Labour and Tories turning to “discredited figures from the past”


by a Newsnet reporter

SNP MSP Christina McKelvie yesterday accused both the Labour party and the Conservatives of turning to “discredited figures of the past”.  Her comments came after Michael Forsyth was mooted as the next possible leader of the Conservatives in Scotland, based on remarks by Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell.

In a report in the Scottish edition of the Mail on Sunday the Conservative MSP was quoted as saying of Mr Forsyth, “I can think of no better candidate.”  Her comment was made a few days after fellow Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw announced his intention to stand for leadership.   Mr Carlaw is the party’s Holyrood spokesman on transport.  Others within the party are deeply opposed to Mr Carlaw’s candidacy, yesterday the Sunday Times reported on rumours of a “stop Carlaw” campaign.

The last Conservative Scottish Secretary, Mr Forsyth was given the title Baron Forsyth of Drumlean by outgoing Prime Minister John Major in 1997 after losing his Stirling constituency seat in the Conservative rout during that year’s General Election, which saw the party lose all its Scottish seats.  Mr Forsyth currently sits in the House of Lords.  He remains closely associated in the public mind with the previous Conservative administration, which was strongly opposed to the restoration of a Scottish Parliament and implemented a deeply unpopular series of cuts to public spending.

Meanwhile in the diary pages of the Mail on Sunday there was speculation that erstwhile leader of Glasgow City Council Steven Purcell could stand as a Labour candidate at the next Holyrood elections.  Mr Purcell resigned from leadership of Glasgow Council in controversial circumstances which have still not been adequately explained.  

Ms McKelvie, the MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, said:

“The Tories and Labour must have a death wish if they seriously plan to resuscitate the political careers of Michael Forsyth and Steven Purcell.  It reveals the utter dearth of talent on their Holyrood benches if they are forced to go back to their discredited figures of the past.

“Margaret Mitchell’s remarks in particular amount to a withering criticism of the abilities of each and every one of her fellow Tory MSPs.  They will make the Tories’ feuding and infighting even more bitter.

“Given that the Tories have just had their worst ever election result in Scotland in terms of share of the vote, it would be extraordinary if the party now turned to Lord Forsyth as the man who, when he was last in charge, lost every single Tory seat north of the Border.

“While the Tories and Labour turn to discredited figures from the past, the SNP is focussed on the future, taking Scotland forward and delivering an alternative to a Labour Party that consistently fails to speak for Scotland and a damaging Tory/LibDem coalition.”