Edinburgh party member launches petition demanding apology over SNP MP's comments in leaked email
In an email published in The Scottish Sun Stirling SNP MP Alyn Smith recommends removing equalities groups from the party’s ruling group in order to focus on independence.
The MP also criticises the size of the SNP’s national executive committee and calls for the number of equalities groups represented in the ruling body to be reduced.
In the email, Mr Smith states: “as a gay man equalities are close to my heart, but not as close as independence”.
Leith resident Jamie Szymkowiak, 39, is co-convener of the SNP’s Disabled members group (DMG) and said he was “disappointed” by Mr Smith’s comments.
He said: “It is utterly depressing to have one of our most prominent Parliamentarians blame disabled representatives for any issues that he may have with the way our Executive Committee functions.
“Mr Smith's claims that his proposals 'boost the equalities discussion', when in reality they relegate disabled people from the top-table, is a con-trick Iain Duncan Smith and Esther McVey would be proud of.”
Mr Szymkowiak, who suffers from arthrogryposis, a condition affecting his mobility, added that there is real concern within the DMG that Mr Smith’s views might gain traction in the party.
He said: “I am confident that the wider SNP membership, disabled people across Scotland and the general Scottish public, value the inclusion of disabled people and will support disabled members of the SNP by rejecting Alyn Smith's retrograde proposals.
“But here is real concern among our members that the views raised might gain traction.”
He went on to say that he felt compelled to stand up on behalf of the disabled community as there is no one “high up in the party speaking on our behalf”.
He said: “Unlike other minorities, we do not have someone in the party to speak on our behalf. The BAME community has Cabinet Secretary for Justice Humza Yousaf speaking for them, women have First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the LGBT+ community have MP Mhairi Black. But we don’t have someone high up in the party speaking on our behalf so I thought we needed to state our case ourselves with the petition.”
MP Alyn Smith said: “This is an outrageous overreaction. My proposals to make a 42 member National Executive Committee fit for purpose are well intentioned and this attack on my character is unwarranted, unfraternal, and does nothing to help equalities or independence. I will not be commenting further on internal Party matters.”
The petition which was launched on Thursday, August 13, 2020, has been signed 95 times and Mr Szymkowiak hopes to gain 200 in total.
You can view the petition HERE