Tag Archives: Airdrie and Shotts

Airdrie SNP Lose 9596 Votes in Just TWO YEARS

2017 result

Neil Gray and Airdrie SNP will be in no hurry to have a forensic examination of the results of Thursday’s general election as it would raise some rather embarrassing questions. Much better to celebrate the win with some bland statement and carry on as before, but that isn’t an option, or at least it shouldn’t be.

2015 results

Having had the smallest swing in the 2015 landslide, Neil Gray’s hard work should have started two years ago, but he has silently watched as the party locally has shed members by the bucketload. The internal fighting in Airdrie SNP has not been contained and has spread outwards and beyond the confines of the party. At one point they were bragging of a membership of around 1100, yet by the local council elections were reliant on the same few half-dozen faces. Even his campaign launch photo at Airdrie stadium appears to be boosted by a number of faces from Coatbridge. The failure to show any leadership by reversing the flow of members out of the party has had a dramatic effect on the vote, as those members are not only leaving but leaving and taking a bad impression away with them.

Looking at the figures from 2015, almost every other parties votes are up, and in Neil Gray’s case he pulled in a full 9596 votes less than two years ago. That is a truly disastrous performance and it is ironic that the only thing which retained him his seat was the Orange Order voters  who wanted to send a message to Nicola Sturgeon by leaving Labour for the Tories; had they been more tactically aware they would have stuck with Labour and would have denied the SNP the seat! It’s now rumoured that there will be another election in October, and if the more bitter Unionists are prepared to switch back (many switched because of Corbyns apparent support for the IRA) then there is every chance Neil Gray will be gone.

Clearly the UKIP vote this time went to the Tories, but that still doesn’t account for the almost 5,500 vote Tory rise. Realistically those votes didn’t come from the SNP. There is the possibility that some 2015 SNP voters went to Labour at the same time that the hard-line British Nationalists shipped out to the Tories, but that still leaves thousands of SNP voters who failed to come back and endorse them on Thursday. Did they think the job was done and that this was now a safe seat or have they been turned away altogether?

So what can be done? SNP HQ could finally act and clear out what has become one of the most toxic branches in British politics (incidentally the loss of Phil Boswell in Coatbridge can be directly attributed to the in-fighting there and the continuing suspension of the SNP branch). The SNP should be getting itself out on the streets and into the community on a regular basis. The political awakening of 2014 has to be reignited, and the SNP has to be again seen as a radical party of the streets, not a sanitised party where, especially in Airdrie, no dissent is allowed and where challenges to the established order are followed by smears and personal attacks.

A question I regularly people is “What has YOUR candidate done to further the cause of independence?” For far too many they appear only when they want you to endorse them personally. They don’t enthuse or inspire, they are never seen on independence marches or rallies and they never, ever speak with passion about their vision of what an independent Scotland could look like.

Neil Gray falls into the latter category and unless he has a radical change of direction in the next few months he will be out at the next election. His seat has already been highlighted by the BBC as a key marginal, which means that he will get the Angus Robertson and Alex Salmond treatment next time: regular reports by the BBC reminding people that this is a key seat and who the most likely rival candidate is, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. I’ll Say no more.


Monklands McMafia Saga: Airdrie & Shotts SNP Break Their Silence

Airdrie and Shotts SNP Official Blog: Screenshot 1

Airdrie and Shotts SNP Official Blog: Screenshot 1

Airdrie and Shotts Official Blog: Screenshot 2

Airdrie and Shotts Official Blog: Screenshot 2

After months of silence Airdrie and Shotts SNP has blown the cobwebs off of its virtually defunct blog to launch a personal attack on me. It lists me as Mr James Cassidy, AKA Jester1970. Desperate stuff, as it’s no secret that the Jester1970 ID is my admin ID for the two WordPress blogs which I publish. It’s also no secret why I resigned.

It states I left around the time there was an unopposed  and unanimous motion to take formal disciplinary action against a small disruptive group of individuals who were causing disruption (sic). I was in attendance at this meeting and was disgusted by what I saw. I am aware of some of the now former members who were given THESE letters stating they were suspected of participating in activities designed to undermine the branch and who were told that a file was being held on them, and should they attempt to rejoin this would be used against them. Despite requests, no-one has ever managed to find out what  charges the SNP Star Chamber have made, nor what “evidence” they purport to hold.

It goes on to make the bizarre claim that “these fifth columnists have left the branch”. So far we’ve had infiltrators on behalf of Tommy Sheridan and now Fifth Columnists! Whatever next? Aliens?

If you go to the About page on this site you’ll see my name there. The post on the SNP Airdrie and Shotts blog has no such identification. Is it the work of the website administrator, the secretary, the convenor, the MP, the MSP or someone else? It doesn’t say. Perhaps the individual concerned might have the decency to put their name to their handiwork.

A final observation. Virtually ALL the posts (barring the very first one way back in 2012) on the site are locked down so that you cannot comment on them, apart from this one. I shall be watching the comments with interest.

The Monklands McMafia Saga: Julie McNulty calls in the Police Counter Corruption Unit

Scottish Sun on Sunday, 28/02/16

Scottish Sun on Sunday, 28/02/16

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.



The Monklands McMafia Saga: New Voices

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.

12th February, The National: Hundreds Have Quit Our Branches

13th February, The Herald: SNP urged to reveal secret report into Monklands McMafia

14th February, Sunday Herald: Secret Recording reveals depths of SNP infighting

16th February, The National: Turf War at the centre of racism row

17th February, The Herald: SNP members refuse to vote for own party

19th February, The Herald: SNP threaten legal action against own councillor


The Monklands McMafia Scandal

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.

In the Herald: SNP urged to release secret Monklands McMafia report I made the following comment, which I am posting here as the Herald webpage is renowned for removing comment. I have provided links where possible, something frowned upon by the Herald.

This is a joke right? The investigation and subsequent report both pre-date the 2014 Referendum and the current round of complaints for goodness sake!
Nicola Sturgeon has been made aware of the concerns about this branch on numerous occasions, all of which happened post September 2014.
Councillor John Taggart: Resigned, cites lack of democracy
Councillor Alan Beveridge: Resigned, cites bullying and a climate of fear and intimidation
Tom Montgomery: Resigned, after suffering series of malicious allegations made by a branch member to HQ. Allegations proven false after Police and North Lanarkshire Council independently investigated.
Councillor David Baird: Still in party, reported to HQ for alleged financial impropriety, details leaked to media.
Councillor Julie McNulty, Accused of racism by Sheena McCulloch. Reported to HQ, details leaked to Daily Record.

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 people indulging 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.

We deserve better.






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

An Open Letter to Nicola Sturgeon: A Response

Peter Grady Response 020915I posted my Open Letter to Nicola Sturgeon on Monday, 7 days after I hand delivered a Data protection request to SNP headquarters in Edinburgh. Those 7 days had seen no response, by post, email or by telephone.

Three days after posting my open letter, having experienced the black hole of the SNP mailing system before and no longer willing to wait on the reply that never comes, I headed again to SNP HQ in Edinburgh to hand over a paper copy of the letter which I had already sent to Nicola Sturgeon by email. Heading down the Royal Mile I received an alert from my phone. Lo and behold, an email from SNP National Secretary Patrick Grady. It was not the response I was looking for, and I suppose I would be naive to think that it ever would be. It is merely an acknowledgement, and a cold one at that. His letter, and my response, are reproduced below:

Dear Mr Grady,

Thank you for your reply of 02/09/15. I shall deal with each point in turn.

I am glad that you have acknowledged that there were problems with the selection process in Airdrie and Shotts, and that these have been raised with the relevant officials. Unfortunately those people (myself included) who made complaints (regarding bullying, malicious allegations, breaches of campaign rules, breaches of data protection act, etc) have received no response from those with whom we raised those complaints. I am bitterly disappointed that you feel that your party has dealt with these in a satisfactory matter, and I would request that you perhaps revisit these matters and give them the proper investigation that they warrant. Asking local branches to investigate themselves is nothing short of scandalous.

I note that you have acknowledged my Data Protection request and look forward to a response in due course, within the required timeframe.

I am happy with the service I have received from Police Scotland and feel that they have done all they can based on the evidence available, and as far as that goes it remains a Police matter. What I find disappointing and worrying is that your letter does not address the single most important issue that I have raised, and that should have been the simplest to say: that the SNP does not condone bullying or intimidation.

Let me be clear so that there is no misunderstanding. I do not hold the SNP as a party responsible. I am convinced that the attacks which I and my family have endured have arose from stating publicly my opposition to aspects of the SNP’s operations, and which some misguided individuals have decided to act on. I think that any right thinking organisation would have issued a statement condoning such behaviour as unacceptable in any walk of life. I am sure it is not beyond the skills of SNP HQ to compose a sympathetic response which would serve to send out a public message confirming its moral stance while making it clear it was not responsible. Instead you have managed to dance round something you could have so easily addressed and I have to ask you, what message are you sending out?


James Cassidy

Subject: Re: SNP Bullying and Intimidation: An Open Letter to Nicola Sturgeon
Date: Wed, 2 Sep 2015 11:14:58 +0000

Dear Mr Cassidy

Thank you for your email dated 31 August 2015. I have been asked to respond as the office bearer responsible for the candidate selection procedure.

Many of the points you have raised about the selection in Airdrie & Shotts and about the operation of the local party have already been considered and discussed with the relevant officials.

As far as you make a new complaint about data privacy, this will be looked into and responded to within the prescribed timescales.

I note that the alleged incidents of criminal behaviour have been reported to the Police. As such it would not be appropriate for me or the Party to comment any further at this time.

Yours sincerely

Patrick Grady