Opposition should admit to own Holyrood mistakes say SNP


  By Bob Duncan

The SNP has called on opposition leaders to follow the example set by the First Minister and correct the mistakes that they have made in the Chamber.

Producing just some of the examples of uncorrected factual inaccuracies by both Ruth Davidson and Johann Lamont, the SNP have now invited these MSPs to live up to the same standard and correct their own errors with the Parliament’s Official Report at the first opportunity.

The demands follow attacks on the integrity of the First Minister and other Government Ministers by leaders of the opposition parties, following an apology from Alex Salmond and Michael Russell over a college funding figure error.

However, Johann Lamont has erroneously claimed on more than one occasion that the Chinese steel contract for the Forth Replacement Crossing was valued at £800m, when in reality the value was only a fraction of that cost.

On 9 February 2012, Ms Lamont said: “Alex Salmond went to China and pulled off a master deal—the Chinese got an £800 million steel contract and we got two pandas”.

Later in the same session, she said: “Alex Salmond is spending £800 million on steel —[Interruption]— and from that contract not a single job is being created in Scotland, at a time when 200 people are losing their jobs every day.”

In fact, the total value of the principal contract for the Forth replacement crossing is £790 million, of which the steel component actually represents 5 to 10 per cent.

And, construction is supporting 1,200 direct jobs with more in the supply chain.

She has not apologised to the chamber, corrected the record or acknowledged her comments misled Parliament.

For her part, Ruth Davidson has listed a number of college courses which she claimed were “no longer available under the Education Secretary’s stewardship,” despite the courses still being available at a number of colleges.

On 15 November 2012, Davidson said: “I will give a few examples of courses that are now no longer available under the education secretary’s stewardship: Higher National Certificate in diagnostic imaging- gone; Higher National Diploma in human resource management – gone; HND in technical support – gone; HND in network computing – gone; qualifications in healthcare and nursing – gone.

“Mike Russell has labelled those subjects ‘hobbies’, which they are anything but.”

To give one example, the following colleges all run an HND in technical support:

Kilmarnock College, City of Glasgow College, Cardonald College, Langside College, Anniesland College, North Glasgow College, Edinburgh College, Forth Valley College, West Lothian College, Aberdeen College, Stow College, Cumbernauld College, Dumfries & Galloway College, Reid Kerr College (HND Computing Technical Support), James Watt College (NC Computing Technical Support), Adam Smith College, Lews Castle College

And each of the other courses mentioned by Ms Davidson is also available at a number of Scottish colleges.

She has not apologised to the chamber, corrected the record or acknowledged her comments misled Parliament.

SNP MSP Dennis Robertson said:

“The people of Scotland rightly expect the highest standards of accuracy from their elected representatives – that is why SNP MSPs have apologised and accepted responsibility for inadvertent mistakes they have made.

“It is time for the opposition to conform to these same high standards.  Both Johann Lamont and Ruth Davidson have made factually incorrect claims in the Chamber, but neither of them have ever taken the opportunity to correct them.

“The First Minister gave just two examples of times where Ms Lamont and Ms Davidson have demonstrably given an inaccurate statement to Parliament. They must now both seek to correct these inaccurate statements immediately – otherwise they will lack credibility and will be open to entirely accurate charge of hypocrisy.”