Experiences of hatred and discrimination recounted at Labour event


Hatred and discrimination experienced by Scottish Labour politicians and activists has been highlighted at a fringe party conference event.

Daily Record political editor David Clegg hosted MSP Anas Sarwar, Glasgow North candidate and campaigner Pam Duncan-Glancy, GMB organiser Rhea Wolfson and LGBT Labour co-chair Elsie Greenwood for the event in Dundee on Saturday evening.

Mr Sarwar has previously told the newspaper of racism and hatred that has impacted upon him and his family, and Mr Clegg said coverage of that led to a large number of abusive emails being sent to his office.

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Speaking at the A Fight For All Of Us event, Mr Sarwar said discussing his experiences had been the hardest thing he had ever done politically.

He told the audience how his son had been subjected to racism while playing for a new football team. Two of his team-mates told him they were refusing to pass him the ball because he was the “only P*** in the team”.

The MSP said: “It was at that moment I thought that if Adam is my age and he has a son who tells him a similar story, then the reality is that I, all of you, and everyone from our political generation, will have failed him and a full generation of Scots, and I am not willing to let that happen.

“Now is a time for us to take head-on the politics of division and distrust.”

Ms Duncan-Glancy said prejudice and hatred also still exists towards people who have disabilities.

She told the audience that her husband, who also uses a wheelchair, had been forced in his work to crawl upstairs to client’s houses.

“One day he said he couldn’t go because it was raining and he didn’t want to crawl through a puddle, and then drag wet puddle into someone’s carpet, and they made a complaint about him.

“They complained that he’d cancelled because of the weather. That complaint was upheld and the council suggested that he buy special trousers. And that was only a few years ago.”

Ms Wolfson, a Parliamentary candidate for Livingston, spoke about the impact of being targeted by anti-Semitism as well as being the victim of stalking.

She said: “On my lanyard at work I have a whistle, on my keys I have an alarm, I have apps on my phone… and on Monday the job I have is to go back to the police to have a risk assessment about stalking. That is the reality of what this looks like.”

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Ms Wolfson said the impact of such abuse must be better understood and she urged people to get involved in tackling the issue.

Ms Greenwood said the Labour Party has always allowed her to be who she wants to be, but she highlighted the need to support LGBT people.

She said: “Not all queer women have this sort of experience and a lot of them are hiding how they feel or feeling guilty about it.

“We’ve progressed very quickly and sometimes it’s hard to keep up, but one thing I wanted to say… that trans-equality and women’s equality are not in competition or in contradiction with one another in any way, and that’s really important to champion.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the issue of abuse could not simply be viewed as a matter of left and right-wing politics.

He said: “Looking back down the years, and when I look at those years in the anti-Nazi league, Rock against Racism, there was a very clear left/right split.

“And a lot of these ideas around things like anti-Semitism were absolutely, steadfastly locked to the right of politics, and I think predominantly that’s where they still are.

“But we cannot ignore the fact that there are some people, self-styled on the left, who hold some of those views as well.

“That’s why we need not only to root out those views inside the left, whether it’s in the Labour Party or in the broader Labour movement, we need to drive them out as well.

“There can be no room for bigotry, prejudice, hatred, racism inside the Labour Party.”