Tory MSP claims Scotland’s cities have ‘no-go-areas’

Graham Simpson made the remarks during a debate on housing (Photo: Scottish Parliament)
Graham Simpson made the remarks during a debate on housing (Photo: Scottish Parliament)
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A Scottish Conservative MSP has been criticised after claiming there are “no-go areas” in some parts of the nation’s major cities.

Graham Simpson said there were “sink estates, no-go areas and people sleeping rough” in cities around Scotland during a debate on housing in the Scottish Parliament.

The MSP for Central Scotland’s remarks on Wednesday afternoon provoked an angry reaction from the SNP benches, but he refused to take an intervention.

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The SNP said his comments echoed those of Donald Trump, who was widely condemned after saying police were frightened of entering some parts of London and Paris.

The US President made the remarks in December 2015 while he was seeking the Republican nomination, after calling for a ban on Muslims entering the country.

Mr Simpson was speaking towards the end of a debate on housing at Holyrood, which resulted in the Tory motion and all amendments being defeated.

“We have heard some right old nonsense from members of other parties - mainly the SNP - who have said that housing is not an issue that Conservatives should talk about,” he said.

“Perhaps they are embarrassed by their own records - they certainly should be.

“That we have in our great cities sink estates, no-go areas and people sleeping rough should be a source of shame for the SNP and Labour.”

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart then attempted to interrupt Mr Simpson, but he declined to accept the intervention.

He continued: “Those parties have counted on the votes of people who live in the poorest areas of this country for decades and have taken them for granted.”

The SNP said Mr Simpson should urgently clarify his remarks and tell MSPs where the no-go areas were located, or apologise for “lowering the tone of debate”.

“I was absolutely staggered to hear such ignorant, divisive rhetoric enter into a Holyrood debate,” said the party’s MSP James Dornan. “This sort of fearmongering nonsense should have no part to play in our democracy.

“Most people will scratch their heads at the mention of no-go areas in Scotland’s great cities – we have a rich variety of communities, sometimes with different challenges of their own. “But we should celebrate that diversity and nurture potential, not pit communities against one another.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “We’ve seen some ludicrous press releases from James Dornan over the years, but this one is so utterly stupid it doesn’t even deserve a response.”

Mr Simpson has been approached for comment.