Senior Tory MSP Murdo Fraser condemned for calling students “bigots”

Tory finance spokesperson lashes out at National Union of Students online 

STUDENT CAMPAIGNERS have hit back against comments by Tory MSP Murdo Fraser describing the National Union of Students (NUS) as “bigots”. 

The Tory finance spokesperson, and ex-party leadership candidate, hit out at one of the largest membership unions in the UK last night [Tuesday 7 June] on social media site Twitter. 

“Voted against equal marriage, but calls the seven million members of the National Union of Students ‘bigots’? Good one.” Vonnie Sandlan, NUS Scotland president

Fraser responded to a post from the pro-EU campaign ’Stronger In’, which includes the NUS, by stating: “The National Union of Students are voting @StrongerIn? I’m on the same side as those bigots? Eek!” 

The allegation, that Fraser has since failed to clarify, was condemned by NUS Scotland president Vonnie Sandlan - who pointed to Fraser’s own record of opposing equal rights for same-sex couples.

“Voted against equal marriage, but calls the seven million members of the National Union of Students ‘bigots’? Good one,” she replied. 

NUS Scotland responded by pointing to its history of campaigning for equality, and against racism and discrimination.

“NUS has a long and proud history of being an inclusive and diverse campaigning organisation,” a spokesperson told CommonSpace. 

“And not just within education – from our fight against apartheid South Africa to the recent introduction of equal marriage, the student movement has often been at the forefront of historic and progressive campaigns.
 
“It’s that same inclusivity and diversity that makes us proud to be a member of Scotland Stronger In - for Scotland and the UK’s continued place in the EU – campaigning alongside a broad coalition, right across the political spectrum, to lead a positive campaign for our continued EU membership.”

Fraser was contacted by CommonSpace to explain his comments. A spokesperson replied: “Generally we don’t comment on tweets.” No further explanation was issued.

Fraser holds one of the most senior position in the Scottish Conservative party as its finance spokesperson. A MSP since 2001, he received 45 per cent of the vote to become party leader in 2011 - being narrowly defeated by current leader Ruth Davidson. 

It’s not the first online spat Fraser has been involved in. After the recent victory for Rangers against city rivals Celtic, Fraser posted remarks connecting the game to the royal family and mocked Irish-aligned Celtic fans. The actions were criticised as unprofessional by fellow parliamentarians for stoking tensions between the two sporting groups. 

In more youthful times Fraser was chair of the Scottish Young Conservatives. While the young Tories “gained notoriety by wearing ‘Hang Mandela’ T-shirts and badges”, according to Scotsman reports, Fraser later admitted to having stolen a plaque in Aberdeen dedicated to anti-Apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. 

Picture courtesy of Scottish Parliament TV

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