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SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford was torn apart by Mr Nelson in a heated BBC Question Time clash as the panel debated devolution in Scotland. Mr Nelson claimed that life expectancy in parts of Glasgow is less than in Rwanda. Speaking on the show, Mr Nelson said: “When I backed devolution 20 years ago I thought it would be very different to what it turned out to be.
“Sure Scotland has world-class climate legislation but it’s also got some of the worst poverty and deprivation in Europe.
“The life expectancy in some parts of Glasgow is less than it is in Rwanda and it’s shocking.
“I always thought back then that if there was a Scottish parliament there would be a lot more focus on inequality and poverty and making these problems better.
“Instead we’ve seen horrible gaps between attainment between the rich and the poor in Scottish schools.
“Nicola Sturgeon has to be judged on that and it’s not getting much better.
“Rather than the energy going into making things better in Scotland, the energy is going into talking about the constitution, an independence referendum, having another fight Westminster.
“It’s pretty difficult to blame Westminster for things which are entirely in control of the Scottish government.”
Mr Blackford interjected: “It’s only in the last few years that we’ve had some responsibility for social security.
“We’ve been praised by the United Nations for our approach to poverty, we’ve introduced eight different measures; four of them entirely new.”
He added: “Actually life expectancy in Scotland has increased over the lifetime of the parliament.
“The increase in life expectancy in Scotland has actually been higher than in the rest of the UK.
“I’m afraid to say that what you’re saying is a gross distortion of the truth.”
Their comments come after Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said “the failure of devolution is the failure of the Scottish National Party”.
Asking Mr Rees-Mogg to clarify the Prime Minister’s comments on devolution, the SNP’s shadow Commons leader Tommy Sheppard said: “Does the leader agree with the Prime Minister that devolution north of the border has been a disaster and that it was Tony Blair’s biggest mistake?
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“Does he understand the insult this is to the Scottish public? The Prime Minister may claim that he is referring to the SNP Government, but that government only exists because the people of Scotland have voted for it – not once, not twice, but three times.
“So the truth is that the Prime Minister is attacking the democratic decision of the people – Donald Trump would indeed be proud.”
Noting the SNP’s “tragic record of failure” in Scotland, Mr Rees-Mogg replied: “The failure of devolution is the failure of the Scottish National Party.
“And just to add to the fun of it, they are also mired in some discussion about who can remember who sent texts to whom – but it might be ungracious of me to delve into the inner workings of the relationships between very fishy Scottish figures.”
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