Friday, February 23, 2007

IT'S TIME FOR A LEADERS DEBATE

IT'S TIME FOR A LEADERS' DEBATE

MISSING: MR MCCONNELL MISSES ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO DEBATE SNP LEADER

The Scottish National Party's Campaign Director Angus Robertson MP
today [Friday] published a new campaign image from the party
illustrating the fact that the Labour Leader in Scotland, Mr McConnell
has ducked yet another opportunity to debate with Alex Salmond. The
image is attached to this message in pdf format.

During the recording of Question Time in Edinburgh yesterday evening
[Thursday], David Dimbleby stated that the official reason given by
the First Minster's office for him not agreeing to appear on the show
was that he would not debate with a Scottish Liberal Democrat
Minister.

The SNP's new campaign image, in the form of a 'Missing' poster, will
be distributed across the country following the First Minister's
decision not to appear with all the other major party leaders on BBC
Question Time yesterday evening. Mr McConnell has now refused seven
opportunities to debate with Mr Salmond, and the BBC have confirmed
that this is the fifteenth opportunity to appear on Question Time that
Mr McConnell has turned down.

Mr Robertson said:

"The SNP are leading a quality debate on Scotland's future, and about
how we can build a successful future for our country. Labour's
failure to connect with this positive debate means that the Scottish
people are being denied the opportunity to learn of all the political
parties' ideas and policies from their candidates for First Minster.

"Mr McConnell is clearly not being allowed by his party bosses to
debate with Alex Salmond. It is frankly ludicrous for a party leader
to run from open debate in this way.

"Mr McConnell has refused six opportunities to debate with Mr Salmond,
and fifteen opportunities to appear on the BBC's Question Time
programme. Previous First Ministers of Wales, Scotland and Northern
Ireland have all debated on this prestigious programme, so what
exactly is he so scared of?

"If Labour were confident of their arguments they would debate them in
public, and if Mr McConnell believed in what he was saying he would go
head to head with Alex Salmond like his predecessors.

"Alex Salmond is Scotland's choice for First Minister. All the
published polling evidence has shown that he is preferred over Mr
McConnell in every area. Alex Salmond is more trusted, more liked and
more respected than Mr McConnell, and he's on the side of the people
in Scotland on all the major issues like the war in Iraq, keeping
local hospital services open and putting more police officers on the
beat.

"This election gives voters a straight choice over who they want as
First Minster of Scotland. The public should have the chance to make
an informed choice. It's time for a debate between Mr McConnell and
Alex Salmond."

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