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EUROPEAN SOCIALISTS VOTE TO ADMIT SNP BUT STOPPED BY 66 PER CENT RULE

PRESCOTT PROTEST LEAVES LABOUR PARTY EMBARRASED IN OWN GROUP

The British Labour Party has today (Monday 18 April) been left red-faced after three Lords from their Council of Europe delegation blocked the SNP's continued membership of the Socialist Group. The original invitation to join had been made by senior Labour MP Alan Meale.

Despite a recommendation against from their bureau and a three line whip from Labour, the Socialist Group voted by 32 votes to 29 in favour of SNP membership.

Lord Prescott previously threatened to walk out of the Socialist Group if the SNP's membership was to continue.

However, following a meeting of the Socialist plenary today the decision was made to block  the SNP, despite the clear majority in favour of SNP membership.

Commenting on the decision, Mr Salmond said:

"The SNP are a progressive party of plurality and social democracy - all of which are key qualifications of membership of the socialist group. Many members of our Green/EFA Group in the European Parliament are in the Socialist Group in the Council of Europe and spoke strongly in our favour today, defying their own Executive who had been blugeoned by Lord Prescott.

"We now have the ridiculous decision where the clear majority of the Socialist Group wants to admit us but we have been frozen out by a 66 per cent rule. It shows just how petrified British Labour are by the SNP advance and how totally unable they are to put aside their narrow political bias even to co-operate in Europe.

"The decision to deny us membership is disappointing but we are grateful to the majority of the Socialist Group from across Europe who voted in favour of SNP membership and upheld the principles of plurality and social democracy.

"However, politically it just makes Labour look silly and desperate. Now,  even our European friends are aware of their daft behaviour. They cannot even win an election against the SNP in the Socialist Group. In electoral terms they are going from disaster to disaster."

Following the decision, the SNP have already received formal offers from two other political groups. However, given the clear majority in the SNP's favour it is likely that they will continue to press for reinstatement of their Socialist membership.

ENDS