Comment: Tam Dalyell was a true rebel, unlike Trump

Tam Dalyell pictured in the House of Commons in 2004. Picture: Chris Young/ PA
Tam Dalyell pictured in the House of Commons in 2004. Picture: Chris Young/ PA
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WHere would you look for lessons on how to change the world?

If it’s anti-establishment politics that you are after, then don’t look across the Pond - stick a little closer to home.

For all of Donald Trump’s rhetoric about “draining the swamp” of US politics, all his actions since taking office seem designed to punish and oppress the vulnerable and downtrodden.

Contrast that with the career of Tam Dalyell.

The late former West Lothian and Linlithgow MP, who died this week, came from a far more privileged background than the vast majority of people that he represented, growing up in the grand stately home, the House of Binns, near Linlithgow. The advantages he inherited from his parents are where any comparison with Trump ends.

Throughout his long and distinguished career, Tam was a persistent thorn in the side of the UK political establishment, famously hounding Margaret Thatcher over the sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands War and savaging his own party leader over the war in Iraq. Over half a century of political activism, he was as dependably courteous as he was rebellious, as reliably kind as he was awkward - at least to those in power.

We Scots are a thrawn lot at times. None more so than Tam.

But ask the miners who went on strike in the 1980s, those who faced unemployment after factory closures, or constituents who went looking for help in the face of unbending bureaucracy, and they will all tell the same story. The man who became Britain’s longest-serving MP was always on the side of the Angels, ready to work hard to help those who were struggling.

Tam Dalyell will be sadly missed not just across the Lothians, but by all who hold dear the principles of fairness and compassion.