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by Andrew Learmonth
09 March 2021
Swinney set to survive vote of no confidence

Swinney set to survive vote of no confidence

John Swinney looks set to survive a vote of no confidence in Holyrood on Wednesday, after the Scottish Greens said they would not back an effort to censure the deputy first minister.

Party co-leader Patrick Harvie accused the Scottish Conservatives of playing a "pathetic political game just weeks ahead of an election".

But Tory leader Douglas Ross hit back at the Greens, saying they were in "Nicola Sturgeon's pocket."

Swinney has been under pressure in recent weeks over the publication of the government’s legal advice from its court battle with Alex Salmond.

He initiated a judicial review in 2018 following a civil service investigation into allegations of harassment made against him. 

In January 2019 the government conceded the process had been flawed after the appointment of an investigating officer who had previously had substantial contact with the complainers.

The collapse of the case cost the taxpayer at least half a million pounds.

In November, MSPs voted twice for the notes from external counsel to be released to the cross-party committee probing the botched handling of harassment complaints.

It was only last week that correspondence between lawyers and the government was released, and that itself only followed a no-confidence threat.

Over the weekend, Ross said his party would table the motion of no confidence against Swinney as he had “disrespected the Scottish Parliament repeatedly, blatantly withheld evidence from a parliamentary inquiry, and tried to mislead the public”.

He added: "We are proceeding with the vote of no confidence. I urge all opposition parties to support it to uphold the reputation of the Scottish Parliament and to ensure that in future, votes of the Parliament are respected by the Scottish Government.”

The no-confidence debate is due to start at around 2.50pm tomorrow and will last for 30 minutes.

As the SNP government doesn't have a majority in the parliament, they need at least one other party to either abstain or vote against the motion for Swinney to survive.

On Tuesday, Harvie confirmed that his party would not support the Tories.

He said: "The Scottish Greens will always defend the integrity of the Scottish Parliament, and that is why we backed the call for John Swinney to release evidence that the harassment committee and parliament had asked for.

"That evidence clearly showed the Scottish Government had failed the women who came forward, and this, rather than opportunistic political theatre, should be the focus.

"The Tories called it a screeching U-turn last week, but this week they still want a political scalp to show for it.

"The evidence provided cannot be both the bombshell revelation they claimed, and at the same time inadequate to draw conclusions on the issues that matter.

"It’s clear from this naked attempt to undermine our democratic institutions and from the line of questioning from their committee members that the Scottish Conservatives have no interest in making sure women are supported coming forward with complaints in the future.

"For them, this vote of no confidence is a pathetic political game just weeks ahead of an election in which they have nothing positive to offer the people of Scotland."

In a tweet, Ross hit out at Harvie. He said: "The Greens are too weak to stand up to the SNP and back what they already voted for twice. Their cause comes first – independence, not the environment.

"Their true colours are not green, they are SNP yellow. Patrick Harvie is back in his happy place - Nicola Sturgeon’s pocket."

The Liberal Democrats have said that they will back the motion.

Party leader Willie Rennie said: “The Deputy First Minister’s shabby treatment of parliament cannot be ignored. 

"Ignoring votes, holding back papers and delaying the publication of documents until after the First Minister had given evidence and now failing to minute important meetings shows a fundamental disrespect for democracy.

"Anyone who values this parliament must vote to reprimand the Deputy First Minister’s behaviour.”

Read the most recent article written by Andrew Learmonth - MSPs expected to confirm SNP leader as first minister

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