On the day that Labour launched their manifesto, actor and Rector of Dundee University Brian Cox gave his backing to Alex Salmond and the SNP at this election as the party to “hold the line against tuition fees in Scotland.”
In a statement, Brian Cox said: “As a lifelong Labour supporter, I find myself in this particular election feeling that I must support Alex Salmond and the SNP. The SNP has a vision for education in Scotland and the experience to ensure that they see it through.
“Alas, my position as Rector of Dundee University supersedes in this situation my hitherto strong Labour Party affiliation. At this juncture, I feel that Alex Salmond’s policies are the right policies to hold the line against tuition fees in Scotland. I believe passionately in free education and know that as long as Alex is First Minister, he will defend this principle.
“It is because of his leadership on the critical issue of higher education that I am happy to endorse Alex and hope to see him re-elected in May.”
Welcoming Mr Cox’s statement, First Minister of Scotland and Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond said:
“It is great to have this endorsement from one of Scotland’s most famous sons, and on the positive policy of supporting free education. For all Brian’s fame and international reputation, he is a dedicated and passionate supporter of the principles of Scottish education, and his welcome remarks will carry wide appeal across Scotland.”
Elsewhere in the campaign, Nicola Sturgeon praised the commitment of Scotland’s NHS staff to driving down hospital infections as new figures showed further progress in driving down hospital acquired infections.
New figures out today show c.diff rates in the over 65’s have fallen by 77 per cent in the last four years.
MRSA rates, despite a small rise in the last quarter, are down 31 per cent on December 2009 and 63 per cent over the last four years.
Health Secretary and candidate for Glasgow Southside Nicola Sturgeon said:
“After four years of hard work by nurses and cleaners across the NHS we have pushed down infection rates to a record low and cleaned up our hospitals. We must always be vigilant against hospital acquired infections and a re-elected SNP government will redouble our efforts to improve standards for Scotland’s patients.”
Also weighing in on the election bout yesterday, Finance Secretary John Swinney criticised Labour’s manifesto position on jobs and youth employment, saying it had “zero credibility”, given their responsibility for the recession and high unemployment.
Mr Swinney said: “Labour’s economic incompetence caused the recession and high unemployment in the first place – they have zero credibility on jobs. Unemployment is falling and employment is rising in Scotland under an SNP administration. People will put far more store on Labour’s failed record than on Iain Gray’s hypocrisy and empty rhetoric.”
Commenting on Labour’s manifesto publication, the Scottish National Party’s Scottish Parliament Campaign Director Angus Robertson said:
“Labour’s uncosted manifesto was a damp squib. Iain Gray had nothing new to say, having spent the campaign copying SNP policies that he has voted against over the last four years – the Council Tax freeze, free education, Small Business Bonus, and retaining A&E units.
“Labour’s manifesto has already started to crumble – they have no credible costing for their justice policy, for example, and Andy Kerr clearly had no idea how it would be paid for or how it would work.”