Tag Archives: assertations and half truths

Popular Misconceptions No2: Scots Knew There Would Be An EU Referendum

On Question Time last night a lady piped up with her opinion which received rapturous applause from the audience in Bognor Regis: Why are the Scots demanding a referendum now, because when they voted in 2014 they KNEW there was going to be a Brexit vote.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard this stated. It’s nonsense of course and anyone with decent powers of recall or even better, access to google should be able to establish a few basic facts. But let’s give the good lady from Bognor the benefit of the doubt and say she wasn’t following the situation in this country as closely as we were here and look at just why she’s mistaken.
Joanna Cherry MP had a decent stab at addressing all the points put to her and to be honest it could have been an hour long show with just Ms Cherry, David Dimbleby and the audience of Bognor Regis, but the question above was one she didn’t respond to and in my view should have.
In the lead up to the September 2014 referendum Scots were being told by the print, radio and television media and by Labour politicians that if they voted No a Labour government was just round the corner. That if they voted No, in less than a year they could sweep the coalition from power and that Ed Miliband would become a Prime Minister who would hold Scotland in high regard. Indeed Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson deliberately played down the Tories chances of returning to power to reassure Scots voters that they should vote for the union. I was one of many warning that this wasn’t the case; that Ed Miliband was unelectable and that the Tories would not only take power but seek to emasculate Scotland in the process. I was correct on every single point.
From The Guardian, September 2014
“Ruth Davidson, the Tory leader in Scotland, highlighted fears of a yes vote when she told a cross-party referendum debate on STV on Tuesday night that the Tories are on course to lose the UK election. This was seen as an attempt to reassure wavering voters who are more likely to vote for independence if they believe the Tories will win the UK election, according to the former Labour first minister Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale.”
“Citing unguarded remarks on Monday night by Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, that the Conservatives were unlikely to win the general election, Miliband will insist that Labour would win in 2015 – a year earlier than Scotland could become independent.”

But I digress. In the lead up to September 2014 the Tories were having internal rows and were under pressure from UKIP and David Cameron was floating the idea of an EU referendum to quiet the unruly within the party and to stop wavering voters from switching to UKIP. The EU referendum bill was actually introduced to the UK parliament in October 2014, just over a month after the Scottish referendum. It passed its first hurdle then floundered, before David Cameron included it as a manifesto pledge for the May 2015 election, and it was confirmed as going ahead later that month.
So in the pre-Indyref campaign the possibility of an EU referendum was certainly there, but it was being played down in Scotland by the Tories, Labour and the Lib-Dems, with all three campaigning on the same message: voting Yes was a sure fire way of taking Scotland OUT of Europe.

At the Labour Party (Scotland Branch) conference in March 2014, Margaret Curran made a conference speech in which she said:
“Because Alex Salmond knows Scots don’t really want independence.
What they want is a Labour Prime Minister and a Labour Government.
And rest assured, Conference, Alex Salmond know that his biggest threat is Ed Miliband is throwing David Cameron out of number 10.”

While the main thrust of the No campaign was squarely behind the Project Fear approach the one positive aspect that they did try to sell was a tenuous house of cards. If any one aspect was removed it all fell apart. Everything hinged on No winning, then hapless Ed Miliband winning the general election, so that there would be no EU referendum. Even the dog’s in the street could see that Ed was the weakest link in that chain, yet he was talked up by Labour as the best of both world’s. And still no one was willing to admit what anyone with any sense could see: that he was a short term solution to a long term problem, and that even had he by some miracle won that the Tories at some point would be back, vindictive as ever. The plan fell at the second hurdle and left Scotland facing another Tory government.
As we saw afterwards, once Scotland was secured within the union, focus returned to Europe. The Conservatives, ran their campaign with two major themes; that they would deliver a referendum on EU membership (which Cameron fully expected to win) and that Ed Miliband would be a puppet Prime Minister worked from the back by Alex Salmond. Having told Scotland it would be a valued and equal partner, within months Scotland was the enemy within, and while Labour tried to blame their loss of seats to the SNP for their defeat, simple mathematics showed that Labour had been roundly defeated by over a hundred seats and even had they retained their Scottish seats would still be languishing effectively a million miles behind the Tories.
Having brought in English Votes for English Laws which stripped Scottish MP’s of some voting rights the UK parliament has now moved to reduce Scottish MP’s by scrapping 6 seats. With a now tried and proven system in place for the election in the form of whipping up anti-Scottish sentiment and insinuating that Labour will (if they remain as one party) enter coalition with the SNP to deny the English electorate their rightful government, we have a recipe for Tory government in Scotland for years to come. So if there’s a way out of Brexit and from another lost generation of Tory rule, I’d grab it. Margaret Curran might think otherwise though…

 

Edited to add: Murdo Fraser caught red handed trying the same line with Andrew Neil today…

Davidson plays down Tory chances
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/03/calls-to-postpone-uk-general-election-scots-independence
Tories commit to EU Ref
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15390884

http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/blog/entry/speech-to-scottish-labour-conference-by-margaret-curran-mp#sthash.89QQqAx2.dpuf

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Cap In Hand

Letter To The Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, 11/10/15

Airdrie and coatbridge Advertiser, 07/10/15

Airdrie and coatbridge Advertiser, 07/10/15

Dear Sir, 

If I say something which is patently false over and over does that make it true? This seems to be Anti-Scottish Labours latest tactic, and seems to be working as well as the previous ones, and by that I mean it can easily be disproved by any reasonably intelligent adult within a few minutes.

Ursula Craigs letter in last weeks Advertiser made the claim that because the current Scottish Government had a £350 Million budgetary underspend in the last financial year they are somehow withholding money from areas where it is needed to exaggerate the effects of austerity so that Westminster can be blamed. One of the problems in trying to run a country which voted not to stand on its own two feet in the world is that finances are “pooled and shared” and without real tax raising powers there’s little that can be done to change things. Our wealth goes south to Westminster and we get a bit of it (not all of it mind) back to spend as we see fit. 

Imagine if you will that the Scottish Government managed to budget right down to the last penny. What reserves would it have to deal with emergencies? Where would the money come from if there is an exceptionally severe winter and the country grinds to a halt because the grit has run out and there is no cash to procure more? Where would the cash come from if there was a medical emergency which required the purchase of a huge amount of vaccine? Where would the money come from if Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems teamed up to force through a major construction project in our capital city, only to mismanage it to such an extent it needed someone to bail it out? Would people be happy if the Scottish Government had to go cap in hand to Westminster saying “We’ve spent our allowance, please Sir, can we have some more?” Because that is exactly what would happen if every last penny was spent. The Scottish Government, no matter which party controls it, cannot borrow money as other countries do. It cannot create or raise taxes as other countries do. It can simply cut and reallocate its pocket money. 

In it’s time in power Labour managed to create a peak budgetary underspend of around £718 million pounds; that’s over twice the amount of cash that the SNP have in reserve. In fact a smaller underspend indicates that the SNP Scottish Government are squeezing more out of the budget and making sure that more money makes its way to where it is needed than the previous Labour dominated administrations did. Which is why it’s a bit rich to see so called political heavyweights like Jackie Baillie talking mince on this subject to any media outlet which will carry her words. This is the same Jackie Baillie who complained that the Scottish Government would have no money for emergencies “in case Orkney sank”. Only last year was she herself reported to have claimed a whole fifth of the total annual expenses of all other MSPs COMBINED for food and drink for hosting meetings. It would perhaps be more fitting if Ms Baillie stopped talking Scotland down and at the same time reined in her own out of control spending. She campaigned for a pocket money parliament, it’s time she started pulling her weight to make it work. 

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

07/04/15 The Scotch Are Coming!

The i 

Dear Sir, 

I am not a regular reader of your, or for that matter any other national print newspaper, so I am unsure if the views expressed on Monday by the likes of Messrs Terry Jowle and Rod Williams are run of the mill viewpoints or not. To me they epitomised some of the swivel-eyed anti-Scottish hatred I have been hearing on television and radio and I would be horrified if these were widely held views. I found Mr Williams comments particularly disturbing. The Scottish electorate, having come through a two year referendum on independence, is far more factually aware than many people south of the border would give credit for, and it would appear far more aware politically than much of the English electorate as well. We know fine well that with the vast majority of the electorate in England vote Conservative, Britain will have a Conservative government. Likewise if the vast majority of England votes Labour we will have a Labour government. The Scottish vote has seldom changed the balance (once in the last 69 years if I recall correctly) and in the past when Scotland has continually voted Labour many Scots felt they had made a difference when Labour had won, when in reality their vote made no real difference. They were simply in step with the English electorate. This year is no different. We will still get the government England votes for. That some people seem to believe that a handful of Scottish constituencies will bring England to its knees and drag it off to the left is fanciful in the extreme, and indeed in Mr Williams case verges on the panic inducing. All that was missing from his letter was the references to rivers of blood. As a Scot, I find it highly ironic that some English voters are now up in arms at the thought of MP s from another country possibly holding sway over theirs. That has been the situation here in Scotland for over 300 years. Not nice, is it?

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy

Pamela Nash, Nukes and Gender Inequality (Advertiser 27/01/15)

 An edited verion of this letter appeared in the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

Was I alone in spotting the delicious irony displayed in last weeks Advertiser, where on one half of the page Labour MP Pamela Nash was bemoaning the plight of women across the UK suffering due to the gender pay gap, while on the other half of the page it detailed how Labour run North Lanarkshire Council was dodging its responsibilities and trying to diddle women out of money they were due as they had been paying them less than men? Labour MPs and MSPs are on a daily basis appearing to be a parody of the well known Iraqi Gulf War Information Minister Comical Ali, who was well known for making statements completely at odds with facts. Take Pamela Nash (someone PLEASE take Pamela Nash!) for example. Stuck on transmit, she never responds to questions from difficult constituents and has actually closed off the facility to comment from her website. She has in the past claimed that she voted against the bedroom tax (she was in Austria at the time), that she has voted against the Tories austerity (she voted for it) and that she has voted against fracking (she abstained). I honestly am starting to feel embarrassed for her. Every time she takes to social media the public are shooting down her claims within minutes. I’m just waiting for her to state that “there are no claims of impropriety between North Lanarkshire Council and Mears…”

These pronouncements pale into insignificance when you read her website where she has made a statement regarding why she has done her bit to rid the world of nuclear weapons by voting to buy more. Her conscience, last seen many years ago heading off in the opposite direction, would not let her leave the people of Airdrie and Shotts at the mercy of the Russians and the North Koreans. I wasn’t aware that Vladimir Putin had his eyes on Airdrie. Perhaps he’s after the football stadium, while Kim Jong Un is after the John Smith Pool. It certainly can’t be for our heavy industry, our manufacturing base or our rich mineral wealth. As any old military hand can tell you, the threat comes from capability combined with intention. Russia has capability, but no intention. North Korea perhaps has intention, but no capability. Ms Nash is selling us a lie based on the creation of a climate of fear. The retention, and indeed renewal of the UK’s nuclear arsenal is intended to keep the UK at the top table internationally, nothing else. This was at the heart of the Better Together ideal, a nuclear capable UK strutting on the world political stage. If continued austerity is the price they have to pay, then they will happily pay it. And by “they” I mean “us”. Any thoughts of the SNP propping up a Labour government in exchange for their scrapping of Trident can therefore be put to bed now, as I have no doubt that the Labour Party would see a coalition with the Tories a more acceptable venture. Pamela Nash and her colleagues will tell you that they are aiming to win a majority government. I could tell you that I will be crowned Mr Universe. Truth is, neither of them will happen, and the latter looks more feasible. We have a simple choice in May. Vote Labour and get an opposition who repeatedly fail to oppose, or vote SNP and get an opposition who will be speaking up for us at every turn. As for me, I’d best get to work on my abs… 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy,

 

Tom Clarke MP, Oil Fund and Election 2015 (Advertiser 11/01/15)

Letter to the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser:

Dear Sir,

The glee which Tom Clarke revels in over the latest oil prices was barely concealed in his column in last weeks Advertiser. By his estimate around 35,000 jobs are now under threat of being lost. Yet these are 35,000 jobs which we were told by the likes of Mr Clarke and by his cronies in the Tory Party that would be safer under the “broad shoulders” of the UK. Well here we are, apparently not so Better Together. The crisis is here and those broad shoulders are shrugging and saying it is up to the SNP to come with a solution.

What is even more sickening is when the likes of Labour’s Jackie Baillie try to make capital out of this by demanding that the SNP set up a resilience fund to help cope for times when the oil price slumps. Ms Baillie has spent much of the last two years campaigning against an oil fund. Indeed a mere five months ago she on behalf of the Labour Party was stating that creating such a fund would strip money from essential public services. This clearly demonstrates that the problem with telling lies is that you have to remember which lies you have told, otherwise you end up contradicting yourself.

Since the 1970’s successive Labour and Tory governments have refused to set up any such fund, so why call for one now? The 1974 McCrone Report which was also covered up by successive Labour and Tory governments recommended setting up an oil fund, so again I wonder, why call for one now, and why call for one from a government which doesn’t actually control that revenue stream? The answer is simple. On May 7th Mr Clarke and all his colleagues are facing annihilation at the polls. Labours actual membership figures are so low that they will not release them while the SNP are now the 3rd largest party in the UK. You can almost smell the fear from Mr Clarke and his colleagues because this is a horror movie scenario for them. One by one they wait to be picked off, not knowing who is safe and who is next for the chop, so they run around wildly, panicking and shouting nonsense.

Mr Clarke’s last statement in his column was that the Scottish people aren’t daft. He’s right in that respect. We aren’t daft enough to fall for the flip-flopping lies that the Red Tories are throwing around, we aren’t daft enough to believe that voting Labour will keep the Tories out (which it didn’t in 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992 or 2010) and we won’t be daft enough to vote Labour on May 7th.  

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy,