I hadn’t intended to write another post about Labour but the events of the past twenty four hours are hard to ignore.
Kathy Wiles, prospective Labour candidate for Angus, has resigned after posting a tweet comparing children photographed at the BBC bias protest on Sunday with Hitler Youth.
I was at Pacific Quay; there was definitely no goose-stepping.
This was no staged corporate show with timed performances and polished production, this was a genuine grassroots gathering of ordinary people from all over the country discontent with the partisan behaviour of our state broadcaster. It was well attended, peaceful, good natured and a credit to organiser Moira Williams.
Inevitably Ms Wiles tweeting history came to light on a number of websites and revealed a character who is not averse to offensive comments. She has compared the SNP to Nazis and SNP supporters to benefit scroungers. She has suggested that she may ‘lose her nationality’ because foreign citizens in Scotland can vote in September. Scottish politics is well rid of this vile character though it would be unsurprising to see her surface in another role.
Commentators have rightly asked questions of Labours candidate selection process but there are other concerns highlighted by this issue which the party would do well to address.
Firstly, Ms Wiles beliefs clearly do not concur with what most people would regard as traditional Labour ideals, notwithstanding their hatred of all things SNP. Defence of the poor and vulnerable used to be the mainstay of their values. Not any more it seems. The fact that this lady can find a place in the modern Labour Party is only slightly more worrying than the fact that they’d welcome her in.
It suggests two things; that the party have become so far removed from its origins as to be unrecognisable and that people seeking political office in the UK simply choose any party which they feel will advance their career. Conviction politicians are few and far between and have been replaced by self serving careerists for whom the public, the very people they are meant to represent, are dismissed as unworthy of respect.
Secondly, why did she feel this was acceptable behaviour? The answer lies in the vitriolic rhetoric of the No campaign and in the malicious hyperbole of Labour MPs in particular.
Johann Lamont describing the desire for independence as a ‘virus’, Alastair Darlings blood and soil gaffe and Ian Davidsons ‘bayoneting the wounded’ comment demonstrate that such attitudes come from the top, not some wild eyed online fanatic. The increase in abusive and offensive comments from No supporters online are simply a reflection of the tone set by their leaders.
It’s difficult to believe that they haven’t considered the consequences of such actions. Yes supporters don’t ask each other which party they vote for so an attack on any pro independence group is seen as an attack on all. The most recent reliable poll showed Yes at 48%, almost 2 million people eligible to vote. Can a struggling Labour Party really afford to alienate 2 million voters in Scotland? No party can.
We could be witnessing the death throes of Labour in Scotland unless there is a dramatic change of strategy.