Independence Debate, Independence Referendum
Published: 25/08/2014 14:26 - Updated: 01/09/2014 14:42

Contempt for Liberal Democrat who defected to the Yes campaign

Written byDonna MacAllister

Michael Foxley campaigned against Scottish independence for decades
Michael Foxley campaigned against Scottish independence for decades

Announcing his support for independence has earned a Liberal Democrat the wrath of a Tory MSP.

Former Highland Council leader Michael Foxley has revealed he will be voting Yes in next month's referendum.

The retired GP believes healthcare funding cuts south of the border would have a knock-on effect on the NHS in Scotland.

But veteran Conservative Mary Scanlon, who served as her party's health spokeswoman, said the facts were at odd with Mr Foxley's statement.

“There have been no cuts in the health service despite the austerity budget,” she said.

“Last year alone there was an additional £300 million to Scotland as a result of higher spending in England and Wales. Andf there is a total commitment by David Cameron and by every Conservative I have ever known in my three decades with this party that the NHS will always be open to all and free at the point of delivery.”

Dr Foxley said nothing could take away the fact that health workers feared for the future of the NHS.

The Lochaber croft owner said a nurse crossed the street and kissed him after his support for independence was reported by the press.

He said: “The funding that we get in Scotland is dependent on the amount of public financing the NHS gets from Westminster, and although there is cross-party support for protecting the NHS, there are still far more cuts to come in public expenditure from the Conservatives.

If the NHS is fully protected, then the cuts will have to land elsewhere.”

Mrs Scanlon said the Scottish Government’s 2011 manifesto stated Scotland’s devolved powers would protect the NHS in the north from cuts south of the border.

"The SNP are now desperate but this is stopping really low. This is total scare-mongering in order to get votes."

She said Dr Foxley’s announcement was a surprise, and was “interesting”.

“Having been a loyal Liberal Democrat for decades, and someone who fought against independence, it is interesting that he has announced his allegiance to the SNP within 24 hours of him being appointed by the Scottish Government to the chair of the regional board of the University of the highlands and Islands,” she said.

Dr Foxley said the comment was “totally inaccurate” and “unnecessary”.

“First of all, I was not appointed by the Scottish Government,” he said. “I was appointed by the committee of the UHI. Secondly, I have been doing the job that I am doing for the best part of two years.”

A Scottish Liberal Democrat spokesperson said the vast majority of Scottish Liberal Democrats support the party's long-held aspiration of home rule for Scotland as part of a federal UK, they respected Mr Foxley’s right to support a different approach.

He added: "Scotland has the best of both worlds as part of the UK, shaping our own domestic agenda on issues like health and education whilst sharing risk and reward across the broad UK shoulders.”

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