Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Honours System: The Ideal Gift

Letter to The National, 28/12/15

Dear Sir,  

In response to Russ McLean, who calls for a suspension of the imperial honours system and the adoption of a Scottish one, it really doesn’t matter who is in charge of an honours system, or who dishes the honours out; these systems will always be a form of acknowledgement and reward for services rendered. The sprinkling of low level awards to lollipop ladies and the like are there to keep the masses happy, the pretence that these awards are in some way meaningful. Don’t get me wrong, for those people they are a token of respect from their communities, but the higher up the list you go, the less likely that is. I was surprised to find that there is even a company called Awards Intelligence who advise people on the best way to gain awards and will help you every step of the way. From reading the testimonials on their website it would appear that happy clients see an honour or official reward as a good way of growing their business and increasing their worth. One person, the daughter of an MBE recipient stated that it was the “best birthday present I could have arranged for my father”. Another satisfied customer, an OBE recipient was nominated by his wife! That sums it up for me: an elitist gift service where one selects the badge of honour they wish to buy and pays handsomely for it.

Even if Scotland should refrain from having an official honours system, there’s always the unofficial one. The naming of streets and public buildings is one way of honouring a local worthy. Here in Airdrie the Labour run local authority renamed the public swimming baths as “The John Smith Pool” to honour the former MP and Labour Party leader. Mr Smith was Labour leader during the notorious “Monklands Mafia” era, yet was strangely silent on the whole affair, no doubt for fear it would affect his chances of becoming prime minister. The renaming of the pool was not in response to a clamour from the local people, who for his actions in ignoring the local corruption would probably not have donated enough for John Smiths admission to the pool, never mind it’s renaming. This was the party honouring one of its own, nothing less.

I say scrap the honours system, and if a community wishes to honour someone in the good old fashioned way by erecting a statue then let it be done by voluntary public subscription, not by politicians raiding the public purse. Were that the case, the perches for pigeons would be few and far between. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy

Advertisements

SNP Code of Silence Part 2: Phil Boswell MP

Submitted to The Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, 20/12/15

Dear Sir, 

I had a tweet printed last week where I had stated that Phil Boswell had engaged in a legal method of tax avoidance. M Wilkinson also commented on this by letter and their opinion was that due to Mr Boswells wealth he should do the right thing and pay the money back to HMRC. Looks like M Wilkinson is pretty envious of the fact that Mr Boswell has made a few bob, but that’s a pretty poor reason to single him out for special treatment. I’m one of over 400,000 people who use a legal method of tax avoidance: the Cycle to Work Scheme. By using this scheme I can buy a bike and at the same time I avoid a small percentage of my income tax. This is used by many people across the country, and is not only 100% legal but it’s promoted by the government. It’s used as an incentive to get people out of their cars and to adopt a healthier lifestyle. There are many other legal methods of avoiding paying one tax or another, which the government allows for one reason or another; charitable donations, pensions, ISA’s, the list goes on, and it’s perhaps surprising how many people utilise these schemes.

As far as I can see Mr Boswell has used a legal scheme to avoid paying some tax; it just happens to be a far bigger chunk than the average person saves. He’s also asking that this particular scheme be closed off. Cynics may say that’s a bit rich as he appears to be pulling up the ladder behind him, having already benefitted from it. Supporters on the other hand may say that he’s using his personal knowledge of the system to point out an outdated method which now needs to be closed off. And those who don’t really care but simply wish to make political capital from the situation, be they his opponents outside or indeed inside the SNP will engage in the time old game of throwing mud and hoping some sticks. Already some are calling for him to be reported to the Parliamentary Standards Commission, knowing fine well that earlier this year they already clarified that events which take place before someone becomes an MP aren’t within their remit. This won’t stop the calls for enquiries, suspension or the like, and I’d say that people should look closely at those doing the shouting instead and ask if the best tactic they can come up with is a pointless smear is there really any substance to their argument.

Of course it would be nice if Phil Boswell would just come out and set the record straight, but like his SNP colleague Sophia Coyle he has been gagged by his party, and it must be a real concern even to SNP members themselves that no effective rebuttals are employed, merely the issue of a brief statement, a battening down of the hatches and a faint hope that it will all just go away. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy

 

Councillor Sophia Coyle, Her Controversial Views and The SNP Code of Silence

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, 02/12/15

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, 02/12/15

Dear Sir,

Having seen the Advertiser front page this week I’m sure I’m not alone in finding the views expressed by SNP Councillor Sophia Coyle as distasteful, and I’m sure many people will have possibly decided that they will not be voting for her in next years elections. Unfortunately we don’t get that choice as Ms Coyle is a Holyrood list candidate, and we don’t get a say in selecting her; the SNP does. A high place on the list is a reward by the party for services rendered, the virtual guarantee of a seat with the only requirement that between selection and election that you keep out of trouble and say nothing controversial. Ms Coyle is not the one who must campaign, debate and engage; that’s Alex Neil’s job. Ms Coyle can simply sit back, keep schtum and if the SNP gain enough votes she’s in regardless, and from the tone of your article she intends to maintain a stonewall silence on this issue. Which is ironic as I understand that the Gay rights group Stonewall as well as the Equality Network have expressed their concerns at her comments. Perversely, if we don’t want someone with these views to represent us, the only way we can actually vote against her is to vote against Alex Neil so that he takes the list place! And they say The House of Lords is a rotten system!

With Councillor Coyle gagged, the SNP are now speaking on her behalf, stating she is “comfortable” with equal marriage. But is she? Given that Airdrie SNP were addressed only in the last year by a specially invited guest,  controversial Catholic Church spokesman Peter Kearney (who among other bizarre views states that gay behaviour leads to dying young) I’m wondering when this Damascene conversion took place.

It must be asked; what could possibly have changed those beliefs that she so strongly held? Five years ago she was for lowering the time limit for abortions, she was against gay marriage, against gay adoption, and against the assisted suicide bill, and so firmly did she oppose these she would defy the party whip if it came to it! Now she is “comfortable” with it? The SNP take an extremely hard line on those candidates who defy the party whip, and had these views been known prior to vetting I’d be very surprised if she was selected. I’m even more surprised that the Advertiser editorial “makes no judgement” due to her refusal to respond. Since when did newspapers refrain from having an opinion because the subject of the story refuses to comment? Papers would be guy thin if they did!

Some people would agree with Councillors Coyle’s previously stated views, others would likewise disagree and would not vote for her on that basis. The problem is, we now do not know what her views are and unless Councillor Coyle breaks the SNP code of silence we will not find them out until she is safely seated in Holyrood.

The press have a duty to obtain answers on this very serious matter, and I hope they will not be deflected from that duty, despite her silence. In 2016 we will be asked to vote SNP to get Alex Neil as an MSP, and at least he can be judged on his record. Sophia Coyle’s record, even without this scandal is not impressive. Her high expenses belie her average attendance of 39% of meetings over the last two years, with zero attendance on two of her appointed committees in the same timeframe. This doesn’t signal to me that the people of Airdrie are getting the greatest of deals here, and I have to ask; with the hugely impressive influx of talent to the party, is this best they can offer us?  

Yours Sincerely,

 
James Cassidy

Advertiser Editorial, 02/12/15

Advertiser Editorial, 02/12/15

Elaine (Not C) Smith and The Unionist Theory of Splitting Hairs

 Published in the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, 02/12/15 in response to the letter in this photo:

Letter from Elaine (Not C) Smith. Deflect, deflect, deflect!

Letter from Elaine (Not C) Smith. Deflect, deflect, deflect!

 

Dear Sir,

In response to Elaine Smiths letter in last weeks Advertiser, I accept that despite claims to the contrary by her colleague Siobhan McMahon MSP, Mrs Smith was not a cheerleader for Better Together. You can forgive my confusion as she made all the same arguments that Better Together did. She/they claimed that coming out of the union would put the NHS at risk. Labour then told us that it was at risk (in the union) from the Tories. Mrs Smith told us that our pensions were at risk in an independent Scotland, only to see them under assault on a near weekly basis, and it

s now reported that people born today will now not get their state pension until they are 77! She told us that jobs were at risk if we went independent and that established companies would leave Scotland. They have and we stayed in! Tax jobs, steel jobs, the list goes on; all either defunct or relocated to England. Anyone would think that the UK government was asset stripping so that in future there would be no infrastructure left and the costs of setting up an independent Scotland would be even greater.

Mrs Smith promised that all we had to do was vote No and Johann Lamont and Ed Miliband would sweep to power and we could all live happily ever after in a socialist union. Miliband was never going to elected, he was unelectable, and Lamont and the Red Tories are now utterly toxic.

Mrs Smith has saved the union she so desperately craved. The biggest gamble on staying in the union was that it would be a Tory one, and that s what Labour helped deliver. She denies being part of Better Together. Please amend my previous letter regarding Mrs Smith. Sentence one: delete words 14 and 15 (Better Together), insert new words (The Union). It means exactly the same thing.

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy