Lobbying target Phil Woolas, immigration minister

Woolas hit the headlines last week over settlement rights for Gurkhas. Days later he faced negative headlines over his expenses

Ten-second biography

Entered Parliament in 1997 as MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth. After a spell as a whip, he held junior ministerial posts. Gordon Brown trusted him with immigration in 2008.


Born to a family of steelworkers in Scunthorpe, Woolas studied philosophy at Manchester University and became president of the National Union of Students. After graduating he went on to work as a BBC television producer and as head of comms at the GMB trade union.

Where does he sit politically?

Woolas does not fit neatly into left/right dividing lines, and is seen by many as a pragmatic politician who speaks his mind. But the fact he ran Peter Hain’s campaign for the Labour deputy leadership indicates he is no Blairite.

Is he one to watch?

Woolas is generally regarded as media-savvy – or he was before last week’s Gurkhas debacle. Hain told The Guardian last year: ‘He’s astute, savvy and canny.’

Something I may not have known

Woolas has been diagnosed as colour blind.


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