Tag Archives: Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

For the want of a nail…

 

 

 

 

 

 

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The revelation in last weeks Advertiser that Labour outspent all the other candidates combined for the recent Westminster elections in both Airdrie and Coatbridge raises an interesting question about the funding of political parties. In Airdrie and Coatbridge both Labour candidates represent trade unions, and it’s likely that those unions gave considerable financial backing to them. The same can’t be said for the SNP, the Conservatives or the Lib-Dems. The latter are treated as a major party and they are given airtime on political debates on equal footing with the three other parties, but their combined spend in Airdrie and Coatbridge amounted to an insulting £88! That speaks volumes and tells us that they have a greater desire to appear on the ballot paper than to win, and that in future elections there is little or no point in voting for them.

If I were an SNP member I would be extremely concerned at the paltry £2980 spent by Neil Gray as he saw his majority drop from almost 10,000 to under 200 votes. The last I recall, membership of the Airdrie and Shotts SNP was over 1100, but it appears that between them they were unable to rustle up the equivalent of £3 per member! As the saying goes, for want of a nail the kingdom was lost; Neil Gray’s lack of investment in his re-election very nearly cost him his seat, and as we see, Jeremy Corbyn now has him in his sights as a target for the next election, whenever that may be. It is ironic that had it not been for Ruth Davidson and the Tories using Jeremy Corbyn’s apparent support for the IRA to recruit hard core British Nationalist voters from their Unionist Labour rivals, then Labour would actually have taken Airdrie from the SNP! It will be interesting to see how this affects a future vote.

So far there appears to be no effort at all from Neil Gray to fire up the SNP in Airdrie and Shotts, while Labour already have Jeremy Corbyn lined up to visit Airdrie later this month. The strange thing is that both the Scottish Labour leadership and many of the local Labour party have publicly slated Corbyn and are only supporting him through gritted teeth. It will be worth watching to see which local Labour councillors don’t attend Mr Corbyn’s visit: their absence will speak volumes about just how dedicated they actually are to the policies spouted by their present leader. My guess is, not much.

 

 

Put The Sweet Sherry Down and Step Away From The Keyboard…

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, 240517

I was taken aback at the Advertiser editorial this week; it was, on so many levels, weapons grade nonsense. In recent years we’ve become more used to minority governments, coalitions and the like; indeed Scotland’s electoral systems are designed to create consensual governments which reflect the broad picture. So to see the Advertiser paint Labour taking control of North Lanarkshire Council as somehow akin to North Korean politics was utterly jaw dropping; indeed it read more like a drunken late night Facebook rant than an actual newspaper editorial which left me wondering how it actually made it in to print.
Some actual analysis wouldn’t go amiss here, and as The Advertiser has singularly failed to do so, let me help. Labour and the SNP were within one seat of each other, with the SNP having the slimmest of margins over their rival, but far short of a majority. To have a workable authority the SNP would have to rely on support from somewhere, and for that they would have to make concessions. SNP group leader David Stocks said that he had written to Jim Logue offering an SNP/Labour coalition. I’m sure that I’m sure if they had been willing to come and go on the names being put forward then that may have been an acceptable compromise. That offer was not accepted and we are left to draw the conclusion that the SNP’s proposals were so poorly thought out that Jim Logue was left either with the option of taking a gamble that the Tories would back Labour to block the SNP out of hand, or with entering a formal coalition with the Tories. Given that there is absolutely no evidence of the latter, except in the fevered mind of Alex Neil, we have to conclude that Labour didn’t form any such coalition. Pointing to the Tories being given the Audit convenorship as proof doesn’t stack up either. The previous Convenor was David Stocks of the SNP, and this was because the post goes to someone from outside the ruling body and as the SNP refused to take any of the posts offered by Labour they had to be filled by Tories! So Megan Gallacher left the council chambers £30K a year better off thanks to the SNP’s petulance and David Stocks left £30K worse off. Is it any wonder he’s bitterly complaining?

Councillor Stocks was quoted as saying “We won the election but people ask why we are not in power.” That’s a very good question and I’m glad he asked it, however I don’t think he’ll like the answer. The SNP were expected to romp the election, but didn’t. The Labour vote collapsed, but not primarily to the SNP. Hard core British Nationalists were seduced by Ruth Davidson’s rhetoric, abandoned any working class principles and sold out to a party ready to stick the knife into pensioners, the poor and the disabled at the earliest opportunity; never mind the policies, smell the flag. They then used their second and third votes to vote for Labour to block the SNP; quite simply Tory voting strategy was well briefed out to their supporters. But these voters were never going to vote SNP in any case, so what about those who were among those who could be persuaded?

Independent Councillor Alan Beveridge hit the nail on the head when he said that the SNP were fighting like rats in a sack, and it is this reason and this reason alone that the SNP did not gain the convincing win they should have done. Councillor Stocks apparently didn’t campaign at all during the election and actually came second to his novice running mate Nancy Pettigrew who preceded him alphabetically on the ballot paper. That shows a clear lack of voter management strategy. Airdrie South was no better where the Team Coyle leaflet campaign undermined actual SNP candidate Paul Di Mascio. Airdrie North was struck by a social media debacle and Coatbridge was racked by internal disputes too. The only part of North Lanarkshire to deploy an effective voter management strategy was in Cumbernauld, where the SNP swept the boards, and it raises the question: why aren’t they in charge of the group? They know what they are doing, are cohesive and work well as a team, everything North Lanarkshire SNP isn’t under David Stocks.
The SNP now have five years to get their party in shape to win convincingly in North Lanarkshire. It will require them to honestly appraise themselves and they must be prepared to clear out the dead wood and hangers-on who cost them victory. The current plan seems however to be not to carry out that self critical analysis but to fashion a narrative of a secret Tory/Labour coalition and to shout it for the next five years. As a plan of action it is unsustainable and is reveals a complete lack of self belief and vision. If I were an SNP member I would be asking these critical questions at every opportunity, as clearly the elected representatives will not. If they don’t, they’ll be asking in five years time, and that’s five years too late.

Playing With Words

In the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser last week it was reported that then Cumbernauld Councillor Alan O’Brien had published an election leaflet in which he claimed that the North Lanarkshire SNP group leader David Stocks had provided “dishonest testimony” in support of charges brought by fellow SNP Councillor Michael Coyle.

The claim was rebuffed in the article by Councillor Michael Coyle who said that:

“We have reported this leaflet to the police and the relevant authorities as it is full of lies and smears. These actions bring politics into disrepute.

It was the view of the the court that the incident was an argument between two councillors which, unfortunately, was established before any of the other witnesses had the opportunity to give their testimony.

However, the police found there was enough evidence to arrest and charge Mr O’Brien and the procurator fiscal felt it appropriate to progress the case to a Crown court hearing.

These are both facts and the case was dismissed. It was a not guilty verdict, but Mr O’Brien would no doubt have everyone believe his version of events.”

So, what evidence would be required for the police to charge Mr O’Brien and for it to be progressed to court? Given that there appears to be no physical evidence and no CCTV evidence then I would have to draw from that that the evidence in the case was all in the form of witness statements. In Scotland if someone makes a statement to the police that you committed an offence, all that is required for charges to be pressed is another statement which corroborates the first statement. So two allegations is enough “evidence” to allow a charge to be made. That is a fact. So the procurator fiscal is passed a charge which all things being in order will then be assigned a court date for the Sheriff to sort out. That’s also a fact.

Those “facts” however are not an indication of guilt. That is to be established in court and the court found that Mr O’Brien was not guilty, after hearing the testimony of Councillor Stocks and Councillor Coyle. Yet Councillor Coyle somehow expects us to take the allegation of guilt over the findings of the court? Generally if someone is found not guilty then their version of events is the one which has been believed. If Councillor O’Brien’s testimony wasn’t even heard it would suggest that the evidence put before the court did not support the charges when placed under scrutiny.

The article concludes with a quote from Inspector Steven Miller who states that they are reviewing its content and looking into it. That bland quote looks serious and you would expect it to have been fully investigated by now. I contacted Alan O’Brien prior to the publication of this article and he stated that as of this date he has not been approached by the police in relation to this matter. Nor does he expect to be.

You Wait All Year For An Article about Airdrie SNP Shenanigans… And Then Three Come At Once

I imagine there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth at SNP HQ this morning when the morning papers were delivered. Front page above the fold is usually a sign that the story is one of the most important of the day, and while this was the second of two main stories on the front page of The Herald, it’s still a sign that this isn’t a minor story.

Sophia Coyle Story, Herald, 02/05/17

The footage referred to in the article, a video on the Facebook page of Independent candidate Peter Owens has almost 30,000 views at the time of writing and can be found HERE, along with the following Press Statement issued on Sunday 30th April 2017:

Press Statement by Peter Owens, Independent Candidate, Airdrie South

Earlier today I was attending a car boot sale in Lanark, something I do as a regular hobby and it is something which I normally find relaxing and enjoyable. While I was at my stall I was approached by Airdrie North SNP Councillor Sophia Coyle and two other individuals, her husband Robert Clive and a man who I know to be employed as a nightclub bouncer, Gavin Scott.

Both Sophia Coyle and Gavin Scott began to film me while Sophia Coyle began making a series of allegations about me in front of the people present. She publicly stated that I had stolen goods from my employer and from a charity which I volunteer for, and was selling them at the car boot sale.

I was horrified, not only that Sophia Coyle was aware of exactly where I would be of a Sunday morning, but that she would travel over 16 miles accompanied by two burly males and be equipped with video equipment to record what I consider to be a premeditated attack on my character. I was immediately placed in a state of fear and alarm, and I have reported the incident not only to my employer, but to Police Scotland. Given the reported culture of “fear and intimidation” associated with Airdrie SNP I was less than impressed by the response I received from Police Scotland and will be pursuing this matter with them in the forthcoming days; as I and my family are concerned that we may receive further visits in the run up to the local elections. I shall also be seeking legal advice at the first opportunity regarding the defamatory claims made by Sophia Coyle.

I was able to make a video recording of my own and this has been passed to Police Scotland. In the meantime I am making the video footage available online. There have been many allegations made of bullying associated with Airdrie SNP, and I shall not be bullied. I believe the best way to deal with such behaviour is to shine a light on it, and I am calling on the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, to order an immediate investigation into the conduct of SNP Councillor Sophia Coyle.

End of Press Statement

In an expanded online article HERE it says that several other councillors have voiced their concerns. One of those was Councillor Alan Beveridge who also released his own press statement alleging online harassment:

Press Release by Alan Beveridge, Independent Councillor, Airdrie North

I was disturbed to see a statement released last night on social media by the candidate in the Airdrie South ward, Peter Owens, an independent candidate. In it he tells how he was publicly confronted by Sophia Coyle of the SNP, who made a number of serious allegations against him and his character; that he was placed in a state of “fear and alarm”; that he took his concerns to Police Scotland, and that he was “less than impressed” by their response.

Peter’s experience is not unusual in many respects. Only a few weeks ago Councillor Sophia Coyle used social media to make a post where she alleged that a “so-called member of my family” made death threats against her. This allegation was not only false, but it incited concerning responses on social media which were worrying enough for me to take them to Police Scotland. I was taken aback at the poor initial response from Police Scotland, and I have continued to speak with senior officers in relation to this matter. I believe that Councillor Sophia Coyle’s behaviour does not meet the high standards which we as elected representatives are expected to maintain, and as such I have also reported the matter to the Standards Commission and await the outcome of their investigations.

I have highlighted in the past the culture of fear, bullying and intimidation that exists within the SNP in Airdrie and have raised this directly with the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon; and I am renewing my call for a full investigation into the conduct of their representatives in North Lanarkshire. Councillors and prospective councillors must be allowed to freely take part in the democratic process without being placed in a state of fear and alarm simply because they have chosen to take part in that process. I am also calling on Police Scotland to review their procedures in relation to their response to what is perceived by the recipients as politically motivated intimidation in North Lanarkshire and I expect them not to be swayed in that duty.

As if that wasn’t bad enough for the party in Airdrie, the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser had two hard hitting articles in their Wednesday 3rd May issue. Having studiously ignored the subject for long and weary their timing was impeccable, and things lurched from bad to worse as they published Cumbernauld North Councillor Alan O’Briens claims that Airdrie Councillor, SNP Group Leader and possible Head of North Lanarkshire Council was caught lying in court to provide an alibi for fellow SNP Councillor Michael Coyle.

The paper then went on to detail the bizarre situation in Airdrie South, where Councillor Michael Coyle who recently engaged in a political hokey-cokey of being taken out of the running before being put back in, had issued election leaflets asking people to vote for him and his wife Agnes as Team Coyle, despite her having been deselected. This situation was also a feature on the letters page where John Love highlighted what he felt was a deception on the SNP voters in Airdrie South.

Advertiser 030517: Team Coyle

It gets even more bizarre when you see that Alex Neil has apparently also endorsed Agnes Coyle. There’s no mention of his actual running “mate” Paul Di Mascio and surely even the most ardent SNP members must now be asking questions. If I were a member I’d be asking if the branch was actually funding this, and if it was I’d be asking for my money back! I’m also hearing that in Airdrie Central there have been NO SNP leaflets issued and if this is true it really is a sign that the 1000 plus membership gained off the back of the 2014 referendum has been totally and utterly squandered.

 

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

 

22/04/15 Airdrie SNP Selection Process/ Ode to Alex Neil

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser (Unpublished)

Dear Sir,

Recently you published an ode to Alex Neil written by someone who is clearly a huge fan. The writer, S Robertson, said that we didn’t know how lucky we were to have such a “truly great man” as our local representative. This was virtually the same phrase that was shouted out at the recent secret public/private meeting about Plains railway station by one of the so called ‘happy clappers’ who turned up to cheer on the all SNP panel. I’ve said before that Alex Neil has done some very good work, but I like to keep a balanced view rather than heaping adulation through political party coloured spectacles, so I felt I had to respond to the writers’ final comment, that Alex Neil deserved praise for his moral leadership.

Like many thousands of others I joined the SNP in the wake of the referendum defeat last September. Within a few months the process began to select a candidate to represent the SNP at the forthcoming election. Initially there were four potential candidates (sadly no women) and these were soon whittled down to two. One candidate, Craig Murray, failed vetting. Another candidate was refused due to a paperwork irregularity where despite submitting his nomination form 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. Two candidates remained: Neil Gray (the current candidate) and another. The other remaining candidate clearly surprised the assembled members with a confident, knowledgeable speech delivered without reliance on a written script and demonstrated that he would have been a very capable candidate. Within days of that event, he had been called to SNP HQ in Edinburgh to answer a string of false allegations. As the campaign continued he was maliciously accused of violently assaulting a neighbour (despite the police confirming they had no record of any such incident and the candidate having no criminal record) as well as a further allegation made to SNP headquarters that his seriously ill mother had been fiddling her council tax. This led to North Lanarkshire Council carrying out a full investigation at the request of the candidate into whether there had been a Data Protection breach; the result being that there had been no breach of the Act and that her council tax was all in order. 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.

Despite these clear breaches of the SNP members code of conduct, SNP HQ refused to take action against any individual. I myself made numerous complaints about the selection process which were ignored by SNP headquarters, despite copying emails in to highest levels of the party leadership. To my knowledge no action has been taken by the branch or headquarters to address the irregularities in the selection process or the malicious complaints, and this led to my resignation from a party I had joined only a few months earlier. The final meeting I attended could only be described as a ‘kangaroo court’ where it was made clear to Councillor 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.

Which brings me back to S Robertson’s fan letter to Alex Neil. If Mr Neil had displayed moral leadership in this situation he wouldn’t have allowed the bullying atmosphere I witnessed at the branch meeting in February. He would have ensured that the party fully investigate the malicious complaints made about someone who had been with the party a long time, had campaigned for him and others, and had wanted to represent the party and our community. He would have ensured that the other breaches of the selection process were fully investigated impartially, (not, as I was advised by the branch and headquarters, by the very people the complaint was being made about). That’s not moral leadership, not unless your moral compass is broken.

I have long pointed out that Pamela Nash is a truly awful MP and I stand by that. S Robertson stated that SNP candidate Neil Gray has “learned at the feet of the master” which bearing the above in mind does not fill me with confidence. The electorate in Airdrie in my view is being offered the political equivalent of the choice between a punch in the face or a kick in the nuts. The people of Airdrie deserve much, much better and will have to hope that whatever the result of the election is, the rest of the country can give a better example.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy. 

08/04/15 Plains Railway Station and the Happy Clappers

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

I’m afraid that there was an inaccuracy in Ralph Barkers letter of 1st April. I did not use the phrase “happy clappers” to describe the bussed in SNP supporters at the secret public meeting held by Alex Neil in Plains. The man who did use the phrase was standing in front of me, so this may have caused some confusion. I’m not one to take credit for others efforts, and while I agree with the sentiment and laughed along with Mr Barker, sadly it wasn’t me who said it. I feel I must also answer a point raised by Mr Barker about why my letter attacked Ms Nash in relation to the Plains railway station when she is a Westminster MP who has no responsibility over transport. As an opposition MP she of course has no responsibility over anything. As our MP she could have worked to raise the issue wherever possible, maintain its profile and possibly broker a solution. She didn’t. She claimed at the meeting that she was “someone who has campaigned on this for a long time” when in actual fact she has happily used it as a stick to beat Alex Neil with on rare occasions. Over the last few years she has written the grand total of zero letters to North Lanarkshire Council on the subject, she has not raised the subject at all in Parliament, a Freedom of Information request to Network Rail is about to reveal her inactivity on that front and there is a solitary mention of it on her website, dating from four years ago. She has no responsibility over the NHS either, but has started a petition about the out-of-hours GP service and has commented on the NHS regularly, but has been silent on Plains Railway Station, proving she could have done something and didn’t. My own suspicion is that Ms Nash only became available for the meeting when she heard that Alex Neil wouldn’t be attending, and couldn’t resist the chance of a free hit in the run up to an election. Ms Nash is thoroughly deserving of all the criticism that comes her way over this, as she tried to paint herself as a campaigner on this issue when she is nothing of the sort. The facts tell us the truth, unlike Ms Nash who was caught today on BBC Radio Scotland passing off the by now well worn and completely exposed lie that “the biggest party forms the government”.  She truly is an awful MP who campaigns tirelessly for her party and herself, but not the people of Airdrie, and Airdrie deserves better than that. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy