Monthly Archives: January 2016

Councillor Michael Coyle’s Views Sought on Bullying Allegations in Airdrie SNP Branch

Source: Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Source: Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

A heavily edited version of this letter, which omitted some of the most important points, was published in the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser on 27th January 2016. I have highlighted the missing sections.

Dear Sir,

Having seen the article where Councillor Michael Coyle claimed he was the victim of bullying I could not let the claims about Councillor Alan Beveridge go without comment. Mr Coyle is the chair of the Airdrie branch, and now that he has spoken on the subject, I for one would welcome his comments on the multiple accusations of bullying levelled against the Airdrie branch. Since this time last year there have been a swathe of resignations from the branch, and many of those who left received letters (a copy of which was posted online for all to see by Councillor Beveridge), which were signed by Councillor Coyle, which claim that they are holding files on those members and will use them should those people attempt to rejoin the SNP. It is my understanding that those people who asked for the details to be revealed under Data Protection legislation were ignored by Mr Coyle’s branch. The bullying which led to Councillor Beveridge’s resignation occurred during the Westminster selection process which saw Neil Gray elected as MP, and consisted of a stream of false accusations to SNP HQ about candidate Tommy Montgomery, and which led to police and council investigations which completely exonerated Mr Montgomery. I complained strongly to SNP HQ about the situation and was initially given the runaround, followed by a wall of silence, and what seems like a complete unwillingness to investigate its own internal problems. These are issues which have been mentioned in the national press but which have been studiously avoided by the Advertiser, which has led many to questions how impartial it is.

Looking further into the article in your paper, I personally think it is probably not best practice, for one family to occupy so many posts in the same small committee. Surely if one of them were to have to excuse themselves from a vital vote it could be the case that their close relationship would mean they all be forced to do likewise?  How does that benefit anyone if three members have to excuse themselves instead of one? Pointing this obvious fact out cannot be described as bullying, and the only person suggesting that something is going on is Mr Coyle himself. What is really galling is that it is the council-tax payers who will no doubt be picking up the council’s bill for the legal action your article states he has instigated against North Lanarkshire Council.

As a final point, reader M Wilkinson parroted Councillor David Stocks by calling for Councillor Beveridge to resign and stand again in a by election, as before resigning he had stood on an SNP ticket, with SNP funding and support. I take it he would support Councillor Alex Lunn in Edinburgh, as well as Mike Dillon and Marie McGurk in Renfrewshire doing the same? Which is a strange position, as a former Justice Minister welcomed Mr Lunn to the SNP fold with no such reservations.

Yours Sincerely,
 
James Cassidy

British Nationalism: Good, Irish Nationalism: Good, Scottish Nationalism: BAD!

Submitted to the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, 16/01/16

Tweet by Elaine Smith MSP

Tweet by Elaine Smith MSP

Dear Sir,

The name Airdrie is believed to be derived from the Gaelic An Àrd Ruigh, meaning a high pasture. The high ground near Blackhill transmitter is Duntilland, Dun being Gaelic for a fort, and this area would may well have had such a fortification in the vicinity. One only has to look at an Ordnance Survey map to see examples of Gaelic in use across the country: An Teallach, Stob a’Choire Odhair, Meall na Tarmachan; to those who know them they are expressive names which their English language equivalents cannot match. For hillwalkers across Scotland they also provide a constant source of argument as to their pronunciation! The Gaelic language has roots here and while not in common everyday use in Airdrie, is still very much part of our heritage. I was therefore pleased to see the recent commitment by North Lanarkshire Council to recognise Gaelic as a living language and their publication of a five year plan to that end, as well as beginner’s classes in the language. I was less pleased to see Coatbridge Labour MSP Elaine Smith attack the Labour run North Lanarkshire Council when they advertised Gaelic classes with the slogan “Interested in learning Scotland’s native language?” Mrs Smith appeared to take offence at the claim Gaelic was Scotland’s native language. She then responded to criticism of her stance with concerns about NLC funding of this project. This really is beyond belief! Mrs Smith has been a loud and vocal champion of Irish cultural events in Scotland. In March 2012 in an article about the St Patricks day celebrations in Coatbridge it was reported that she had said that “I have called on the Scottish Government to look at ways of assisting cultural festivals such as this to grow and develop.” She has also said that she is “proud of my Irish heritage”, and that “the Irish Catholic vote in Scotland has remained unconvinced of Scottish nationalism.“ Why is it that Irish culture is good and should be funded, but Scottish culture should be sneered at and it’s funding questioned? Why should she try to create a religious divide on the subject? Is it because Mrs Smith is a committed British nationalist, and that a Scotland divided by sectarian and religious lines is less of a threat to the British state than a united one? Similarly, the eradication of one of our native languages by starving it of recognition and funding would be just another tactic in the process of destroying a sense of Scottish national identity and replacing it surreptitiously with a common British identity. That must not be allowed to happen.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

The SNP and the Data Protection Act: At Long Last…A Response!

Way back in August I made a complaint to the Data Protection Officer of the SNP and received a response from Patrick Grady, now Patrick Grady MP, stating that my complaint would be responded to “within the prescribed timescales”.

In October having received no response I contacted Patrick Grady MP again, pointing out that there were no prescribed timescales and requesting an update. Again, no response.

On 8th October 2015 this was referred to the Office of the Information Commissioner, where I stated that “Having repeatedly contacted Mr Patrick Grady regarding the above issue, beyond the initial acknowledgement I have been given no response, update or indication that any investigation has taken place for a period of almost 3 months.”

In November 2015 I was contacted by the Office of the Information Commissioner, stating that they had now contacted the SNP and had given them 30 days to respond.

On 22nd December 2015, on the final day of the ultimatum, the SNP responded, and as the offices of the Information Commission were closed over the holidays there was a short delay in passing on the response.

DATA Protection 1DATA Protection 2

I was disappointed in the response in way and contacted the Case Officer for clarification. While I fully expected the SNP to find itself “not guilty” as regards the possible Data Protection breach, I was surprised that the flagrant disregard to responding to legitimate concerns by the party was not taken more seriously. I was told that unfortunately as (unlike a subject access request) there is no prescribed timescale in place for such a request there was little that could be done, although I do not that my concerns will be kept on file to help build a picture of the SNP’s information rights practices. It was also remarked that the SNP’s behaviour could be described as “not best customer practice“.

The SNP’s code of silence and stonewalling will only carry it so far. The gagging of MP’s and councillors such as Phil Boswell MP over tax issues or Sophia Coyle over homophobic comments will only work so long as we the public allow it to work. I’d recommend that anyone with concerns about the SNP’s data protection practices should do something about it. Be prepared for it to take some time though. The fact that in this case the SNP were only willing to respond after being forced to by the watchdog speaks volumes for how they treat our rights to be treated fairly. Every time I hear Nicola Sturgeon speak about fairness or transparency the phrase which comes to mind is ‘You hypocrite…’ 

 

Tunnocks? No Thanks!

From 'The National', 05/01/16

From ‘The National’, 05/01/16

Letter to The National, 04/01/16
 
Dear Sir,
 
Over the last few years we have as a nation become more sensitive to the political leanings of various organisations, and many of us have adjusted our spending accordingly. Speaking for myself I became attuned to this many years ago and so to me this is nothing new. I withdrew from my unions political fund when I found that that my union supported the Labour party. I stopped buying various newspapers years before the referendum, as I could see that my money was indirectly aiding political views radically different from my own, and which I was unwilling to support.
 
Likewise many Scots have stopped paying the television licence as it funds the BBC and by extension the dissemination of state propaganda; and the BBC is not alone in seeing politically aware consumers take their money elsewhere.
 
Which leads me to Boyd Tunnock. Mr Tunnock is a self confessed British Nationalist, a backer of the Conservatives who made a large financial donation to Better Together, and who was pictured in the lead up to the referendum with Ruth Davidson, Annabel Goldie and a selection of his products tastelessly arranged to spell out No. Mr Tunnock himself politicised his product in 2014: in short buying Tunnocks products enriches Mr Tunnock, who in turn gives some to fighting against Scottish independence. Someone who supports Scottish independence may choose not to buy his products, and not to indirectly fund the Tories or their ilk. That is their right as a consumer and as a voter.
 
The latest hoo-haa over Mr Tunnocks product is purely from his rebranding from Scottish to British and his comments that he wouldn’t promote them as Scottish. This has only reminded people of his previous actions, and demonstrated his commitment to British Nationalism.
Personally I won’t buy any of his products. I’ve no doubt his company will thrive, but it can do so without my money. That’s my choice. It’s also my choice whether I continue to buy a newspaper which brands people with views such as mine as “crazed loons”. I’ll think about it over a cup of tea; with no tea cake…
 
Yours Sincerely,
 
James Cassidy