Tag Archives: Labour Party

Rail Fare Rises

Letter published in The National, 07/01/18

Last Wednesday I was handed a leaflet by a Labour Party activist at Edinburgh Waverly Station entitled “the Great SNP Train Robbery: An SNP Party Production starring Humza Yousaf- Nicola Sturgeon”. The leaflet stated that:

  1. Rail fares rise again in 2018
  2. Since 2012 rail fares up by 12%
  3. Fares rising faster than wages
  4. The SNP are failing to stand up for millions of passengers

While number 1 is undoubtedly true, there’s no facts to back up point 2 or 3. Furthermore it’s my understanding that although rail franchising is devolved in Scotland, ticket pricing is not, and rises in fares are set by the UK government, not Holyrood.

The leaflet being handed out by the Labour Party was clearly printed in advance to tie in with the implementation of the annual fare changes and tied in with similar sentiment printed in columns by Labour members such as Tom Harris. Richard Leonard has been in the past accused of confusing the responsibilities of the two parliaments, and this is another example of the grey man of Scottish politics operating in the grey areas between London and Edinburgh.

Their propaganda fails to stand up to scrutiny, indeed when I pressed the Labour Party activist who gave me the leaflet on the accuracy of the leaflet he tried to back it by reaching for proof, and produced from his bag a crushed copy of the free Metro newspaper!

Isn’t it time that the Scottish Government raised awareness of who exactly is responsible for what on our rail network? Perhaps if they did Labou could finally be shunted off into a sidings somewhere.

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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!

For the want of a nail…

 

 

 

 

 

 

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

The revelation in last weeks Advertiser that Labour outspent all the other candidates combined for the recent Westminster elections in both Airdrie and Coatbridge raises an interesting question about the funding of political parties. In Airdrie and Coatbridge both Labour candidates represent trade unions, and it’s likely that those unions gave considerable financial backing to them. The same can’t be said for the SNP, the Conservatives or the Lib-Dems. The latter are treated as a major party and they are given airtime on political debates on equal footing with the three other parties, but their combined spend in Airdrie and Coatbridge amounted to an insulting £88! That speaks volumes and tells us that they have a greater desire to appear on the ballot paper than to win, and that in future elections there is little or no point in voting for them.

If I were an SNP member I would be extremely concerned at the paltry £2980 spent by Neil Gray as he saw his majority drop from almost 10,000 to under 200 votes. The last I recall, membership of the Airdrie and Shotts SNP was over 1100, but it appears that between them they were unable to rustle up the equivalent of £3 per member! As the saying goes, for want of a nail the kingdom was lost; Neil Gray’s lack of investment in his re-election very nearly cost him his seat, and as we see, Jeremy Corbyn now has him in his sights as a target for the next election, whenever that may be. It is ironic that had it not been for Ruth Davidson and the Tories using Jeremy Corbyn’s apparent support for the IRA to recruit hard core British Nationalist voters from their Unionist Labour rivals, then Labour would actually have taken Airdrie from the SNP! It will be interesting to see how this affects a future vote.

So far there appears to be no effort at all from Neil Gray to fire up the SNP in Airdrie and Shotts, while Labour already have Jeremy Corbyn lined up to visit Airdrie later this month. The strange thing is that both the Scottish Labour leadership and many of the local Labour party have publicly slated Corbyn and are only supporting him through gritted teeth. It will be worth watching to see which local Labour councillors don’t attend Mr Corbyn’s visit: their absence will speak volumes about just how dedicated they actually are to the policies spouted by their present leader. My guess is, not much.

 

 

2 Weekly Bin Collection: Another North Lanarkshire Labour Promise Broken

Before the council elections in May, Jim Logue, the Labour leader of North Lanarkshire Council, took to social media to state categorically that media reports of plans to reduce waste collection from a two weekly cycle to a three weekly one were categorically untrue, and that if re-elected this would not happen. Full stop.

In fact they said no such proposals had ever been made by THIS Labour administration which is kind of true. It didn’t take them long to dust off those old plans though…

Fast forward two months (and barely a month since the election) and Labour have carried out a u-turn which makes you doubt the honesty of their pre-election promise. Once again there’s the fall back of trying in some way to rope in the Scottish Government, but that’s getting a little tired and it’s time Logue’s labour man up and accept the fact they have made a decision which people are finding extremely unpopular, and which on the face of it is a gross betrayal of the people who recently elected them as the second largest party in North Lanarkshire.

For years Labour made the case that the Council Tax freeze had to end. Then when given the chance, just before the election they decided not to do the very thing which they said was necessary to save jobs and services. It seems to me that North Lanarkshire Labour were willing to make any promise to the electorate to push themselves over the finish line to win the election. In effect they promised anything to protect THEIR seats and are now paying for that by cutting other peoples jobs and public services. I’m sure that Keir Hardie would be proud.

Can Someone Tell Elaine (Not C) Smith: Foreigners ISN’T a Dirty Word…

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Letter to the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, 16th March 2017
Dear Sir,
There has been a lot of xenophobic sentiment displayed over the last few years in England and this has led us to the point where it is highly likely there will be a referendum on whether Scotland wishes to be an independent nation and EU member or a region of Britain outside of Europe. Last week I was unfortunate enough to see a video released by the British Nationalist campaign group Scotland in Union in which former football commentator Archie McPherson stated that he did not want to see Scotland as a normal country which runs its own affairs as this would make friends and family in England “foreigners”. Unlike Archie, I have no fear of “foreigners”. Over the last few years I have been very lucky to travel across Europe, to France and Italy and more recently to Denmark and Sweden and have to admit that we have much to learn from these countries but we also have much to offer in return. The freedom to move and travel across Europe with the same ease as if I were to travel to Glasgow or Inverness is one which I value and do not wish to see thrown away.
In this weeks Advertiser Elaine Smith MSP complained about how our railways are in private hands and that they are now a “cash cow for Dutch state-owned Abellio” and that they are “passing profits abroad”. I fully agree that our railways should be nationalised, but why does Ms Smith draw attention to which country that money will go to? There are numerous privatised Train Operating Companies operating in Scotland, Arriva and Virgin to name two which aren’t foreign owned, yet Ms Smith specifically singles out the one where the privatised profits don’t go into British pockets. Alluding to foreign companies taking “our” money might resonate with some, but not me. If privatisation of public services is wrong then make your case on that basis Elaine. Not by the nationality of the pocket the money ends up in.
Yours Sincerely,
James Cassidy

Letter to The National: When You Are In A Hole, Why Not Ask A Friend To Grab A Shovel…

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Letter to The National (27/02/17)
Dear Sir,
As someone who had tweeted my support to Sadiq Khan when he was enduring racist attitudes in his bid to become Mayor of London, I was utterly sickened by his ignorant attack on supporters of Scottish independence, branding them as no better than racists. He can’t claim to have been misquoted as his office no doubt supplied the text of his speech to the Daily Record in advance. His attempt to play down the row was utterly sickening too, where he stated that he was a proud Brit and a proud Londoner. This was reinforced by the increasingly desperate Kezia Dugdale who tried to play down his xenophobic comments by trying to compare racist hatred with having a different view on political policies. Here’s news for you Kezia: politics is divisive by its very nature. It requires you to pick a side. If you think that division is wrong, and that once defeated you should meekly accept that your opponent was right all along, then what on earth are you still doing in your job? You lost the last election and by your own ill thought out logic should have walked away, or joined the SNP because they won. Instead you are pocketing the cash while twisting this way and that, taking doublethink to previously unheard of levels.
Kezia is one of the worst type of Scot. She is the type who will not only talk Scotland down whenever she can, but will defend anyone outwith Scotland who does likewise, no matter how vile their comments. If she truly stood up for Scotland she would never have allowed Sadiq Khan to be fed such a bile laden script to read, but as it was no doubt created with her approval all it reveals is how much of a British nationalist she really is, and that’s where the doublethink kicks in. Because being a proud Brit is good and that’s where it ends. She’ll accept borders, if they are British borders, she’ll accept division, if it’s British division, and she’ll accept pride in one’s country, so long as that country is Britain. The one thing that she won’t accept is that Scots can take pride in their country, want it do well and have the balls to stand up, be counted and work to make that happen. Just because she and her cronies lack the vision and the self-belief to see that an independent Scotland could thrive doesn’t mean we should succumb to her petty, spirit sapping ideal of a neutered Scotland.
Yours Sincerely,
James Cassidywp-1488306322362.jpg

Letter to The National: Labour Party Doublethink

Letter to The National (23/02/17)

Dear National,

Last weekend The Labour party (Scotland Branch) took to the streets of Airdrie to campaign against the recent rises in council tax which were imposed by the Scottish Government. Labour have been demanding an end to the council tax freeze since the SNP introduced it, except in the immediate run up to elections when they have flip-flopped and supported it just in case it cost them the election. In 2008 they helped to scupper the SNP minority governments Local Income Tax plan; now almost ten years later they are making the SNP’s failure to scrap the council tax a major thrust of their attack for the 2017 council elections, despite being instrumental in ensuring that didn’t happen.

The 2008 defeat for the SNP was a solid one and as we have come to expect, the unionist parties were strongly backed by the press and other media, meaning that any attempt to reintroduce a Local Income Tax would receive a hostile reception. The SNP in an attempt either at testing the waters for change or simply trying to be seen to do something formed the cross-party (sans Conservatives, who declined to contribute) Commission on Local Tax Reform in 2015, which was tasked to explore alternatives to the council tax. Part of their recommendations were to end the present system of council tax and to explore introducing an income based element alongside a property based element, however there were no hard and fast recommendations, and the report acknowledged that each party was liable to have a different answer to the problem. In the meantime, it recommended a transitional approach and acknowledged that a long term solution would not be done overnight. The recent end to the council tax freeze has possibly seen the first move towards that, with the higher rated bands (E-H) seeing rises of between £2 and £10 a week. That’s between 28p and £1.42 a day. Or if you are Labour that can be summarised as a 22% hike which will cost you £517 a year. Because what they are concentrating on is that top figure. Some council tax payers WILL pay an extra 22%, but I’m concerned that this is the only figure they’ll be using. Telling people on the doorstep that their council tax will rise by 28p a day doesn’t make people’s blood boil. Telling them that the Scottish Government is hiking their “council tax” by 22% (or £517) possibly will, even more so when you aren’t ascertaining if they are affected or not. According to Scottish Government statistics from 2011, 1% of householders in Scotland are in Band H homes which are valued (at 1991 rates) at over £212,001. For North Lanarkshire that was 120 homes, and unless there has been any great change, a spate of lottery wins for example, that figure isn’t going to be radically different, perhaps (and I’m being generous here) there are around 200 homes valued at over £212,001. That’s the reality. 1% of what may be broadly viewed as the wealthiest households will see a rise of £10 a week. Yet Labour are saying this figure so often that one might be mistaken for thinking that everyone is being hit with a 22% rise.

From the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 until 2007, Labour ran the Scottish Parliament. At the same time Labour were in charge at Westminster and controlled the majority of Scotland’s local authorities. In that time council tax rose year on year. In 2007 the average Band D council tax payer, on average income in a middle of the table house was paying 30% more council tax than they had in 1999, while some of the higher bands apparently saw as much as a 60% hike! We aren’t talking 120 homes here, we are talking about every council tax payer across the board, paying more every year to keep Labour local authorities in the manner to which they had become accustomed to. Had Labour remained in power that pattern of continual tax rises would have no doubt continued, hitting everyone, across the board, rich and poor alike. I’d say that a 22% rise after 10 years to 1% of council tax payers is pretty good going in comparison, and I wonder how Labour can complain about such a rise to the top rate, considering they spent years stating that the freeze only benefited the richest in society!

The term Doublethink was coined by George Orwell in his novel 1984, and it refers to the ability to hold and espouse two contradictory views at the same time. Scottish Labour are demanding that the general rate of income tax be raised for everyone in Scotland by 1p, while simultaneously complaining that the four highest council tax bands will see a rise of between 7.5% and 22%. So someone on a salary of about £30,000 a year would pay around than £4 a week (£208 a year) extra under its plan, and someone on the same wage as the First Minister would pay an extra £28 a week (£1,447 a year). So Labour are comfortable taking an extra £208 off someone earning about £30,000 a year, but are outraged if that same person has to pay an extra £2 on council tax? Or that someone earning £140,000 a year is paying an extra £10 a week council tax yet fail to mention that they would pay an extra £28 in income tax if Labour were in government? I wonder if their outrage is more at the fact that they see people not being squeezed for every last drop of cash they can get or if their outrage is because they simply aren’t in power and can’t effect change to the extent they would like.

Since losing power in Scotland, then in the UK, Labour have become the most petty of oppositions. While in Westminster they will happily support the Tories on many issues, or abstain when not wanting to appear to be openly supportive, they have no such trouble in Scotland. If the SNP propose it, we’ll oppose it is their mantra. Opposition for opposition’s sake is as bad as unrestrained majority government, and their opposition in 2008 to council tax reform killed off what was a real chance to radically change the system. Their hubris is a major stumbling block to reform, and if they could overcome that then it’s possible that we could see a more progressive and radical form of taxation introduced in Scotland. Unfortunately there appears to be no sign of that day coming any time soon, and it looks as though decoding Labour doublethink will be a necessity for some time to come.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy