SNP attack Labour’s ‘political manoeuvering’ on Anti-Sectarianism Bill

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
The Scottish Labour party has been criticised for playing “party politics” after it emerged they will refuse to vote on the next stage of the Offensive Behaviour Bill.
 
The decision follows the party’s failure to lodge any amendments to the Bill despite arguing it needs to be improved.

By a Newsnet reporter
 
The Scottish Labour party has been criticised for playing “party politics” after it emerged they will refuse to vote on the next stage of the Offensive Behaviour Bill.
 
The decision follows the party’s failure to lodge any amendments to the Bill despite arguing it needs to be improved.

SNP MSP Humza Yousaf, who sits on the Justice Committee, has condemned the Labour group and accused them of playing ‘confused’ party politics.

Commenting, Glasgow MSP Mr Yousaf said:

“Scottish Labour does not know what way it wants to go.  Labour MSPs voted for it at Stage 1, didn’t put forward any amendments at Stage 2 and are now saying they will abstain from voting altogether.

“The party is clearly confused and it is extremely disappointing these politicians are putting party politics before helping tackle this serious problem in our society.”

The new legislation includes proposals to tackle the scourge of Sectarianism in Scottish football.  It follows a series of shocking events that marred last season’s campaign which included attacks on Celtic manager Neil Lennon and ammunition and alleged explosive devices being sent through the post to Mr Lennon and senior public figures with links to the club.

Both Rangers and Celtic have since been investigated after inappropriate chanting was heard at games involving the Glasgow clubs.

On 25th May, current Labour Deputy leader and leadership hopeful Johann Lamont said: “We look forward to scrutinising the detail of these proposals and working closely with the Scottish Government to improve this legislation and ensuring it is in place as quickly as possible.”

Weeks later, outgoing leader Iain Gray repeated his party’s commitment and said: “It is certainly the intention on this side of the chamber to support the principles of the bill.  I made it clear that we want to support the Government in legislating against bigotry in football and, indeed, anywhere else.”

Mr Yousaf reminded Labour MSPs of their party’s apparent commitment to improving the legislation and added:

“Only a few months ago, Labour’s Justice spokeswoman and Scottish Labour leader candidate, Johann Lamont, said her party would work with the government to improve the legislation.

“And outgoing leader Iain Gray also said he would support the government in legislation against bigotry in football.

“Abstaining from voting at Stage 2 shows Labour is reluctant to help eradicate the scourge of sectarian hate crime – and the people of Scotland will want to know the reasons why these politicians have refused to take a stance.”

The Bill’s Stage 2 amendments will be heard at the Justice Committee tomorrow.  Amendments have been put forward by the Scottish Government, the Conservatives and the Greens.