Spineless SNP fail to act over factory closures as Labour's 'Feeble Fifty' once did in the 1980s – Kenny MacAskill MP

McVitie's factory in the east end of Glasgow is to close next year (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)McVitie's factory in the east end of Glasgow is to close next year (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)
McVitie's factory in the east end of Glasgow is to close next year (Picture: AFP via Getty Images)
The closure of the McVitie’s factory in East End Glasgow is an unmitigated disaster for the area.

Poverty and unemployment already abound and this worsens it. Decades ago, I recall the Golden Wonder site in Broxburn similarly shutting and likewise damaging Broxburn. Jim Sillars and I did a photo call at the closed site, placing Red Roses on the locked gates.

It was meant to be symbolic of Labour’s failure or powerlessness. A cheap shot it may have been, but it got the camera call exposing the “Feeble Fifty” as Labour’s cohort of MPs had been dubbed.

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Swept to power in a Scottish landslide but powerless against an English Tory majority. Unwilling to act, they were fair game in my book.

That’s why I wondered why nobody thought of putting a sprig of lucky white heather or even the white rose of Scotland, that SNP politicians are prone to sporting at ceremonial events, on McVitie’s gates. It does seem like déjà vu, albeit in different political colours.

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The SNP protest but do not act. Ian Blackford will be angry, so angry he may even stamp his feet or wave his order paper in front of Boris Johnson. But the P45s will be issued anyway.

Not long after I was elected to Westminster back in 2019, I asked a then SNP colleague how we were different from the Feeble Fifty, even if two or three fewer in number.

After all, the SNP had again rolled home but nothing seemed to change or be stopped. “We’re not because we’re not” was the reply. Fair enough but cold comfort to anyone losing their job in Glasgow or elsewhere.

Labour were feeble because they refused to act despite the backing of the Scottish people. Now we actually have a Scottish government. Lacking the economic powers they may be, but they too are guilty of being unwilling to act.

The satirist Oliver Brown once caustically wrote about Westminster that “a shiver ran along the Labour benches looking for a spine to run up”. Now it seems to apply to the SNP benches in Westminster and Holyrood.

Kenny MacAskill is the Alba Party MP for East Lothian

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