Tag Archives: Alex Salmond

Moscow Calling?

Screenshot_20171110-143047.pngSince the 2014 referendum campaign many Scots have been using the Russia Today channel to obtain an alternative viewpoint on the news. I don’t think anyone is under any illusions that it exists to counter the news feeds of western governments.  Many people have been happy to share the content shared on RT when it suits their particular agenda. Labour politicians have appeared on it on numerous occasions, and in fact when questioned on their use of this platform stated that “Spokespeople appear on a wide range of outlets with a strong emphasis on domestic broadcasters to present our plans to transform Britain.”

The Tories aren’t immune either, with many Tory MP’s also appearing on the channel and taking the Kremlin’s ruble.  The SNP are also regular guests, much to the chagrin of Tories like Murdo Fraser.

So, to get this straight, Labour, the Tories and the SNP are all to varying degrees against using RT, except when it suits them to actually appear on it.

Which is why todays Yoonstream meltdown is all the more hypocritical. Former First Minister Alex Salmond has had his chat show optioned by the RT channel and will appear once a week giving his take on the goings on of the day. It’s thought that it will follow in the format of his recent stage show and will be produced by Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. This has sent unionists into a frenzy, there being much wailing and gnashing of teeth from across the Yoonisphere. One might have thought that this was somehow the end of days and not a chat show.  The Herald, the BBC, Ruth Davidson, Batshit Jill, Uncle Tom Cobley and all have united is despair; the hated Alex Salmond has been given a media platform which bypasses their control, to speak to the people. The campaign to make Ruth Davidson appear a cuddly, chummy figure has nothing on the campaign now running to decry RT as a tool of the Kremlin, Alex Salmond as a mouthpiece of the Kremlin, and Scottish viewers as the enemy within.

It seems to me that the British Nationalists in Scotland having worked together to remove Alex Salmond from politics are now demanding the rights to decide when, where and who this currently unemployed former politician can work for, and while they can cry out as much as they like, the fact is that for may of us it is no big deal. We’ve already started watching RT anyway. No media is impartial, it is simply a tool, and it can be used for you or against you. I’d prefer it to be used for us than agin us, and in the absence of an impartial Scottish broadcast media it would be remiss of Alex Salmond NOT to take the opportunity to use it, and to grab it with both hands and smash the British state media over the head with it.  Убирайся, Алекс!

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.

Book Review: Project Fear by Joe Pike

Project Fear: Joe Pike
Project Fear: Joe Pike

Project Fear: How An Unlikely Alliance Left A Kingdom United But A Country Divided

Author: Joe Pike

£12.99, Biteback Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-84954-931-8

For anyone involved in the Yes campaign, Joe Pike’s examination of the inside works of the No campaign is required, if uncomfortable reading. It’s a book in two parts. The first part deals with the referendum itself, the creation of Better Together and the subsequent campaign. Alistair Darlings acquisition of the post of head of Better Together apparently came after a round of political hot potatoes; no one wanted the gig so it was left to Darling to take it forward. The author, a reporter to trade with good connections at the very heart of the No campaign, then details the next two years of Better Togethers operations, where they seemed to lurch from one mishap to another.

As a Yes campaigner I found some of the events differed from my recollection, and it is interesting to see how the same situation was viewed from the other camp. This was particularly notable in the chapter “Not Tonight, Darling” which deals in considerable detail with the two-legged debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling. Setting the scene, the author mentions Yes protestors outside Kelvingrove and there were a few, as I recall. The most memorable though was an African Better Together protestor exhorting those entering the hall to “Vote No for Jesus!” As someone who attended the debate and found myself seated next to a Northern Irish No voter and a Scottish No voter I would also have to disagree with the view that the audience were biased in favour of the Yes campaign. In the first debate Alex Salmond was shambolic. I think he would probably agree. Towards the end of that debate those audience members of a No persuasion found their voice and rounded on him with their cries of “Answer the question!” but it was too late in the debate and not pressed home fully. To be fair Alistair Darling had surprised everyone, his coaching staff included. Kelvingrove was a different beast and with the No campaigners having set the tone for audience participation the Yes campaigners took the baton and ran with it from the off. As soon as Darling began to rehash his previous debate it elicited loud and derisive laughter from the Yes campaigners. My view at the time was that there weren’t that many of us, but the difference was that we were more vocal, and kept up our attacks on Darling throughout the debate. My perception was that the Yes members in the audience had punched above our weight in relation to crowd numbers. The No campaign perceived the selection process to have been flawed, leading Darling to curse “The Fucking BBC”.

Of particular interest is the creation of “The Vow”, the No side’s infamous Daily Record driven Purdah defying last ditch effort to swing the vote back in their favour after throwing away a thirty point lead. What seems to seep through at every turn is just how inept and uncoordinated Better Together were internally and how internally fractured they were for much of the campaign, the book taking its title from one well publicised gaffe.

If part one of the book is hard reading for its obviously unwelcome outcome, part two is the proverbial happy ending, examining Labours implosion in the wake of the referendum and their historic Scottish wipeout at the Westminster 2015 election. Johann Lamont may have been a disaster for Labour’s Scottish Branch, but she appeared to have a far sounder grasp of their problems than her short lived successor Jim Murphy; when her General Secretary was sacked by London she is reported to have told them that “If you think the fucking problem with Scottish politics is who our General Secretary is, you have a lot to understand.”

With Johann Lamont out of the way the remainder of the book charts the downfall of both Jim Murphy and Labour, a tsunami of which there were plenty of signs of, but which no one wanted to believe was possible, right up until the early hours of May 8th.

This remarkably candid account of two campaigns and a revolution in Scottish politics is far removed from the usual puff piece analysis written by politicians to make them look good, and you have to occasionally remind yourself that this is real life and not a particularly foul mouthed account of a day in the life of Malcolm Tucker. The book is in the main even handed in its assessments and there are some clear lessons to be learned from it, lessons that by the look of things the Scottish Branch of Labour are still unwilling to learn.

My view: the queue to get in to Kelvingrove for the 2nd round of the Big Debate
My view: the queue to get in to Kelvingrove for the 2nd round of the Big Debate
The Debate Hall: A second hand set...
The Debate Hall: A second hand set…

The Reinvigoration of Scottish Politics (Letter to The National, 08/12/14)

Dear Sir,

The referendum may not have given us the result that we wanted but a happy by-product is that it has completely reinvigorated Scottish politics. Many people have had their eyes opened to the workings of the political system and I don’t think interest in politics, across the spectrum, has ever been higher. I personally am delighted that such an experienced politician as Alex Salmond is not being lost to Scottish politics, but is instead planning to head to Westminster and “hold their feet to the fire”, and I wish him all the best. With hard work from the Yes Alliance he will hopefully be accompanied by a sizeable contingent ready to do battle to get the best deal for Scotland. While I am sure there may be a few old hands there I am absolutely delighted to see so many new people rising to the challenge and throwing their hat into the ring as candidates for Westminster. Philippa Whitford, who spoke so passionately about the threats to the NHS has announced that she is putting herself forward. Former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan and human rights activist Craig Murray announced that he was interested in standing in Kirkaldy and within a few days Gordon Brown had announced he was standing down. Craig has now said that he is willing to stand in Airdrie and Shotts where another candidate, local man Tommy Montgomery has put himself forward. Tommy is no career politician but has a burning interest in social justice and a desire to see the people of Airdrie and Shotts put first, rather than treated in the traditional Labour manner which has put the interests of the party, the MP and their patrons before the people. If the level of interest and the calibre of candidate is replicated across the country as it is here in Airdrie then the people of Scotland will have an amazing array of talent to choose from in May 2015.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

The Referendum Letters: 13/06/14

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

Alistair Darlings Nazi smear attempt on Yes voters everywhere could almost be described as gutter politics, were it not for the fact that Better Together sank far below that level a long time ago. Sewer politics would be more apt. Reporting of his outburst may have gained a bit more traction had it not come in a good week to bury bad news, with the mainstream media focusing on Lallygate, when the BBC and the unionist media went into overdrive about the actions of some Yes supporters individuals comments. I have to ask myself if the world has gone stark, raving mad. Some keyboard warriors said some pretty despicable things, however we are talking about individual views here, not the views of Yes Scotland. Compare that with Alistair Darling’s leaked conversation where he states that the Scottish Independence movement is not based on civic nationalism, but he agrees with his interviewer that it is “Blood and Soil” nationalism, a phrase used by the Nazi party to describe their racially pure, aryan vision of Germany. Hardly applicable to the nationalism we have in Scotland. If you live here, you have a vote, regardless of race or ethnic origin. Mr Darling is not alone in his Nazi jibes though. Elaine Smith MSP has regularly thrown Nazi references in to her columns and letters, referring to fanatical nationalism and the lessons of history. In one of the worst quotes of all, in September 2013 the leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, Johan Lamont described nationalism as “a virus”, the very same term Hitler used to describe the Jews. Can these people sink any lower? To liken your political foes as to nothing more than a virus which must be wiped out is abhorrent, yet this is not the lone nutter in the bedroom speaking. This is the leader of Scottish Labour! If it’s not the Yes supporters themselves they are attacking its Alex Salmond. Each week I call full house on Better Together’s “Alex Salmond Dictator Bingo”. Mussolini, check. Hitler, check. Stalin, check. Kim Jung Un, bingo! Talk about playing the man, not the ball! Alex Salmond may be dead and buried in 10 years time, yet the unionists make out that a vote for independence is a vote for a Scotland ruled by him in perpetuity. What we have from Better Together is a top down campaign of hatred and bile. On September 18th, the people of Scotland will, for one day, have the power to decide the future of Scotland. Some of us will be able to look ourselves in the mirror afterwards and be proud of our actions. I do not think the Better Together leadership will fall into that category. 

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

The Referendum Letters: 26/12/12

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

I would like to reply to the letter by David Stephen in the Advertiser of 19/12/12. I feel compelled to point out a number of details of Mr Stephen’s argument which don’t stand up to scrutiny. In 2014 we will have a referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country. If we vote Yes this only gives the Scottish Government the mandate to begin the negotiations which will lead to this country becoming independent. If we vote Yes on the Saturday (or whichever day it is held) we will not be independent by the following morning. Our passports will still be valid, the trains will still run and the sun will still rise. If we vote Yes it is my understanding that we would be looking to elect our first independent government in 2016, as the negotiations would take a period of time. I’m sure that in two years the government will be able to sort out Mr Stephens beloved passport, along with many other questions which he could already find the answer to online.

As for noise and bluster from all sides, yes I do include the SNP in that. I am not aware if Mr Stephen represents any particular group or party, but for the sake of clarity I am not a member of the SNP. I disagree with them on a number of policies, primarily on the siting of wind turbines throughout the Highlands, and am not backward at saying so. However I believe that Scotland is big enough to make its own decisions and should take its place in the international arena as an independent country, and for that reason I will be voting Yes for independence.

How I vote after independence is another matter. I would like to think am intelligent enough to realise that, despite how some of the TV and print media are portraying things, I am not voting on whether I like Alex Salmond or Nicola Sturgeon. This is after all not the X-Factor. If we vote Yes, Scotland will be independent long after these people have gone from politics. Neither do I believe that a vote for independence is a vote for SNP government in perpetuity, and that in an independent Scotland I will at least be able to vote for the parties knowing they will be making their own decisions, not waiting on instructions from London.

Almost 200 years ago in 1820 many of the people of Airdrie took part in massed gatherings calling for independence. Over 10,000 gathered in the town to demand independence. Members of a band were arrested for playing Scot’s Wha Hae, and Government troops were showered with stones as they rode through the town from Edinburgh to quell the uprising in Glasgow, for which three men were executed and a number exiled to Australia. We are lucky, as unlike then we do have freedom of speech. Mr Stephens letter proves that. Unlike the United Kingdom of almost 200 years ago, no one is being jailed or hanged for seeking independence. In 2014 we will get the chance to choose, peacefully, whether we wish to remain part of the union or not. We have the chance to vote for a government who can decide policy on whether it is good for the people of Scotland, and not as a puppet government which has one eye on whether it is in line with the policy being pursued south of the border.

If Mr Stephen thinks that that is the right direction for Scotland for the 21st Century and beyond, he has the right to say so and argue his case, but surely if his case is so strong he does not need to make half baked claims about passports.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

The Referendum Letters- 10/03/12

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,
Pamela Nash’s column is always good for comedy value and this weeks was no let down. Pamela was blaming the big, bad SNP for not using Scottish steel in the construction of the new Forth crossing. I know Pamela is the baby of the house and new to politics, but perhaps she could ask one of the older members to help explain how New Labour introduced EU Procurement Laws which require bids to be opened up to anyone who wishes to put in a tender, and for the cheapest one to be selected, irrespective of nationality. If ten Scottish firms put in bids and were trumped by a cheaper French bid then the SNP government are bound by law to take the French one. Great thinking from Unionist Labour. Perhaps one of the grown up members could also explain to Pamela how their colleagues in saving the union, the Tories decimated the Scottish steel industry, to such an extent that the few Scottish companies left did not even submit tenders for work for the new crossing, as they don’t make the required products anymore. Of course Pamela really doesn’t have time to keep up to speed with Scottish politics. An online search shows that much of her time is spent on such pressing matters as work capability assessments in Northern Ireland, production of HIV medicine in India, and the standard of governance in Belarus. If there is one thing that is apparent, it is that neither Labour or the Conservatives put Scotland first, and that by campaigning for a referendum on independence, Alex Salmond is putting Scotland first. It is worth noting that parliaments “Union Jocks” have very good reason to campaign against independence. 65,738 good reasons every year (plus expenses). No wonder the likes of Ms Nash are making noises about it. She, along with her Unionist colleagues the Conservatives, will do and say anything to ensure that their gravy train stays on track. The fact that Scotland as part of the union is worse off economically, the fact that Scotland could be free of nuclear weapons, could decide how best to run its own services, could say no to jumping on the tailcoats of American foreign policy, none of that matters to the likes of Ms Nash, or indeed any of her Scottish colleagues. Within a few years we are looking at a parliament where a proposed reduced number of Scots MPs will finally be made irrelevant when the Tories decide to answer the West Lothian question, and the possibility of another term of Tory government where they will seek to strip every possible power from the Scottish parliament in the event of a no vote being returned. When given the chance I’ll be voting for independence, and consigning government from London to the bin. And no one is paying me £65,738 to say that.
Yours Sincerely,
James Cassidy

The Referendum Letters

In the run up to the Scottish independence referendum I wrote a number of letters to mainly the local press, although there was also also some to the national press as well. I’ve decided to put these all in one place and will collate all of them on here. Some may refer to letters, responses or replies which were made in the press, so the full context will not be available. Had I been a compulsive hoarder I would have these tucked away. If there are any compulsive hoarders out there who have the originals…can I have a copy?

The letters which I will be adding will be the versions saved in my files. The vast majority were published, mostly with no or minor editing from the publishers.

During the referendum I also contributed to may online discussions and created a number of images which were shared on Facebook. I think it may be interesting to see this laid out in order. Hopefully I’ll get around to that. This is a work in progress…