If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, the political establishment may have lost their marbles. Former Labour MP for Motherwell & Wishaw, Frank Roy, is now heading up a fear based campaign to save a union, just like he did back in 2014.
Taking a job heading the Scottish branch of David Cameron’s campaign to keep Britain in the EU, Roy has clearly learned the lessons of the last referendum he was involved in – as a high heid yin at Better Together, he watched as Scottish Labour’s reputation was destroyed by their close proximity to Tories.
Frank Roy began his political career working as Helen Liddell’s Parliamentary assistant, before being elected to Westminster in 1997. Again working alongside Liddell, this time as her parliamentary private secretary when she was Scottish Secretary, Roy was at the centre of a stooshie with the Irish PM which resulted in him quitting his post in 2001. Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern had been due to visit Roy’s Wishaw constituency, to open a memorial to victims of the Irish potato famine – until Roy wrote to him, and told him not to come, claiming it would inflame sectarian tensions. The visit was hastily cancelled but it later emerged Roy had used Liddell’s name on the letter, in a way which implied she supported his view, when in fact neither her nor the Police had any issue with the Taoiseach’s visit.
When he wasn’t causing diplomatic rifts/scaring the Irish out of Wishaw, Roy could be found being an archetypal Scottish Labour politician – supporting the war in Iraq, voting for the erosion of civil liberties, championing weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde and skipping the Bedroom Tax vote.
Roy was around during the Golden Era of MPs expenses – and he certainly struck gold! While most MPs stuck to using 2 homes to maximise their income, Roy raised the bar by renting out his 2nd home and renting a 3rd home for himself, which he then claimed the rent back for. This meant that after many years of having the public paying his 2nd mortgage, Roy got to be a landlord and a wholly subsidised tenant. Despite reforms intended to stop MPs fiddling the system, the Daily Mail concluded, “Assuming that former steelworker Mr Roy’s mortgage still costs him £885, it means he is now nearly £1,000 better off every month than he was under the old system. Meanwhile, the cost to the taxpayer of supplying him with a London home has increased by £545 a month.” The MP had a keen eye for finding ways to make a quick buck, once putting a £200 bet on who the next Common’s speaker would be, netting him a tidy £3400 and bringing “discredit to the House” according to the Parliamentary Standards Committee.
It wouldn’t be A Thousand Flowers if we didn’t poke about at his record on equality, which contains a few obvious holes. He was absent for the repeal of Section 28 and in 2013, Roy voted against Equal Marriage at the second reading and voted for a failed amendment to give various opt out to homophobes. He did so along with far too many Scottish Labour MPs, despite the legislation applying only to England and Wales. Whether Roy suddenly fell in love with the gays – or whether his careerism pushed him – we may never know, but he voted for the legislation at the Third Reading…and then missed all subsequent votes on extending equal marriage. He was involved in a failed attempt to limit abortions to the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and supported a bill which aimed to replace support for organisations like the British Pregnancy Advisory Service and Marie Stokes International with funding for “independent” (i.e. faith based) services.
No article about Roy would be complete without mentioning that he used to work as a steel worker at Ravenscraig, a fact he never tires of repeating, “Back in the ’80s I worked with people from other parties in the fight to save Ravenscraig. When an issue is that important then party political differences aren’t really that important” he quipped, as he desperately attempted to justify lining up with the Tories who closed the steelworks, to tell us it was UKOK. Clearly defending his constituents from Tory cuts wasn’t judged “that important”; as an MP who voted for George Osbourne’s welfare cap, and supported the Tory budget charter, he certainly got used to being bezzies with the Tories.
Joining Better Together in April 2014, Roy was quickly credited with “turning the campaign around” although the No campaign continued to lose ground, momentum and credibility as the year progressed. Like the rest of Scottish Labour, he may have won the battle in September but he lost the war and at the General Election, the SNP’s Marion Fellows overturned Roy’s 16,806 majority.
Since losing his seat, Roy turned his attention to saving his beloved party from the threat of Jeremy Corbyn, taking charge of Liz Kendall’s disastrous bid to win the UK Labour leadership. The vapid right winger won just 4.5% of the vote, coming last. He’s also been at the centre of allegations he drastically overspent during his failed re-election campaign; it’s understood this has left a black hole in party finances and a headache for Scottish Labour’s General Secretary, Brian Roy, who just so happens to be Frank’s son. It seemed like Roy’s days as someone who could win votes and/or run an effective campaign were behind him. So why he’s in charge of telling us how to vote in this referendum is anyone’s guess. Perhaps all the other ex-Labour MPs have better paid jobs.
With the Remain campaign already telling us a vote to leave will cause cities to crumble and terrorist/immigrants to overrun our once great nation, it’s only a matter of time before Roy & Co question what currency an independent Britain will use and #PatronisingEUlady tells us she just can’t make up her tiny mind. “If you don’t know, vote status quo.”
A politician with such a consistent record of being a wanker – supporting nuclear weapons, war, austerity and even Liz Kendall, opposing reproductive and sexual rights and playing a key role in Better Together – seems like the last person you’d want running your Scottish campaign. The one glimmer of hope for Roy & Co. is that in this referendum, the other mob are every bit as awful...
In the interests of balance:
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