Benefits comment slammed by Midlothian MSP

Michelle Ballantyne and Christine Grahame.
Michelle Ballantyne and Christine Grahame.

Tory MSP Michelle Ballantyne – who last week stated, “people on benefits cannot have as many children as they like” – is facing calls to quit as her party’s welfare spokesperson.

Midlothian South MSP Christine Grahame (SNP) has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament condemning the Lothian List MSP. She said: “Michelle Ballantyne’s comments were vile, ignorant and downright insulting. Nobody who holds these deeply troubling views on people who rely on the safety net of the welfare state should hold a front bench role on this very issue. She should resign. And if she won’t, she should be sacked.

“And now it transpires she’s the patron of a local foodbank – it’s the absolute height of hypocrisy. How can she look people in Midlothian in the eye when it’s her own party’s damaging cuts driving them to rely on foodbanks just to survive?

“It wasn’t a slip of the tongue – these abhorrent views are deeply held. However, that doesn’t make them acceptable.

“Her position as Tory welfare spokesperson is now completely untenable.”

Responding to this criticism Ms Ballantyne MSP said: “It beggars belief that Christine Grahame has the gall to comment on my involvement as a patron of a foodbank. Back when I was a candidate, and Ms Grahame was already an MSP, we were all invited by Food, Fact and Friends to get involved. Only, I chose to do so.

“This highlights the difference between her and I. Whilst she plays politics about serious issues, I’m trying to move forward a productive conversation whilst taking a hands-on approach to helping out where I can.

“Whilst Ms Grahame was a solicitor, I was a nurse and also lead up a charity that provided support to young people with drug and alcohol issues.

“I think Christine Grahame needs to get her facts straight before making misinformed allegations.”