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SNP must call off the dogs

January 23, 2012 2:20 PM
Originally published by Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP has called for a free and open debate over independence and has called on Alex Salmond to guarantee that government staff and supporters will not be used to savage opponents behind the scenes.

Willie Rennie MSPWillie Rennie MSPCommenting Mr Rennie said:

"The Scottish Government is a very powerful organisation. They have to be careful not to let it go to their heads and think they can invoke the power to bully and nobble.

"In October, when Dr Qvortrup criticised plans for a two-question referendum, he received phone calls and e-mails from government spin doctors asking him to retract his comments. The First Minister was caught out and had to apologise to Parliament.

"This week, Iain McMillan has received a battering in personal terms from government insiders for daring to voice the concerns of business on the referendum.

"Even Transport Scotland got caught up in this when they happened to mention the business uncertainty on the rail franchise caused by the referendum.

"This does not bode well for the referendum debate. People need to be able to express their views openly and freely.

"Alex Salmond needs to call off the dogs. He needs to guarantee that his government will not use dodgy threats and round abuse to stifle debate."