Labour in furious row over 'outrageous hypocrisy' allegation by SNP around UNCRC bill

Anas Sarwar is facing accusations from the SNP of “outrageous hypocrisy” around last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court that a key children’s rights bill went beyond Holyrood’s powers.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has been accused of hypocrisy by the SNP

However, Scottish Labour labelled the attack “pathetic” and accused the SNP of wanting to start constitutional arguments rather than “getting on with their day job”.

The row comes a week after the Supreme Court ruled that the bill which sought to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots law was returned to the Scottish Parliament due to it being outside of the parliament’s powers.

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Former culture secretary and SNP MSP, Fiona Hyslop, accused Mr Sarwar of a u-turn on the issue after he criticised the Scottish Government following the defeat and called for a refreshed bill to be passed as soon as possible.

The SNP said a tweet from the Scottish Labour leader from when the bill was initially referred to the Supreme Court proved the party “continue to side with the Tories”.

The tweet, responding to the referral by the UK Government, said: “The Conservatives are bereft of compassion and have completely lost their way. At this time of national crisis, we should be pulling together to build a fairer Scotland, not playing petty political games. Scotland deserves a better opposition.”

Ms Hyslop said: “Once more, we saw Scottish Labour’s outrageous hypocrisy and utter irrelevance in Scotland as they continue to side with the Tories.

“On a day where we see the hard truth of the limits of devolution, not one single Labour MSP could bring themselves to criticise the Westminster Government.

“It appears Scottish Labour would rather disparage the Scottish Parliament than protect it and its ability to protect our children from the worst of the Tories.

“Anas Sarwar and his MSPs should hang their heads in shame.

“The only true way for Scotland to protect children across our country from Westminster control is by having the full powers of a normal independent country.”

However the attack resulted in a stinging rebuke from Scottish Labour who labelled it “baseless”.

The party’s constitution spokesperson, Sarah Boyack, said: “This pathetic attack from the SNP only proves the point that they are playing politics with children’s rights.

“It is surprising that the SNP to want to bring this up again after their games have been exposed by the Supreme Court.

“Children’s UNCRC rights are still not incorporated into Scots Law – and the Scottish Government have given no indication of when they will be. It is a disgrace.

“The reality that they are more interested in starting an argument about independence than getting on with their day job.

“Fiona Hyslop should hang her head in shame for trying to score points over something this important.

“All the government’s attention should be on fixing this Bill and getting it in place as quickly as possible – not baseless attacks on political opponents.”

Following the ruling by the Supreme Court, deputy first minister John Swinney said the Scottish Government was still committed to children’s rights and claimed the judgement proved the devolution settlement was more limited than previously thought.

The UNCRC bill will return to Holyrood once it is amended, however no time scale has been set for this.

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