TRAITORS OR TRAILBLAZERS?

As news junkies huddled round their platforms of choice, the twitterati lost no time getting busy. And it was instructive how people reacted to the news that 8 Labour MP's and 3 Tories had had enough of their respective party's assorted manoeverings.  The more measured acknowledged that difficult, and clearly painful decisions had been made after much searching of the soul.

The more predictable squealed that they were nothing more than a traitorous shower of Blairite neo-liberals (Labour tweeters) or a ludicrously impatient and clearly disloyal ragbag of die hard Remoaners (Tory types.) And both red and blue detractors demanded instant by elections.

Personally I found most folk among both sets of escapees to be articulate and refreshingly honest as they detailed the various issues which had pushed them over the edge and out of  their tribe. It was true, as the commentariat lost no time in pointing out, that these resignations lacked the political  big hitters of the SDP launch.  Yet their relatively low profiles afforded a very clear insight as to why their leaders were utterly failing to take the temperature of their own footsoldiers over some of the overwhelming issues of the day. It's significant too that this was not a single party walkout.

Many people would have been hardly aware of Luciana Berger until her defection, but here was  a hard working MP, 8 months pregnant, whose own local party had to be hauled back from the brink of passing motions of no confidence and attempted de-selection. And all because she had called out the anti semites in the Labour ranks.

Her local organisation, like many, had changed out of all recognition as the more ideologically driven Corbynistas were encourage to join and work to oust the moderates. Yet, as we witnessed this week in France, the scourge of anti semitism is ignored at our peril.  I see absolutely no contradiction in supporting Palestinian self determination in the middle east, opposing Netanyahu's settlement policies,  and rooting out vile anti Jewish sentiment at home. 

A mirror image was to be found in the Tory Party, labelled Bluekip, by some of the women who had broken ranks after also being treated appallingly on their own patch. They too have been  threatened with de-selection and worse by former UKIP fans encouraged to sign up for the Tories and strengthen the hand of the European Research Group, as the Rees Mogg faction grandly styles itself. Sir John Major, speaking in Glasgow, preferred to call them a party within a party.

Some of this could have been avoided had Corybyn and May not had ears of solid tin where dissent is concerned.  None of it might have happened at all had the Cameron government  - and before it the Blair one - not ruled out the kind of proportional representation which helps break the electoral stranglehold of the two party system in England and Wales. An imperfect form of PR has given Scotland  more diverse politics, but we are in no position to crow about tribalism down south whilst some in our two left of centre parties save their worst vitriol for each other.

But there is a rotteness at the heart of both major UK parties. A thinly veiled racism at the core of Tory policies as witness their obsession with immigration in the face of overwhelming evidence of its benefits to  the treasury, business and  industry, agriculture and academia. Anna Soubry suggested that Theresa May is driven more by this issue than any other. Sajid Javid - despite his own parents being successful migrants - reacted to the Shamima Begum issue in a manner you doubt would have been deployed against a white native born Brit in similar circumstances.

And overarching all of this is the ever loudly ticking clock of Brexit, threatening the future of current and succeeding generations,  certain to blow a hole in an already fragile economy, whilst the Brextremists vary between recycling their global trade fantasies and getting ready to blame their foot shooting on Europe when their brave new world fails to materialise.  A particularly bitter pill to swallow in a country which decisively voted Remain.

My colours have long since been nailed to the mast of an Independent Scotland. I long to be a citizen of a small European nation wedded to social justice with  an open door policy to those who would come and help build a new nation. I hope that sooner rather than too late, the current Scottish government will lay out its route map to that end.

But I can still spare a thought for those down south  who have had the courage   to depart their tribe in the search for common ground. Their cause may flicker briefly and die, or it may be the spark which lights a serious new movement  chiming  with a scunnered electorate. Either way they deserve more than kneejerk scorn from those whose ambitions they once so recently shared.