In politics it is helpful if you have a public profile, as the old saying goes can’t do any harm.
Recently, Mary Lockhart was elected to public office as Scottish Labour Councillor in a recent by-election, at the time; some people questioned her choice as candidate as she had been a pro-independence supporter.
Now, the new elected Councillor hits the headlines, not on the issue of independence but because of a Facebook post said to likening party officials to Nazis. The decision for her hard hitting post was due to what some people call ‘the purge’.
Not as in the movie, but a more gentler purge, suspend people’s membership which would make them ineligible to vote in the leadership election. A lot of people have voiced opinion on ‘the purge’ and it has created a lot of anger in the party as accustaions fly back and forward.
The contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith isn’t a great one, from the start it started off very nasty and that is how it will end, Jeremy Corbyn is on course to win, although he says that he will work with people in the PLP, you can expect his crew not to. The contest was a bad idea but it went ahead, the right of the Labour Party expected Corbyn to resign when the PLP did their famous drip drip drip of resignations.
That backfired spectacularly.
Angela Eagle said she was a strong labour woman then promptly abandoned her campaign making accusations which probably will not be forgotten or forgiven by her CLP.
The contest is over, the next order of business is de-selection, it is right that the people who are elected should face a challenge at very election whether they be Councillor, MSP or MP.
No one should have a job for life, it is undemocratic.
Apparently some people feel that this is wrong that an MP should have to be selected at every election, I don’t, who represents an area should be decided by the membership of the party who are living in that area.
Anyway back to Mary Lockhart, her post on Facebook used the famous poem by Pastor Martin Niemöller about Nazis persecution.
Apparently she is protesting a decision to ban a number of Labour members from voting which led to her saying:
“Who will they expel next? I have friends who are genuinely fearful!”
Is being banned or suspended a really big deal?
Well, if you look at it in context during an election, the answer is yes, there is actually such a thing as the Labour Party compliance unit, this is a bunch of people who investigate alleged wrongdoing and then come to a decision on whether or not there is a case for taking it further to some sort of hearing.
Check it out here, the money is pretty decent from where I sit and wades in at £34,061.77 with an annual fixed sum allowance of £1003 per annum.
And given the size of the party and some of the elements in it, you might have a pretty busy time of it but on the other side of the coin; you will meet a hell of a lot of people.
Mary Lockhart posted:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
I take it that ‘them’ in this case would be a visit by the Compliance Officers who will probably say get that post ripped down and don’t be so stupid in future. If she had named anyone by name, she might be on a sticky wicket for a disciplinary perhaps as she would have to justify her comments.
Scottish Labour said that the comparison was “unacceptable”.
Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser said:
"It shows just how much of a state the Labour is in when newly elected councillors are suggesting colleagues are Nazis."
A Lib Dem spokesman said:
most people manage to resolve arguments without elected officials comparing apparatchiks to the Nazis".
A Scottish Labour spokesman said:
"This kind of comparison is unacceptable. All elected representatives and party members have a duty to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner."
Lockhart has since apologised for any offence caused.
In a statement, she said:
"I have found Pastor Neimoller’s most widely quoted poem inspiring since I first encountered it when the Rector of my school used it as a text on which to base his address at a school assembly. It is, in my view, a poem about having the courage to speak up for others experiencing adversity, whether you agree with their views or not, and it seems to me to underline some of the fundamental values of the Labour Party, namely solidarity. “In posting it on Facebook, I had no intention of implying that suspensions or expulsions from the Labour Party were comparable to the Holocaust, or to the deliberate extermination of Jewish people, Lutherans, disabled people, and homosexuals which cast a long shadow over the 20th Century and beyond. I am deeply sorry if the post, in solidarity with a friend whose membership has been suspended, was interpreted as making such a comparison”.
When elected to public office, Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley hailed Mary Lockhart getting in as a “watershed moment” for Labour to field an openly pro-independence candidate.
I guess he won’t be ‘hailing’ very much about this episode.
Finally, if you have an eye for detail, and like investigations, then compliance officer might just be the job for you.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University