IN the heady days of General Election campaigning, we run the risk of becoming blind to events around us and contracting a sense of tunnel vision.

Perhaps that’s unsurprising. With wall-to-wall coverage of the election, coupled with an international football tournament, the media landscape and column inches are fit to burst.

That way lies the danger. If we become too narrow in our scope and entrenched within our own wee bubbles, then we fail to spot the dangers around us. It’s difficult enough keeping track of political events upon our own shores – never mind the continent.

With a General Election, a vote of no confidence in the Welsh First Minister, the Northern Ireland Assembly still getting back on its feet and a Scottish Government on its third First Minister in three years, UK politics has had its fair share of turbulence.

But we shouldn’t let that distract us from the results of the European Parliament election and how that influences our democratic processes here at home.

Macron calling an election in France in response to the far-right, Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (formerly known as the National Front), polling at 31% during the European elections – more than double his Renaissance Party’s 15% – gives us cause for concern.

Whether the National Rally can replicate their results within an all-out French National Assembly election remains to be seen. What can be deduced, as has been seen in Belgium with the resignation of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and his defeat by right and far-right parties within regions of the country, is that we cannot be complacent.

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Far-right populism isn’t on the rise. It’s here, and its divisive rhetoric is being pushed in our communities. For our part, the STUC was on the streets with our local trades’ councils, activist groups and anti-fascist networks to oppose far-right groups from dividing us.

Every weekend, from Elgin to Erskine, we opposed the racist Homeland Party from picketing and demonising those seeking asylum and those migrating to our shores.

We stand with those fleeing injustice and persecution. They’re not to be used as a political football for those on the political right to question their legal status or compatibility with our “way of life”, whatever that means anyway.

There is no such thing as an illegal human being. Migration has enriched our culture for centuries. It’s vital to our way of life. It’s critical to our infrastructure.

What we must keep in mind, as actors from Le Pen to Farage keep trying to divide us, is that the far-right will always take advantage of economic, social and political crises. As discussed, it’s not as if we’ve been short of political turbulence these past few years.

As the disruption increases, the far-right sows the seeds of discontent within our communities. Instead of focusing on the real economic bandits within our economy – the pandemic profiteers and the unchecked wealth of FTSE 500 CEOs – shady far-right political activists prefer to kick down, not kick up.

They’ll much rather blame those fleeing war, famine and political persecution than blame the wealthy tax avoiders and corporate entities. They’ll also never tell you that migration for Scotland is a necessity. Especially after a disastrous Brexit endeavour that chased European workers away and left vacancies and skill shortages across the public and private sectors.

Yes, the STUC hasn’t been shy in telling the Scottish Government what more it can do with its tax powers to fund our public services.

We’ve also been imploring any future UK Labour government to commit, as they have done in their manifesto, to devolve further funding for the Scottish Government to help shore up our public services creaking at the seams. We also need more powers.

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If the party of devolution is to stick to its name, we have to see the urgent devolution of employment law and powers over migration devolved to Scottish Government ministers.

But the lack of new powers, shouldn’t be a showstopper for the Scottish Government, who can do more to tackle bad bosses, unfair work and poverty across Scotland. And when political promises are broken, political apathy grows.

We all know, as seen in the European elections, who takes advantage of that.

Ignoring the far-right on the continent leads to negligence at home. With Reform now polling higher than the Conservatives in some voter intention polls, we have to double down and expose the lies and fallacies of the far-right. Despite what they claim, Britain is far from “full”.

Our NHS, housing and transport isn’t in crisis because of migrants and those from abroad. It’s in crisis because of decades of austerity and public spending cuts, coupled with a global pandemic, that our services are facing backlogs and delays.

But we can find some light when there is darkness and vitriol around us. The trade union movement has our role to play. Using our voice, at work, with families and friends and in columns like this one we can help challenge and bust the migration myths perpetuated by far-right politicians.

But more media outlets must step up to the plate. Where clicks are king and ratings rule the roost, editors choose to platform the most controversial and offensive. Farage and Tice have been on Question Time more times than I can count.

Naturally, of course, their appearances are to drive up views – given Reform was little more than a spectre of far-right voices pushing the Tory Party harder to the right. That may change, of course, come July 5, and they may add to their rump of elected officials.

But unless broadcasters and journalists rigorously hold them to account and challenge their views on migration and foreign policy, it will fall to the rest of us who care about building a fairer, more inclusive country to do so.

We’re up for that challenge. We can reverse the worrying rise of far-right populism, but it takes a concerted, collective effort to rally against their hatred.

The fightback starts in our workplaces and communities through education and empowerment. The ballot box also has its role. I’d implore you to remember that come July 4.