Standing up for what is right
Jamie Glackin says Kezia Dugdale was right to lead Scottish Labour to vote against the triggering of Article 50 yesterday.
Like many Labour Hame readers, when not glued to these venerated pages my spare time of late has been consumed by the unfolding horrors of the Trump presidency live on CNN. Time and again, administration hacks appear on-screen spouting obviously demonstrable lies, yet seem emboldened in doing so with every passing day.
The reason for this is simple; they know that ‘gas-lighting’ works. The very foundations of America, those American ‘values’ about which we hear so much, are in extreme peril because of it. But they had a good teacher – the Leave Campaign in the EU Referendum.
And let’s not kid ourselves that in Britain we were are any less susceptible to untruths. Just the other day, the leader of the Leave campaign admitted that they were unlikely to have won were it not for the preposterous claim that £350 million a week would be spent on the NHS. The shameful antics of Nigel Farage’s obvious racism and an appeal from the far-right in general to our darkest places was enough to shove them over the line.
That they were helped by a Labour leadership that at best had a lukewarm attitude to the European Union will forever be a source of amazement to me. Surely the values that make us Labour, the strength of our common endeavour, our commitment to sharing power, wealth and opportunity, meant that the strongest possible commitment to the European Union was required? That we didn’t give our last drop of blood for the Remain campaign but remained ambivalent will, I believe, prove catastrophic not just for the Labour Party but for the working people for whom we are supposed to be in politics.
To compound matters, the UK Labour leadership is now intent on rubber-stamping the triggering of Article 50, a decision that will haunt us for years. Why? Because there will be no socialist Brexit. There is only the far-right hard Brexit of Nigel Farage and the tawdry trade deals that Theresa May and Liam Fox will make with just about the worst people imaginable. That we as the Labour Party have facilitated this is unconscionable.
Scotland voted to remain in the European Union for the right reasons – to keep access to the single-market, to defend the rights of our people to live and work in mainland Europe and to ensure the supply of people through much welcome immigration. I strongly believe that in that vote, Scotland confirmed that we are an outward looking country, that believes in co-operation with others and the ‘pooling and sharing’ of resources.
And that’s why Kezia Dugdale and Scottish Labour were right to oppose the triggering of article 50 yesterday.
Firstly, because she was standing up for the Labour values that made us all join the Labour Party in the first place. Secondly, because in the Scottish Parliament, MSPs are supposed to be on the side of their electorate. And thirdly, if we had opposed it, or worse abstained, our potential voter pool in the future would have been even more precipitously tiny than it is just now.
Kezia and most Labour MSPs stood up for Scotland yesterday. But they did more than that. They made a stand for what is right, and even though Article 50 will be triggered, and years of economic and social turmoil await, for at least for one afternoon in the Scottish Parliament, we were the Labour Party. And I was proud to be a member.