I was gobsmacked to see the latest instalment of the Monklands McMafia saga played out in the national press today. I believe events in North Lanarkshire have taken an interesting turn. Given that the SNP suspended Julie on the basis of a “he said, she said” report which is now looking less credible by the day, it would be completely wrong of the SNP to not suspend anyone who is subject to the investigation mentioned in the article. Precedents have been set: Natalie McGarry and Michelle Thomson being the most high profile. It is time that Nicola Sturgeon stopped tiptoeing through the Tulips and takes the decisive action which is required to deal with this scandal.
With an election coming up Nicola Sturgeon MUST reassure voters in North Lanarkshire that the SNP are a party with the courage to deal with difficult internal matters head on if they are to retain any credibility in the eyes of the public. This matter is not going away and will likely have a great effect on the council elections in 2017 as well. Nicola may sweep this under the carpet for now, but that carpet is getting awfully bumpy. Focus on Europe may deflect for a while, but that too will soon be history. I believe that the party imposing candidates from outside the area would be the first step in showing a commitment to regaining that trust.
I think the time has come for the good councillors within the SNP to stop pretending that there is going to be a happy ending here. With the allegations which have been made against them I think it safe to say that neither Julie McNulty or David Baird have a future within the SNP. Having seen friends fail the vetting process I think it a safe bet to say that any councillor with even the merest whiff of the suspicion of their loyalty and reliability will find themselves surplus to requirements as 2017 approaches. Better they leave with dignity at a time of their choosing than to be cast aside later when the publicity has died down.
On Tuesday I wrote that having read the above article in The Sun on Sunday I would be contacting Police Scotland for an update into the arson attack on my car. I have since spoken to an investigating officer and to a senior officer at Airdrie. Earlier this week I was told that no suspect had ever been questioned in relation to the arson attack. This morning having spoken to a more senior officer I was informed that “No suspects have been identified” in relation to this attack. I asked for confirmation of this in writing, but this request was refused.
I have to say I was absolutely astounded to see the article in The Sun on Sunday by crime reporter Russell Findlay where Councillor Michael Coyle refers to allegations that he was involved in my car being set on fire, where he is quoted as saying “The motor got blown up and people tried to blame me. They either say that I did it or that I ordered it. It’s outrageous. The police conducted a thorough investigation then sent me a letter saying the allegations are not true.”
Having not been contacted or made aware of any such investigation by the police this is news to me. I am pleased to see that this is still under active investigation. I have contacted them for an update. As yet I await their response.
“Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”
George W Bush
So David Cameron is looking to make it two wins out of two with his latest wheeze: The Vow Mk11 or EuroVow.
A cobbled together series of allowances, clarifications and distractions that will do for now, long enough to help him over the finishing line with an In vote. All of which can be removed at some point in the future.
The Scottish Independence referendum in 2014 saw us asked to vote on whether Scotland should or should not remain part of the political union that is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. For the best part of two years the debate was on the merits or otherwise of independence; the principles of either self determination of having decisions made on your behalf. It was only at the 11th hour that the third option was introduced, the infamous Daily Record insipid inspired Vow offering a new, shiny arrangement. As we’ve seen, it’s yet to be delivered, and isn’t binding on future arrangements.
I’m as yet neither for In or Out in the Euro Referendum. I see merits and weaknesses to both arguments. But I’ll say one thing; Cameron’s EuroVow is a sideshow, a distraction, a political squirrel designed to distract from the real question: In the long term are we better off in or out of the EU? That’s what we should be debating. The contents of Mr Cameron’s deal are a diversion, valid on one day only and not binding on a European Union which is constantly evolving. Don’t be distracted.
I think the hardest thing about what is now being referred to in the media as the Monklands McMafia affair/crisis/saga has been getting other voices heard. I have felt that this has been easily deflected by Nicola Sturgeon and her staff at HQ as it could be put down to one or two disaffected individuals.
That has all changed.
Patterns of behaviour are emerging and people are talking about this openly on social media and in the comments section of the Herald and The National. They are certainly worth reading, it’s eye opening stuff to see just how far this stretches and for how long it has been going on.
It’s worth noting that some of the comments backing the local party are on the face of it from vague, generic and unimaginative names, while those speaking out are real verifiable people. It’s also worth noting that these one or two individuals are making what appear to be very personal references to some individuals, about their jobs, their families, their history. Given that none of the people referred to know the accuser(s) it appears that a sock-puppet account is in play here. All very mysterious but par for the course in this affair.
Dirty Dick and the Lylettes doesn’t have the same ring to it as The Monklands McMafia, but its the top story on The Herald today, more read than Rangers trademark shenanigans or the latests twists in the In/Out EU debate. The lid is well and truly off.
The article in Friday’s National, “Hundreds have quit our SNP branches” cannot be comfortable reading, but it is not unexpected. I am one of many people who have approached SNP headquarters with valid complaints about some of the issues alluded to in that article. At every turn I saw my concerns ignored, and I became so frustrated with being fobbed off that I actually had to resort to doorstepping SNP HQ in Edinburgh and to referring complaints to the Data Protection Commissioner who had to intervene to obtain a response on my behalf.
There have been a number of allegations about local members which have been slipped to the press and which would appear to originate within the SNP; Councillor David Baird accused of financial wrongdoing, Councillor Julie McNulty accused of racism, Councillor Imtiaz Majid accused of hiding money from a divorce settlement, the list goes on and on. There was me thinking it was the opposition parties role to dig the dirt. This isn’t to mention the resignations of many SNP councillors who now sit as independents, all citing bullying or a lack of democracy in the party as reasons for their departure. Initially I thought I would be very surprised if the secret internal report prepared by Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh MP and Alyn Smith MEP would shed any light on the subject, as to my knowledge no-one who has left the party that I am aware of has been approached to ascertain reasons and establish basic background knowledge. Then I learned that this report actually predates the referendum and the influx of new members by almost two years! That is simply outrageous. If the report is simply a summary of chats with the two local MSP’s, Dick Lyle and Alex Neil, then it will be beyond pointless.
I wrote to Nicola Sturgeon some time back about this issue. I emailed Ian McCann, Peter Murrell, anyone who I thought could help. Every plea was ignored. Many members I have spoken to foolishly thought that perhaps there were moves afoot in the background; that the party didn’t want to wash its dirty linen in public and would root out the cancerous behaviour in private. That was a thought which could be sustained only so long, and which I know see to be completely without substance. On this issue Nicola Sturgeon has sadly reaped what she has sown. I only hope that it she now takes the action she should have taken a long, long time ago. If not then all her talk of fairness, openness and equality are simply hollow,weasel words, and the SNP, and more importantly Scotland as a nation will be all the poorer for it.
The press have dubbed the current scandal with North Lanarkshire SNP the “Monklands McMafia” crisis, and it appears that what I have been saying for over a year about the SNP in North Lanarkshire is finally getting coverage in some of the mainstream press, and is surprisingly even being covered in The National. Last year when I wrote my Open Letter To Nicola Sturgeon I was contacted by National reporter Andrew Learmonth, whom I was happy to speak to. He asked if he could call back, but never did. I contacted him again in the light of his article on this very issue, as I felt I could offer some insight into this. He again failed to call back. I hope he does, as his article does not go far enough in my opinion.
At the same time we see allegations of homophobia by Airdrie Councillor Sophia Coyle quietly allowed to slip away, shielded by the party, no suspension, no comment. What I find utterly amazing is that having been unable to get any comment from Councillor Coyle on the issue, the local press then carry comments from her on a wide range of other issues, a local quarry issue being one. Were I journalist who had attempted to gain a comment on this I’d be failing in my duty if, when speaking to her I failed to raise the issue. Yet this is what happens. It is no wonder that many people in Airdrie say they distrust the local press.
Nicola Sturgeon has turned a blind eye to this issue. This cannot be covered up by peopleindulging in whitabootery, as some have tried on here already. Nicola Sturgeon MUST now acknowledge that there is a problem with a Monklands McMafia and act accordingly.
This weeks Advertiser has a letter from a Mr Smith (highly original), criticising me for making Freedom of Information requests as this costs money, and this arises from my criticism of Councillor Michael Coyle of the SNP, who has, from the wording of an article in the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, taken legal action against North Lanarkshire Council.
This is the second letter criticising me in the last two weeks using the “Look, Squirrel” technique. If only the Advertiser had actually printed this letter, it would have shown Mr Smith’s claims for what they are.