Marwick on attack after PR bill defeated

By Frances Horsburgh
Published February 7th 2003 in The Herald

The Scottish Liberal Democrats held firm yesterday and refused to vote for an SNP bill to bring in proportional representation for local government elections, despite it being one of their flagship policies.

They were branded as "hypocrites" by Tricia Marwick, who had promoted the legislation but the LibDems hit back, claiming it was simply designed to drive a wedge between them and their Labour coalition partners.

The member's bill was killed off at stage one, by a vote of 65 to 54 with 2 abstentions.

Iain Smith, for the LibDems, made it clear they were pinning their faith on Labour delivering a PR system during the next session of parliament. Earlier this week, a Local Government Bill was published by the executive, containing provisions for PR to be brought in by 2007.

Ms Marwick, however, claimed the Liberals had been "conned" by their coalition partners. She told MSPs: "If they do not vote for this bill, then they are simply stupid, they are unprincipled and hypocrites."