The Scottish Government's decision to reject bringing in a new law which could see tougher penalties for vandalism on war memorials has been blasted as "unacceptable". 

The Friends of Dennistoun War Memorial previously launched a campaign that called on the government to introduce a specific punishment to those who desecrate Scottish memorials.

Their calls came after the East End monument was targeted by what was believed to be a petrol bomb before its official unveiling two years ago. 

READ MORE: Dennistoun group campaigning for specific penalty to protect Scottish war memorials

Chairman of Friends of Dennistoun War Memorial, Jim Watson said he regrets the Scottish Government's decision, adding that it came as "no surprise" as the group claimed local representatives "ignored" their calls.

He said: “We’re very disappointed but it hasn’t been unexpected. Because of the feedback we have had from local representatives, it has come as no surprise.

“We didn’t feel as though we had a great deal of support from the parliament or our local SNP and Green representatives. Some of them haven’t even answered any of our messages – it really is unacceptable. 

“Vandalism of a war memorial in our opinion is not the same as vandalism of a car or wall because there is a big emotional attachment to a war memorial.

“In the past three years, there has been a massive increase on vandalism to war memorials and that is why we wanted this law introduced to crack down on the issue.

“I think the only option we have now is for a change of politicians. It isn’t anything to do with independence – we just feel as if we aren’t getting anywhere. We’ve hit a brick wall and we don’t feel like we’re getting any further unless we get a change of government."

Glasgow Conservative group leader, Thomas Kerr, has hit out at the East End representatives after the alleged lack of communication over the campaign. 

Glasgow Times:

He said: “I am furious that this campaign has not found any support within the SNP Government and their colleagues in Glasgow City Council.

“They may have talked about the importance of war memorials, but it appears they are completely unwilling to take the next vital steps to protect them.

“The campaign has been hugely inspiring and a specific law to protect memorials against despicable acts of vandalism and desecration would have been a great tribute to those who sacrificed themselves protecting our freedoms.

“SNP and Green Party representatives have serious questions to answer over why they refused to engage with the memorial group and met them with callous silence. 

“If this is anything to go by, the SNP have shown a lack of respect for our troops and their families.”

In email correspondence seen by the Glasgow Times between SNP MP Anne McLaughlin and Friends of Dennistoun War Memorial, the local representative apologised for her delayed response to the campaign group - citing Covid-19 as the reason. 

She said: “The opposite of what the group says is true.

"First of all I wrote to the group saying that ‘desecrating war memorials is despicable’.

"I was the one who suggested they take their campaign to the Scottish Parliament Petitions Committee and advised them how to do that. The Glasgow Times has seen the email correspondence.

"I also gave them advice on what evidence is usually required for a change to existing law and asked them to keep in touch. I didn’t hear from them again and now they’ve accused me of ‘callous silence’ so I’m a little perplexed.”

The Scottish Government said it would not be introducing a new, single punishment for vandalism to war memorials due to penalties that are already in place.

A spokesman said: “We are clear in our condemnation of vandalism in any form, especially when it is directed at a monument to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and our active service men and women.

"Perpetrators of vandalism can face up to six months in prison, or fines of up to £5,000 under current legislation which deals with vandalism and desecration of statues and memorials, including war memorials.”

The Glasgow Times has approached other SNP and Green East End representatives for comment.