Bullying within the SNP: An Open Letter to Nicola Sturgeon

Freedom of expression: not welcome within the SNP?

Freedom of expression: not welcome within the SNP?

I have tried to raise the issue of irregularities in the Westminster selection process with the SNP at every level. Not only do they refuse to act, but they refuse to even acknowledge concerns. My complaints have led to the circumstances detailed below, and as no one within the SNP will even acknowledge letters I feel I have no option but to issue a public open letter to the leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon. A copy of this has been emailed directly to her and various other members of the SNP executive.

Dear Nicola, 

I voted in my first election in 1988, I voted SNP in that election and have voted SNP in every election until 2015. Based on what I have seen over the last 11 months or so I seriously doubt that I ever will again. 

In September 2014 following the Yes campaign, in which I played an active part, like many others I joined the SNP. I began attending branch meetings in Airdrie. Late in 2014 it was announced that the selection process would be opening to select candidates for the Westminster elections. I had heard that Neil Gray, the assistant to Alex Neil was to be nominated which I thought to be a poor choice, considering that for the previous four years I had heavily criticised the Labour Party for choosing Pamela Nash, the former assistant to John Reid, as their candidate. The referendum had thrown up many fantastically motivated individuals, and I hoped to support fresh talent with real life experience, not someone who came from within the political bubble. 

Initially there were four potential candidates and these were soon whittled down to two. One candidate, Craig Murray, failed vetting in a manner which I’m sure you are aware of, given its media coverage. My friend Steve Bell’s application on the other hand was refused due to two names on his nomination form who apparently had failed to renew their membership. Despite me personally submitting his nomination form to the branch secretary 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. This was the first in a series of shameful acts carried out by the party.

Two candidates remained: Neil Gray and Tommy Montgomery. As I had nominated Tommy Montgomery and was part of his team of supporters I paid close scrutiny to the electoral rules, as having seen another two candidates scrapped we did not want to give any cause for complaint. I noticed that there had been breaches of these rules in regards to electoral material issued on behalf on Neil Gray which in my opinion warranted severe action, and I raised this at the first hustings. Neil Gray dismissed this as “tittle-tattle”.

Within days of that event, Tommy Montgomery had been called to SNP HQ in Edinburgh to answer a string of false and malicious allegations.

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. Independent investigations by North Lanarkshire Council and Police Scotland cleared Tommy of all of the trumped up charges put against him. Following this I had a one to one meeting at SNP HQ with Scott Martin, to whom I relayed all my concerns. This meeting occurred only after repeated phone-calls which went unanswered and emails which were never replied to. I had to resort to going to SNP HQ in Edinburgh and waiting until someone would see me. Despite pointing out that making malicious allegations against another member breached the SNP code of conduct, no disciplinary action was taken against any individual. 

Around two weeks after the first hustings, at 0230hrs on 22nd January 2015 my wife and I were woken by banging on our door. I went downstairs to find my car ablaze and had to evacuate the family from the house due to the closeness of the car to the house. Police and Fire crew attended. My car, only a few months old, was completely written off. Had it been a only a few feet closer to our house it is probable that our house would have been destroyed with it, with us asleep inside.

 In February 2015 I attended a branch meeting of the Airdrie SNP at Airdrie Football ground which could only be described as a ‘kangaroo court’ where it was made clear to Councillor Alan 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. I left the SNP immediately after that meeting, sickened by what had gone on. Subsequently letters were sent to virtually everyone who had supported and campaigned for Tommy Montgomery barring them from future membership, apart from myself which I found unusual.

In June I sent a letter which was critical of the SNP to the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser and it was published in the paper on Wednesday. On the Friday of that week my wife and daughter noticed someone dressed in black hanging around outside and peering in the windows. When they were noticed they ran off, and this was reported to the police. Two nights later while getting ready for bed there was a knock at the door, and my 11 year old daughter said that there were two guys with hoods up and that she was frightened. We shouted down asking who was there and one of the guys opened the door and shouted “Is that James? Is that James?” I told him that I thought that he had the wrong house and he said “Take this as a warning, stop slandering XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. They then ran off. I got dressed and ran out to give chase but they had gone, we called the police and gave them all the details. In the following few days I received nuisance calls, all from withheld numbers, asking the same thing as the man who had entered our house: “Is that James? Is that James?” before hanging up. 

A few days later Councillor Beveridge arranged a meeting with someone from Police Scotland. I detailed my concerns and stated that it was our belief that these attacks were in relation to comments made about the SNP locally. He suggested that if I stopped writing about such matters and the attacks stopped this would perhaps indicate that our suspicions were correct. Following this the calls stopped and there were no further attacks on myself, my family or my house. 

On 19th August 2015 my step daughter Maxine and my wife had a discussion with an SNP Councillor where they spoke of their concerns about the attacks on our car and the threats made against us. A few days later the Police visited our home to speak to my step-daughter in regard to an allegation of using threatening behaviour to the SNP councillor. After speaking to my wife and step-daughter the police stated that there was no evidence of any such behaviour. I am disgusted that the already overstretched resources of the police are now being used against us, and yet no action can be taken regarding these false claims.

On  24th August, I submitted a request to the SNP Data Protection Officer to carry out an investigation into how my address was passed to the Police. This was personally delivered to SNP HQ in Edinburgh, along with a copy addressed to you, and these were signed for by Beverley Murray. As of this date I have received no acknowledgement. Par for the course as I have come to learn. 

I believe that no organisation is perfect, and every organisation has its share of bad apples. I also believe that an acknowledgement of what has been done wrong must be carried out if you are to correct an error and find the right path. But in North Lanarkshire SNP this is simply impossible. Open discussion is labelled as dissent, subversion or infiltration by supporters of Tommy Sheridan. People are threatened with secret files and photographs, and legitimate complaints are ignored at every level. I know this, as I have copied every possible senior SNP member into my emails and seen no action taken.

On a personal level every time I have publicly criticised the goings on within the SNP in North Lanarkshire my property has been attacked or I have been threatened, and these past months to stop any further attacks I have remained silent, but I cannot remain silent any longer. My family and I have been living in fear for the last 9 months and it is our opinion that there are individuals within the SNP who are misguided in their attempts to silence opposition. I do not know who these individuals are. I doubt you know either, but I am asking that you please issue a statement condemning any such action and asking these misguided people that we be left in peace without the constant fear of attack hanging over us. 

Regards, 

Jim Cassidy

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41 thoughts on “Bullying within the SNP: An Open Letter to Nicola Sturgeon

      1. John Smith

        Jim, I can help you get this message across if you wish, this would certainly be a very big albeit very surprising story. I hope to hear from you soon.

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  1. John Smith

    Hi Jim, in regards to this post I was hoping to talk to you more personally about these awful attacks on you and your family as I believe that more people should hear about this. I hope to hear from you soon.

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  2. Steven

    Its about time people realised what is going on in the SNP, they are not the be all and end of independence, it will happen but not while the snp members are doing

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  3. Stewart

    Well done for comming forward and making public these incidents. Only on thing concerns me is the reply from john smith, who wants to know more but does not identify himself as a reporter, lawer or a fellow blogger. as I don’t know what your reply to him was or if you already know him, I would be wary of him until you are sure you know who it is you are dealing with, not only in him but in this whole sorry mess.

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      1. John Smith

        Sorry, perhaps I did not make who I was clear enough, I am beginning in freelance journalism and my intentions was to use your case as an example to cite in an article I will be writing soon. If you are OK with this then please let me know and if you do not want me to use it I will not use it.

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      2. jester1970 Post author

        Thanks John. You may want to change your profile to reflect that in future. I like many others am wary of giving out details online to individuals who have no verifiable background. Regards, Jim

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  4. Bruce (@Brusuth)

    I will talk only of the car as i don’t wish to comment on the other allegations, however I do feel they are so serious in nature they should get a direct response from someone high up in the party and i hope this happens.

    The Nissan Qashqai which is called the the former Rogue model in the USA (new Rogue model is based on another car now) has suffered a fair few electrical fires in the USA resulting in an end result like yours. In the UK (Scotland in fact) a couple suffered a fire in what is a very similar circumstance to yours and was captured on CCTV, the image included in the linked article is also very similar to yours. The car has been recalled in the USA but the issue is has yet to be acknowledged in the UK.
    Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNso0sgqxjM
    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/authors/the-judge/judge-driver-slams-motor-giants-6217648
    A similar angled image to yours. http://i4.dailyrecord.co.uk/incoming/article6217732.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/JS69115069-1.jpg

    So i would suggest the car fire is unrelated… Likely the Fire Service will tell you where the fire started and theorise why. What was their advice?

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  5. Pingback: Open Letter To Nicola Sturgeon: The Silence Is Deafening | An Independent Scotsman

  6. richieduncan

    Like Bruce, I’ll only comment on the car.
    If I was going to set fire to someone’s car, I would think the easiest way to do it would be to break a window and set fire to the seats. to me it looks like the fire in your car started under the bonnet. Same as in Bruce’s video.

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  7. r11co

    Breaking a window would have triggered the alarm or at the very least made a sound that would have attracted attention. Lighting a fire under the front of the car as appears to be the case here hides the flames and gives someone plenty of time to escape before the fire will catch hold and be noticed.

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  8. Sandra Parker

    I have heard scare stories before and when they were looked into they were not true, people have an agenda, you can’t blame a party for something unless you have 100% proof but unfortunately we get people only too willing to stick the boot in true or not

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    1. Carole

      False allegations are a crime. I hope he can substantiate this absurd story. What emerges is that he’s angered because he didn’t manage to accomplish his agenda. Citing Craig Murray gives him away, we all know of the puerile reaction he had and he was proven so wrong he’s fallen into silence. A party has internal regulation and discipline is key to success, lack of the same results in what happened to Labour nationwide.
      Why hasn’t he produced the letters he’s referring to? Why didn’t the Police install CCTV? Why has no unionists paper jumped on the story as they do on any smear on SNP?
      Maybe because like me they struggle with this story and are too wise to run the risk of being sued.

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      1. Stuart

        Trouble for you Carole is that Mr Cassidy states that he met with Councillor Alan Beveridge, I presume that he is referring to this Councillor Alan Beveridge who formerly represented the Airdrie North ward for the SNP;

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-31361218

        Though I’m sure Mr Cassidy will correct me if I am wrong, Councillor Beveridge resigned from the SNP stating that he had;

        “been alarmed by the climate of fear, intimidation and false allegations which operates within the SNP locally”.

        Given that Councillor Beveridge is a former Police Officer, you have to presume that he does not tell lies.

        He resigned along with Councillor John Taggart who stated that;

        Democracy in the Party is “under serious threat”

        All of which supports the substance of Mr Cassidy’s blog post.

        I think Carole that you (and some others), need to realise that there is no smoke without fire, and that two councillors do not say what they did, and resign, nor Mr Cassidy post his story without there being some foundation to what is being said.

        As for Mr Cassidy and his family, I’m appalled that Police Scotland have been so ineffectual in tracking down, and punishing the culprits, and I like many others wish Mr Cassidy and his family well in the future.

        However bad this may be Mr Cassidy for you and your family, it will not last forever, and you will be able to get on with your lives.

        Good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. jester1970 Post author

        Thank you Stuart. I have no problem with Police Scotland’s efforts over the last few months. They have been fantastic in the main, and I can’t hold it against them that they haven’t been able to track these people down.

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  9. concerned neighbour

    hi mate

    im a member, this is not what we the 100,000 or so signed up for. we are looking for hope and real people goverance, equal society …. what has happened to you is discusting.. and i hope they find out who they are and get some serious jail time. cause thats where they belong.. vandals

    all this brainwashed crap… people need to get a grip, the snp will NOT get independance on their own, there needs to be more indy parties elected to holyrood.

    the parliment needs to be full of pro indy msp’s
    hope you and the family get this sorted.

    neighbour

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  10. Ken Bloomfield

    Why has the SNP not taken these allegations seriously andmade a thorough investigation. I think it is very suspicious that they have, it seems, chosen to ignore the communications made. You would have thought, at the very least, they would have requested a Police report. Frankly it stinks and does not bode well for peoples justice if they ever get incharge in an independent Scotland.

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    1. Carole

      It’s the Police who should handle the matter and take the accused to court is there’s evidence of crime. If they said it was arson then they must have an incident open. The accuser must have been issued with an incident number that he should supply to allow verification of actions taken by the Police. Here accuses are being thrown around recklessly. I’m going to request an FOI from said Police presenting this open letter so we can see what has or hasn’t been done

      Liked by 1 person

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  11. Ashamed Airdrie

    This is a terrible state of affairs. No one should be put through this level of intimidation. This isn’t a matter for the SNP to deal with; it has evolved beyond their ineptitude. Surely this is a criminal investigation that needs a thorough independent review by a police force outside of Scotland.
    Airdrie has always been a hotbed of intrigue….today it is independence, yesterday it was sectarianism, and the day before was all about buckfast.
    I know personally if anyone threatened my friends or family I would be less forgiving given the circumstances.

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  12. Carole

    If you want you can give me the incident reference numbers and I will request a Freedom of Information. The accusations you’re making are very serious and as a member of SNP regard even me. I intend to get to the bottom of this because you are accusing the party and hence it’s members of hineous crimes that the party under no circumstances should tolerate. The Police has to find the responsible and identify them as SNP to substantiate your very public accusation.
    If they turn out to be SNP they should be expelled from the party and prosecuted. In the contrary case, if they’re not SNP, it’s slander.
    The most important thing is to get to the bottom of this allegations

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  13. in lege speramus

    The Police present a file to Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), who when presented with the evidence of a case and any alleged offence (as you know until the jury hands down their judgement the defendant is still innocent until proven guilty) it’s COPFS who proceed to trial, The police do the leg work and the investigation not the prosecuting.

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  14. Ben Sorin

    As an outsider who is not hostile to the SNP (I have voted SNP in the past and was a yes supporter) I have no means of knowing the accuracy of these claims. But they do strike me as very worrying based on the account given, and in need of a response by a senior member of the SNP. I also find the overall thrust of Carole’s responses to be out of order. If I were a member of a party or movement where such allegations were made, I would want them to be false and would certainly want to question them. But I hope I would not assume they were false and malicious unless I had very clear knowledge that they were. Carole, your responses don’t come over as someone keen to get to the truth of what happened but rather someone who is desperate to discredit the serious allegations made here, come what may. Whatever the truth of them, I think such a mindset is deeply unhelpful and potentially damaging going forward. I hope you are able to take a step back and consider that that might be the case.

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  15. Caterina

    I totally agree with you Ben re Carole. She sounds to exactly like the kind of SNP person Jim is talking about and indeed, for me, typifies exactly the ethos of the SNP and in all its areas of operation. Allow no dissent, seriously and aggressively attack anyone who dares to criticise, deny everything wrong that is laid, legitimately, at their door, ignore everything else – and that’s the way to run the country. God help us all if they do get independence. We will be living in a totalitarian state, with state police (a revised Police Scotland) and state media (an ‘independent BBC Scotland’) directing our every thought and action. Democracy! Free Speech! Tolerance of diversity! Forget it.
    Jim – good luck to you and your family. Dire days indeed!

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  16. douggie gilber

    so they have turned Edinburgh into a snake pit where no-one knows what is in their remit and when they are treading on other dept toes in the race for the expenses trough. Why do you think a second forth rd bridge is being built 2 generations early ?

    Is the golden gate san fran in the same boat desoite it being 44 years senior . Sometimes i think it is that they are illiterate or lazy but the small print does not seem to be an issue for them

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  17. Rod Brown

    I was a Labour supported for most of my life, but turned to the SNP at the last election, though I voted ‘No’ in the referendum! It worries me to hear of this situation. I don’t know who is right or wrong, but I do know that the allegations must be responded to by SNP HQ! A full investigation must be made and burying ones head in the sand is of no value whatsoever! Sort it out somehow SNP HQ! Caroline comes over as very entrenched and it’s not the way forward.
    Good luck to Jim and his family and I hope the matter is resolved soon!

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  18. Ross MacLean

    I’m sure that I read this last year. I also have a few reservations about the way that the SNP is being run. In East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, we have similar problems, but not to your extent. We have one person who takes ALL the responsibility even though he is married to the MSP and seems to get away with absolutely everything. I have written about some of his antics recently and sent a letter to the SNP, but I’ve heard NOTHING. At the same time, I sent letters to the Labour Party regarding their ex-MP’s antics, and low and behold, a reply came to me in less than a week offering to help me. I’m a huge fan of Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond, but I feel that locally they are lacking no matter how experienced they are at local levels.

    Good luck with your letter and I sincerely hope this can be resolved for you.

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    1. jester1970 Post author

      Thanks for the reply Ross. The public face of the party is one thing. Capable, open, friendly. The behind the scenes activities probably paint a more realistic picture. I don’t know about you, but I copied as much correspondence as possible to Nicola Sturgeon, Peter Murrell, etc. I must therefore assume that the subsequent actions/inactions are done with their consent.

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  19. Iain

    Independence at all and any cost. It’s the snp’s way and what puts me off. That, and swapping subservience to London for subservience to Brussels.

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  20. Pingback: Monklands McMafia Saga: Airdrie & Shotts SNP Break Their Silence | An Independent Scotsman

  21. Robbie Allan

    This has Orange Order Loyalism written all over it.

    I know how they work – they pick up on dissent from another source, so you’re convinced the harrssment is from that source and not from loyalists. It’s a vain attempt to divide and conquer.

    You’ll find your branch is infiltrated not by Tommy Sheridan guys – but by loyalists.

    Take my word for it.

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    1. Rod Brown

      Robbie, I have read and commented on this open letter a number of times, and I have asked Nicola to personally respond to the accusations! I now believe, in the absence of ANY repudiation from ANY party member, that there is some truth in the accusation! I am, however at a complete loss and totally bemused by your claim that Orange Order Loyalists are behind it! Where do you get your information from and what is your proof? I am not a member of the Orange Order, but I find it utterly unbelievable! I think you need to look elsewhere!

      Liked by 1 person

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  22. johnRfcdonaghey

    Absolutely Shocking .And Robbie to say its Orange Order your just a blind bat ..Read the guys story .This is about his family .Am not Snp and all this needs to stop ..Investigation required ..Good Jim and family ….

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