Scottish Socialist MSPs suspended after G8 protest
Scottish Socialist MSPs have been banned from parliament for the month of
September and for disrupting business with a protest over the G8 summit.
They marched to the front of the
chamber brandishing placards reading Defend Democracy, demanding the right to
protest at Gleneagles.
Presiding Officer George Reid
suspended the sitting and the group who took part in the protest.
The MSPs will also lose their
salaries and allowances during their exclusion.
The pre-planned protest by SSP
leader Colin Fox and his party colleagues Frances Curran, Rosie Kane and
Carolyn Leckie interrupted question time on Thursday.
Mr Fox also clashed with MSPs from
other parties in the lobby after he was asked to leave the chamber.
The in-house demo concerned next
week's summit where the socialists claimed parliament had failed to secure the
right to demonstrate at Gleneagles.
However, BBC Scotland understands a
deal has been struck with the police to allow a demonstration close to the site
The protest began after Ms Leckie
raised a point of order, claiming that parliament had failed to uphold a motion
supporting the right to protest during the G8, passed during a debate several
After raising placards behind the
first minister, the female Socialist MSPs refused to leave the chamber.
Ms Leckie said: "We are planning to
be here until the parliament starts doing its job properly. This parliament
won't uphold its decisions."
Mr Fox said when he asked the first
minister about the issue, he had expected Jack McConnell to update MSPs on talks
involving Perth and Kinross Council and the police over protesters' demands to
be allowed within earshot of the summit.
Mr Fox said: "But he said nothing
and effectively said the resolution passed four months ago was meaningless.
"For us, the central issue is
whether parliament takes decisions which are absolutely meaningless.
"We thought the protest we felt we
had to make was entirely proportionate."
However, Mr Reid said: "For
elected members to act in such a grossly undemocratic fashion is an absolute
contempt of parliament.
"And they compounded that contempt
by refusing to leave the chamber. They cannot hope to be simultaneously on the
barricades and on the benches of this parliament."
To applause from MSPs in the
chamber, Mr Reid said: "Those who claim to speak for others should never, ever
deny that right and that privilege to other elected members."
The Scottish National Party MSP
John Swinney said: "All this crowd are interested in doing is performing
stunts and disrupting parliament.
"They've got a privileged
position, they're members of a democratic parliament."
Labour's Susan Deacon warned the
protest would undermine the efforts to make poverty history.
She said: "To have that key
message deflected by the antics of a few is, frankly, tragic. And I think
those who are responsible should hold their heads in shame."
The Conservative's Bill Aitken
added: "Absolutely predictable but at the same time deplorable and very, very
"What sort of an impression does
MSPs have agreed to convene
Holyrood's standards committee in emergency session, which has the power to
exclude the Socialist MSPs from the entire Holyrood complex and dock their pay
An anti-G8 protest group lobbied
MSPs at Holyrood and asked the first minister to allow it to march past
G8 Alternatives urged Mr McConnell
to back its plans to walk past the G8 summit site on 6 July.
They were allowed to hold their
demonstration inside the security cordon surrounding Holyrood.
The SSP leader joined them outside
the parliament building and Mr Fox told protesters Mr McConnell had been
"evasive" about their right to protest.
Mr Fox added: "There's a week to
go. He gives us no details of where we'll assemble, where we'll march or where
we'll rally ."
On Tuesday, Holyrood's Public
Petitions Committee backed the protest and agreed to send the request on to Mr