Monthly Archives: June 2015

28/04/15 Hope Over Fear and the National Media

The National

Dear Sir,  

I was one of the thousands who attended the pro-independence Hope Over Fear rally in Glasgow last Saturday. Channel 4 reported that there were thousands in attendance, and I think that this can charitably be described as both vague and accurate as one batch of a thousand people looks very much like another. The BBC was rumoured to have commented that 100 people were in attendance but this also appears charitable, as there actually appears to be no coverage at all of the event by the BBC, although it did manage to cover the Pedal on Parliament event in Edinburgh which was happening at the same time. Perhaps BBC Scotland is terribly underfunded and couldn’t commit resources to covering two events at one time. The cynic within me says otherwise…

This is the kind of thing that we have long come to expect from the UK media. Ignore it if you can, deride it if you cannot. As a supporter of independence I have spent a long time now examining not only what is said, but who is saying it and what their motivation is for telling me in the manner that they do. Which is why I was very surprised to find that both the National and its sister paper the Sunday Herald appeared to be playing down the attendance of the Hope Over Fear rally with the “over a 1000” line used in both papers, suggesting a smaller attendance than was in attendance. After all, 1001 is “over a 1000”. I also found it strange that the Sunday Herald appeared to concentrate on the alleged backstage divisions and Tommy Sheridan’s perjury conviction, rather than the positive message which was generated by the event. Fear over hope you might say. I hope that this is not a sign of both papers positioning themselves against other pro-independence parties ahead of the Holyrood elections in 2016. The cynic within me says otherwise… 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy

 

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22/04/15 Airdrie SNP Selection Process/ Ode to Alex Neil

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser (Unpublished)

Dear Sir,

Recently you published an ode to Alex Neil written by someone who is clearly a huge fan. The writer, S Robertson, said that we didn’t know how lucky we were to have such a “truly great man” as our local representative. This was virtually the same phrase that was shouted out at the recent secret public/private meeting about Plains railway station by one of the so called ‘happy clappers’ who turned up to cheer on the all SNP panel. I’ve said before that Alex Neil has done some very good work, but I like to keep a balanced view rather than heaping adulation through political party coloured spectacles, so I felt I had to respond to the writers’ final comment, that Alex Neil deserved praise for his moral leadership.

Like many thousands of others I joined the SNP in the wake of the referendum defeat last September. Within a few months the process began to select a candidate to represent the SNP at the forthcoming election. Initially there were four potential candidates (sadly no women) and these were soon whittled down to two. One candidate, Craig Murray, failed vetting. Another candidate was refused due to a paperwork irregularity where despite submitting his nomination form eleven days prior to the closing date, he wasn’t informed of the error (which was clearly not his fault) until a few weeks later, on the actual night of the first hustings. Two candidates remained: Neil Gray (the current candidate) and another. The other remaining candidate clearly surprised the assembled members with a confident, knowledgeable speech delivered without reliance on a written script and demonstrated that he would have been a very capable candidate. Within days of that event, he had been called to SNP HQ in Edinburgh to answer a string of false allegations. As the campaign continued he was maliciously accused of violently assaulting a neighbour (despite the police confirming they had no record of any such incident and the candidate having no criminal record) as well as a further allegation made to SNP headquarters that his seriously ill mother had been fiddling her council tax. This led to North Lanarkshire Council carrying out a full investigation at the request of the candidate into whether there had been a Data Protection breach; the result being that there had been no breach of the Act and that her council tax was all in order. These complaints had been made maliciously and the identity of the people who sent them to headquarters were confirmed by SNP’s solicitor to then SNP Councillor Alan Beveridge as being members of the Airdrie branch.

Despite these clear breaches of the SNP members code of conduct, SNP HQ refused to take action against any individual. I myself made numerous complaints about the selection process which were ignored by SNP headquarters, despite copying emails in to highest levels of the party leadership. To my knowledge no action has been taken by the branch or headquarters to address the irregularities in the selection process or the malicious complaints, and this led to my resignation from a party I had joined only a few months earlier. The final meeting I attended could only be described as a ‘kangaroo court’ where it was made clear to Councillor Beveridge that he would be found guilty of all the ills which the branch found itself facing and that any members who challenged the existing branch regime were ‘a party within a party’ who would be facing expulsion from the SNP.

Which brings me back to S Robertson’s fan letter to Alex Neil. If Mr Neil had displayed moral leadership in this situation he wouldn’t have allowed the bullying atmosphere I witnessed at the branch meeting in February. He would have ensured that the party fully investigate the malicious complaints made about someone who had been with the party a long time, had campaigned for him and others, and had wanted to represent the party and our community. He would have ensured that the other breaches of the selection process were fully investigated impartially, (not, as I was advised by the branch and headquarters, by the very people the complaint was being made about). That’s not moral leadership, not unless your moral compass is broken.

I have long pointed out that Pamela Nash is a truly awful MP and I stand by that. S Robertson stated that SNP candidate Neil Gray has “learned at the feet of the master” which bearing the above in mind does not fill me with confidence. The electorate in Airdrie in my view is being offered the political equivalent of the choice between a punch in the face or a kick in the nuts. The people of Airdrie deserve much, much better and will have to hope that whatever the result of the election is, the rest of the country can give a better example.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy. 

09/04/15 Alternatives to the Nuclear Deterrent

The National

Dear Sir,

If a Conservative or a Labour government is elected they will, in the lifetime of the next parliament, commission a replacement for the UK operated, US controlled Trident nuclear weapon delivery system. A strong SNP contingent at Westminster may vainly vote against this, but it will go ahead nonetheless. The SNP are attacked for being willing to leave the UK defenceless against nuclear attack, and I find it odd that they, nor any other opposition party, endorses the purchasing instead of an anti-missile defence system. During the 1991 Gulf War Saudi Arabia was defended with some success from Iraqi SCUD missile attacks by the deployment of Patriot missiles. These missiles were designed to take down enemy missiles in flight, protecting Saudi cities and citizens from attack without the need for immediate and massive retaliation. Other countries such Israel and India already use other similar methods. The UK could be protected by a Patriot style system, a truly defensive and morally acceptable method of defending our shores. It does have one large downside of course. It would see the UK without an offensive nuclear capability and thus without a seat at the top table internationally. That is the real reason why it is a solution that will never be adopted, and why this and future generations will continue with unnecessary austerity under the shadow of nuclear mutually assured destruction.  

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy

15/03/15 Racism and David Coburn

 The National.

Dear Sir, 

Another day, and another example of the language of the gutter being used against the Scottish nationalists. In this case it was UKIP’s David Coburn MEP, with his comments that he refers to SNP MSP Humza Yousaf as “Abu Hamza”. Abu Hamza is a convicted terrorist, and the link being inferred by Mr Coburn is a particularly nasty one. Over the course of the independence referendum there was some pretty strong language used, and I have no doubt many unionists took offence at being branded, among other things, traitors and Quislings, but when it came to the sheer volume of derogatory terminology and language those same unionists had the upper hand. Nazis references were (and still are) ten a penny with one the terminally declining Scotland on Sunday newspaper going as far as to change an iconic picture of the saltire being raised to show a blue and white swastika instead. One would have thought things would settle down after September 18th, instead the nastiness has went up a gear, with genuine hatred seething on a daily basis from some unionists who now realise that they appear to have won a battle and are now on course to lose the war. The language of the war on terror is now being applied at home, helped in great measure by the media wing of the Labour Party (Scottish Branch), otherwise known as BBC Scotland. I can watch the UK BBC news in the evening and see reports of insurgents in Iraq, extremists in Syria and separatists in Ukraine. Turn to Reporting Scotland and I can hear quotes from various politicians about the Scottish separatists here. A favourite phrase of Johann Lamont and Alistair Darling during the referendum, it is currently used by Jim Murphy and Margaret Curran, and I feel its use is a deliberate attempt to create a link in the mind of the viewer or reader between a peaceful, through the ballot box movement here in Scotland with the violent actions taking place in Ukraine and the Middle East. David Coburn is certainly not as skilled as the likes of Jim Murphy in the political art of saying one thing and meaning another and is just more ham fisted in his delivery, which makes his nasty, racist jibes all the more easy to spot. If UKIP is genuinely not a racist party I’m sure they will have no problem disciplining Mr Coburn. If the response of their Scottish Chairman Misty Thackeray is anything to go by, he won’t be disciplined at in any way, which says it all. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy

12/03/15 Ballot Rigging and Postal Voting

 

The National.

Dear Sir, 

I wrote to this paper in December last year detailing my concerns over voting practices which were in place prior to the referendum, and how they should be tightened. It seems ironic that the very minister I raised this with, Alex Neil, is one of those now affected by the actions taken by the Electoral Commission, particularly as he did not seek to pursue any type of public enquiry into the matter, which I suggested would be necessary. Many questions about last years voting remain unanswered, and to these we seem to be adding a new set of questions about current and proposed changes to voting. The situation taking place now is merely a long overdue tidying up of the fast and loose system that previously existed and by rights should have been sorted long ago. The fact that the postal voting system has not been clamped down on is one which should not be allowed to go without comment either. It is still open to abuse and the sooner that we have a system where voters by and large have to vote in person with secondary proof of identification to hand cannot come soon enough for me. I hope that the Scottish Government will now take heed of what has gone on and what is planned, and launches a full enquiry into voting in Scotland. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy,

 

08/04/15 Plains Railway Station and the Happy Clappers

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

I’m afraid that there was an inaccuracy in Ralph Barkers letter of 1st April. I did not use the phrase “happy clappers” to describe the bussed in SNP supporters at the secret public meeting held by Alex Neil in Plains. The man who did use the phrase was standing in front of me, so this may have caused some confusion. I’m not one to take credit for others efforts, and while I agree with the sentiment and laughed along with Mr Barker, sadly it wasn’t me who said it. I feel I must also answer a point raised by Mr Barker about why my letter attacked Ms Nash in relation to the Plains railway station when she is a Westminster MP who has no responsibility over transport. As an opposition MP she of course has no responsibility over anything. As our MP she could have worked to raise the issue wherever possible, maintain its profile and possibly broker a solution. She didn’t. She claimed at the meeting that she was “someone who has campaigned on this for a long time” when in actual fact she has happily used it as a stick to beat Alex Neil with on rare occasions. Over the last few years she has written the grand total of zero letters to North Lanarkshire Council on the subject, she has not raised the subject at all in Parliament, a Freedom of Information request to Network Rail is about to reveal her inactivity on that front and there is a solitary mention of it on her website, dating from four years ago. She has no responsibility over the NHS either, but has started a petition about the out-of-hours GP service and has commented on the NHS regularly, but has been silent on Plains Railway Station, proving she could have done something and didn’t. My own suspicion is that Ms Nash only became available for the meeting when she heard that Alex Neil wouldn’t be attending, and couldn’t resist the chance of a free hit in the run up to an election. Ms Nash is thoroughly deserving of all the criticism that comes her way over this, as she tried to paint herself as a campaigner on this issue when she is nothing of the sort. The facts tell us the truth, unlike Ms Nash who was caught today on BBC Radio Scotland passing off the by now well worn and completely exposed lie that “the biggest party forms the government”.  She truly is an awful MP who campaigns tirelessly for her party and herself, but not the people of Airdrie, and Airdrie deserves better than that. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy

07/04/15 The Scotch Are Coming!

The i 

Dear Sir, 

I am not a regular reader of your, or for that matter any other national print newspaper, so I am unsure if the views expressed on Monday by the likes of Messrs Terry Jowle and Rod Williams are run of the mill viewpoints or not. To me they epitomised some of the swivel-eyed anti-Scottish hatred I have been hearing on television and radio and I would be horrified if these were widely held views. I found Mr Williams comments particularly disturbing. The Scottish electorate, having come through a two year referendum on independence, is far more factually aware than many people south of the border would give credit for, and it would appear far more aware politically than much of the English electorate as well. We know fine well that with the vast majority of the electorate in England vote Conservative, Britain will have a Conservative government. Likewise if the vast majority of England votes Labour we will have a Labour government. The Scottish vote has seldom changed the balance (once in the last 69 years if I recall correctly) and in the past when Scotland has continually voted Labour many Scots felt they had made a difference when Labour had won, when in reality their vote made no real difference. They were simply in step with the English electorate. This year is no different. We will still get the government England votes for. That some people seem to believe that a handful of Scottish constituencies will bring England to its knees and drag it off to the left is fanciful in the extreme, and indeed in Mr Williams case verges on the panic inducing. All that was missing from his letter was the references to rivers of blood. As a Scot, I find it highly ironic that some English voters are now up in arms at the thought of MP s from another country possibly holding sway over theirs. That has been the situation here in Scotland for over 300 years. Not nice, is it?

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy