It’s been a few months now since Johann Lamont, Labour’s leader in the Scottish Parliament, raised eyebrows with a speech in the chamber in which she outlined her ‘fear’ of Scotland voting for independence and the inevitable side-effect of the ‘foreignisation’ of her friends and relatives in rUK.
Many of us ridiculed her comments at the time, pointing out that the idea of someone being foreign presented us with no problem whatsoever. At the ‘United with Labour’ launch recently, she revisited this when she said “In simple terms, why make Alex Ferguson a foreigner?”. She evidently didn’t get the memo.
Then today on BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Good Morning Scotland’ show, Margaret Curran MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, made similar remarks. After talking briefly about the number of Scots living elsewhere in the UK, the interviewer asked Curran how a vote for independence would affect relationships across the borders:
Curran: “Well, I think people do actually feel that that would break up the family, and I think that’s why it affects it…”
Interviewer: “…if Scotland became a separate, independent state, what difference would that make to those relationships”
Curran: “Because I people… I think people do feel that the big thing would be… my son, for example who went to university in England – i think I’d be uncomfortable with the thought that he’s now a foreigner. Y’know, he lives in a different country. Y’know I do think he’s living in Eng… Scotland and England are certainly different nations, but I think we’re still… we still have that partnership, and I think it speaks to that, but I think…”
Interviewer: “But are you honestly saying your son would become a foreigner to you?”
Curran: “Well, they live in a foreign country, and I don’t think that…”
Interviewer: “Well(!)… but does that… the point is so what if they live in a foreign country!”"”
The question is, why would the thought of her son being a foreigner be a problem to her? Or, as I suspect, why is she pretending that it would be?
If we take Curran at her word, are we to conclude that she has some sort of issue with foreigners? If she was telling the truth, that is the logical conclusion.
And with Lamont revealing the same emotions earlier, should we conclude that Scottish Labour – those defenders of equality, solidarity and ‘one nation’ society – have a deep-seated issue with xenophobia?
It would be cynical to believe that, and no matter what I think of Lamont and Curran, I don’t believe that they are xenophobes.
But if we discount that reason, that leaves one other option: they’re lying. And what a lie it is.
If they’re not revealing their own small-mindedness on the issue of foreigners, what are they doing? They’re attempting to plant the seeds of it, or grow it on, in others. They are CREATING a new, artificial xenophobia, with quite deliberate, calculated intent – to nurture fear of independence through fear of ‘foreignisation’.
Frankly, I believe this outranks any of the other ‘better together’ tactics in terms of ‘how low can they go?’.
To ACTIVELY SEEK to drum up fear of the idea and word ‘foreigner’ is, in the short-term, pathetic and callous. In the long-term, it’s nothing short of despicable and outright dangerous.
What happens with the people they fool into thinking of foreigners as somehow lesser? Let’s not beat about the bush, that is what they are doing. Have the Labour Party considered that? Or are they so short-sighted and wounded that they simply don’t care about the potential ramifications?
What we are increasingly seeing, in England particularly, is the rise of right-wing extremist groups. Call them the EDL, the BNP, UKIP, whatever – they’re all sides of the same vile racist, xenophobic hate-plated coin. THAT is what Labour are contributing to with this line – not directly today, but in the years to come when these seeds have grown and warped those that swallowed them.
This has to stop, and it has to stop now. How dare Labour attempt this kind of politicking - anywhere, not just in Scotland.