Tag Archives: Monklands Mafia

The Sound of Silence: Advertiser Embargo On McMafia Mentions Continues

A few weeks ago I wrote about the lack of any in depth analysis of the Monklands McMafia affair in the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser. I was expecting a flood of letters of support from tame party hacks, along with an update on the protest which had been cobbled together. I thought it may be nice if the Advertiser had a letter with a differing viewpoint to balance things up. I was mystified to find no mention of it at all, anywhere in the pages of the paper, not even in their summary of social media comments. My letter is reproduced below.

With nominations closing on 29th March 2017 at 4pm, I’m fairly sure that this will drag on for a few weeks yet. By that time we’ll know if SNP HQ has stuck to their guns or have capitulated. If the former, it’ll be interesting to see if the deselected councillors stand as independents against the SNP, or swing behind the new candidates. were I at SNP HQ I’d certainly be looking to bring in candidates from outside the branch as it may be difficult to gain volunteers from a branch which has saw kind of treatment which lead to the resignation of Councillor Alan Beveridge and candidate Tommy Montgomery.

With rumours of more scandal to come involving the branch, an impending court case with Councillor Alan O’Brien, senior SNP figures trying to bring former SNP Councillors back into the fold and the little matter of an election for which the local party has no candidates, no strategy and increasingly no chance of winning, things are looking more interesting by the minute. Will the Advertiser cover it though? There’s the $50,000 question!

Dear Sir,
The article in last week’s Advertiser regarding the deselection of the husband and wife team of Councillors Michael and Agnes Coyle made no mention of why this situation came about, and from reading it one may have got the impression that this came out of the blue, which clearly isn’t the case. Two years of political infighting, with many allegations made to SNP HQ of bullying, cronyism and nepotism across Airdrie, Coatbridge and Bellshill were summed up in a mere 29 words. The article made no mention of the numerous complaints made about the Westminster selection process which saw Neil Gray installed as SNP candidate for MP and saw Councillor Alan Beveridge resign in disgust. I am aware that there have been other complaints from many other now ex-members and the vetting process which led to the deselection of these councillors no doubt considered all these factors plus much more which obviously I am not privy to.
It was interesting to note that it was left to Graham Russell, the president of the constituency group, to speak on their behalf and that their council group leader David Stocks was silent on the matter. Another point which perhaps went unnoticed was that the emergency meeting of the branch mustered a mere 60 members out of a claimed membership of over 1100 people.  That’s only around 5% of their members. I’d imagine that I could probably get more disaffected members to sign a petition supporting headquarters decision than actually attended the branch meeting itself!
I’m glad that SNP HQ has finally addressed the issues raised by myself and others. It’s unfortunate that to have action taken many members had to resign, and they had to take their grievances to the press rather than have the SNP deal with them fairly and honestly. For my part, I have to say that I am utterly disappointed in Nicola Sturgeon as a leader. I contacted many people at SNP HQ regularly during and after the Westminster selection process debacle, and Nicola Sturgeon was copied into emails where possible and mailed by hand, directly to SNP HQ. My attempts to have this issue acknowledged on Twitter saw me blocked by her and for me this action in deselecting a few councillors is in some ways too little, too late, and she must share a huge portion of the blame for the shambles in North Lanarkshire. If she is to go any way towards redeeming herself she must take a far quicker, fairer and firmer grip on rogue branches. The demotion of Alex Neil, Michael Coyle and Agnes Coyle is a positive step in the right direction. I now hope that those decent members remaining in the Airdrie branch have the spirit to seize the day and show everyone that they want a fresh start, though they will need to rid themselves of the remnants of the old guard to do so. They can still salvage something from the wreckage if they have the will to, although this may be difficult as there is always the possibility that these deselected councillors will stand against the SNP themselves, as many Labour councillors are now doing against their own party in retribution for being deselected.
This begs the question: if councillors are deselected by their party and immediately stand against that party, where was their loyalty all along; to themselves or to their constituents?
Yours Sincerely,
James Cassidy
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Monklands McMafia Scandal: The comment they DON’T want you to see

Letter to the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, dated 29/02/16. UNPUBLISHED.

Dear Sir,

I would have thought that as a former Monklands Labour member, SNP Councillor Michael Coyle would need no lessons in how the term ‘Monklands Mafia’ originated. In case he has forgotten it would be worth reminding ourselves of how the term came into use. It was to do with the Labour run Monklands District Council having adopted, or being perceived to have adopted practices where jobs and funding were allocated based on your membership of the Labour party, your support for elected Labour councillors, your family relationship to councillors or friends and colleagues of councillors. Encapsulated as “Jobs For The Boys” this was a morally bankrupt system of supporting a power base by giving favours and expecting votes in return. The term “Monklands McMafia” now being used in the mainstream media is simply a reflection that the SNP are indulging in these and other distasteful practices also and was never an allegation of criminal activity. One only has to look at Alex Neil MSP and Neil Gray MP to see the practice of employing friends and family has been embraced by the SNP, indeed it is a matter of public record that Councillor Coyle works for both, in addition to them having employed their wife and brother-in-law respectively.

I’m sure that until Councillor Coyle drew the media’s attention to them, most people would have been unaware of the allegations Councillor Coyle claims were made against him in regards to organised crime and also to the arson attack on my car which he raised prominently in another newspaper. I would like to state that having only seen the very brief extract carried in the Advertiser I cannot comment on the scope of the thorough and extensive enquiry into Councillor Coyle, but I am concerned at two things. There is an element of the letter which reads more like a friendly character reference than a summary of the facts. Secondly it is not normal practice for Police Scotland to issue letters of this sort. I contacted the investigating team and a senior officer regarding the arson attack on my car and was told that “no suspects were ever identified” in relation to this. When I asked if I could have that confirmed in writing I was told that Police Scotland aren’t in the habit of providing such letters. Perhaps I would have had more luck if I was employed by a cabinet minister and an MP! 

James Cassidy

#MonklandsMcMafia

The Monklands McMafia Saga: New Voices

I think the hardest thing about what is now being referred to in the media as the Monklands McMafia affair/crisis/saga has been getting other voices heard. I have felt that this has been easily deflected by Nicola Sturgeon and her staff at HQ as it could be put down to one or two disaffected individuals.

That has all changed.

Patterns of behaviour are emerging and people are talking about this openly on social media and in the comments section of the Herald and The National. They are certainly worth reading, it’s eye opening stuff to see just how far this stretches and for how long it has been going on.

It’s worth noting that some of the comments backing the local party are on the face of it from vague, generic and unimaginative names, while those speaking out are real verifiable people. It’s also worth noting that these one or two individuals are making what appear to be very personal references to some individuals, about their jobs, their families, their history. Given that none of the people referred to know the accuser(s) it appears that a sock-puppet account is in play here. All very mysterious but par for the course in this affair.

12th February, The National: Hundreds Have Quit Our Branches

13th February, The Herald: SNP urged to reveal secret report into Monklands McMafia

14th February, Sunday Herald: Secret Recording reveals depths of SNP infighting

16th February, The National: Turf War at the centre of racism row

17th February, The Herald: SNP members refuse to vote for own party

19th February, The Herald: SNP threaten legal action against own councillor

#MonklandsMcMafia

Tommy Morgan, Mears and North Lanarkshire Council (Advertiser: 22/01/15)

Published in the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser 

Dear Sir, 

I was shocked to hear of the dismissal of Councillor Tommy Morgan from his post on the Audit and Governance Committee within North Lanarkshire Council. It will come as no surprise to many that I am a strong supporter of independence and the SNP, but as someone living in Plains I have often chatted with Tommy and have sought his help on a number of occasions, and have always found him to be very helpful and honest. In my opinion he is a straight shooter and if he says there are irregularities then I would tend to believe him and these should be fully investigated by an outside agency. It’s very sad that his party have seen fit to create a situation where they have had to use what appears to be a trumped up charge to silence him on this subject. It appears that local politics can be a dirty business and I have no doubt that the Labour Party in North Lanarkshire will now be looking at getting rid of Tommy at the next council elections. The fact his opponents have allowed two complainants to vote in a kangaroo court on his future clearly demonstrates how desperate they must be to get him out of the picture, as in any other walk of life those with a personal interest would be barred from such a vote for the sake of fairness and transparency. This will be Airdrie’s loss, as we need councillors, in all parties, who work hard and are willing to stand up and point out wrongdoing or corruption in their own ranks, not ones who stand idly by and let it happen and put their party first. It is a sign of tremendous courage to stand up for what is right when your own party are trying to silence you, and I wish Tommy well in his struggle. The bad old days of the Monklands Mafia with its corruption, where councillors made sure posts went to their family and friends must not be allowed to return. At the time of the original Monklands Mafia scandal Labour MP John Smith refused to acknowledge the dirty goings on in Airdrie in case it affected his chances in national elections. I can only hope that Pamela Nash has the will to do what John Smith did not, and if Ed Miliband gives her permission she should clean up North Lanarkshire Labour. 

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy