Tories mock SNP by creating law named after disgraced MSP who failed to attend Holyrood

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The Scottish Conservatives today put forward the proposals called “Mackay’s Law” which have been backed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats. It comes after MSP Derek MacKay resigned as Scotland’s Finance Secretary the night before the Scottish Budget in February.

Details emerged of hundreds of messages he had sent via Instagram and Facebook to a 16-year-old boy.

Mr MacKay has not been present at Holyrood since the incident and although he was suspended by the SNP, he remains an MSP on a salary of £64,470 per year which was increased in April 2020.

The Renfrewshire MSP has apologised for the incident.

The 42-year-old would also be entitled to approximately £50,000 as a resettlement grant, having served in the Parliament for 10 years.

Graham Simpson MSP, the Scottish Government’s Transport spokesperson wants to bring in the new rules in the form of a private members’ bill.

The idea was considered but rejected by the Scottish Parliament in 2018 following the resignation of SNP childcare minister Mark McDonald for inappropriate behaviour towards three women.

Speaking today, Mr Simpson said: “Most councils have rules on this and if Derek Mackay was a councillor and hadn’t done his job for six months then he would have been drummed out.

“But there are no rules covering MSPs’ attendance, which means they can do nothing and pocket the cash.

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“In theory, you could act like Derek Mackay is currently doing for five years. That is just wrong.”

Repeating his calls for Mr MacKay to resign, he added: “If you are elected to the Scottish Parliament you should be a worker, not a shirker.

“Nothing else should be allowed. If Mr Mackay had any honour left he would stand down now and allow the people of Renfrewshire North and West to elect someone who will properly represent them.”

Following Mr Mackay’s resignation, the Scottish Liberal Democrats called for the Scottish Parliament to introduce recall powers similar to Westminster to sanction MSPs guilty of “unacceptable conduct”.

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A spokeswoman backed the Tories position today calling the Bill proposal “interesting”, and added: “For some time we have favoured a system of recall which has been debated and discussed. We still hope we can persuade other parties to support it.

“The six-month rule is an interesting idea which is worthy of further consideration.”

Elaine Smith, Scottish Labour Business Manager agreed and said: “Scottish Labour agrees with the principles behind this proposal and supports any action taken to hold MSPs, such as Derek Mackay, that continually fail to fulfil their duties as representatives to account.

“However, we must have provisions put in place to ensure MSPs who are absent from the chamber for six months for health, family or other legitimate reasons are not penalised for their absence.”


But the Scottish Greens claimed that the Bill would deal with a “small number of cases” warning that the case should not become a game of “political football”.

A spokesperson for the party added: “It’s essential that Parliament’s procedures are fit for purpose, and that action can be taken where an MSP is found guilty of gross misconduct which would see them dismissed from any other job.

“This must be an independent process, and not become a political football.

 “This isn’t simply about attendance though.

“It would be unacceptable if a new parent was compelled to attend while on parental leave, or a seriously ill MSP was forced to put their health at risk for instance.

“Graham Simpson’s proposal would only deal with a tiny number of cases.

“The bigger problem is those politicians – including many of Mr SImpson’s party colleagues – who treat the public with contempt by taking on second or third jobs on top of their very well paid role as parliamentarians.”

In response, an SNP spokesperson said: “Any proposals such as those the Tories are suggesting would apply to all parties, and would be for Parliament as a whole to discuss.”

Holyrood was contacted for a comment but said it was for Scotland’s political parties to discuss.

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