Conservatives ‘flirting with fascism’, SNP conference told

SNP members attacked 'disgusting, disgraceful' rhetoric around foreigners

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The Conservatives are “flirting with fascism”, the Scottish National Party’s conference has heard.

At the meeting in Glasgow on Thursday a number of speakers attacked the “disgusting, disgraceful” rhetoric and proposals outlined at the Tories’ conference with respect to foreigners.

Chief targets for criticism were now-cancelled plans to publish lists of foreign workers, the branding of EU nationals living in Britain as “bargaining chips” in EU negotiations, and moves to deter international students.

Rhiannon Spear, the national convener of SNP Youth, accused the Tories of bringing forward “policies that de-humanise people, looking on them as commodities used for international bargaining … policies that are flirting with fascism.”

Speaking in support of a motion about child refugees, she added: “When our Home Secretary’s addresses to her own party conference can be conflated with pages from Mein Kampf it’s about time we start calling it what it is.”

Speaking in support of another motion on Brexit, Christina McKelvie, the SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, quoted author Michael Rosen who warned in 2014 that “fascism arrives as your friend” and not in “fancy dress”. She described the observation of “prescient” considering events since the EU referendum. 

Ms McKelvie recounted that she was told by a Scottish National Party member that he was “fightened about fascism” in Britain. She said he had asked what the Scottish Government would do about the issue.

“With the dawn of post-Brexit Britain we would hear some of the most right-wing reactionary politics that I’ve heard in my lifetime at a mainstream political party conference,” she said.

“The Tory party conference was a disgusting, disgraceful, and deeply disturbing insight to what may face us in this land if we become the bystanders and no speak out against discrimination.”

Last weekend Ukip MEP Roger Helmer said the policies unveiled by the Conservatives at their conference in Birmingham would have been compared to fascism had Ukip unveiled them. He said they had gone too far.

The Government backed down on proposals to draw up lists of foreign workers, saying this Sunday that they would in fact be secret and that the plans to publish them were never policy.

The Home Secretary insisted the Conservatives’ programme was “not racist” despite condemnation from all corners of the political spectrum.

The SNP's conference in Glasgow is its biggest ever. It started on Thursday and continues until Saturday afternoon.