East Dunbartonshire MP accused of ‘playing politics’ for headlines

Gil Paterson the SNP candidate for the Clydebank and Milngavie constituency as his victory is announced at the count in Clydebank during the Scottish Parliamentary Elections. Friday, May 6 2011.(Photo/Chris Clark) � Chris Clark
Gil Paterson the SNP candidate for the Clydebank and Milngavie constituency as his victory is announced at the count in Clydebank during the Scottish Parliamentary Elections. Friday, May 6 2011.(Photo/Chris Clark) � Chris Clark

A bitter row has broken out this week between two local politicians - Milngavie MSP Gil Paterson and East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson.

Gil Paterson hit out at Ms Swinson’s recent attack on the Scottish Government over absenteeism at East Dunbartonshire Council.

He also accused her of using the NHS for “blatant electioneering” in the run up to the General Election in May.

Ms Swinson was concerned that 450 council workers have been signed off with stress since 2012 and asked the Scottish Government to review its approach to mental health issues.

Mr Paterson said: “She is blaming the Scottish Government, but our government has committed an additional £15million to mental health services over the next three years.

“Instead of trying to blame the SNP Government, Ms Swinson should look into why this is happening as her party is in the administration.

“This Labour/Tory/Lib Dem coalition is cutting jobs, salaries, increasing the working hours of its staff and eroding their terms and conditions. It is even prepared to run schools without janitors.

“Has she thought that this might have something to do with the alarming number of stress-related illnesses?”

In last week’s M&B Herald Ms Swinson also accused the SNP Government of failing the NHS in Scotland and cited a reduction in the number of hospital beds from 2011-2014.

Mr Paterson added: “This is hypocrisy when her own government in Westminster has slashed Scotland’s budget by 10 per cent since they took office. We are trying to do more with billions less. Despite this, we have increased NHS spending and staffing to record levels.

“People know that the Lib Dems have helped their Tory partners in London push through the privatisation programme and Jo Swinson voted for the Health & Social Care Act that gave opportunities to the private sector to profit from the NHS.

“The NHS in Scotland is the most successful in the UK against all the odds. This is simply blatant electioneering in the run up to the election.

“Instead of talking about things she has no powers over, how about talking about things that she does, like her voting to allow fracking under consitutents’ homes, the bedroom tax, welfare cuts and tuition fees, to name but a few.”

Ms Swinson said: “The SNP Government has had complete control over the spending and policies of the NHS in Scotland since 2007.

“Yet they have spent so long campaigning for independence that they have taken their eye off the ball when it comes to our NHS - resulting in an A&E crisis in Glasgow’s hospitals, shocking waiting times for key diagnostic tests and thousands of lost beds.

“Despite this, the SNP Government are not prioritising health spending. The Institute for Fiscal Studies has revealed that between 2009/10 and 2015/16 the spending on health services in England will rise by 4.4 per cent and fall in Scotland by 1.2 per cent. Because of the Barnett consequentials arising from the increase on health spending in England, over the whole of this Parliament the increase to Scotland’s health spending is more than £1.3 billion.

“Of course, it’s up to the Scottish Government to decide how it spends this money – but I’m not convinced Gil Paterson’s colleagues are prioritising health spending. His claims about swingeing Westminster cuts hold no weight when the SNP Government underspent on their budget last year by £444 million.”