Councillor Ashley Graczyk has revealed what led her to leave the Conservative party and support Scottish independence.
Cllr Graczyk’s move comes just months after leaving the Tories in protest at their “treatment of the disabled”.
The unlikely step will bolster the party’s depleted ranks on the city council and the Edinburgh Evening News understands a verbal agreement had been made for the Sighthill/Gorgie councillor to join the SNP.
In a letter posted to her Twitter account, Cllr Graczyk outlines a number of reasons as to why her political views have radically transformed, one of which being the “impact of Conservative policies on people and communities.”
She wrote: “I have lost count the amount of times I have met with various disabled people and those in difficulties who have been immensely impacted by the DWP at local level.
“I, personally, have seen people reduced to tears because of Universal Credit, PIP, Access to Work and the Access to Elected Office Fund (UK).”
Cllr Graczyk also cited her belief in self-governance as to why she’s joining the city’s Nationalists ranks.
She said: “Along with all the other City of Edinburgh Councillors, we have the privilege to govern the Capital City of Scotland, and in my first year as a Councillor I saw with my own eyes how we run our City via the Council.”
“We also received some insight into the various roles MSPs and MPs have due to working cross-government on various issues. Over time, it became more glaringly obvious to me the absurdity of reserved matters being dealt with by Westminster and not by the Scottish Government (bear in mind I voted NO), as Scotland is capable of governing on reserved matters too. I became more convinced that Scotland needs political independence to build a different and better Scotland.”
She added:” I have been brought up with the UK as my country and all my life I had seen the whole of the UK as my homeland. I don’t want to see new borders as I’m about finding new and practical ways to break down barriers and unite people as central to one of my progressive values.
“But I came to the realisation that to preserve and protect the values we have in Scotland we cannot have policies imposed on us from Westminster that jar with the kind of Scotland we are trying to build.
“So simply, we need independence. Scotland’s traditional liberal values of freedom, tolerance, equality, and individual rights need to be protected.”
She concluded: “The increasingly safe and sensible choice seems to be for Scotland to stay at the heart of Europe, independent and in control of our own destiny. It is time to embrace Yes with full confidence in our future.”
Cllr Graczyk, who is deaf, said she would continue to serve her constituents as an independent councillor but did not respond to questions about talks with the SNP.
The move will infuriate Conservative voters in Sighthill/Gorgie who elected her at last year’s local elections.
Cllr McVey said: “Ashley has contributed a lot to the city in the last year. I appreciate the journey she has been on from voting No to supporting Yes is one mirrored by many people across Edinburgh witnessing the impacts of the UK government’s policies.
“I’m looking forward to working closely together on key priorities to take the city forward in the coming months.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted her support to cllr Graczyk.
She posted: “@ashleyannotate was elected in 2017 as a @ScotTories councillor. However, her experiences as a councillor - especially seeing the impact of welfare cuts on her constituents - led her to leave the Tories and support independence.”
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