Lothian MSPs hit back at Colin Beattie

Wednesday November 9th 2016

Lothian MSPs Clash

From left to right, Colin Beattie SNP, Andy Wightman Green, Jeremy Balfour Conservative and Alison Johnstone Green

SNP MSP Colin Beattie challenged his opposition counterparts to explain why they have voted in favour of repealing an anti-sectarian law.

Opposition MSPs voted for a Conservative motion calling on the Scottish Government to repeal the Act. SNP MSP Mr Beattie has questioned why the opposition parties view this issue as a priority over education, health, jobs, the economy and protecting Scotland’s interests in Europe.

Commenting after the vote, Mr Beattie said:

“This vote shows that the priorities of Holyrood’s opposition parties are staggeringly skewed, with opposition MSPs across Midlothian and East Lothian believing scrapping hate crime legislation is the top issue facing the country.

“People across the country will now be asking – rightly – what on Earth the opposition are playing at. At a time when the SNP Government is focused on education, health, jobs, the economy and protecting Scotland’s place in Europe, other parties would rather see us remove legislation that tackles sectarianism, prejudice and discrimination, whilst offering no alternative in its place.

“It is time the opposition parties got their priorities in order, backed efforts to tackle sectarianism and other hate crimes, and focused on the other issues that really matter to people across the constituency.”

Asked by Midlothian View to comment on the challenge, Jeremy Balfour, Conservative MSP for the Lothians said:

“I and my fellow Scottish Conservatives believe that sectarian behaviour and hate crime are a blight on society in Scotland and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. However, the legal profession has repeatedly criticised the 2012 Act for being unworkable and badly drafted. It’s disappointing that the SNP Scottish Government hastily pushed the legislation through the Parliament, despite widespread criticism from stakeholders and opposition parties

“Despite it being almost 6 months since the May elections, the SNP have still not introduced a single bill for scrutiny by MSPs. The SNP set out its priorities last week when it published its only major piece of legislation so far – a consultation on a draft Referendum Bill. The SNP’s plan is higher council tax, higher business rates, higher income tax – and of course a second independence referendum which is damaging confidence in Scotland.”

A Green spokeperson said:

“Last week Alison Johnstone and Andy Wightman, the Green MSPs for Lothian:

– Challenged the Scottish Government over its plans for Council Tax
– Questioned the UK Work and Pensions Secretary on cruel and unnecessary benefits assessments
– Asked Ministers about increasing rates of dementia in care homes
– Questioned experts on the economic impact of Scotland being taken out of the EU
– Discussed recruitment and retention problems in the NHS
– Supported Living Wage week (all Green MSPs are accredited employers)
– Questioned Ministers following the critical Audit Scotland report on the NHS
– Highlighted the lack of adequate funding for GPs in deprived communities
– Hosted a meeting for tenant farmers facing eviction

“In addition, Alison and Andy have dealt with constituent enquiries and met with numerous interest groups. They also voted in favour of repealing the flawed Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, in line with our election manifesto. It’s disappointing that Mr Beattie chooses to spend his time misrepresenting other MSPs’ hard work.”

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