Following months of rows, local MSPs Michelle Ballantyne and Christine Grahame have clashed again, this time on comments about education.
List MSP for South Scotland Michelle Ballantyne (Con) expressed her concern over comments made in a report at Holyrood by the Midlothian South SNP MSP. Ms Grahame has hit back at Ms Ballantyne’s “brass neck”. This follows recent public spats between the pair on issues including the NHS and welfare reforms.
In her annual Parliamentary Report, Ms Grahame labelled Pupil Equity Funding cuts “progress”, and reaffirmed her support for the measures. Ms Ballantyne said the 2019/20 Pupil Equity Funding for Midlothian schools has been cut by almost £65,000 on the previous year, and called on Ms Grahame to apologise for her remarks.
She said: “It’s surprising that Christine Grahame chose to highlight these disappointing cuts in her annual report as they paint a deeply troubling picture of the SNP’s management of the Scottish education system.
“There is a persistent problem with teacher recruitment in Scotland, and only one school in Midlothian is currently able to offer S4 students an appropriate choice of subjects.
“Given that the First Minister has consistently refused to acknowledge the issues in our education system, the fact that one of her MSPs is now boasting about cutting budgets should be little surprise.
“I hope that Ms Grahame contacts her constituents and apologises for doubling down on these damaging measures.”
Ms Grahame responded: “It takes a real brass neck, or perhaps sheer ignorance, for a Tory politician to speak about the poverty attainment gap. South of the border, the Tories have voted through wave after wave of welfare cuts – forcing families on the breadline onto Universal Credit and into poverty. And at the same time they’ve all but pulled the plug on free school meals, denying a million children across the UK a free lunch.
“Let’s not forget that Michelle Ballantyne’s calls for tax cuts for the wealthiest would have slashed £500 million from Scotland’s budget – leaving our schools and public services in the lurch.
“Yet despite cuts from Westminster, Scotland continues to outperform the rest of the UK on teacher numbers – helping a record number of student’s from our poorest backgrounds into university last year.”