The British Labour Party in Scotland has been accused of promoting anti-Catholic hate after it named a former Orange Order leader as a local election candidate for the party.
Henry Dunbar, who was ‘Grand Master’ of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, will be a candidate for North Lanarkshire Council in May.
In 2014, he addressed anti-independence rallies, with calls of “no surrender” and accusing Scottish nationalists of attempting to “con the loyal Protestant people of Scotland”.
With the current Scottish National Party government vowing to held a second independence referendum next year, Labour has become increasingly identified with the unionist cause.
The SNP has accused Labour of “desperation” and having “thrown out all principle” in a bid to win sectarian votes.
The Orange Order is “a deeply divisive organisation”, said Collette Stevenson, a member of the Scottish parliament.
“It simply beggars belief that Scottish Labour think this is appropriate, but it shows how far they have sunk.”
“[Scottish Labour leader] Anas Sarwar must immediately drop Henry Dunbar as a candidate for the council elections – the politics of division have no place in Scotland.”
Sarwar declined to overrule the selection, despite distancing himself from it when questioned by the BBC.
He also denied a collapse in the membership of the British Labour party is due to its pro-union stance, and denied there was a shortage of election candidates.
“I don’t choose to candidates; local parties do,” and said that local party members viewed the senior Orangeman “as an appropriate candidate in the election”.
Meanwhile, the Irish community in Scotland are being urged to combat anti-Irish racism in an upcoming census by identifying their background.
While only one per cent of the population of Scotland identified as having Irish ethnicity in the 2011 census, it is estimated that more than one in six people in Scotland may have Irish ethnicity.
A delayed census from last year is set to take place next month, and the Irish community in Scotland is able to ensure that they are captured in Scotland’s head count.
A spokesperson for Call It Out, a campaign against anti-Catholic bigotry and anti-Irish racism, said the figures would help combat systematic discrimination against the Irish community in Scotland.
“If you want your community to be recognised then tell people through the census who you are. Not by nationality necessarily, but by ethnicity. Tick the box. You are Irish, tell them you are Irish,” they said.