A MEMBER of Scottish Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has rubbished the party's response to comments made about sending people smugglers to Scotland. 

It comes after the director of the Labour Together think tank claimed smuggler gangs should be put on a barge and sent to Scotland during a discussion on LBC.

He also said his main concern was not the “human rights implications” of the Rwanda Bill, but with the economic impact.

“I mean, you know, why don’t you send the smuggler gangs and put them on the barge that you know has been set aside for the asylum seekers and then ship the barge up to the north of Scotland,” he said.

A ‘blind spot’

Speaking to The National, Coll McCail, who serves as the representative for young members on the NEC told The National: “What he says is that his primary concern is not about the human rights breaches which is the first massive red flag.

“He adopts the Tories' framing that it won’t stop the boats rather than the fact that this scheme is going to breach international law.”

He added that his comment about Scotland “reflects a blind spot and lack of care and regard that the people running the Labour Party have towards Scotland from London”.

“It’s been reflected in a host of comments whether it’s blunders around the devolution of employment law or oil and gas, which create own goals from people in London who don’t really understand our political context.”

Scottish Labour's response

On the comments, a spokesperson for Scottish Labour said: “Every party has elements on the fringes that give them moments of cringe.

“This is a ludicrous comment and we couldn’t be clearer Josh Simon’s views do not represent the Labour Party.

“People making stupid comments like this are best ignored. Labour will scrap the Tories’ immoral and unworkable Rwanda plan and tackle criminal gangs.”

According to the Labour Together website, it “united the party behind Keir Starmer’s leadership” in 2020 and “exists to explore how to win and govern in the age of insecurity”.

It was founded by a group of Labour MPs, including shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, Wes Streeting, Shabana Mahmood, Steve Reed, Bridget Phillipson, Lucy Powell, Lisa Nandy and Jon Cruddas.

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In a post on Twitter/X, McCail said he was left unimpressed with the response and commented: “The problem with this is that, as is well known, Labour Together are not on the fringes.

“Far from it. Their founder and former director is running Labour’s GE campaign."

 He told The National the idea that the group was on the fringes is "nonsense".

Impact on election

Asked if he was worried about the impact these comments could have on the upcoming General Election, McCail said: “Absolutely. This comment is made on Tuesday and Scottish Labour conference begins on Friday.

“It’s a needless own goal from somebody who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, who doesn’t understand our political context.

“It’s a worry if these comments are going to become more commonplace than they already are.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon said: “There should be no place in the Labour Party for these disgraceful comments.

“Not caring about the human rights of people seeking asylum and disrespecting the people of Scotland all in one breath is quite something.”


Simons has since taken to Twitter/X to apologise for his remarks, in which he said he was “half Scottish” and that his comments were “poorly judged”.

He said: “Following my comments on LBC last night, I apologise for any negative insinuation about Scotland.

The National:

“I’m half Scottish, I love the country and it is where much of my family comes from. It was a poorly judged comment made in jest and doesn’t reflect my views, or the views of the Labour Party.

“I was seeking to draw attention to the immorality of housing asylum seekers who are fleeing persecution on a barge while smuggler gangs get off free under the Conservatives.”