I received my new membership card from The Labour Party in the mail last week. I felt torn. I joined the Labour Party in 1995. I joined in the early days of Tony Blair’s leadership. I became involved in my local branch and was even for a while vice chair of our Constituency Labour Party. I waved banners, knocked doors, campaigned…. you name it I did it. When the Scottish Parliament was established I applied to be an ‘approved’ candidate (and failed). I stood as a Labour candidate in a local election (and failed – there is a message here huh?). I enjoyed all of it. I felt that the party spoke for me and I was proud of its record in government. Sadly, a record now diminished and scorned because of the war in Iraq.
My dad, God bless him, said to me one day ‘you should give up politics and get in the pulpit, you will have more influence there’. Fast forward 20 years and that is exactly where I am. I am still politically minded but have so little time to be involved in party politics. I carry my membership card but have done very little active work on behalf of the Labour Party – asides from a few hours leafleting at last year’s election and being a ‘pastor’ to our local labour candidate.
But back to my opening words. I saw my new membership card and felt torn. Why? Well because the party is in disarray. It’s share of the vote is in free fall. In Scotland, we were almost wiped out in the last UK elections and fared badly in the Scottish Elections. We have a leader who doesn’t know how to lead –and shows little passion for the issues that matter to me. Oh he is great in front of adoring crowds at rallies for his favourite pet issues but where we you Jeremy when we needed you to speak out against leaving the EU?
The post Brexit United Kingdom is anything but united. What has become abundantly clear to me is that Scotland’s values are so different to those in the rest of the UK. The fear of the other has allowed right wing politics to flourish and for horrible political parties like UKIP to get far too much attention and this scares me. For the most part Scotland has resisted this. (By the way Nigel Farage is NOT the leader of UKIP and whilst he might be a Member of the European Parliament has no real power. So when you see him cosy up to the Donald please do not assume he is in any way representing us over here in the UK – he doesn’t. End of.) I am left wondering where I am politically. I voted no to Independence for Scotland and I voted no to leaving the EU. I look at the rise of the political right and I worry for the poor, the marginalised and the vulnerable. I belong to a political party that still talks of fighting for Scotland to remain part of the UK but is accepting that Brexit means Brexit. (I mean come on, 52% for 48% against wasn’t exactly a resounding vote for leaving the EU!!! But no ‘we must respect the will of the people’ – what about my will?????) I am slowly but surely moving to a position whereby if there was another ‘Independence’ vote I would vote yes – but only if a place in Europe was assured for Scotland.
So, what do I do with my membership card? Stick in a drawer and ignore it? Do something radical like give up on my party? I am torn… I am by instinct a loyal person – I don’t give up on things easily… I am torn.
In the meantime, I will continue to preach a Gospel of love. Love for the poor, love for the marginalised, love for the vulnerable and love for the stranger. Dad was right. I can have more influence this way.
Rev Shuna Dicks is a minister in the Church of Scotland. She serves a small rural parish in the heart of Speyside (where the majority of Scottish Malt whisky is made). She is married to Neil and has two grown up children. (and 3 fur babies)
RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-paste-paryers and articles without a link back. For permission use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.