Wednesday 19 June 2013

A response to my 'Question Time' critics

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”. 


  1. This story can't be true, or it would be all over the media, just like Calmans 'abuse'.
    Wait a minute......

    1. Ah yes... that "wait a minute..." moment, where you suspend belief in what is normal and right!

  2. this young man has been treated disgracefully but like the abuse and threats heaped on pro-indy supporters nary a word will be heard in msm about it.

    I can only hope that others will see what the current "Labour" party actually is and vote accordingly and not just in the referendum. I recommend the lad contacts Labour for Independence to find like-minded people who will hopefully be the future of the party

    1. I think to myself...fair enough, if you have an argument against independence, let's hear it.

      If you worry that we couldn't pay pensions, or that the roads would deteriorate to cattle tracks; if you believe that we would no longer have internet or television and that only the rich would be able to afford petrol, let's hear your worries.

      We can explain that. We can talk about per capita income, produce figures from respected international organisations. We can prove our case.

      But come on guys. You're beginning to sound like the Eton/Oxford archetype when you start talking about a lad's accent, or his choice of clothes. We can't give you any kind of argument about accents or sartorial elegance ... nor should we be able to.

      Seems to me that what he did wrong was suggested that Blair took the country to war and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths on the strength of something that either he knew was a pack of lies, or at least he should have known was a pack of lies.

      And that he did all that so he could curry favour with the American president of the day, make lots of money and get a congressional medal.

      And that, as a result, he should stand trial for war crimes.

      Well...erm he did and he should.

      I'm pretty sure PP that Liam will have been put in touch with LfI, and I wouldn't wonder that he will have a bright future with them. I hope so.

  3. I was going to compare this to Rev Stu's piece on the lass that asked the question about education on QT but I realise, its not the same thing at all.

    Yes, some of the comments made about the girl asking the question were harsh - but she was wrong. In this instance, the young chap is quiet right.

    I think the main difference though is, representatives of Yes Scotland, the SNP, Greens and SSP did not leap on the question and savage her and it in the way Labour (etc) have done with the young guy above.

    I think that speaks volumes about those leading the debate and level at which they want to have it.

    The only other thing I'd say is, many adults like to bump their gums about how ill-informed young folk are and that they shouldn't be able to vote because of it. Well, here is a young person who's taken the time to inform himself (correctly IMO) and they try and drag him down for it.

    Double standards & snobbish hypocrisy. Because that'll win them votes.

    1. That's a fair comment Pa. I hadn't thought about the comparison.

      I guess in the case of the girl, she was ill-informed to the point of total ignorance. She could even have been a yes plant, if they did that kind of thing. She was worried that Scotland independent of England would want to charge for education, when the only people who stand up for free education (and the people who have guaranteed it in the current situation) are the independence parties... and the parties who would keep us together, would happily charge people £9,000 per annum, and rising.

      The interesting thing is that questions have to be submitted in advance, and are chosen by the production team. I wonder why they chose to allow that question through when it was so clearly based on utter ignorance of the situation as it stands.

      Liam, on the other hand, seems very politically aware and sharp as a pin, regardless of what he wore to the broadcast.

      For some people what you think, what you say, and how you act, is more important that what you wear. I'm with them.

      I thought that Labour supporters were much more likely to think like that, than the position-conscious, class ridden Tory set, who get into a terrible fankle about whether white tie or black tie is the thing, and whether tiaras should be worn.

  4. Spot on tris. I have friends from all backgrounds, including a few from English Public Schools who i tease all the time about speaking with bools in their mooths.:-)It's about who you are as a person, not how you dress or what accent your parents gave you.

    1. Aye, well you'd have though Labour might have grasped that Jutie.

      Clearly though, anyone who criticises St Tony of Money and War is fair game for a bit of snobbishness.

      Daft thing is that Liam is probably worth 20 of these Blair lovers. At least he guy thinks for himself.

  5. To label the entire Labour Party and her activists as Blarites is unfair. As unfair as the shocking abuse the poor lad got.

    I applaud anyone taking an interest in politics. And clearly the desire to expand equality and fair play

    But I really MUST challenge anyone so disreputable as to rewrite history! Labour historically was most definitely the party of the working man. I still think it is, but I accept Blairism occurred making it an open discussion in the present.

    But you want to know what Labour has done for the poor lads in the east end of my fair city of Glasgow recently? Tonnes:

    1. Education maintenance allowance
    2. Minimum wage
    3. Signed up to European Human Rights Convention
    4. devolution
    5. repealed section 28 #this is very personally important for me btw #
    6. introduced anti-hate speech laws
    7. brought church and community leaders together, helping the fight against sectarianism (which the SNP have ignored until being shamed into action)
    8. Proportional Representation in Holyrood and in Scottish local authority elections - making sure every vote counts
    9. abolished most hereditary members of the house of lords
    10. working tax credits
    11. paternity leave
    12. reduction of of children growing up in poverty from 3.4 millions in 1997 to 2.7millions by 2010*


    I remain entirely convinced of my party continuing ability and commitment to promoting equality, social democracy, fairness and social justice.

    Enough of this pathetic attempt to rewrite history. And btw, all those were just from 1997.

    Prior to that we:

    13. legalised homosexuality
    14. abolished the death penalty
    15. legalised abortions

    And more besides. I am proud of Labour, the party of organised working class people.

  6. Dean

    I think you have forgotten some of the other things Nu Labour did for the poor lads in the east end of the city of Glasgow.

    Destroyed private pensions.
    Abolished the 10p tax rate.
    Increased prescription charges every year they were in power.
    Increased VAT.
    Introduced the "bedroom tax"
    Appointed ATOS to harass the sick and the disabled.
    Increased the community charge.

    You should be proud of Labour, the millionaires party who according to Mandelson have "no problem with people being filthy rich" The present Labour party have never even met a socialist, never mind even knowing what the word means.

    1. Mandelson actually said he had no problem with people being filthy rich SO LONG AS THEY PAID THEIR FAIR SHARE OF TAXES

      Get it right. Context matters.

    2. I'd never deny that Labour has done some good stuff. You mention some of it.

      What I was wondering at in publishing this article from Liam, was what has happened to a party that did all these things?

      What's happened to the party of Keir Hardie that some of its members equate a Glasgow accent with ignorance and stupidity? What has happened that this guy gets a hate storm for not turning up to QT in a suit and tie? What has happened to the labour party that it supports the idea that Blair took the country to war on false information provided by Bush and Cheney?

      The very fact that two years ago you were a card carrying Tory who found a new home in Labour suggests to me that the party has moved sharply to the right. (I imply no criticism of you for doing that, btw. It is natural and normal to change allegiance from time to time.)

    3. The downside, Dubs, of the Labour years are there for all to see.

      Of course we know that in much that the did the Tories would have done the same, but the credit boom and subsequent meltdown of the economy might figure on that list, and the opening up of the City Of London to be the most corrupt financial centre on Earth may also have done little for Mr Ordinary.

  7. Wee question for Dean. What do you think John Mclean, James Connolly and Jimmy Reid, three of Scotland's greatest socialist sons, would make of the present day Labour Party?

    1. I think they would be proud of all the changes listed above.

      I think they would recognise fellow progressives of a great Labour Movement.

    2. I often wonder that, and once again I wondered when Liam's accent was questioned.

      Jimmy Reid never sounded like he was straight out of Fettes!

  8. If the Labour party did all that (a lot of which they found they had to do anyway,) how have they become such unfeeling bastards since then?

    Points 4 and 8 for example, I'd question their motivation, on the former; they did it because they thought it would kill Scottish Nationalism dead, (it didn't.) And on the latter, PR was put in place as part of that plan, Labour thought they had it sown up, a perpetual coalition between themselves and a pliant junior Libdem party - the reality - they fucked it up so badly with their hubris, the SNP made it an 'undemocratic place' by getting enough votes for a majority. (You've also divided devolution into two separate things - a whiff of Better Together gimcrackery there..)

    On point 10 - working tax credits - seriously? They are a good thing? People in work earning so little, the government has to give them some of the tax they paid back; at great cost to the same tax payer?

    On Peers, there may have been less hereditary peers on Labour leaving office but there where a lot more life peers, (537 in 1999 versus 647 in 2010 with 88 hereditary peers still sitting.) The hereditary peers Labour cleared out where all blue nosed aristo's - call me a cynical sally - but it seems to me Tony maybe cleared the H of L's out to make way for his own cronies.

    Point 7? No, they didn't. If they did, why did circumstances exist that 'shamed' the SNP in to action, if your beloved labour party sorted it out, surely, it wouldn't have been necessary? Labour failed to do anything about it in Scotland.

    In any case, this isn't 1997 and if I'm being honest Tony Blair's New Labour did do some good but there was always a sting in the tail. Even now, a generation of cynics exist because of New Labour spin, you knew where you stood (and still do) with the Tories - they're just in-your-face bastards. With New Labour you got dog shit dressed up as cheesecake - and no one realised the menu was bullshit till their food arrived.

    On section 28 (which is important to me also,) Labour did well there, which is why its all the more jarring that they've become so out of touch in recent years.

    1. Reduced to speculating about motive?
      Tell me what do the psionic tea leaves tell you about Big Ecks?

      Oh, wait, this is all meaningless speculation ... right.

    2. You've answered your own question and been hypocritical about it.

      I make no excuses for what the SNP does. On other hand, you with your beloved Labour Party which can do no wrong...

    3. Love that second last paragraph, Pa.

      I think they did a lot of good. But they did a lot of harm too.

      The worst thing in my view, was following that idiot down the path to war against the advice of weapon inspectors, the UN, and British public opinion.

      But they messed up the reform of the House of Lords, something that had been on their agenda for 100 years! And now we have a house of political appointees including almost everyone who ever had the most junior ministerial position in a Labour government...which means we have some right idiots in our second chamber.

      As for tax was simply an admission of failure.

      It admitted that the tax and wages system was hopelessly out of kilter and that people couldn't afford to live on the system which existed.

      Companies don't pay enough in wages; the minimum wage is far too low; and tax is paid at far too low a level for the cost of living in the country.

      In other words; you couldn't get it much more wrong.

    4. Agreed.

      Labour never had any substance, it was all front and it still is. Now though, they're reaping what they've sown, when Sarwar, Bailey & Milliband etc come on telly and open up with a machine-gun rattle of spin and management consultant gibberish, all the cynics they created during the New Labour years just turn off - except Dean it seems - who's still swallowing the cheese cake.

      Meanwhile, Dean may have inadvertently put his finger on a positive case for the union: Speculation, when a unionist does it - it's fine. When a nationalist does it - its 'meaningless'.

      Now, its lunch time. I haven't seen a cafeteria menu but I've consulted my psionic tea leaves - the cheese cake is off today.


  9. Other than that... John Mclean, James Connolly, Jimmy Reid and Johann Lamont?

    Mmm... Right you are then...


    1. Laughable.

      Mrs Lamont who thinks that its right that we have WMDs a few miles from Glasgow; who thinks we are all a load of scroungers and who is cheered by the Tory benches in the Scottish parliament.

      Bless her. She is pathetic.

    2. It's Ms Lamont; she's actually Mrs Graham. Hubby is deputy leader of Glasgow council Archie Graham.

      A rose by any other name would still be pathetic though!

    3. I beg her pardon PP.

      Indeed a rose by any other name....etc...

  10. All we need to know about the Labour party (as it is not as it was) is that there is so little difference between it and the Tories that you can’t get a ray of sunshine between them. What attests to that best in the current discussion is that fact that Dean seems to forget that he has seamlessly gone from being a mouthpiece of the Tories to being a mouthpiece of the Labour party. It’s not that long ago that we got list of what the Tories had done for the people and now it’s all a load of bilge about the party of the working man. Talk about living in the past? Dean seems to be going backwards from one nation Toryism and having Harold MacMillan as his political hero to the party of the working man and......well probably Ramsay MacDonald as he was another one that was prepared to change his hat and coat to suit the political expediency on the ground.

    1. it's not unreasonable to change your political colours Munguin. I think that Dean's journey from Tory to Labour parties has more to do with Labour moving into Tory territory and Dean standing stock still.

      The retrospective aspect is rather harder to explain I have to admit.