Labour's commitment to HMS Brexit shows they are just the Tory-lite party – Kenny MacAskill MP

With Boris Johnson’s fall, focus turns to the succession. Already there’s a race to the bottom with a “Dutch auction” on taxes but with little explanation as to how that can be funded.

Brexit is damaging the economy but Labour has pledged to make it work (Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Brexit is damaging the economy but Labour has pledged to make it work (Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Added to that’s the more normal auction of ramped-up spending on defence, never mind war in the Ukraine. It just doesn’t add up, unless there are massive public sector cuts and austerity imposed upon the poorest, if not the majority, other than the wealthy.

But when you see the combined wealth and the millionaire, or indeed billionaire status, of the challengers, it’s hardly surprising. Most already go private for education and whatever else. What do they care about those who depend upon public services, let alone those who work hard in them for scant reward?

But what of the Opposition? What of those who would succeed, which is something growing increasingly more possible as Tory turmoil continues. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be an Opposition that the UK now has, but an ersatz version of the Tory Party.

The prospectus of Sir Keir Starmer, even without the shackles of Sir Ed Davey, is looking increasingly like simply Tory-lite.

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Visiting a very successful manufacturing business in East Lothian last week, I heard the now all-too-familiar tale of woe. Brexit has caused chaos in both imports and exports, as well as compounding all that with the skills and labour shortage.

An Opposition recognising the harm being done to our economy would be calling for membership of the single market, easing trade and allowing for movement of labour.

But no, the Starmer line’s simply a replication of the Tory mantra that’s brought all this down upon us. The alternative isn’t a change in policy, simply a change in personnel.

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Labour's refusal to consider return to EU shows it's just pandering to Boris Joh...

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Maybe they do have more integrity, though frankly it’s hard to see how a tailor’s dummy couldn’t meet that requirement. But on policy it’s steady as you go with HMS Brexit and the catastrophe it’s wreaked.

In Scotland, the Labour alternatives are equally woeful. It’s once again a replication of the unionist line with any differentiation being marginal.

More devolution, promised Anas Sarwar. Oh, hold me back. How many times have we to hear that? It was trumpeted by Gordon Brown in 2014 amid talk of the most powerful devolved legislature in the world. Yet, we’re still waiting, and new pledges are vacuous.

Topping all that was the pledge to abolish the House of Lords. Goodness me, that was a manifesto commitment upon which both Keir Hardie and the Red Clydesiders were elected on. But Labour governments have come and gone, and all we’ve had is the likes of Lord George Foulkes or even Baron Kirkwood.

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I was reading David Kirkwood’s biography recently. To be fair, nothing can detract from his efforts in the strikes during the First World War, when Red Clydeside came to the fore.

For that, he deserves enormous credit. But as an MP he was never a patch on Maxton, never mind Wheatley or Johnston. And succumbing to the red benches as a Baron was a sell-out.

Anas Sarwar doesn’t even have that hinterland. Born into wealth and privilege, he’s continued that by sending his children to elite private schools. This isn’t even Labour-lite, just Tory-lite.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian

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