Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Scottish Labour: Enemies of Equality

For some time, the Labour Party in Scotland has been tumbling down the helter-skelter of hate, with their arses firmly plonked on the mat of fear. If they're not stealing money from Glasgow's poorest children to give to a Labour Party donor, abusing female colleagues, racially abusing colleagues, battering women, taking bribes, or defrauding public money, they're assaulting policemen and committing arson.

Today, they hit the soft-padded ground of equal rights abuses

In a Westminster parliament in which they pretend to be the beacons of progression, a radical, socialist party, intent on delivering social justice, human rights and equality for a devolved (don't know how much, or when) Scotland within the United Kingdom, fully a quarter of Scottish Labour's MPs opposed the Equal Marriage Bill. 

It's another display, on top of their bloodthirsty wars against the Muslim world, of quite how much the Labour Party has descended into a miasma of hate-filled, fear-motivated, ultra-right extremism over the past twenty years. 

Not much more than two decades ago, the Labour Party in Scotland stood in opposition, with the people of Scotland, against Margaret Thatcher's Conservative regime and its Poll Tax - a crime against the people of Scotland. 

Today, they are actively campaigning for Scotland to have a Conservative government we utterly reject instead of the Labour government we actually vote for. 

They are campaigning, today, alongside the most right-wing government Scotland has ever had imposed on us by our neighbours, for the right of that government to impose punitive financial penalties on anyone who dares have a disabled child whilst living in social accommodation. 

That's the side of the campaign Scottish Labour find themselves on in 2013. They find themselves manning street stalls, chapping doors, and going for a wee drink afterwards with people who want to put a tax on a disabled child having a separate bedroom from his or her siblings. 

Can anyone over the age of about 16 genuinely imagine Scottish Labour activists campaigning alongside the Poll Tax-imposing Conservatives of their day, the Conservatives who proudly wore their "Hang Mandela" t-shirts? 

Of course, today, it genuinely wouldn't be a surprise if a Labour government were to consider a latter-day Mandela as a terrorist. They support Guantánamo Bay. They actively assisted the United States to torture and kill civilians. Their leader, Johann Lamont, has been shamefully and completely silent on the enduring human tragedy unfolding in Palestine. 

Today, the Labour Party in Scotland had a chance to show that it had moved back to the values most of its supporters still fondly believe it holds. 

It had a chance to show that it was progressive. It had a chance to show it valued human rights and the dignity of all humans. Nobody was asking it to do something remarkable like accept that all peoples have the right to self-determination. Scotland didn't even ask its Labour Party to vote in favour of the principle of taxation with representation. 

All that Scotland asked was that its Labour Party delivered a commitment to equal marriage for all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation. 

It was an open goal for Labour in Scotland. A Bill that was, quite simply, the right thing to do. A Bill which would do no harm to a single person in the country. A Bill which would give a wam glow of happiness that some people's lives have been made ever so slightly easier. A Bill that would have meant that, not isolated from the world, perhaps even one fewer child, struggling with their sexuality, would see no way out other than suicide. 

It was the chance for Johann Lamont - a leader who has been a disastrous failure for Labour in Scotland - to really stamp her authority on her MPs. She could have whipped her MPs into line. 

She chose not to.

And fully 25% - a quarter - of all Scottish Labour MPs voted in ways to oppose the Equal Marriage Bill today. 

Tom Clarke of Coatbridge, Brian Donohoe of Ayrshire Central, Michael McCann of East Kilbride, Jim McGovern of Dundee West, Iain McKenzie of Inverclyde (Inverclyde! The seat he won in a by-election after the death of David Cairns, who did so much for equal rights), Frank Roy of Motherwell, Jim Sheridan of Paisley, Anne Begg of Aberdeen South, Gordon Brown of Kirkcaldy - 25% of Scottish Labour's MPs opposed the Equal Marriage Bill in one way or another today.

It will be interesting to see where Johann Lamont goes from here. 

Will she - can she - stamp her authority on the Labour Party? Is she content to have a quarter of her representation in Westminster completely deaf to the pleas of those who desire a modern, progressive Scotland?

And can we, the people of Scotland, who are continually told that in Labour, and in the United Kingdom, we have our only hope of progressive, radical government, genuinely trust that assessment any more, now that even this tiny shred of humanity and decency has proven beyond them?

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