Susan Dalgety: Why I have decided to quit Labour party after 38 years

Susan Dalgety thought she would be a Labour party member for life, but then Jeremy Corbyn was elected (Picture: Neil Hanna)
Susan Dalgety thought she would be a Labour party member for life, but then Jeremy Corbyn was elected (Picture: Neil Hanna)
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I am leaving the Labour Party, the organisation that has been a huge part of my life since I joined, as a young mother, in 1980.

I met my husband through the party, made lifelong friends, worked for a Labour First Minister. I was even lucky enough to be a Labour councillor for seven years on Edinburgh City Council.

I marched behind Labour banners, delivered countless leaflets, cried at election results, especially in 1997 when we won that famous landslide. I was Labour for life ... or so I thought.

Then came Saturday, 12 September 2015.

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As Jeremy Corbyn was announced as leader of our party, I turned to my husband, and said, through tears: “Well, our party has just been subject of a hostile takeover ... we are finished.”

And so it has turned out. The hostile takeover is complete. An unlikely coalition of grumpy old blokes in Lenin caps and wide-eyed millennials in Converse, aided and abetted by some sinister apparatchiks, now controls our party. The numbers are against us.

I have no heart to go over the reasons I am leaving – there are too many – but in the final analysis it boils down to this: the Labour Party I loved is dead.

I am not anti-Semitic, I am not pro-Brexit and I don’t believe a command economy will work in Britain. And I am no longer a member of the Labour Party.

I have no intention of joining another party. I am still Labour, always will be. At its best, the party has transformed our country and improved people’s lives beyond measure, from the NHS to devolution.

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But the party has changed beyond recognition, it is now the plaything of self-confessed Stalinists, former Trotskyists and failed playground revolutionaries.

At a time when our country needs the best possible opposition to win the best possible Brexit deal and so protect our economy, the Labour Party is tearing itself apart over whether its leader is a racist. That is shameful.

It is one of the toughest decisions I have ever made, but in the end one of the easiest. I just couldn’t stomach it anymore.

Susan Dalgety is a Scotsman columnist and a former deputy leader of Edinburgh City Council