Dunfermline by-election campaign turns nasty

Bill Walker's resignation sparked the by-election. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Bill Walker's resignation sparked the by-election. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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THE SNP and Labour launched angry attacks on each today other as the Dunfermline by-election campaign turned nasty.

But both parties have been accused of “mud-slinging” at the expense of focusing on issues that matter to people in the town.

Nationalists have attacked the Labour run Fife council over local school closures, while Labour stepped up calls for the SNP to apologise over the Bill Walker scandal which brought about the by-election.

Walker took the seat for the SNP in 2011 with a majority of just 630, but Labour’s candidate Cara Hilton is favourite when the by-election is held on October 24.

Ms Somerville said: “The need for an SNP vote in the Dunfermline by-election is highlighted by Labour run Fife council’s planned school closures - which I am campaigning with local parents against.

“Local schools are not the only key provision which require an SNP vote to protect. The Council Tax freeze, free personal care for older citizens, no tuition fees for young Scots, free bus travel for the over-60s, and no bridge tolls across the Forth are only guaranteed a secure future by voting SNP in the by-election.”

Walker was jailed for a year last week after being convicted for a strong of attacks on his ex-wives, but the SNP has come under fire after it emerged the party was warned about his abusive past before he won the seat.

Ms Hilton said: “It’s now a week since Shirley-Anne Somerville was selected to be the SNP’s candidate for the Dunfermline by-election.

“In these seven days, she has singularly failed to apologise to the people of Dunfermline for allowing the SNP to ignore the warnings about Bill Walker and selecting him for this constituency.

“The apology is all the more important because the warnings go back as far as 2008 and Walker was defended by senior SNP members in Fife when the allegations were published in a Scottish newspaper last year. Dunfermline deserves better than this.”

But Tory candidate James Reekie said the behaviour of the two main parties is leaving voters “exasperated” with politics.

He said: “When the gloves are off in the heat of a by-election, they just can’t seem to help themselves. That’s not what people want to see - they want a mature debate on issues of daily importance to them.”