Twenty-year-old SNP MP Mhairi Black has, in her maiden speech in Parliament, taken a swipe at the Labour Party for abandoning the “very things they’re supposed to fight for.”
The MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South was elected in May in the SNP’s landslide victory in Scotland, becoming the youngest elected to the House of Commons since at least the Reform Act of 1832.
Considering her young age, it is remarkable that she has caused such a reaction in her maiden speech, in which she condemned the current direction of the Labour party:
Like so many SNP members I come from a traditional socialist, Labour family. Like so many, I feel that it is the Labour party that left me, not the other way round.
The SNP did not triumph on a wave of nationalism – it triumphed on a wave of hope – hope that we could have an alternative to the wave of Thatcherite neoliberal policies from this chamber, hope that representatives could genuinely give a voice to those who don’t have them.
I mention it in order to hold a mirror to the face of a party that seems to have forgotten the very people they’re supposed to represent – the very things they’re supposed to fight for.
She used a Labour hero, Tony Benn, to thoroughly dress down the presently reactionary politics of the party:
Tony Benn once said that in politics there are weathercocks and signposts. Weathercocks will spin in whatever direction the wind of public opinion may blow them, no matter what principle they have to compromise.
Then, there are signposts – signposts that stand true, and tall, and principles. They point in a direction and they say "this is the way to a better society and it is my job to convince you why".
Tony Benn was right when he said the only people worth remembering in politics are signposts.