I believe that the front page of today’s National was a turning point in the Monklands McMafia saga and that the allegations of SNP links to organised crime, illegal payments for support on planning applications and bungs for public service contracts can no longer be branded by many on social media as simply the Unionist press attacking the SNP. These revelations come on top of the stories of bullying, fear and intimidation which have been circulating for some time now and which have also been completely ignored by Nicola Sturgeon. Given that the SNP suspended Julie McNulty 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 to paraphrase Quint in the movie Jaws, She’s going to need a bigger carpet. Focus on Europe may deflect for a while, but that too will soon be history. I believe that the party immediately suspending all candidates in North Lanarkshire and imposing candidates from outside the area would be the first step in showing a commitment to regaining that trust.
As regards your mention of Councillor Michael Coyle, I’m sure that until Councillor Coyle drew the media’s attention to them, most people would have been unaware of the allegations he claims were made against him in regards to organised crime and also to the arson attack on my car which he raised prominently in the Sun last week. I would like to state that having only seen the very brief extract carried in the local press I cannot comment on the scope of the thorough enquiry which took place in the last few weeks into Councillor Coyle, but I am concerned at two things. There is an element of the letter which reads more like a friendly character reference than a summary of the facts. Secondly it is not normal practice for Police Scotland to issue letters of this sort. I contacted the investigating team and a senior officer regarding the arson attack on my car and was told that “no suspects were ever identified” in relation to this. When I asked if I could have that confirmed in writing I was told that Police Scotland aren’t in the habit of providing such letters. Perhaps I would have had more luck if I was employed by a cabinet minister and an MP!