Schools top Donside agenda as First Minister and Education Secretary meet parents


  The SNP has put the fight against the Labour-Tory administration’s school closure agenda at the top of the Aberdeen Donside by-election campaign, as senior party figures met with parent campaigners.
First Minister Alex Salmond and Education Secretary Michael Russell joined SNP candidate Mark McDonald to meet with parents at the closure threatened schools and hear their concerns about what is being planned.

SNP candidate Mark McDonald has committed himself to fight against plans to close Bramble Brae and Middleton Park primary schools, a commitment that has not been matched by Labour’s Willie Young or the Tories’ Ross Thomson who both serve on the council administration behind the closure plans.

Commenting, SNP candidate for Aberdeen Donside Mark McDonald said:

“I am delighted to have been able to help give parents the chance to share their concerns over what the Labour-Tory administration is doing with the First Minister and Education Secretary.

“Parents in the communities surrounding Bramble Brae and Middleton Park rightly want to know what their prospective MSP will do to help them in their fight to keep these schools open.

“While Willie Young has ducked and dodged the issue and now seems to be on the run from his own administration, I have consistently promised to take the side of parents and pupils.

“The message from parents has been loud and clear – these closure plans are utterly wrong and must be opposed for the sake of the children attending these schools. I have no hesitation in promising to stand alongside parents and fight these closure plans if I am elected as the next MSP for Aberdeen Donside.”

Meanwhile former Aberdeen footballer Alex McLeish became the second ex-Dons legend to suggest the electorate should ignore local issues and use the by-election to instead send a pro-Union message.

McLeish, who went on to manage Glasgow Rangers after a glittering playing career with Aberdeen, said he believed Scotland was stronger as part of the UK and urged voters to back the Labour candidate Willie Young.

“Willie is the candidate who can send a message that we’re better together as part of the UK.

“I also know what it takes to be an effective leader.” McLeish told the Daily Record.

The Labour candidate welcomed the support from McLeish: “I am delighted that Alex McLeish is supporting me in this important by-election.

“I know many people in Donside hold him in high regard and most of them agree with Alex and me that we are better off being part of the United Kingdom.”

The Labour candidate has been keen to move the campaign away from local issues that have seen him forced onto the backfoot due to his role as finance convenor of the local council.  It has also emerged that plans to close local libraries have been shelved by the local authority’s Labour led administration who are increasingly fearful of an SNP win.

This weekend saw candidates debate school closures and the Haudagain roundabout with the SNP candidate Mark McDonald challenging claims by Mr Young who said he was prevented from giving an opinion on school merger proposals due to a statutory consultation.

Labour candidate Willie Young pressed on local school closures

However it later emerged that no such process is currently underway and that a planned consultation has been scheduled for late summer.

Claims by the Labour candidate that the SNP is guilty of short changing Aberdeen were also called into question when it emerged his party had previously accused the SNP of giving too much money to Aberdeen at the expense of Glasgow.