By a Newsnet reporter
Labour controlled Glasgow City Council has been criticised after it emerged it blocked Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon from speaking at the city’s annual State of the Economy Conference.
Herald journalist Gerry Braiden has revealed that a Scottish Government offer to have Scotland’s Deputy First Minister speak at the event was snubbed by the Labour run local authority which has instead invited former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling to speak.
The refusal to invite Ms Sturgeon, who is a Glasgow MSP representing Govan, has angered the Scottish government who have accused the local ruling Labour group of delivering a snub to the Minister.
The Deputy First Minister’s brief also includes infrastructure and capital investment and her attendance at the conference would have allowed businesspeople to hear the views of someone at the highest level of Scottish government.
The SNP has accused the Labour group of using the event in order to promote the anti-independence campaign. As well as being in opposition as a backbench MP, Alistair Darling is also head of the Better Together camp.
Speaking to the Herald, a leading SNP source said: “Nicola wouldn’t have had an issue speaking with Alistair Darling. Where we are constitutionally, it could’ve made an interesting balance of views for Glasgow. But when you look at the recent incidents with how Glasgow has responded to a Government request you’ll see there’s a pattern with Nicola.”
The Scottish Government’s recent announcement of plans for the new travel smartcard had to be moved to Buchanan Street after the Labour run council refused permission for the Deputy First Minister to use Glasgow’s new transport museum for the event.
An SNP spokesman added: “It is a sad disservice to the people of Glasgow for the Labour council to refuse the Cabinet Secretary with responsibility for infrastructure and cities for an important conference on Glasgow’s economy, in favour of a backbench opposition MP who represents Edinburgh. It is also extremely unwise for the Labour council to give the impression they are trying to turn this event into a platform for the No campaign.”
The Herald report that Glasgow council claimed they refused the Scottish government’s offer only after being told Finance Minister John Swinney was unable to attend the economy event. “We’ll not be having the Scottish Government determine who speaks in a conference in Glasgow, organised by Glasgow and about Glasgow.” said a source for the local authority.
A council spokesman added: “Alistair Darling is a former Chancellor of the Exchequer and an expert on the UK economy, and is therefore an appropriate speaker at our event. In fact, we have been trying to secure his attendance for a number of years.”
The decision by the Labour group to snub a Glasgow MSP in favour of an Edinburgh MP comes despite Labour continually accusing the Scottish government of ‘anti-Glasgow’ bias.