Dunfermline by-election: Labour campaign leaflet brings claim of ‘panic’

Alex Salmond campaigning in Fife with candidate Shirley-Anne Somerville.

Labour and the SNP became embroiled in a spat over leaflets as the Dunfermline by-election campaign entered its final week.

Just three days before voters take to the polls, First Minister Alex Salmond accused Labour of hitting the panic button by making “foolish” claims in their latest leaflet on behalf of candidate Cara Hilton.

He declared that all of the policies Labour were claiming as their own were already being delivered or supported by the SNP.

These include assertions that Labour was first to scrap bridge tolls in Scotland alongside a picture of the Forth Road Bridge that Labour froze council tax first and would continue to support the freeze, and that they supported free prescriptions.

As he hit the campaign trail with candidate Shirley-Anne Somerville, Mr Salmond said the leaflets were proof the Labour campaign was starting to panic.

“It’s pretty foolish to make such claims that are demonstrably untrue,” he said.

“They claim they support the council tax freeze, but they attack it all the time and they attacked the free prescriptions policy just last week.”

Labour, however, insisted that all its claims were accurate and in turn accused the SNP of distributing “patently untrue” declarations in its own literature.

Speaking to The Courier outside Pitcorthie Primary School, Mr Salmond said it was bizarre that Labour had used a picture of the Forth Road Bridge alongside their bridge toll claims.

“When they removed tolls on the Erskine and Skye bridges in 2006, they specifically refused to scrap them on the Forth and Tay bridges, which was done by the SNP in 2008,” he said.

“The SNP introduced the council tax freeze across Scotland in the teeth of Labour opposition.”

A Labour spokesman said the party would “strongly contend” that there were factual inaccuracies in its leaflet.

He said: “We’ve seen their candidate claim that the SNP has delivered 600 hours of childcare, which is simply unture.

“The SNP have spent five weeks trying to scare the people of Dunfermline.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson took to Twitter to question the priorities of both Labour and the SNP.

“James Reekie is talking about health while Labour and the SNP have a Twitter spat over leaflets,” she said.Courier debateAs the battle to be Dunfermline’s next MSP hots up, The Courier is giving you the chance to quiz the seven candidates.

A political debate, chaired by our deputy editor Steve Bargeton, will take place on October 22 from 7pm to 8pm at the Carnegie Conference Centre in Dunfermline.

Entry will be on a first-come-first-served basis. Don’t worry, though, there is standing room and you can read full coverage in The Courier on Wednesday.

We’ll also be covering the debate live online.