Labour stands by its rural Clydesdale candidate

Robert Beattie
Robert Beattie

The Scottish Labour Party has denied claims that it is considering suspending its general election candidate for rural Clydesdale, Douglas Beattie.

The party insists it is standing by its contender for Scottish Secretary David Mundell’s Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale seat despite claims to the contrary made in a national tabloid newspaper at the weekend.

The Sun alleges that comments tweeted by Mr Beattie critical of the actions of the British Army during the Northern Irish ‘Troubles’ had displeased his party bosses to the extent that they are contemplating suspending him.

However, on Monday the Scottish Labour Party issued a statement saying: “Douglas is not facing suspension despite reports in the Sun.”

However, the party spokesperson added: “The Labour Party does not share these views and is proud to support our armed forces.”

Mr Beattie, a councillor in Camden in London, added: “I apologise unreservedly for any offence these tweets may have caused.”

The BBC News journalist, originally from Langholm in the Borders, had accused British soldiers deployed to Ireland of having blood on their hands and dismissed Remembrance Day poppies as propaganda symbols.

In the meantime, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the same constituency, John Ferry, is calling for farmers here to be “guaranteed stability beyond 2020, when European Union-level subsidies are at risk of being removed”.

He said that, with the UK scheduled to complete its exit from the EU in 2019, the British Government has only guaranteed replacing EU farm subsidies until 2020.

“Farmers across Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale rely on EU payments to keep their heads above water, and they are rightly worried about the viability of their farms should payments cease or be drastically reduced,” he said.

“They also face the possibility of additional taxes on the back of new trade agreements and having to compete with countries that can undercut prices because their farmers are subject to lower animal welfare and environmental standards.”

Sitting MP Mr Mundell, the Conservative candidate again this time round, was campaigning in Biggar on Saturday with his party’s current Scottish leader, Ruth Davidson, and former leader Baroness Annabel Goldie.

He said: “It was great to be joined by Ruth and Annabel on the campaign trail in Biggar, and there was certainly a high level of spirit among the team that was out promoting the Scottish Conservative and Unionist message to voters.

“Annabel is a terrific character and laid a lot of the great groundwork for the revival of the Scottish Conservatives, and that has been carried on in great style by Ruth Davidson.

“Under Ruth’s leadership, it is the Scottish Conservatives who have shown they are the only party who can stand up to the SNP and its plans for a second independence referendum.”

Meanwhile, in the East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow Constituency, the Scottish National Party has formally re-selected the candidatewho won the seat at the 2015 general election, Lisa Cameron.

She said: “I am delighted to be standing for re-election in the constituency where I grew up, where I have worked in our NHS and lived for almost 40 years.”

I have worked tirelessly in parliament as Chair of the Disability All Party Parliamentary Group to stand up for some of the most vulnerable in our society and I have spoken ninety debates on issues important to this constituency in the past year. “