Monthly Archives: April 2015

Post Referendum Letters: 25/10/14

To: Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

The article in this weeks Advertiser about MSP’s expenses in this weeks Advertiser was a timely one. As one who regularly criticised our former Labour MSP Karen Whitefield for her expenses claims, I thought it only right to check out Alex Neil’s expenses as a comparison. A common criticism I made of Ms Whitefield was that living less than an hour from Edinburgh she had a habit of making overnight stays in Edinburgh when a taxi home would have been far cheaper. As the people of Airdrie have elected an MSP from outside the constituency it stands to reason that Mr Neil’s claims will be higher, and as anyone can see if they go on to the parliamentary website the majority of Mr Neil’s claims are travel and accommodation based. It’s also worth noting that his claims for a hotel are on average £20 per night less than his Coatbridge counterpart. Living less than an hour from Edinburgh, surely she could get a train or taxi home for far less than £115?

This should also apply to MP’s. During the recent referendum campaign I finally met our local MP, Labour’s Pamela Nash. When I complained about her expenses her reply was that perhaps I should “spend less time online looking at her expenses.” This is a bit rich coming from a woman who voted in Parliament to support the security services being given more powers to snoop on our private emails and retain electronic information about us. Prior to writing this I checked her expenses again, just to get my facts right. It seems our MSP’s claims in Monklands, Labour and SNP alike, pale into insignificance when compared to Ms Nash’s. £1516 a month for the rental of a house in Lambeth, council tax, gas, electricity. That’s over £19,600 a year! Coatbridge’s MP Tom Clarke may be living the high life in a hotel at around £150 a night, but he still manages to come in at around £3600 a year less than Ms Nash. Taxis to Edinburgh airport are another stand out on Ms Nash’s list, with claims made due to there being “no direct public transport available.” Here’s a thought, get the train to Haymarket and catch the airport bus or take the tram, like normal people have to.

What really makes this all the more galling is that as Scottish MP’s they have far less responsibility than MP’s from the rest of the UK. Health, education, sport, transport, housing, agriculture and more are devolved. Scottish MP’s are virtually part time. They should be on half a salary, never mind the full salary, and they certainly don’t need to employ more staff to do work they should be doing themselves. More powers are supposedly going to be devolved, but here’s the problem. The “more powers” we are promised are now tied to limiting Scottish MP’s ability to vote on English only matters, and these powers are now being put at risk by Labour who as usual are putting their party first. The SNP do not vote on matters which have been devolved. Curiously the Blue Tories, one of the main complainants in this matter allow their one MP to vote on English only issues. Anyone outside of Labour would see it as right and proper that if a power has been devolved that Scottish MP’s do not vote on it, yet Labour who are putting forward a weaker “Devo Max” package than even the Tories are willing to scupper these powers simply to retain power in England. It looks as though this very thing may have forced the resignation of Johann Lamont who now complains that her party in Scotland is having to dance to London’s tune.

In this time of greater austerity we should be looking at cutting the costs generated by Parliament, and I think it should be uppermost in all MP’s and MSP’s minds that their allowances should always be thought of as other peoples money, and that when claiming for rail travel, meals and hotels and hiring staff that they should be out to get the best value that they can find for the taxpayer. When they believe that they are entitled as a right to first class travel and 5 start hotels then they have lost the right to represent us. They are not finding a solution, they are simply part of the problem.

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy,

 

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Post Referendum Letters: 20/09/14

 

To: The Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

So Scotland voted No. 55% of the electorate said they did not think we were good enough to run our own affairs. Or did they? There’s an element in there who would vote No regardless of any argument. There’s an element who voted No out of personal greed, the “I’m alright jack” brigade. There’s an element in there who voted No out of fear of losing their pensions, or out of fear of losing their jobs. I can at least say that the Yes campaign didn’t need to resort to the tactics of fear. We had no need to go to the streets of Airdrie and lie to people that their pensions were at risk if they voted Yes, or threaten activists that they would have their benefits stopped. Over the course of this campaign I have gone from a person who commented by letter or online to someone who started delivering leaflets round the doors, to someone who stood on the streets of Airdrie and told the truth about Labour’s lies, while our MP looked on in silence. Her silence spoke louder than I did, and it’s some consolation that the people of Airdrie and Coatbridge and the rest of North Lanarkshire said Yes. Along with Glasgow, Dundee and West Dunbartonshire, all suffering in part with great social deprivation, we at least can hold our heads up and say we were smart enough to see through the lies, and put working for the common good ahead of personal need or greed. We were smart enough not to believe the “jam tomorrow” promises of the Unionists. Already they have disappeared like a puff of smoke. The Three Stooges, Milliband, Cameron and Clegg vowed that if we voted No on 18th September that they would publish a motion that would go before the UK parliament on 19th September, and that all three parties would agree on that motion. I’m writing this on the 20th. No such motion was forthcoming. Ed Milliband has already backed out of any agreement. Our imperial masters have spoken, we are getting hee-haw.

The actions of 1979 have repeated themselves, and next year Scotland will again punish Labour. David Cameron will go to the polls as the man who saved the union, against an inept Labour leader exposed as a liar who reneges on a deal. More Tory rule and an in/out referendum on Europe await us. Will it take another round of Tory beatings before Scotland finally has the balls to say Yes, or will we instead send them a message in 2015 by winning a majority of Scottish seats and declaring our independence regardless? 

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

 

 

The Referendum Letters: 26/07/14 (To Pamela Nash MP)

To: Pamela Nash MP

Dear Ms Nash, 

I am contacting you to seek clarification of a number of issues which have been raised at various points over the course of the referendum debate. As a constituent of yours I have many, many concerns to do with Scotland’s future. Some of these I have raised before on your website, however none of these had any response and I now see that your website is closed to all comment, so I will raise them here by email. You have campaigned regularly for the Better Together campaign, so I am sure that you will be able to fully answer my concerns. 

1. Does Scotland – including its oil revenues, of course – contribute a larger share of the UK’s income than the share of UK spending it gets? (And I mean the SHARE, not the AMOUNT – debt which has to be paid back doesn’t count as “spending”.) 

2. Regardless of whether YOU think it would be a good idea or not, is it true to say that an independent Scotland could continue to use Sterling as its currency if it chose, no matter what happened? 

3. Your campaign keeps saying that independence would make our family and friends in the rest of the UK “foreigners”. Even if we accept that’s true, what’s wrong with foreigners?  

4. In your view, would the rUK really build and patrol a 100-mile long physical barrier of some sort across the border if an independent Scotland had a different immigration policy? (Because obviously road checkpoints alone couldn’t stop illegal immigrants, who’d simply cross on foot.) And if so, what would you estimate as the construction, manning and maintenance costs of such a barrier? 

5. The McCrone Report was kept from the Scottish public by successive Labour and Conservative governments for 30 years to prevent them knowing how rich Scotland would be if it were independent. Are you aware of any similar documents relevant to the independence debate which are currently designated secret? 

6. If I vote No in September, can you guarantee that in five years’ time Scotland will still be in the EU? 

7. If I vote No, can you guarantee that in 10 years’ time Scotland will still have a fully publicly-funded NHS? 

8. If I vote No, can you guarantee that the “Barnett Formula” used to calculate the Scottish Government block grant will still be in force by 2020 and set at the same proportions? 

9. What will be the approximate set-up/annual costs of the tax-collecting bureaucracy your party plans to implement in the event of a No vote? 

10. In the event of a Yes vote, will the UK government have an obligation to pay the pensions of everyone in Scotland who has ALREADY qualified for the UK state pension, as would be the case if current pensioners emigrated to (say) Spain or France or Australia? I’m not interested in the Scottish Government’s position on the matter, I want to know what the UK government’s responsibilities are. 

11. In your opinion, is Scotland a country or a region? If it is a country, why should it not have the rights and responsibilities of any other sovereign country? 

I look forward to your replies, 

Regards, 

James Cassidy

 

No response was ever received…

The Referendum Letters: 06/08/14

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

This week Unionist politicians appeared in Glasgow to sign a pledge declaring that Scotland would be given more powers in the event of a No vote in the forthcoming referendum. One of the signatories was Nick Clegg who as many will recall, has form for signing pledges in public and acting differently when push comes to shove. It has already been stated by some Unionist politicians that the Scottish Parliament only operates because Westminster permits it to do so. They tell us what powers we can have, and what powers we cannot have. Sometimes they even sneak powers back under their own control.

In December 2013 the unelected House of Lords voted to remove the Scottish Parliament’s powers over renewable energy by way of amendment 54 to the Energy Act 2013. This gave the UK Government a free hand to completely bypass the Scottish Government and in July 2014 they announced a free for all on licences for fracking, something the Scottish Government was categorically against. Even our national parks weren’t kept off the target list. The Scottish Wild Land Core Map, which the Scottish Government had agreed to respect was bypassed at a stroke, and there isn’t a thing that can be done about it. While it was still to be seen if the Scottish Government would keep their word, there can be no doubt about what Westminster has done. It has stuck two fingers up to the people of Scotland, and said that if our legislation is a stumbling block to the UK national policy then they shall scrap it. We may have limited powers, so long as it suits Westminster, and when it no longer suits those powers will be taken back.

As someone who supports independence but opposes windfarms that concerns me greatly. With the Tories and the Lib-Dems both supporting “respectful fracking”, the Lib Dems and Labour supporting more wind turbines, and the Conservatives vowing to scrap onshore windfarms in future while supporting them today, it seems as clear as crystal that on examination there is absolutely no likelihood that a No vote in the independence referendum or a change of Scottish Government from the SNP with end the industrialisation of our wild places. “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss” is the order of the day where renewables is concerned.

I truly believe that the battle against windfarms has been lost. There are no doubt victories still to be had. Small windfarms with a good amount of reasonable objection, grounded in fact, can be defeated. I know this, because I have helped defeat such developments. But the larger developments, and these are generally the ones which occupy larger areas, are harder nuts to crack, and due to the sheer amount of money involved are likely to succeed. Should Scotland vote No in the forthcoming referendum it will be a signal to Westminster, not for more powers for Scotland, but to draw more power from Scotland. The National Planning Act which applies to England and Wales could quite easily be extended to cover Scotland. If we currently have any safeguards in Scotland against development they can be removed by Westminster to fall in line with those south of the border, and which will make a presumption in favour of large developments which are deemed in the national interest, the HS2 rail link being a case in point. Our own system is by no means perfect, but at least we had some mechanisms of protest, if not prevention. We need to protect this system just as strongly as we would like the wild land itself to be protected, and that will not be be done within a union that cannot be trusted to keep it’s word on which powers it permits us to have.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

 

The Referendum Letters: 01/07/14

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

On Sunday 29th June my daughter and I attend a peaceful protest outside the offices of the BBC in Glasgow. The protest was good natured and very well attended, a real family affair with all age groups in attendance. The reason for the protest was a simple one, to ask that the BBC act in accordance with their charter and report the referendum coverage fairly. It was addressed by Professor John Robertson, who has carried out a year long study of referendum coverage across the major channels, and found that the BBC was rather one sided in it’s reporting. I won’t bore Advertiser readers with the details, they are all available online, suffice to say that Professor Robertson’s research backed up what many people already suspected, that there was considerable bias in BBC reporting towards the unionist case. We attended this rally to ask for fairness and equality from the BBC, nothing more. Yet within hours Labour MP Jim Murphy was being quoted as saying that independence supporters were trying to “bully the BBC”. That is to be expected from him. What people didn’t expect was what happened next. Kathy Wiles was selected on Monday to be the Labour Party candidate for Angus at the 2015 general election. On Monday she posted a comment on twitter in response to comments from her Labour Party colleague Duncan Hothersall about a group of small children who attended the protest, in which she used a picture of Hitler Youth under a Nazi banner to describe them. Her attempts to cover up her actions were laughable, almost akin to Luis Suarez’s claims that the other player “fell onto his teeth”. Within 24 hours she had been forced to resign, and rightly so.

Two weeks ago I wrote to the Advertiser regarding the drip, drip, drip of Nazi smears that have emanated from Better Together and the Labour Party. I pointed out that this was a policy emanating from the very top, and here we are today seeing resignations from the lower ranks, yet Alistair Darling, Johann Lamont and Coatbridge’s Elaine Smith have all used this type of language and are currently getting away with it. If it is not Nazi slurs, we have them resorting to good old fashioned thuggery, where Iain Davidson, when not threatening fellow MP’s with a “doing” talks of a post referendum “bayoneting of the wounded”. It is no surprise therefore that new candidates such as Kathy Wiles follow the examples of their masters. I wonder how comfortable Ed Milliband, the son of a refugee from the holocaust is with these people on his team? When his own father was horribly attacked after his death by the press he said that it was for the people to judge whether this reflects the values and decency we should all expect in our political debate. As to his party’s contribution to the independence debate, I could ask him the very same question.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

The Referendum Letters: 13/06/14

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

Alistair Darlings Nazi smear attempt on Yes voters everywhere could almost be described as gutter politics, were it not for the fact that Better Together sank far below that level a long time ago. Sewer politics would be more apt. Reporting of his outburst may have gained a bit more traction had it not come in a good week to bury bad news, with the mainstream media focusing on Lallygate, when the BBC and the unionist media went into overdrive about the actions of some Yes supporters individuals comments. I have to ask myself if the world has gone stark, raving mad. Some keyboard warriors said some pretty despicable things, however we are talking about individual views here, not the views of Yes Scotland. Compare that with Alistair Darling’s leaked conversation where he states that the Scottish Independence movement is not based on civic nationalism, but he agrees with his interviewer that it is “Blood and Soil” nationalism, a phrase used by the Nazi party to describe their racially pure, aryan vision of Germany. Hardly applicable to the nationalism we have in Scotland. If you live here, you have a vote, regardless of race or ethnic origin. Mr Darling is not alone in his Nazi jibes though. Elaine Smith MSP has regularly thrown Nazi references in to her columns and letters, referring to fanatical nationalism and the lessons of history. In one of the worst quotes of all, in September 2013 the leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, Johan Lamont described nationalism as “a virus”, the very same term Hitler used to describe the Jews. Can these people sink any lower? To liken your political foes as to nothing more than a virus which must be wiped out is abhorrent, yet this is not the lone nutter in the bedroom speaking. This is the leader of Scottish Labour! If it’s not the Yes supporters themselves they are attacking its Alex Salmond. Each week I call full house on Better Together’s “Alex Salmond Dictator Bingo”. Mussolini, check. Hitler, check. Stalin, check. Kim Jung Un, bingo! Talk about playing the man, not the ball! Alex Salmond may be dead and buried in 10 years time, yet the unionists make out that a vote for independence is a vote for a Scotland ruled by him in perpetuity. What we have from Better Together is a top down campaign of hatred and bile. On September 18th, the people of Scotland will, for one day, have the power to decide the future of Scotland. Some of us will be able to look ourselves in the mirror afterwards and be proud of our actions. I do not think the Better Together leadership will fall into that category. 

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

The Referendum Letters: 30/05/14

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

The success of UKIP seems to have finally roused our local MP Pamela Nash into action. Having seen her party roundly spanked across England and Wales she is now drawn into a battle on two fronts, requiring her and her party to tell different stories to different groups of the electorate north and south of our border. In her column in this weeks Advertiser it didn’t take long before she once again tried to pass off the now well worn lie that patriotism is somehow different from nationalism. She claims she is a patriot, and infers that her brand of flag waving and protecting her nations interests is warm and fuzzy and cuddly, while people like me who wave Scotland’s flag and want to protect Scotland’s interests are nasty and narrow minded. She claims that nationalism is about a sense of superiority. It’s the UK who continually tell us we are too poor to succeed, that we are too stupid to manage our own resources and that we are too small to go it alone! If there is a sense of superiority from anyone it is from her and her ilk who think we are put here to do as they tell us, no questions asked. It’s equality we want! She tries to equate people who support independence with those who support UKIP. Yes Scotland is about giving control of decision making in Scotland to the people who live in Scotland, irrespective of where they were born. I can only assume that she is willfully trying to smear Yes voters, tarring them with the same brush as UKIP, who would close our borders, withdraw from Europe and whose leader has stated that he wouldn’t like Romanians living next door. This isn’t of course to be confused with the current UK government (who we are repeatedly told we are better together with) who instead had vans with billboards driven around London spreading the message that Johnny Foreigner should go pack up and go home.

UKIP’s massive success in England and Wales is a political earthquake, so much so that BBC observers have said that Essex is where Britain’s political future will be decided. If Essex man says we leave Europe, then as part of the UK we will leave, whether we want to or not. This comes in the week that a Westminster panel finally conceded that an independent Scotland will be allowed to remain in the EU, after all the bluff and bluster that came before. Labour and Conservative alike are now making plans for Nigel, and that involves pandering to a UKIP led agenda. There is now more chance of Ed Milliband delivering pizza than there is of him delivering the powers he promised Scottish voters a few weeks ago. There will be pigs with wings over Scotland before Mr Milliband gets a sniff of power, and we can be relatively certain that the UK political map will not be Labour red any time soon. The future is instead to be Tory blue, with a hint of UKIP purple, and that cannot be good news for any right minded people in Scotland. Vote No at your peril, and don’t say you weren’t warned.

Can I just say a final few words to my great fans, David Smeall and John Love. David, I’m not a member of the SNP, I never have been and don’t intend to join. I support Yes Scotland, which draws support from across the political spectrum, including Labour supporters. John, rather than take up another page of the Advertiser, prompting rage from Mr Smeall, who would rather people didn’t know and vote no, I have put links to Philip Hammonds “danger from space” quotes and George Robertson’s “forces of darkness” speech on the Advertiser’s Facebook page for everyone to see. Happy reading! 

Yours Sincerely, 

Jim Cassidy