YESTERDAY marked the six-year anniversary since Jo Cox MP was brutally murdered whilst going about her everyday business as an MP, serving the constituents of Batley and Spen. 

Even though she only served in Parliament for just over a year, colleagues across the House of Commons vividly remember the words from Jo’s maiden speech ‘that we have more in common than that which divides us’.

Now, I fully understand and appreciate that the Conservative Government in London has been going through a difficult time, not least Boris Johnson himself who has been accused of lying to Parliament and this week saw his ethics advisor finally chuck the towel in.

For those not familiar with the ins and outs of politics, parties which are going through a rough patch tend to deploy what’s known as a dead cat strategy. 

In essence, they find what are called wedge issues to try and distract from the pre-existing controversy and attempt to whip up another storm to take attention away.

In the Commons this week, the British Government has been doing exactly that – choosing to use striking rail workers, refugees and trans people as scapegoats to move the narrative on from a Prime Minister who is trying desperately to cling onto the leadership of his own party.

So, let’s take each of this week’s wedge issues in turn.

Firstly, next week’s impending rail strike. 

Let us be clear, no-one wants a strike, least of all the rail staff who will lose several days’ pay by taking industrial action. 

However, as a trade union member myself I cannot, indeed will not, tolerate trying to pit the travelling public against our dedicated rail staff.  

If an employee’s terms and conditions are being challenged or watered down, then we need to accept that it is a basic human right for staff to withdraw their labour. 

Watching the British Government use Wednesday’s debate to try and drive a wedge between commuters and hard-working rail staff was infuriating because it was designed to take the focus away from a Prime Minister whose leadership has truly hit the buffers.

Earlier in the week, we had a debate in Parliament about conversion therapy, specifically for trans people. 

I won’t lie - until recently, I have steered well clear of what some perceive to be the “trans debate”. 

It’s not been because I don’t care, but because the debate has divided, in the most bitter ways imaginable, all political parties - including the SNP. 

Such debates have descended into an uninformed, petty squabble about who can have a cervix or p***s and where someone goes to the toilet.

It is so much more complicated than this. 

In truth, trans people are some of the most marginalised and vulnerable in our community.

So, that’s why I’ve been shocked that, when we all agree that the practice of conversion therapy is wrong, we then learn that the British Government proposes to exclude those who are trans from a ban on a practice which is tantamount to coercive control and psychological abuse. 

But I’m equally clear that the Government separating the T from LGBT leaves yet another wedge issue on the table for them to deploy when things get tough. 

The trap that politicians and the public must avoid falling into is engaging in this pathetic and divisive debate.

Instead, we should speak with compassion and rationality for the right thing - that a ban on abhorrent practice of conversion therapy, must include trans people.

Finally, one other group was on the wedge issue whiteboard of Downing Street next week, and it was an age-old classic - scapegoat the refugees.

Thankfully the British Government’s shameful proposal to start deporting asylum claimants to Rwanda struggled to take off but only after the intervention of the courts.

In an attempt to draw attention elsewhere, we had the utterly bonkers claim from Priti Patel’s Home Office that she would happily fly a private plane which was occupied with just one vulnerable asylum seeker over 4000 miles, and for eight hours, simply to look tough on immigration.

Quite aside from the fact that immigration is actually a good thing for these islands and its economy, the optics of the British Government flying - at huge cost the taxpayer - its unwanted citizens to a former colony smacks of arrogance and trying to hark back to the days of the Empire.

In truth, it’s probably been a good week at the office for the British Government, because focus has moved onto striking rail workers, refugees and the trans community - not Boris Johnson and his law-breaking Downing Street frat house.

However, as I meander my way up the West Coast Mainline following a busy week in Westminster, I find myself reflecting on Jo Cox’s words and how this week has unfolded. 

If I am honest, I worry that we’ve learned nothing because ‘more in common’ includes trans people, refugee and rail workers.