf from the book of US attack ads, the leaflets "pushed all the buttons", as they say, in dredging up some nastily toxic mud (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/05/phil-woolas-immigration-leaflets-oldham-east-rerun ) for his Lib Dem opponent.
The Right Honourable Member for Knowsley North evidently sees nothing wrong with this. Moreover, his devotion to Woolas' ignoble cause extended to some shameless cheerleading the other night, making Harriet Harman look principled (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/09/backbenchers-criticise-harman-over-woolas ). Some feat, when you think about it.
So when it comes to remembering what your priorities should be as an MP for a tribal, terminally deprived Labour seat, Howarth displays his true character. How else to account for his actions in support of a typically authoritan New Labour figure at a time when his local council has announced 400 job losses (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-11722635 )?
Live in Kirkby? Work for the local council? Worried about your job because of the ConDem cuts? Well don't bother hoping your local MP will take up your case as a priority. No, you see, George's real priority is defending a guy whose election leaflets pandered to base & venal motives.
Howarth may not be the only local MP to see Woolas as some sort of innocent party. It's rumoured that at least two or three other Merseyside MPs are passing the bowl around.
If you wish to let Howarth know just how pleased you are by his sense of priorities, he can be contacted at:
House of Commons,
London, SW1 0AA.
Phone: 0151-546 9918 or 020 7219 6902.