CommonSpace columnist Yvonne Ridley says Sadiq Khan’s recents comments about Scottish nationalism reveal sickening attitudes from Westminster politicians towards Scotland
LABOUR’S chances in the 2010 general election were damaged beyond repair when Gordon Brown dismissed an elderly widow as “bigoted” after she famously challenged him on policies including immigration while he was campaigning in her home town. His off guard comments were picked up by microphone as he berated an aide over the “disaster” of his encounter in Rochdale.
So it is, perhaps, all the more staggering that the London Mayor Sadiq Khan would head north on another Labour campaign trail and dismiss those wanting Scottish independence as racists and bigots.
However, this was no unguarded moment said off camera – he chose his moment in front of the national media at the Scottish Labour Party conference in a revealing illustration of how Westminster politicians view those who live north of the border.
The fact he resorted to the same vile tactics that his mayoral rival Zac Goldsmith used against him last year shows that the stench of Westminster hypocrisy still hangs from the expensive designer suits tailored to fit the diminutive politician.
Equally ill advised in speaking against independence was Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who, embracing Project Fear full on, warned of “turbo-charged austerity”, claiming the SNP will not transform lives – obviously ignoring the fact that in Scotland our university students have free education and the NHS is in a better shape (though could do much to improve) than south of the border.
Corbyn has campaigned for a variety of international independence movements over the years but it is obvious he is putting his own ambitions first as without Scotland, UK Labour’s ambitions for Downing Street are all but sunk, a bit like Scottish Labour some might say.
The good news is that Corbyn and Khan have probably done more for the independence cause than we could have hoped for because they’ve managed to offend and unite people of all parties who resent being called racist or treated as politically naive.
Equally ill advised in speaking against independence was Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who, embracing Project Fear full on, warned of “turbo-charged austerity” – obviously ignoring the fact that in Scotland our university students have free education and the NHS is in a better shape.
Just for the record, my decision to move to the Scottish borders from central London was prompted by two things. One was the deluge of sleaze and industrial scale expenses fiddling by Westminster MPs exposed in 2009. Their self entitlement and contempt towards British voters knew no bounds and some of them are still sitting in the UK Parliament today.
The second was distant stirrings and whispers that people living in Scotland were seriously moving towards independence. The thought of cutting loose from Westminster was instantly appealing and so the house hunting began in earnest and to my pride and delight I voted with Yes campaigners in the first referendum.
For London Mayor Sadiq Khan to come to Scotland and draw links with our brand of nationalism and racism, has made me more determined than ever to support the next referendum – and it will come.
And while Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale is running around ragged saying Khan did not call folk racist, here’s exactly what he said: “There’s no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we’re English or Scottish and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background, race or religion.” We know exactly what he meant and back pedalling now is too little, too late.
Whatever his intentions, let’s remember Khan is an accomplished politician – his words are always carefully crafted; this was no slip of the tongue.
Let’s hope we get more verbal garbage from British PM Theresa May when she heads north to address the Tory party conference; it is almost guaranteed bearing in mind this is the home secretary who introduced mobile billboards driven around London telling asylum seekers to “Go home or face arrest”.
Those of us who have ambitions for independence are neither racist nor bigots nor anti-English. We just don’t want the sleaze merchants from Westminster running our lives anymore.
Picture courtesy of DIUS Corporate
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