Phil Woolas loathes Liberal Democrats, and the feeling is completely mutual. He has always been extremely hostile and combative towards us. It is not therefore a surprise that he overstepped the line and became the first MP in over a century to be chucked out of the House of Commons for the disgraceful way he conducted his campaign.
Except that Mr. Speaker Bercow has decided that his ejection from the House must await the outcome of his appeal. I won't speculate on why the Speaker has made such a strange decision- it seems to second guess the appeal- it shows a slight contempt for the lower court, but then Mr Speaker Bercow is not too big on legal niceties.
In any event the decision of the lower court is pretty damning- it will be exceptionally difficult for the Court of Appeal, or even the House of Lords/Supreme Court- if it comes to it- to set aside the judgement.
But then the issue is removed for the legal and returns to the political: a by-election may need to be held. Given the change in Circumstances, many commentators- such as John Rentoul- dismiss the chances of the Liberal Democrats out of hand. They may well underestimate the determination of the Lib Dems to fight this to the last vote- it is not certain that Labour can or should recover from this disgrace, should the by-election actually take place.
On the other hand, Labour have something of a track record of dishonesty and hypocrisy, so why should Woolas be punished when Harman, Blair and the rest were not? I think the answer is "pour encourager les autres", to show that there are limits and that the personal hatred of Woolas led him beyond the acceptable limits by quite some way.
If the Appeal is dismissed, then the by election is profoundly interesting. It will be an acid test after the Liberal Democrat choice of entering the coalition and the equally controversial choice of Labour for Edward Miliband.
We will see the the result, but despite the polls, I see the Liberal Democrats are attracting a lot of new members, and the loathing of Woolas by the Liberal Democrats is equally visceral- if restrained by law in a way that Labour were not.
I am not afraid of the current position, and despite the contempt of Labour, I am increasingly sure that the country at large recognises the fact that Labour in office was more divided and drastically less competent that the Coalition- and that even the Conservatives now publicly recognise that the presence of the Liberal Democrats in office has improved the administration of government. We need to take our case to the country, and in particular to take the case for electoral reform to the country. The crux of this government will depend of the strength of the Lib Dems: now we must demonstrate this. The Oldham by election will be very difficult for the Lib Dems, but it will also be crucial: the future success of the party is riding on it.
I fear it may be that simple.