Tag Archives: Craig Murray

Bullying within the SNP: An Open Letter to Nicola Sturgeon

Freedom of expression: not welcome within the SNP?

Freedom of expression: not welcome within the SNP?

I have tried to raise the issue of irregularities in the Westminster selection process with the SNP at every level. Not only do they refuse to act, but they refuse to even acknowledge concerns. My complaints have led to the circumstances detailed below, and as no one within the SNP will even acknowledge letters I feel I have no option but to issue a public open letter to the leader of the SNP Nicola Sturgeon. A copy of this has been emailed directly to her and various other members of the SNP executive.

Dear Nicola, 

I voted in my first election in 1988, I voted SNP in that election and have voted SNP in every election until 2015. Based on what I have seen over the last 11 months or so I seriously doubt that I ever will again. 

In September 2014 following the Yes campaign, in which I played an active part, like many others I joined the SNP. I began attending branch meetings in Airdrie. Late in 2014 it was announced that the selection process would be opening to select candidates for the Westminster elections. I had heard that Neil Gray, the assistant to Alex Neil was to be nominated which I thought to be a poor choice, considering that for the previous four years I had heavily criticised the Labour Party for choosing Pamela Nash, the former assistant to John Reid, as their candidate. The referendum had thrown up many fantastically motivated individuals, and I hoped to support fresh talent with real life experience, not someone who came from within the political bubble. 

Initially there were four potential candidates and these were soon whittled down to two. One candidate, Craig Murray, failed vetting in a manner which I’m sure you are aware of, given its media coverage. My friend Steve Bell’s application on the other hand was refused due to two names on his nomination form who apparently had failed to renew their membership. Despite me personally submitting his nomination form to the branch secretary 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. This was the first in a series of shameful acts carried out by the party.

Two candidates remained: Neil Gray and Tommy Montgomery. As I had nominated Tommy Montgomery and was part of his team of supporters I paid close scrutiny to the electoral rules, as having seen another two candidates scrapped we did not want to give any cause for complaint. I noticed that there had been breaches of these rules in regards to electoral material issued on behalf on Neil Gray which in my opinion warranted severe action, and I raised this at the first hustings. Neil Gray dismissed this as “tittle-tattle”.

Within days of that event, Tommy Montgomery had been called to SNP HQ in Edinburgh to answer a string of false and malicious allegations.

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. Independent investigations by North Lanarkshire Council and Police Scotland cleared Tommy of all of the trumped up charges put against him. Following this I had a one to one meeting at SNP HQ with Scott Martin, to whom I relayed all my concerns. This meeting occurred only after repeated phone-calls which went unanswered and emails which were never replied to. I had to resort to going to SNP HQ in Edinburgh and waiting until someone would see me. Despite pointing out that making malicious allegations against another member breached the SNP code of conduct, no disciplinary action was taken against any individual. 

Around two weeks after the first hustings, at 0230hrs on 22nd January 2015 my wife and I were woken by banging on our door. I went downstairs to find my car ablaze and had to evacuate the family from the house due to the closeness of the car to the house. Police and Fire crew attended. My car, only a few months old, was completely written off. Had it been a only a few feet closer to our house it is probable that our house would have been destroyed with it, with us asleep inside.

 In February 2015 I attended a branch meeting of the Airdrie SNP at Airdrie Football ground which could only be described as a ‘kangaroo court’ where it was made clear to Councillor Alan 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. I left the SNP immediately after that meeting, sickened by what had gone on. Subsequently letters were sent to virtually everyone who had supported and campaigned for Tommy Montgomery barring them from future membership, apart from myself which I found unusual.

In June I sent a letter which was critical of the SNP to the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser and it was published in the paper on Wednesday. On the Friday of that week my wife and daughter noticed someone dressed in black hanging around outside and peering in the windows. When they were noticed they ran off, and this was reported to the police. Two nights later while getting ready for bed there was a knock at the door, and my 11 year old daughter said that there were two guys with hoods up and that she was frightened. We shouted down asking who was there and one of the guys opened the door and shouted “Is that James? Is that James?” I told him that I thought that he had the wrong house and he said “Take this as a warning, stop slandering XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX. They then ran off. I got dressed and ran out to give chase but they had gone, we called the police and gave them all the details. In the following few days I received nuisance calls, all from withheld numbers, asking the same thing as the man who had entered our house: “Is that James? Is that James?” before hanging up. 

A few days later Councillor Beveridge arranged a meeting with someone from Police Scotland. I detailed my concerns and stated that it was our belief that these attacks were in relation to comments made about the SNP locally. He suggested that if I stopped writing about such matters and the attacks stopped this would perhaps indicate that our suspicions were correct. Following this the calls stopped and there were no further attacks on myself, my family or my house. 

On 19th August 2015 my step daughter Maxine and my wife had a discussion with an SNP Councillor where they spoke of their concerns about the attacks on our car and the threats made against us. A few days later the Police visited our home to speak to my step-daughter in regard to an allegation of using threatening behaviour to the SNP councillor. After speaking to my wife and step-daughter the police stated that there was no evidence of any such behaviour. I am disgusted that the already overstretched resources of the police are now being used against us, and yet no action can be taken regarding these false claims.

On  24th August, I submitted a request to the SNP Data Protection Officer to carry out an investigation into how my address was passed to the Police. This was personally delivered to SNP HQ in Edinburgh, along with a copy addressed to you, and these were signed for by Beverley Murray. As of this date I have received no acknowledgement. Par for the course as I have come to learn. 

I believe that no organisation is perfect, and every organisation has its share of bad apples. I also believe that an acknowledgement of what has been done wrong must be carried out if you are to correct an error and find the right path. But in North Lanarkshire SNP this is simply impossible. Open discussion is labelled as dissent, subversion or infiltration by supporters of Tommy Sheridan. People are threatened with secret files and photographs, and legitimate complaints are ignored at every level. I know this, as I have copied every possible senior SNP member into my emails and seen no action taken.

On a personal level every time I have publicly criticised the goings on within the SNP in North Lanarkshire my property has been attacked or I have been threatened, and these past months to stop any further attacks I have remained silent, but I cannot remain silent any longer. My family and I have been living in fear for the last 9 months and it is our opinion that there are individuals within the SNP who are misguided in their attempts to silence opposition. I do not know who these individuals are. I doubt you know either, but I am asking that you please issue a statement condemning any such action and asking these misguided people that we be left in peace without the constant fear of attack hanging over us. 

Regards, 

Jim Cassidy

The price of speaking out within the SNP?

The price of speaking out within the SNP?

YH64GGY (2)

The REAL Project Fear: Courtesy of the SNP?

The REAL Project Fear: Courtesy of the SNP?

YH64GGY (7)

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. 

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