Kelly seeks face-off
Haughey challenged to debate
The election campaign in Rutherglen burst to life this week when James Kelly challenged his SNP opponent, Clare Haughey, to a live debate.
Mr Kelly, who is defending the seat for Labour, said he wanted to question Ms Haughey on her views on cuts to council budgets.
He urged her to make clear whether she backed her party’s last budget or supported Labour plans to increase tax to pay for education.
However, Ms Haughey laid the blame for cuts to council services at the door of the Labour- run authority in South Lanarkshire.
This year, the council had to make £ 43million of savings to balance the budget. Since 2008, the authority has faced over £120m in cuts.
Mr Kelly is no stranger to challenging SNP politicians to a debate. Earlier this year, he called on Margaret Ferrier MP to face him in public.
He said this week: “Clare Haughey needs to show some maturity on this. The SNP have this year cut council funding by hundreds of millions of pounds, depriving local communities of vital services.
“Nothing is more serious than our children’s future – and rather than trying to score points at this election Ms Haughey needs to tell voters what she would do when it comes to setting council funding.
“The question is this: come the vote on the Scottish budget in parliament, would Clare Haughey support her SNP bosses cutting council funding?”
Mr Kelly will appear on Camglen Radio this Friday and invited Ms Haughey to join him, adding: “She can’t just hide behind press releases – it is time for her to tell Rutherglen and Cambuslang if she supports the SNP’s cuts.”
But Ms Haughey, who is favourite to win the seat, hit back, saying: “James has accused me of hiding behind press releases but hasn’t contacted me directly to take part in a debate. The first I’ve heard about this was, ironically, through a press release he has put into the Reformer.
“I’d be more than willing to consider it, but he’d need to actually contact me with the details.”
She added: “Labour-led South Lanarkshire Council have a history of questionable financial choices, such as exorbitant private finance deals to build schools, for which we are all paying through the nose – around £30m every year to be exact.
“They’re also borrowing £3m towards building the controversial, and largely opposed, £21m onemile stretch of road at Cathkin. They managed to spend an eyewatering £ 14m on taxi fares in just three years, and spent over a million fighting equal pay claims.
“Labour’s priorities are seriously unaligned if they are now quibbling over a few lollypop crossings.”
Street stall Clare Haughey with supporters on Rutherglen Main Street
Numbers game James Kelly pops in on a bingo club in Westburn