The Scottish National Party has condemned Scottish Secretary David Mundell for ‘failing to lift a finger’ to prevent the UK Government from shutting half of the job centres in Glasgow, as the campaign against closures gathers pace.
A consultation on closing 8 of the city’s 16 job centres – first revealed last month – comes to a close at the end of January. The SNP’s MPs, MSPs and councillors in Glasgow are encouraging the public to sign a petition against the plans.
A cross-party letter to David Mundell asking the Scottish Secretary to back the campaign – whose signatories include all of Glasgow’s MPs and MSPs except the two Conservative MSPs – has gone unanswered.
Repeatedly pressed on the issue in the House of Commons this week, Mr Mundell failed to give any commitment to lobby the DWP to halt the closures, and could only say that he hoped that they would not impact on service users.
The SNP’s Westminster leader Angus Robertson called David Mundell’s failure to speak out against the closures a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” – and questioned what the purpose of the Scottish Secretary was if not to speak up for Scotland at the Cabinet table.
Commenting Angus Robertson MP said: “Tory plans to close half of Glasgow’s jobcentres are wrong-headed and completely counterproductive – and their flawed consultation process only adds insult to injury.
“The SNP has been actively opposing this issue – and just this week we led debates in both the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament – but our attempts to get the Scottish Secretary to join us in calling on the DWP to halt these plans have fallen on deaf ears.
“In fact, there is no evidence that David Mundell has so much as lifted a finger to prevent these closures – or even soften the blow.
“Given the potentially devastating effect that these closures will have on some very vulnerable people in Glasgow, his failure to speak out is frankly a disgraceful dereliction of duty.
“It is completely unacceptable that Glasgow, with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, is set to be the first part of the UK to have job centre closures imposed on it – and at a disproportionately high level.
“We will not accept being dragged back to the bad old days of Tory governments – with no mandate north of the border – treating Scotland as a guinea pig for their unpopular policies and doing anything they want.
“But there is also a wider issue here. If Mr Mundell has – as is evident – done so little to fight Scotland’s corner on the issue of job centre closures, then what hope do we have that he has done anything behind the scenes to keep Scotland in the single market as part of the Brexit negotiations?
“The Scottish Secretary should be fighting for Scotland’s interests in Cabinet – not the other way around – and if Mr Mundell is unwilling to do that, then you have to wonder what the point is in there being a Scottish Secretary.”
This is an official press release from the Scottish National Party (SNP). Opinions are those of the author only.