Labour by-election candidate slammed after denying making council tax freeze comments


  By a Newsnet reporter
The credibility of the Labour candidate for the Cowdenbeath constituency by-election has been left in tatters his main opponent has said, after he tried to deny ever saying a Council Tax rise was an option, despite having been filmed saying just that.
Appearing on STV news yesterday, Alex Rowley told an interviewer he had always supported the council tax freeze and added: “you won’t find me saying introduce a Council Tax rise”.

However, as revealed by Newsnet Scotland last weekend, the Labour candidate, who is now the leader of Fife Council, was filmed attacking the freeze.  In an interview conducted by his own local Labour group, Mr Rowley is heard calling for council tax to be increased in order to pay for capital infrastructure.

He said: “My view is you need to spend more money…” he added, “…but local government doesn’t have the money to do so.  One option is that you could put something on the council tax to try and help you do that.”

The Labour candidate also criticised the SNP policy, suggesting that the council tax freeze was damaging local democracy.

Mr Rowley’s claim never to have suggested the council tax should rise, despite being filmed doing just that, has been seized on by the SNP by-election candidate Natalie McGarry who accused her Labour opponent of treating people in Fife like fools

Commenting, Ms McGarry said:

“This was an absolute disaster of a campaign launch for Alex Rowley, whose flat-out denial of what he is on camera saying has left his credibility in tatters.

“It takes a spectacular level of arrogance to simply deny what he knows he has previously stated on camera and think he can get away with it.  Frankly it treats people in this constituency as if they were fools.

“If Fifers cannot trust Alex Rowley to be honest about this, then how on earth are they supposed to trust him with their vote?

“Alex Rowley’s ducking and dodging on this issue underlines the fact that I am the only candidate who has firmly pledged to use my vote at the Scottish budget if I’m elected to protect the Council Tax freeze that does so much for households in Fife.

“The fact that Alex Rowley will not make the same commitment speaks volumes and shows why only a vote for the SNP on 23 January will protect the Council Tax freeze, extend childcare and deliver free school meals for Fife.”

The Cowdenbeath by-election was called after the sudden death of Labour MSP Helen Eadie.  The vote to replace the late MSP will take place on Thursday 23rd January.