Tag Archives: Green Party

Airdrie and Shotts Result 2019- The Outcome

From Sky NewsThe night of the 12th December into the 13th was a long and eventful one. As I was following the Scottish coverage I missed just how many big names went in our southern neighbours electoral battlefields. It was a night of big surprises, but in other ways delivered just what I expected.

What I expected was a Tory majority and that was exactly what the outcome was. Boris Johnson’s “Get Brexit Done” message was simple and repetitive and no attention was paid by many to the devil in the detail.

Corbynism is now dead and gone and we can “look forward” to another two or three Conservative governments before we get any kind of reprieve. Anyone who still believes that another Labour government is just round the corner really does need their head examined.

The SNP did exceptionally well in Scotland, better than I had expected to be honest. I was delighted to see Jo Swinson gone, and it will be interesting to see how much money the Lib-Dems threw at that seat.

Locally the SNP also did better than I expected. In Coatbridge Hugh “Two-Jobs” Gaffney became merely Hugh Gaffney as Stevie Bonnar took the seat back for the SNP, despite the ongoing infighting in the branch. In Airdrie the SNP’s Neil Gray saw off the challenge of Helen McFarlane of the Labour Party, and did so comfortably. Early in the campaign I had stated that the SNP lost around 10,00 votes between 2015-2017 and this was partially due to their failure to motivate those who had previously supported them to get out and vote.  That’s not a mistake that was repeated this time, with Nicola Sturgeon making a number of high profile references to Indyref 2020. This wasn’t really repeated in local leafleting though and I thought this may be a weakness. It wasn’t perceived as such.

There was also much effort on social media at organising and directing tactical voting. Former Labour MP and now Scotland in Union Chief Executive Pamela Nash was the main proponent of this with her Tactical Voting Advisor being used to advise British Nationalists which way to vote. Such was the volume of chatter that I saw it as likely that if the SNP failed to enthuse it’s lapsed support then the Labour Party would be the beneficiary of those who had stated they were going to “hold their nose and vote Labour (in reference to Jeremy Corbyn’s alleged IRA support).  So what happened?

Firstly, let’s look at turnout. In 2017 Airdrie and Shotts had 64,146 registered voters. In 2019 that had DROPPED to 64,008! That’s not much, but you would expect the registered electorate to rise, not fall. In the great scheme of things it’s not much, but then again it’s not far off Neil Gray’s majority in 2017. Of those registered 39,772 voted in 2019, up on 2017’s 38,002. So, with an extra 1770 voters turning out, how were those votes carved up?

The SNP increased their vote by 3,638.

Labour lost 1,368 votes overall.

The Tories lost 1,802 votes.

The Lib-Dems increased their vote by 617.

The Greens took 685 votes (didn’t stand previously).

Given that it’s unlikely that voters would switch from pro-Indy/Anti-Brexit SNP to anti-Indy/anti-Brexit Lib-Dems, we might see much of the Lib-Dem increase coming from Labour/Tory voters who were against Brexit.

We can probably put much of the remaining Tory loss down to tactical voting for Labour, and this could mean around 1,500 votes went to what they viewed rightly as the SNP’s main challenger.

Which begs the question: what happened to the Labour vote? If we assume that around 1,500 votes were lent by the Tories, then Labour retained around 11,200 votes from 2015, dropping almost 2,900 votes somewhere along the way.  Were those voters simply not energised by Jeremy Corbyn this time round? Did they stay at home and not bother voting at all? Or did they switch to the SNP and Greens? Those are questions which Labour will no doubt be asking, but which the SNP must also ask too. Because they need to know whether their rise in this election came from lapsed supporters or people who switched from their constitutional opponents, and if it’s the latter, have they changed their mind on the constitutional question?

As for Labour, they need to ask the same question and decide where their future lies. At the head of the party is a wounded leadership still resolved to backing the union, but how much of the remaining rank and file are now open to independence?

And what of my predictions? I saw the British Nationalist tactical voting coming and had turnout followed similar lines at 2017 Labour would have comfortably taken the seat. What I didn’t see was the total collapse of the Labour vote which rendered the tactical voting null and void. Time will tell whether they rebuild to former levels or not. I wouldn’t put money on it though.

Orange Order Supporters to Vote For “Pro-IRA” Corbyn Party

The Silent Majority

In the 2010 and 2015 Westminster elections the Tories in Airdrie consistently polled around 7 or 8% of the vote, somewhere in the region of 3,200 votes. If there was one thing that Ruth Davidson did well, it was to identify her market. Right wing, traditionalist, pro-military British Nationalists. Step forward the Orange Order.  ‘Colonel’ Davidson appealed to them and motivated them to rally to the Tories, a move which saw the Tory vote in Airdrie almost treble in 2017 and saw their candidate take almost 9,000 votes. So successful was this tactic that it took voters from the Labour Party and saw Neil Gray of the SNP take the seat with a majority of only 195. It did not go unnoticed among them that had they stayed with Labour they would have unseated the SNP candidate. They haven’t had long to wait and that lesson is still fresh in their memory.

Current BritNat Tactical Voting Guide for Airdrie

Well organised and secretive with an extensive network of contacts, the above image and others like it are now being aggressively shared on social media and the Loyalists are being asked to be a bit less, well, loyal. It’s being accompanied by sentiment such as “hold your nose and vote Labour” because having spent years convincing themselves that Jeremy Corbyn is an IRA supported they now find themselves having to back him to oust the SNP. If successful it could see potentially thousands of votes switch from the Tories to Labour and could hand the seat to them, and is likely to be successfil given that the head of the Orange Order in Scotland is a Labour councillor in Airdrie.

Neil Gray’s only chance of retaining the seat now lies in the hands of the people who he failed to motivate last time, almost 10,000 voters who simply dropped away over a period of two years for reasons unknown. Outspent and outgunned by Labour last time in terms of manpower, things have not improved greatly and the restrictive nature of the campaign will not help. At present he has failed to meet his very low crowdfunding target which does not bode well as this campaign is all about leafleting and social media advertising. Without activists parties rely on paid for mailshots delivered by Royal Mail, not a problem to dark money Tories and Union funded Labour, but a real issue to an MP who can draw on neither of those. As an MP with a significant salary you might think that a fair chunk of that would be tucked away for such occasions. All will be revealed after the election, but in all likelihood Labour will again come out on top of the spending chart, followed by the SNP, with the Tories third and Lib-Dems and Greens at the coo’s tail. With the Lib-Dems spending a massive £88 last time (yes, really- £88!) the Greens should manage to outspend them at least, even though both are likely to lose their deposits.

Airdrie & Shotts Westminster Candidates 2019 – What Now?

The full list of candidates have been announced for the Airdrie & Shotts constituency, and these are:

William Peter Maurice Crossman – Scottish Lib Dems

Neil Charles Gray – SNP

Helen Margaret McFarlane – Scottish Labour

Rosemary McGowan – Scottish Green Party

Lorraine Nolan – Scottish Conservative

We are through the looking glass in many respects. I’ve spoken to people who normally vote pro-independence / SNP who say they don’t know who to vote for, with some people considering voting Lib-Dem. The anti-Brexit vote will have a choice of three of the above, or four depending how they perceive Labour’s stance on any given day. This does mean that if the Tories play strongly on delivering Brexit they could well take a significant amount of voters who would not otherwise be disposed towards them.

This is a reverse of the usual Scottish situation where the Better Together parties are all fishing in the same barrel, but they would still need to increase their vote by around 100% of their last tally in 2017 to have any chance of taking the seat.

Writing off  the Tories still leaves things too close to call with the Lib Dems possibly taking soft SNP and Labour voters, but again still not enough to take the seat. This is an election which the Greens could comfortably have sat out. but they have taken the decision to stand, and Patrick Harvie has said that that these decisions would be taken locally. Given the rather small membership of the Scottish Greens then that decision will likely have been driven by the candidate Rosemary McGowan, and if her participation draws votes from the SNP and is perceived to have lost them the seat then it won’t bode well for the Holyrood elections, and may be a costly vanity project which raises the candidates profile in the short term and damages it in the long term.

I’ve seen no local electoral material yet and as far as I’m aware no hustings will be taking place, so we haven’t exactly reached fever pitch. Locally the SNP dropped around 10,000 votes from 2015 to 2017 and that was primarily down to failure to motivate their core support. Perhaps this was down to the downplaying of independence during the campaign, or maybe this was down to their voters having seen their previous mountainous majorities and assuming that their votes weren’t that important. That mistake could be about to be replayed with the media already shouting that the SNP are likely to oust all of Scotland’s Tories. There’s a hubristic sense of ‘job done’ being displayed which could well be Kinnockian in scope, and if so that will be incredibly damaging.

As it stands it’s still too close to call though, and that’s the message that the SNP will have to shout from the rooftops if they are to entertain their hopes of giving the unionist parties the bloody nose they hope to inflict; otherwise they may find their aim is off and they are left punch drunk on the canvas, wondering what hit them.

A New Green Deal? More like No Deal With The Greens…

Ross Greer, talking about The National

In Wales a “Remain Alliance” of Plaid Cymru, the Lib-Dems and the Greens have agreed to stand aside in various constituencies to allow them to maximise the chances of electing anti-Brexit candidates. In Scotland there will be no such alliance and the Green Party and the SNP will be going head to head in the fight for the pro-independence many constituences, some of which are already sitting on a razor thin majority.

It was the Greens standing in Edinburgh which split the pro-independence vote there and allowed Ruth Davidson to sneak up from list MSP to constituency MSP, a propaganda win that the Tories celebrated heartily. The Scottish Greens are unlikely to win any seats in this election so their taking part must be viewed as a vanity project in the main, and it is a vanity which looks as though it will cost them in the long term. Many of the smaller parties stand aside in the Westminster elections and there’s no shame in doing so. In fact for the Greens there would be a positive advantage to standing aside, if they have an eye on future Holyrood and council elections, as many SNP voters would possibly be more likely to give them their second vote. However, those same voters will be watching the seats the Greens stand in and should the SNP lose those seats by a small margin then they are likely to punish the Greens accordingly in future elections. Those voters have already watched as the Greens helped the British Nationalists remove the OBFA legislation and they’ve listened as MSP Ross Greer has described them as “zoomers”; watching them help deliver Westminster seats into the hands of the unionists would probably be the last straw and would in all likelihood see their future Holyrood hopes dashed.

The Green Party is the soft underbelly of the Independence movement in Scotland, and would probably be the easiest turned away from independence. As a smaller party if a committed number of people join who see green issues as more of a priority than independence or if a significant number of pro British Nationalist people joining up and steer the party away from independence to a neutral or pro-UK position then you will quickly find that their support disappears. Perhaps that has already occurred at the branch level and just hasn’t had time to filter through to the leadership yet.
With the Greens determined on standing they have instead left it up to the electorate to decide, and now it will be up to pro independence voters to use their own good judgement to decide whether to vote along party lines or to vote tactically in the forthcoming election and I fear that the Greens will be left regretting their decision to stand in an contest they could easily have sat out.

Ruth Davidson: A New Hope…

Tank Girl

Watching the news and analysis of Thursday’s election coming it would be easy to think that Ruth Davidson of the Ruth Davidson Novelty Photo-shoots and Fun (No, we aren’t Tories, honest!) Party had won a resounding victory over the SNP, and that that Scotland was back in the unionist fold. There’s only so much I can take from the BBC, luckily Russia Today reassured me that Ms Davidson’s party hadn’t actually won, and that the world was still spinning on it’s axis as before. What did happen was that the Unionist vote shifted within itself, with one faction merely taking votes from another faction. Hardly sensational stuff, and to be honest everyone but Kezia Dugdale saw it coming. Labour have now been punished by both sides of the electorate for their treachery; by Yes voters for siding with the Tories, and by unionists angry that she wobbled in her unionism by appearing to allow a free vote in a future referendum. On close analysis the unionist FPTP vote is pitiful. Of 73 FPTP constituencies the Tories won only 7, the Lib-Dems 4 and the Labour Party an embarrassing 3. Hardly a ringing endorsement of the union, is it?
Ruth Davidson is the new poster girl of the Unionist media, be it in print, television or indeed on BBC Radio Scotland, where Kaye Adams accidentally stated that “we’re up 8 point…” before remembering where she was and correcting herself by saying that the Conservatives were up 8.1%. Tank Girl, with the aid of her chums in the media, will call on Nicola Sturgeon to forever rule out another referendum, a call she will repeat every week, day and hour for the next five years. Davidson realised that there are people who value the union flag more than social justice, more than equality, more than the NHS, more than the welfare state, and who will endorse the Tories wholeheartedly to protect the union. Never mind the policies, look at the pretty flag. For many voters Thatcher is someone from the history books, and they do not share most right thinking Scots contempt of the woman and her policies. When Margaret Curran was asked if she would prefer a Tory run Scotland to an independent one she squirmed and twisted and struggled to answer. With the death of the Scottish branch of the Labour Party she may one day have the chance to see that scenario in action.
But to spend so much time talking about the unionist situation means that we ignore the failings or successes of the Yes side, if we can still refer to them in such a manner. While most of the Yes support has gone to the SNP, those supporters must remember where they came from. Tribalism within Yes will keep us down and divided, and we must get smarter if we are to have a Yes parliament, not simply an SNP dominated one. Reaffirmation of the Yes movement is needed and agreements should be made for the mutual benefit of the independence movement. Clearly the decision by the Greens to stand against Ruth Davidson cost the SNP that seat and allowed Davidson to claim victory as an endorsed constituency candidate. In some areas such as Glasgow or Central Scotland where polling showed it very likely that the SNP would sweep the board an official SNP 1, Green 2 campaign would have had a significant effect on reducing the unionist bloc. This would mean the Greens would have to agree not to stand in the constituencies and the SNP agreeing not standing on the list. Of course where this falls down is that this would mean some people putting the good of the cause of independence before their personal ambitions.
As for the minority parties such as Solidarity and Rise, I think that we need to accept that for now they are a diversion and despite some of their fine ideals are not a realistic proposal for the pro Indy voter on the national stage. Over exposure in the National and to some extent The Herald skewed the perception of RISE, and if the don’t completely fall then perhaps the council elections next year may be a more realistic platform for them, where they can help deliver real benefits at a local level.

Post Referendum Letters: 22/12/14

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

Last week I wrote to the Advertiser trying to raise awareness of the issue of fracking, and I pointed out that sitting Labour MP Pamela Nash had failed to vote against the Infrastructure Bill which gave companies the right to frack under other peoples land without their permission. Ms Nash used her own Advertiser column to defend herself, claiming she had voted against it. In the real world Ms Nash voted not to allow the final part of the bill to be read, and her vote failed. The motion was then read and voted on, whereby she and every one of her Labour colleagues failed to register a vote of any kind. That is a matter of public record. Voting against a bit of a bill is not the same as voting against all of it.

Following publication of my letter I started a public petition put in place a ban on fracking within 2km of any inhabited dwelling . In addition to taking to the streets for public support I also emailed every councillor in North Lanarkshire to support my petition and to ask them to actively oppose any fracking application in the Airdrie and Coatbridge area. A few days later I learned that on 18th December there were two motions going before North Lanarkshire Council calling for a moratorium on fracking in North Lanarkshire.

Rather than commit to a ban on fracking in North Lanarkshire, the Labour Party united against the Greens, SNP and independent councillors, and instead voted to call on the Scottish Parliament to ban fracking instead. They voted for something they have no power over. North Lanarkshire Council had the chance to protect the people in this area and send out a message to other local authorities and to the Scottish Government. Instead it played politics and passed the hot potato back up to Holyrood. Jim Murphy, the new branch leader in Scotland has repeatedly called for more power to be devolved down to the councils, yet North Lanarkshire Labour are trying to devolve it back up. What do we pay them for exactly?

After the vote I was contacted by Labour Councillor Barry McCulloch in a reply to the email I had sent to all councillors. He wrote that “NLC decided on a moratorium on unconventional gas extraction at its meeting yesterday and called on the Scottish Government to do likewise. I made a contribution to the debate and made my opposition to fracking clear to the meeting.” This is an amazing email to have sent out, as it is patently untrue. NLC did NOT implement a moratorium on fracking yet I have a NLC councillor stating otherwise. As yet he has not replied to my email requesting clarification of this. There seems to be a culture embedded in the Labour Party that on contentious subjects you can make statements completely at odds with the record.

I also wrote to our elected representatives in Airdrie, Alex Neil MSP and Pamela Nash MP asking for their support in the petition. Alex Neil of the SNP replied that as Planning Minister he is not allowed to sign any petitions of this nature. As yet I have received no reply from Labour’s Pamela Nash. There are times when political differences must be put aside for the common good. The Labour Party’s unwillingness to support the SNP on any matter is putting our health and safety at risk here and now. It is time they picked up the teddy bear they threw in the corner when they lost Holyrood, grew up and started acting like the mature politicians they claim to be. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy


Post Referendum Letters: 25/10/14 (The Great Outdoors)

Dear TGO,

I was almost open mouthed as I read Roger Smith’s viewpoint in the November issue of TGO. Roger stated that the referendum result was the best option as Scotland would have been out of the EU for 5 years and revenue streams would have been lost. I cannot disagree more. For starters the figure of 5 years has been plucked from thin air. Why not say 15 years and make it a complete whopper? What is a fact is that Scotland is a member of the EU, and had 18 months in which to negotiate membership to an organisation of which it is already a member and already compliant. Another fact that was ignored is that the EU has no means to remove EU citizenship from its citizens. It bust a gut to ensure that the bankrupt Greek economy was retained, the idea that it would throw an energy and resource rich Scotland out is laughable. The real threat to continued EU membership is now looming on the horizon, with an in/out EU referendum and a possible Blue Tory/UKIP alliance. What is possible is not a mere blip in funding, but a complete end to it. In any case the point is now moot and a distraction from what is to come.

Roger is mistaken when he states the environment was rarely mentioned. Perhaps in the mainstream media it wasn’t, but at the public meetings I attended it certainly was. The Yes campaign was consistent in its message of wanting a cleaner, greener, nuclear free Scotland. This may be one reason why the Green Party in Scotland have seen their membership rise by over 4000 since the referendum.

I personally am no fan of windfarms and the industrialisation of our wild places, and Roger is correct when he says that the SNP’s record in this area is far from impressive. The present Scottish Government were however being pushed in the right direction, and while the overall battle against onshore windfarms has been lost, there have been successes, and the Scottish Wild Land Core Map was one. How successful this will be remains to be seen, but this will become apparent soon enough. While having a pop at the SNP, Roger fails to address the other parties and their intentions. The Tories and the Lib-Dems both support “respectful fracking”, the Lib Dems and Labour support more wind turbines, and the Conservatives are vowing to scrap onshore windfarms in future while supporting them today. It seems to me that the alternatives are more of the same, or slightly worse. There is no radical alternative out there, unless of course you consider UKIP, and they are radical in all the wrong areas.

Roger also asserts that the Scottish Government is set to receive more powers, while in the same issue of TGO he writes about the problems and benefits of fracking. Roger should know then that in December 2013 the unelected House of Lords voted to remove the Scottish Parliament’s powers over renewables by way of amendment 54 to the Energy Act 2013. This gave the UK Government a free hand to completely bypass the Scottish Government. Ten months later and there also seems to be a free for all on licences for fracking, something the Scottish Government was categorically against. Even national parks have not been kept off the target list. Westminster has stuck two fingers up to the people of Scotland, and said that if our legislation is a stumbling block to the UK national policy then they shall scrap it. “The Lords giveth and the Lords taketh away” would sum up the powers we may receive.

Scotland’s natural resources should be in Scotland’s hands, and I doubt very much if the new powers Roger speaks of will come anywhere near fulfilling his wish list, as they seem to be more about backtracking than backpacking. In any case they may be overtaken by the Westminster elections next year. One thing is for certain, there will be no conclusion anytime soon. 


James Cassidy