Conservatives label citizens’ assembly ‘a nationalist stunt’

Written by Emily Woods on 26 June 2019 in News

The Scottish Tories will not support the citizens' assembly as it is "nothing but a talking shop for independence”

Cabinet Secretary Michael Russell - Image credit: Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Tories are calling for pro-union Scots to boycott the SNP government’s proposed citizens’ assembly, saying it is “nothing but a talking shop for independence”.

Cabinet Secretary Michael Russell told Scottish Parliament today members of the public will be recruited to serve on the citizens’ assembly over the summer. He announced former Labour MEP David Martin had been asked to be co-convener.

The assembly is supported by Labour and the Greens, with Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie welcoming “the idea of an inclusive, deliberative assembly”.

However, Tory constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins told parliament the assembly was “a nationalist stunt to kickstart the conversation about independence” and urged “anyone in Scotland who believes in the union to see this for what it is, and to give it a wide berth”.

“It’s another excuse to try and get people talking about the break-up of Britain – it’s a vanity project in the extreme from the SNP,” Tomkins said.

“That’s why the Scottish Conservatives will be having nothing to do with it.”

The Lib Dems have also chosen not to participate in the assembly, with leader Willie Rennie today arguing taxpayer’s money "should not be used for this party political process".

Rennie put to Russell that if the assembly calls on the government to "abandon independence, will it do so?"

“If the assembly were to say that… there would be that conversation,” Russell responded, before saying he was surprised the Lib Dems would not participate: “I don’t think that is liberal or democratic.”

Rennie later issued a statement, saying: “Scottish Liberal Democrats will not take part in this process so long as it is clear that regardless of what the citizens recommend, SNP ministers will still think they know better.”

Russell said the assembly would be: “broadly representative of Scotland’s adult population, according to age, ethnic group, socio-economic background, geography and political attitude.”

“On the 14th of June we launched the invitation to tender for member recruitment, 120 members of the public will be randomly selected to serve,” he said.

“Citizens’ assemblies are becoming an established way for mature democracies to engage with complex and contested issues an on inclusive, informed and respectful basis. That is what we want for Scotland.”

The assembly will meet for six weekends between Autumn 2019 and Spring 2020, to discuss a range of issues affecting Scotland, including the future of the country, independence and the challenges to come from Brexit.

The government has created a citizens’ assembly website, which went live this afternoon.

Tags

Categories

Related Articles

Brexit has challenged intergovernmental relations ‘within an inch of their lives’
12 July 2019

UK and Scottish government relations are “under pressure like never before”, SNP MP Pete Wishart has told the House of Commons

Fiona Hyslop travels to Brussels to outline commitment to European cooperation
9 July 2019

External affairs secretary will point to cooperation in renewable energy research as well as European funding for remote infrastructure projects as evidence of how Scotland benefits from EU...

Division now infects every part of our politics
8 July 2019

"The truth is, if I voted yes in another referendum, it would be in grief and hope rather than glee"

Humza Yousaf welcomes Police Scotland Brexit contingency plans
5 July 2019

The Justice Minister has welcomed the decision to put around 300 police officers on standby to deal with any Brexit-related issues on 31 October

Related Sponsored Articles

Associate feature: 5 ways IoT is transforming the public sector
5 February 2018

Vodafone explores some of the ways IoT is significantly improving public sector service delivery

Share this page