Tory attacks left-wing MSPs over Venezuela support

Venezuelans protest against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Venezuelans protest against President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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Scottish left wing politicians who have publicly supported Venezuela’s socialist regime have been accused of embarrassing Holyrood by Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw.

Mr Carlaw has called on leaders of the SNP, Labour and the Greens to distance themselves from remarks praising the hard-left dictatorship.

Several MSPs have supported parliamentary motions commending the Venezuelan government, including the late Hugo Chavez.

The political turmoil in the South American country has seen opposition leaders hauled from their homes and taken to prison. Voting firms claim this weekend’s election was rigged.

In the past, Labour’s Neil Findlay has hailed the country’s “social reforms aimed at addressing the legacy of inequality” and “governing in the interests of the Venezuelan people”.

Fellow Labour member Elaine Smith has asked MSPs to “note the reported international praise for Venezuela’s electoral system”.

SNP MSP Sandra White applauded authorities for “transforming Latin America into a progressive area”, a motion signed by other MSPs.

In 2010 Jamie Hepburn of the SNP said: “Venezuela has been transformed through the progressive policies pursued by the Chavez administration in the last decade.”

His motion was signed by, among others, Joe Fitzpatrick and Aileen Campbell of the SNP. Greens Ross Greer and John Finnie have also praised the left-wing administration on social media.

Mr Carlaw said: “This lefty love-in for the Venezuelan government has to stop. It’s an embarrassment for Holyrood.

“It’s all very well for left-wing politicians to offer misty-eyed praise for a regime they’d love to see in place across Scotland and the UK. But the fact is it’s a brutal dictatorship which has brought Venezuela to its knees.”

Last night Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Liz McInnes called for an end to Venezuelan “bloodshed.

The SNP said it was ridiculous for Mr Carlaw to drag up old comments. Mr Greer said: “Regardless of what’s happening now in Venezuela, the socialist reforms led by Hugo Chavez were backed time and time again by the people and lifted millions out of poverty.”