Tory MSP must make clear position on ‘heartless’ sanctions

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SNP MSP Joan McAlpine has today written to Oliver Mundell MSP calling on him to clarify if he is within the mainstream of Scottish politics and to join cross-party condemnation of the ‘heartless’ DWP policy.
This comes as newly elected Tory MSP Brian Whittle admitted that he did not support his own party’s policy on the issue – saying that the system of benefits sanctions “needs to be overhauled”.
Commenting, Joan McAlpine MSP said:
Westminster’s unfair and punitive sanctions regime is causing misery in Dumfriesshire and in communities across Scotland – and hitting those who need help most, from single mothers to people with disabilities.  
“As an MSP, Oliver Mundell can’t have failed to have heard from local people who’ve suffered the impact of this appalling policy – so he needs to come clean and make clear where they stand on this issue.  Will he join with the mainstream of Scottish politics and condemn these heartless sanctions, or will he try and defend the indefensible simply to protect David Cameron?
“This is a real test for the new group of Tory MSPs in Scotland – and failure to stand up against sanctions which are causing misery for thousands of people will simply show that the Tories haven’t changed a bit.”
The text of the letter from Joan McAlpine to Oliver Mundell is below:
Dear Oliver
I am writing to you with regard to the UK Government’s policy on benefit sanctions, in light of your colleague Brian Whittle’s decision to make clear that he stands firmly against his own party’s position on the matter.
As an MSP, you will no doubt have heard from local people who have suffered from the impact of sanctions – and I’m sure you agree with me that the way people have been treated by the DWP is always unfair, and often heart-breaking.
With that in mind, I am writing to ask that you make clear your own position on the sanctions regime – and to urge you to join with the mainstream of Scottish politics and society in condemning the appalling policy.
I look forward to your swift reply.
Joan McAlpine