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Labour member makes link between Italian far-right and SNP in ‘tasteless’ speech

A DELEGATE at Labour’s conference has sparked derision after arguing against electoral reform by claiming it allowed “extremist” parties like Italian neo-fascists and the SNP in Scotland into power.

The extraordinary claim came amid a debate on whether the party should support proportional representation (PR) instead of first-past-the-post in Westminster elections.

Gabriel Leroy received muted applause when he drew a link to the SNP’s electoral dominance in Scotland to the rise of the far-right in Italy, after the victory of Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party.

Her party have links to the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini and will form Italy’s most right-wing government since the Second World War.

Leroy, of the Southend-on-Sea constituency Labour Party, in Essex, said: “Looking around the world, there are countless times that PR has allowed for the rise of extremists and we must not threaten our democracy by allowing this fringe politics.

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“I would say, just have a look at the national government in Scotland or the new far-right Government in Italy – the threat is real and I don’t want any part of that.

“I’m pro the Labour Party, I’m not just anti-Tory. And let’s make no mistake, PR would force us to ally with the LibDems or the SNP and fundamentally means we will never have a majority again.”

A form of proportional representation is used in Scotland but constituency MSPs are elected by a simple first-past-the-post majority system.

The SNP took the lion’s share of constituency votes in the 2021 Holyrood elections with 62 seats, with most other parties benefiting from the proportional list vote.

Meloni’s far-right Brothers in Italy party is predicted to win 26% of the vote and was formed in 2012 by politicians with links to the country’s neo-fascist movement.

The BBC reports that earlier this year she outlined her stances at a far-right rally in Spain: “Yes to the natural family, no to the LGBT lobby, yes to sexual identity, no to gender ideology… no to Islamist violence, yes to secure borders, no to mass migration… no to big international finance… no to the bureaucrats of Brussels!”

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Stuart McDonald, the SNP MP for Cumbernauld, said there was no equivalence between the two parties calling the comment “tasteless” and “uninformed”.

He added: “At best it’s clumsy, at worst it is outrageous”.  

It was one of a number of full-throated attacks on the SNP during the Labour Party conference.

It is widely thought the party is attempting to pre-empt attacks in the right-wing press Keir Starmer will only be able to form a government at the next election – if the Tories lose – by forming a coalition with the SNP or the LibDems.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar attacked the independence movement as being opposed to “the values of solidarity and social justice”, while the country’s only Labour MP Ian Murray attacked Nicola Sturgeon’s “deplorable” record in Government.

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