30 May 2013

SNP Blast Alexander Hypocrisy on Flybe Flights

The SNP has accused Danny Alexander of ‘rank hypocrisy’ on supporting air services in Inverness – having made no attempts to help the industry while in government.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Alex Salmond said flights to and from Inverness are “essential for economic development” and that Flybe’s recent announcement of the sale of its slots at Gatwick underlined “the absolute necessity for APD to be devolved to this parliament”.

He added:

“We should remember in context that Danny Alexander is a Liberal Democrat so adopting two positions at the same time may in itself be a part of party policy.

“But I think it is for the Chief Secretary to the Treasury and local member for Inverness a rather invidious position to be responsible for the very Air Passenger Duty and taxation which is driving and threating services in Inverness and then complaining about it and posing as the defender.

“So perhaps if we agree on the position of devolving APD to this parliament to have a policy that benefits the Scottish economy then Danny Alexander would be relieved of his difficulty of having simultaneously to be the Treasury’s man in Inverness while pretending to be Inverness' man in the Treasury.”

Commenting, Stewart Stevenson, who raised the matter at FMQs, said:

“In 2008 Danny Alexander campaigned for more services to and from Inverness to Gatwick but has done absolutely nothing in government to support these very air services he once fought for.

“That is rank hypocrisy – how can he tell the people of Inverness, particularly in the position he holds, and say he is doing everything to help the economy in Inverness?

“It has been made clear Flybe’s announcement was entirely of Westminster’s making – we have said time and time again the budget hike in Air Passenger Duty would be damaging for Scotland’s airports and the wider economy.

“It was the SNP that told Westminster that increasing the cost for airlines to fly to Scottish airports is the last thing they need – but they went ahead and did it anyway.

“It is clear Mr Alexander puts the Treasury’s interests ahead of what is in the best interests of the Highlands and Islands.

“The only way for us to set the best policies for our air services is for Scotland to have control over taxation, yet Westminster consistently refuses to devolve these powers. That is why we need to grasp the opportunity of a Yes vote on September 18th, 2014.”

Stewart Stevenson
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