By Liam McLaughlan
I've lifted this article from The Targe, having informed Liam of my intention to do so.
As I read it I found myself wondering if Labour really was ever the party of the working man, so incredible I found some of the comments. I'm trying to think what kind of person, professing to be a supported of the party of the workers, would subject a 16 or 17 year old lad to this kind of abuse for his left wing political views.
Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has supported me on Twitter since my appearance on Question Time on Thursday. In particular, the Scottish Socialist Party, the Radical Independence Campaign, Owen Jones, and, last but certainly not least, Kevin Bridges. Sadly, however expectedly, it was not all praise after I called for former Prime Minister Tony Blair to stand trial for war crimes at the Hague, as the ever encroaching Blairite section of the British Labour Party labelled me as a “ned” and threw insults about my appearance and accent. In this latest piece for The Targe, I will show how this latest Twitter assault on me has merely showed up the Labour Party for what they truly have become – and why it has made me ever more determined to broadcast this reality to as many people as I possibly can.
I live in a Labour-voting constituency, and have been brought up in a family which is and always have been Labour-voting, just like many others in the community. That is, of course, if they do go vote, which most don’t. Given this, you would think that for someone of my age and social background to become interested in politics would be seen as something of a rarity, and a triumph for the Labour Party. It is, however, the failings of the Labour Party, which has failed to protect me, my family, and my community, which drives me to become politically active. This area continually puts its faith in a party which desperately tries to portray itself as the party of the working man, but in reality is removing itself from the needs of the people of this community and many others like it around the country. It is testament to the failure of the party this area has a lower life expectancy than that of the Gaza Strip, and the time has come for this façade to be brought to the attention of the electorate in deprived areas like mine.
The abuse I received on Twitter after Question Time was not from a minority, but sadly an ever-increasing majority of Labour Party activists, which targeted me firstly for wearing a tracksuit top, secondly for my accent, and thirdly for my general appearance. They began by labelling me as a “ned”. For those who don’t know, “ned” is supposedly short for Non-Educated Delinquent. I have 8 Credit Standard Grade Qualifications to my name, and I've sat 5 Higher Exams this year; I am also predicted to go to university. I travelled from my school in the East End of Glasgow for just under an hour at a cost of £12.50 to be in the audience of Question Time in Edinburgh. I’m hardly someone who you would describe as “non-educated”.
How shameful then those activists in the so called “party of the working man” should dare attack someone who represents the very values on which the party was founded in such a derogatory and insulting way. After this, they then began to suggest that I needed an interpreter due to my Glaswegian accent and told me to “read a book, not a newspaper”. The abuse was rounded off by some suggesting that I needed a “carer”, and comments regarding the shape of my head. To see mental health issues touched on in such a casual and disgusting way was particularly hurtful and infuriating, given I have a family member who is mentally ill and receives help from dedicated, professional carers.
The support from others, however, has merely shone a light on this criticism and these insults as nothing more than petty and disgusting attempts to discredit my point on something they can no longer defend. It has also shown the true face of the new Labour Party – the same which is portrayed by some as the best reason for staying in the United Kingdom, despite their refusal to commit to basic policies like revocation of the shameful bedroom tax.
My message to those who took to Twitter to mock and insult me is this: your insults have only strengthened my determination to bring about the end of Labour control of both my city and my constituency.
My message to all Labour Party members who are still trapped in the illusion that Labour is a socialist party, aiming to protect the working class, is to take this incident as an eye-opener.
Efforts to drag the Labour party back to its founding principles are both valiant and honourable, but those activists are fighting a losing battle. The party will only continue to distance itself from our values and aspirations for the people of this country. For a new Left which is strong, united, and committed to the socialist ideology of helping the many and not the few: revoke your memberships now, and help myself and others who are determined to bring about this new Left. I’ll finish with a quote which epitomises all I have said and all I feel at this moment: “a shiver ran along the Labour backbenches, looking for a spine to run up”.