The apologists in Edinburgh’s City Chambers

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John Smith closed his last speech with these words: “Thank you all very much for coming here tonight and helping us perhaps partly to achieve that objective. We will do our best to reward your faith in us, but please give us the opportunity to serve our country. That is all we ask.”

In his most recent article in the Evening News Daniel Johnson MSP labels Edinburgh 16 SNP Councillors as “the apologists in the City Chambers” due to their failure to oppose the cuts our Capital is facing (Opinion, 26/11/18).

Their actions are in stark contrast to the words John Smith was fond of repeating – “What’s the point of being in politics, if you can’t speak up for the people who can’t speak up for themselves?”.

Despite the rising concern about the unwillingness of Edinburgh’s SNP group to stand up for Edinburgh, last weak their leader took their intransigence to new levels. He actually mocked everyone who has ever protested outside Holyrood in order to have their voice heard.

He said – “I can assure any one of the activists or Labour Councillors who think that standing outside the Scottish Parliament with a sandwich board is better than being in the room meeting the minister, in my experience that is not the case. It is better to be eyeballing the person…”.

The argument he makes is that cosy undocumented chat’s with his party’s elite in Holyrood are better than standing in solidarity with those that rely on Council services.

The problem is that reality suggests this approach is failing. The Council is currently consulting on cutting it’s spending by £106m and the Council Leader has refused to rule out cuts to schools. Indeed, these cuts come on top of the silent slaughter of Council services in recent years which COSLA say is 10 times greater than Tory austerity.

The night before John Smith died he closed his speech saying – “We will do our best to reward your faith in us, but please give us the opportunity to serve our country. That is all we ask.” Every single Labour Councillor takes that duty of public service seriously. If needed, we will stand outside Holyrood opposing these cuts with a “sandwich board” alongside the public and Council staff.

We know, however, that if the cuts do come the SNP Council leader will be quick to support them just as he did last year.

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