‘I will not be hounded out of party I love’, says veteran SNP MSP Ewing

Fergus Ewing said the SNP had ‘chosen the wrong path’ (Jane Barlow/PA)
Fergus Ewing said the SNP had ‘chosen the wrong path’ (Jane Barlow/PA)

Veteran MSP Fergus Ewing has said he will not be “hounded out” of the party he loves following his suspension for voting against the Scottish Government.

Mr Ewing told the Sunday Mail he had no plans to resign and intended to stay in the party and “push for change” as he hit out at the “nonsensical and manifestly absurd” direction of the SNP.

On Wednesday evening SNP MSPs voted to suspend Mr Ewing from their group for seven days after he voted with the opposition at Holyrood in a vote of no confidence against Scottish Greens co-leader and Government minister Lorna Slater.

The Sunday Mail reported that Mr Ewing, MSP for Inverness and Nairn, had said he planned to appeal against the suspension.

He told the newspaper: “I’ve served the SNP and the cause of independence for half-a-century and I’m not going to be hounded out of the party I love. I’ve consulted with my lawyer and we have a good argument. I was voting with my conscience for my constituents.

“We are going through a period at the moment where we’ve chosen the wrong path. We’ve associated ourselves with extremists.

“For most of the last 50 years we were a party that put Scotland first, that was our DNA. But since we have become associated with the Green Party, instead of putting people first we seem to be inflicting pain on them for no gain.”

First Minister’s Questions
Fergus Ewing said he did not think First Minister Humza Yousaf, pictured, should resign (Jane Barlow/PA)

He said this involved pursuing laws and regulations that were “plainly dud and defective” such as the deposit return scheme, the fishing ban, the short-term let regulations and the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

He said that “inflicting pain on voters for no gain is a nonsensical and manifestly absurd political strategy”.

Mr Ewing has previously spoken out against the Scottish Government on issues such as the new licensing regime for short-term rental properties which came into force on Sunday October 1, as well as the stalled deposit return scheme.

The former rural economy secretary, who said he had no plans to retire, told the newspaper that his mother, SNP stalwart the late Winnie Ewing, would have been “horrified” at what was happening to the party and did not think she would recognise it now.

He said he did not think First Minister Humza Yousaf should resign, saying he believed his heart was in the right place and that “any leader can change course”.

Mr Ewing said: “It’s not compulsory, if you’re the captain of a ship, to aim deliberately to hit the iceberg – you can change course and the sooner you do, the better it is for everybody.”

He described the SNP as going through a “troubled adolescence”, adding “you know what happens after that is, you grow up”.

A spokesperson for the SNP Holyrood Group said: “At a meeting on Wednesday evening, a proposal was carried to suspend Fergus Ewing from the SNP Holyrood Group for a period of one week.”

The Scottish Greens have been asked for comment.