Labour’s Scottish branch office: the most dishonest party in Scottish politics

Anas Sarwar, the branch manager of the Labour party’s Scottish accounting unit, gave a speech over the weekend which was breathtakingly hypocritical and mendacious even by the standards of a party for whom breathtaking mendacious hypocrisy is very much its USP.

Speaking ahead of the STUC congress which is being held in Dundee this week, Sarwar promised that under a future Labour government the UK would see the greatest ever transfer of power and wealth to working people that has ever occurred in the UK. That smells a bit like a Vow, doesn’t it, and we all know how seriously the Labour party takes ensuring that it delivers on its vows.

Under Labour’s New Deal for Working People, which has been championed by deputy leader Angela Rayner and which was worked out with trade unions , the party has pledged to end zero hours contracts, repeal anti-strike laws, expand sick pay and employment rights and end fire and rehire. It all sounds too good to be true, and that’s because it is. Like so many of Labour’s fine sounding pledges before it, this New Deal for Working People will never see the light of day in any recognisable form.

With Sir Keir Starmer all but certain to be the next Prime Minister, there has been some pushback from businesses on the plans, leading to fears they could be watered down. Keir Starmer never ever U turns on his promises in order to placate corporate interests and the right wing, so we have absolutely nothing to worry about on that score just as we need not worry our little heads that Anas Sarwar might yet again be pontificating far above his pay grade on topics that he has no influence on.

What will happen is that this New Deal for Working People will be kicked to committees, the most progessive thing about it will be how it will be progressively watered down, its key planks stripped out, and absolutely nothing which might provoke the ire of the right wing press will remain intact. During its progress through Parliament it will be further diluted, exemptions will be introduced at the behest of Starmer’s corporate donors and what eventually reaches the statute book will be an unrecognisable travesty of what Sarwar has just anounced. Then he’ll hide from the press and not take any responsibility for his party’s deceit.

Sarwar voted against the SNP’s plan for a progressive tax policy, ensuring that the wealthy pay more. So much for his ‘commitment’ to redistribution. Sarwar also took a pop at the Scottish Government over the high levels of zero hours contracts in Scotland, but he and his party have refused to countenance the devolution of employment law. It takes a very special kind of brass neck to criticise the Scottish Government for a situation which you yourself are refusing to allow the Scottish Government the powers to address.

We all know what is really going to happen. Sarwar can ‘pledge’ all he likes, but he has no power to make any of it happen. We have very clearly seen that Labour MPs elected in Scotland pay no heed to the dictates of the branch manager, Michael Shanks is a case in point, most recently the Labour MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West was defending his party’s refusal to consider a halt to arms exports to Israel, despite Sarwar’s calls for one.

Shanks resigned from the Labour party in 2019 over Brexit, denouncing Labour on social media as “a party that has a bankrupt approach to our membership of the EU and is complacent about the impact it will have on the poorest people across the UK.” How times change. It’s amazing what being offered a junior shadowministerial position will do for a man’s convictions. Now Shanks is an enthusiastic supporter of Starmer’s morally bankrupt support for the hardline Brexit bequeathed to us by the Tories.

Earlier this month Sarwar said: “A failure to properly access humanitarian aid into Gaza, the targeting of infrastructure like hospitals and schools, innocent civilians losing their lives on such a huge scale in Gaza, and the death of aid workers killed because of IDF [Israeli Defence Force] attacks.These are clear breaches, in my view, of international law and therefore we should not be selling arms to Israel.”

However appearing on the BBC on Sunday, Shanks refused to back Sarwar’s position and instead insisted it was “right” that the UK Labour Party has declined to call for an end to Israeli weapons exports without seeing the UK Government’s legal advice on the matter. Shanks also misleadingly claimed that Sarwar and UK leader Keir Starmer shared a position on the issue although they patently do not. Lying comes so easily to the Labour party.

In the same interview Shanks also refused to back anything other than a one-size-fits-all approach to UK immigration – despite experts saying the challenges from such a policy were more acute in Scotland and Scotland has particular challenges that could be addressed by devolving aspects of immigration policy to Holyrood.

Asked: “Why not devolve it to Holyrood? Scotland’s got this unique crisis, this absolutely specific need for more people that’s unpopular in key electoral areas south of the Border. One-size-fits-all isn’t working at the moment. Why not just give it to Holyrood?”

Shanks responded: “Because we’re part of a United Kingdom and immigration is a reserved issue, and when you think about where the UK border is, it’s right that that’s a one-system approach.”

What an asinine non answer. Unpacked, that ‘answer’ boils down to ‘just because’. It’s the response given by a man who thinks he’s speaking to morons. There are other non-independent self-governing territories which do have control over aspects of immigration policy. This is the case in Quebec in Canada and the autonomous Portuguese territories of Madeira and the Azores. There is no reason that it cannot be the case for Scotland too, other than the fact that Michael Shanks doesn’t want it to. The geographical location of the UK border is meaningless, all the more so because the vast majority of people entering Scotland directly from outwith the UK enter via airports where border controls are physically located on Scottish territory.

The truth is that the Labour party of Keir Starmer has no interest in offering a radical political alternative or a meanigful redisribution of wealth and power, no matter what Anas Sarwar might ‘pledge’ while he is seeking Scottish votes for Starmer’s right wing British nationalist project. Labour’s Scottish branch office is the most dishonest party in Scottish politics, but that is only to be expected, its very name ‘Scottish Labour’ is a lie. It lies about being distinct in organisation, leadership and policies from The Keir Starmer right wing British nationalist flag shagging project of which it is a wholly owned and controlled accounting unit. You cannot trust a party which is dishonest about its very identity.


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