Katrina Faccenda is a Labour Party activist in Edinburgh and Labour candidate for the Scottish parliamentary seat of Edinburgh Northern and Leith. She talked with Sacha Ismail.
This crisis has starkly highlighted all sorts of inequalities and made them glaring. Vulnerable people are now much more vulnerable – people in poverty, women, BAME communities. It’s an indicator not so much of how awful the pandemic is, as how dysfunctional our society was even before.
At the same time, we’ve seen the power trade unions can have when they actually put their mind to it, winning victories and concessions, including through direct action which simply ignores the law.
From an international perspective, all this has exposed the absurdity of migration controls. Britain’s a country with people from all over the world working here, and they have the right to. Anyone talking about managed migration is coming from a very weak argument, particularly if they’re part of the labour movement.
We also use this moment to engage people with what’s happening in other countries. The virus is international and the solutions must be international. When we get a vaccine, it has to be fairly shared around the world, because that’s right and because otherwise none of us will be safe.
So there’s space to make and win socialist arguments. The danger is that nationalists are pushing in a different direction – right-wing nationalists, obviously, but the SNP have also flirted with using the crisis for anti-English agitation. They tried to claim PPE had been diverted to England, which was proved to be untrue, but it fitted the logic of their approach.
Here in Edinburgh we’ve had attacks on the Chinese community. Meanwhile family back in Italy have talked about the anti-EU feeling growing there because people feel abandoned.
I’ve spent most of my life working in Europe, I’ve got family in Europe, my partner’s a European migrant. Freedom of movement is very personal for me, and in any case, I’m an internationalist. The Tories’ Brexit project is completely counterposed to that and we need to find ways to continue to oppose it.
• Full interview on The Clarion