A Fife by-election candidate has sparked fury after suggesting the council should crack down on what he called “wasteful politically correct” spending – such as the region’s gay pride event and employing climate change officers.
Alastair Macintyre, who is standing as an independent candidate in the forthcoming Rosyth by-election, questioned the local authority’s £10,000 yearly outlay on events like Fife Pride – the region’s celebration of gay, lesbian and transgender rights – while other areas of society needed investment.
However, his views, which formed part of material posted to households in the ward, were slammed by LGBTQ+ groups, amid calls for him to retract his statement.
While he says he has “nothing against” anyone from the LGBTQ+ community, Mr Macintyre has stood by his comments and maintains taxpayers’ money would be better spent elsewhere.
He said: “When I say I am against politically correct spending, I should probably clarify that I mean spending on things that I and many others consider non-essential and indeed, Fife Pride is one of these things.
“As a person who is currently looking for a full-time job, I often look on Myjobscotland which contains the jobs for all 32 local authorities in Scotland.
“Whilst trawling through the site I came across an advert for a Climate Change Officer at South Ayrshire council paying a salary £25,258-£27,594. This is another example of what I mean by politically correct spending.
“Whilst that particular job might not be a Fife Council job if you regularly use the MJS site you will often come across questionable positions such as the Climate Change Officer and all 32 local authorities are guilty of it.”
Stuart Duffy, of Fife-based LGBT charity, Pink Saltire, co-founders of Pride in 2017, highlighted the wider benefits the event has brought to Fife as a whole.
“It’s a bit strange that Mr Macintyre leads with this financial support for Fife Pride in his election letter to households.
“I would think the hard working people of Rosyth have a number of other priorities that they would expect him to be championing.
“It’s a rather simplistic argument that by stopping Fife Council’s ‘politically correct’ spending we could somehow fix all the roads, schools, hospitals and reduce redundancies in the Kingdom.
“Quite the opposite is true in this instance, with a study suggesting the economic impact of events like Fife Pride generate far more for the local economy in things like hotel stays, travel, dining out and other spend, than they cost to put on, not to mention the positive cultural and social impact of demonstrating that Fife is an inclusive place to live and visit.
“People from every town and village in Fife attended Pride this year, including Mr Macintyre’s ward, and it was one of the biggest free public events held in the region in 2019.
“We’d invite the candidate to withdraw his misleading claims from this leaflet for the remainder of the campaign.”
Mr Macintyre, who says he has never been offered a full-time contract as a gardener with Fife Council’s bereavement services due to lack of funding, refused to back down, adding: “Is spending £10,000 a year on Fife Pride or £25,000 on things such as Climate Change Officers as South Ayrshire has done the best use of taxpayer money? Or can it be spent in better ways?
“An extra £10,000 to bereavement service could have perhaps kept me on for the full year? An extra £10,000 might mean a few more potholes repaired? An extra £10,000 might mean one less public toilet closing?”