Councillors Burn Smith Report In Video
3 December 2014, 17:16
Four SNP councillors have been suspended from the party and are now facing disciplinary action after they set fire to a copy of a report recommending new powers for Holyrood.
First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said today that the stunt involving four members of Renfrewshire Council - which was filmed and put on YouTube - was "not acceptable behaviour''.
Opposition leaders in Scotland had been demanding action from the SNP in the wake of the incident, in which a copy of the Smith Commission report was set alight.
SNP national secretary Patrick Grady confirmed that the four councillors involved - former Renfrewshire Council leader Brian Lawson, Mags MacLaren, who runs transport minister Derek Mackay's constituency office, Will Mylet and Kenny MacLaren, who is a researcher for SNP MSP Stuart McMillan - have all been suspended pending the outcome of disciplinary procedures.
They could now be expelled from the SNP as a result of their actions.
The video shows Mr Lawson, Mr Mylet and Ms MacLaren outside the council's Paisley headquarters, setting fire to a copy of the Smith Commission report which was published last week.
Mr MacLaren was also said to be involved, although he is not seen in the video clip.
After the online footage emerged, Scottish Labour interim leader Anas Sarwar demanded Ms Sturgeon set out what action would be taken against the councillors.
Mr Sarwar also called on the First Minister to apologise to Lord Smith of Kelvin, who chaired the Smith Commission, and to all of Scotland.
The SNP had two representatives on the Smith Commission, which was set up by the UK Government to look at how to enhance the current devolved settlement, including Deputy First Minister John Swinney.
While nationalist leaders have said they believe the report does not go far enough, they have welcomed the new powers that should come to Scotland as a result of the deal.
Ms Sturgeon said: "Many people are disappointed with the result of the referendum and the level of devolution recommended by the Smith Commission; however, Scotland will only make progress if we debate our views openly and with respect.
"It is essential that, in that debate, conduct does not fall short of the high standard that is rightly expected by the public. My clear view is that setting fire to something because you don't agree with it is not acceptable behaviour.''
Mr Grady stated: "I have written to the convener of the party's disciplinary committee, making a complaint against the four individuals concerned, and the four will be suspended from the party until that complaint is heard.''
Mr Sarwar demanded the SNP leader "take immediate action to control the elements of her party who, through their disgraceful behaviour, appear determined to stir up division and grievance''.
He added: "What we saw on the video were not the actions of people who show respect for the democratic will of Scotland and the outcome of an agreement, which even their own Deputy First Minister signed up to.''
Scottish Conservative constitutional spokeswoman Annabel Goldie, who was also a member of the commission, said: "This juvenile posturing is a huge embarrassment to the SNP, which actually sat on the Smith Commission and signed up to the agreement.
"The SNP's subsequent response to the Smith Agreement raises big questions about its ability to accept the referendum result, which was a rejection of independence and an endorsement of devolution.
"Silly antics from these councillors not only diminish their party but show disrespect to a democratic judgment.''
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: "It is to Nicola Sturgeon's credit that she responded promptly to condemn the behaviour of her own councillors.''
But he said: "The longer-term challenge for the First Minister is that these senior SNP members are not lone voices. So many nationalists rose to the defence of the councillors in defiance of the SNP leadership.
"The radical package of powers agreed by the all-party Smith Commission should be celebrated rather than burnt in a bin. Yet for these nationalists everything short of independence is condemned as dangerous.
"Nicola Sturgeon still has a challenge to convince us her party stands for all of Scotland rather than just the 45% who backed her in the referendum.''