Labour candidate accused of using sectarianism for political gain

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by G.A.Ponsonby

A Scottish Labour politician has been accused of indulging in cheap party politicking after he tried to blame the SNP for the recent high profile incidents of sectarianism in Scotland.

Stephen Curran, who is standing against the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon in Glasgow Southside, has been accused of trying to use the recent sectarian incidents for party political gain.

The Deputy First Minister blasted her Labour opponent after he claimed that the SNP had not given funding to organisations involved in the fight against sectarianism and bigotry.

Replying to Mr Curran’s accusations the Deputy First Minister accused her Labour opponent of trying to use sectarianism for political advantage.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I really do think that this is something that politicians do a disservice to if they seek to indulge in party politicking over this.

“There is funding, there is half a million pounds of funding right now going into charities like Show Racism the Red Card’, Nil by Mouth, the Iona Community and Supporters Direct.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland Mr Curran claimed that the SNP had not followed up on Jack McConnell’s work against sectarianism and criticised what he described as a “so called summit” held after the behaviour of both managers at the last old firm league game.  Mr Curran accused the SNP of a “dereliction of duty” during their time in office.

The Labour politician also claimed that sectarianism in the west of Scotland was not rife and that the problem was the result of “a tiny minority”.

In response the Deputy First Minister said: “In relation to the summit that was held recently, Stephen’s the convenor of the police board in Glasgow so I would have expected him to know that was a summit called at the request of Strathclyde police chief Stephen House and I think that was the right thing to do in response to recent events.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “As a country we have to unite and say that people who perpetrate that kind of behaviour do not speak for Scotland, they do not speak for Glasgow and their behaviour will not be tolerated.”

Stephen Curran is no stranger to controversy.  Last year Curran was accused of hypocrisy after it emerged he pays £16,000 per year to send his two children to private school.

According to the Sunday Herald Curran had been lined up for an education role in the Labour run Glasgow Council administration led by disgraced former leader Steven Purcell, but his decision to use the independent sector prevented the move.

He was instead handed the job of executive member for “service reform”, which involved identifying council savings.  Curran was council treasurer at a time when Purcell’s regime was proposing school closures.

When Purcell resigned after being exposed as a cocaine user his replacement Gordon Matheson subsequently handed Curran a £20,000 role as convener of Strathclyde Police Authority.

This week saw Celtic manager Neil Lennon and two other high profile supporters of the club targeted by a letter bomb.  It was followed by the revelation that a live bullet was sent to Cardinal Keith O’Brien prior to the Pope’s visit to Scotland last year.