ALYN Smith has hit out at the SNP Women’s Pledge and Common Weal groups, accusing them of “crossing a line” in the party’s recent selection contest.
The MP says it was wrong for the groups to run a slate of candidates, asking voters to pick only those hopefuls who had signed up to their respective commitments.
The Common Weal Group’s pledge include land reform and public ownership and was backed by 11 candidates who won their races, including incumbent MSPs Ash Denham, Joan McAlpine, Christine Grahame and Stuart McMillan.
The Women’s Pledge, which is critical of the Scottish Government’s planned reforms to the Gender Recognition Act, also had a successful run.
Writing in today’s National, the Stirling MP says members should be careful of groups that divide the party. He says that while disagreement is inevitable in a party like SNP, members should “unite on the big stuff and put those differences to one side.”
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Smith then urges activists to “be wary of organisations that seek to put other issues or causes above that aim, seeking to establish permanent alliances and factions within our party”.
He adds: ”The Women’s Pledge and Common Weal Groups have a place in a democracy, but proposing slates of candidates? That crosses a line for me.
“We are one Party and have one aim. And that aim has never been closer to fulfilment, let’s not blow it now on divisions that needn’t exist.
“It is healthy and correct that we have a robust debate, but remember the facts – we’re winning, the polls are with us and the people of Scotland have never been more open to independence.
“To listen to some one would think we are in the doldrums when we are assuredly not.”
A spokeswoman for the SNP’s Women’s Pledge said: “Members approached us asking for recommendations for candidates who were committed to protecting women’s rights.
“Women have concenrs about their sex based rights being under threat by the proposed changes inthe Gender Recognition Reform Bill.
“We were happy to answer those requests.
“It’s clearly important to many members that they nominate and vote for people who they believe will do a good job of steering the party towards independence.
“It’s disappointing yet unsurprising that others don’t.”
The Common Weal Group declined to comment.