The Scotsman 2021 election Hustings: George Galloway warns Scotland needs to stop ‘constant division’ before ‘somebody gets hurt’
Scottish politics needs a “time-out before somebody gets hurt”, George Galloway has warned, as he accused the SNP of creating a toxic political atmosphere that “denounced” its opponents.
Speaking at The Scotsman’s second election virtual hustings, Mr Galloway also urged the public to remember the late Labour MP Jo Cox who was murdered in her constituency in June 2016.
The former MP and Holyrood election candidate’s comments come after a string of high-profile figures, including the SNP’s Joanna Cherry and Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, also revealed they had received death threats.
Mr Galloway, who has left Scotland entirely while police investigate the correspondence against him, temporarily suspended his campaign for the All For Unity party on Saturday.
The 66-year-old accused the SNP of creating a toxic political atmosphere that would “tear our country to pieces”.
"It's the Scottish political system in Holyrood that is broken and we have to get off this hamster wheel, this neverendum, this constant division, which has really torn our country apart,” he told the hustings.
"We've got to get off this. We need a time-out before somebody gets hurt. And it won't just be me or Douglas Ross that gets hurt.
"My late parliamentary colleague Jo Cox should be remembered in a [perspective] in which if you don't support the ruling SNP, you are denounced as not Scottish, as less Scottish than them.
“You're told to get back to England, you're told you should be driven back to England or at worst, as Douglas Ross and I over the last few days have discovered, you have people openly opining they would like to shoot you through the head.”
He added: "We can't go on like this. This'll tear our country to pieces."
Paul McLennan, the SNP’s candidate for East Lothian, condemned the death threats against Mr Galloway, but denied that his party was to blame, revealing that he too had been targeted.
The Dunbar and East Linton ward councillor said: “I condemn any threats made against any politician. I have a court case coming up in July where there was a death threat made against myself.”
Mr McLenna added: “No politician should face that whatsoever.”
Mr Galloway also clashed with Mr McLennan over Nicola Sturgeon’s handing of the coronavirus pandemic.
The former Respect MP accused the Scottish Government of using the crisis "as a stick to beat England with" and called for an end to the lockdown.
He said: “The Union saved us on Covid – financially and with the vaccination process.
“I think the Scottish Government has handled Covid disastrously and far too many people have handed them a blank cheque on that.”
Mr Galloway added: “Fewer people are dying than die in a normal non-Covid year. It's time to end this lockdown, it’s time to find a path to prosperity – at least to limit the damage, economically, that has been done to us in the south of Scotland.”
Mr McLennan defended the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic, insisting it had been “led by the science and public health officials”.
He said he believed the proposed timetable for easing restrictions was correct.
The former leader of East Lothian Council also referred to recent polling, which showed a majority of Scots believed Ms Sturgeon’s administration had dealt well with the crisis.
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