Factory Failures – Scotsman Article – 20 August 2021


The closure of the McVitties factory in East End Glasgow’s an unmitigated disaster for the area. Poverty and unemployment already abound and this worsens it. Decades ago I recall the Golden Wonder site in Broxburn similarly shutting and likewise damaging Broxburn. Jim Sillars and I did a photo call at the closed site, placing Red Roses on the locked gates. 

It was meant to be symbolic of New Labours failure or powerlessness. A cheap shot it may have been but it got the camera call exposing the “Feeble Fifty” as Labours cohort of MPs had been dubbed. Swept to power in a Scottish landslide but powerless against an English Tory majority. Unwilling to act, they were fair game in my book.   

That’s why I wondered why nobody thought of putting a sprig of lucky white heather or even the white rose of Scotland, that SNP politicians are prone to sporting at ceremonial events, on McVitties gates. It does seem déjà vu albeit in different political colours. The SNP protest but do not act. Ian Blackford will be angry, so angry he may even stamp his feet or waive his order paper in front of Boris Johnson. But the P45’s will be issued anyway. 

Not long after I was elected to Westminster back in 2019 I asked a then SNP colleague how we were different from the Feeble Fifty, even if two or three fewer in number. After all again the SNP had rolled home but nothing seemed to change or be stopped. “ We’re not because we’re not” was the reply. Fair enough but cold comfort to anyone losing their job in Glasgow or elsewhere. 

Labour were feeble because they refused to act despite the backing of the Scottish people. Now we actually have a Scottish Government. Lacking the economic powers they may be but they too are guilty of being unwilling to act.  

The satirist Oliver Brown once caustically wrote about Westminster that “a shiver ran along the Labour benches looking for a spine to run up.” Now it seems to apply to the SNP benches in Westminster and Holyrood.