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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

Why Phil Woolas is popular...

...within the PLP at least.

The Labour backench wagons have circled around Phil Woolas and they're certainly not happy with [acting] Chief Harriet Harman.

But it's worth considering why Woolas has so many pals  - and why they gave Harriet a monstering last night (I hear it lasted 30 minutes and chair Tony Lloyd had trouble moving onto a new subject).

One old sage of the backbenches tells me:

"He's a social guy, he's one of the Strangers [Bar] crowd, a constituency that you can often see reflected in PLP votes. He's from the North West, where we have a big chunk of MPs. And he's a GMB man. Put all that together and you can see a lot of different networks behind him.

"Moreover, many colleagues are now up against feral Lib Dems who regularly use personal abuse. The idea that one of ours should be taken down for hitting back is going down very badly."

At least we now know that Labour MPs are answering Woolas's infamous question "Will You Stand By Phil?".

Still, Jack Dromey, aka Mr Harriet Harman, was keen to defend his missus just now.

"I think Ed Miliband and Harriet have done absolutely the right thing. it is no part of our politics to tell lies, to fan prejudice, to win votes. What happened was wrong and the action taken by the leadership.... I've always believed in what I’ve called standing on the moral high ground."

Tony Blair, for one, wasn't too convinced of Dromey's own moral compass. He hinted in his memoirs recently that Dromey called for a cash for honours probe solely at Gordon's request.

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