Tag Archives: Monklands McMafia

Put The Sweet Sherry Down and Step Away From The Keyboard…

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, 240517

I was taken aback at the Advertiser editorial this week; it was, on so many levels, weapons grade nonsense. In recent years we’ve become more used to minority governments, coalitions and the like; indeed Scotland’s electoral systems are designed to create consensual governments which reflect the broad picture. So to see the Advertiser paint Labour taking control of North Lanarkshire Council as somehow akin to North Korean politics was utterly jaw dropping; indeed it read more like a drunken late night Facebook rant than an actual newspaper editorial which left me wondering how it actually made it in to print.
Some actual analysis wouldn’t go amiss here, and as The Advertiser has singularly failed to do so, let me help. Labour and the SNP were within one seat of each other, with the SNP having the slimmest of margins over their rival, but far short of a majority. To have a workable authority the SNP would have to rely on support from somewhere, and for that they would have to make concessions. SNP group leader David Stocks said that he had written to Jim Logue offering an SNP/Labour coalition. I’m sure that I’m sure if they had been willing to come and go on the names being put forward then that may have been an acceptable compromise. That offer was not accepted and we are left to draw the conclusion that the SNP’s proposals were so poorly thought out that Jim Logue was left either with the option of taking a gamble that the Tories would back Labour to block the SNP out of hand, or with entering a formal coalition with the Tories. Given that there is absolutely no evidence of the latter, except in the fevered mind of Alex Neil, we have to conclude that Labour didn’t form any such coalition. Pointing to the Tories being given the Audit convenorship as proof doesn’t stack up either. The previous Convenor was David Stocks of the SNP, and this was because the post goes to someone from outside the ruling body and as the SNP refused to take any of the posts offered by Labour they had to be filled by Tories! So Megan Gallacher left the council chambers £30K a year better off thanks to the SNP’s petulance and David Stocks left £30K worse off. Is it any wonder he’s bitterly complaining?

Councillor Stocks was quoted as saying “We won the election but people ask why we are not in power.” That’s a very good question and I’m glad he asked it, however I don’t think he’ll like the answer. The SNP were expected to romp the election, but didn’t. The Labour vote collapsed, but not primarily to the SNP. Hard core British Nationalists were seduced by Ruth Davidson’s rhetoric, abandoned any working class principles and sold out to a party ready to stick the knife into pensioners, the poor and the disabled at the earliest opportunity; never mind the policies, smell the flag. They then used their second and third votes to vote for Labour to block the SNP; quite simply Tory voting strategy was well briefed out to their supporters. But these voters were never going to vote SNP in any case, so what about those who were among those who could be persuaded?

Independent Councillor Alan Beveridge hit the nail on the head when he said that the SNP were fighting like rats in a sack, and it is this reason and this reason alone that the SNP did not gain the convincing win they should have done. Councillor Stocks apparently didn’t campaign at all during the election and actually came second to his novice running mate Nancy Pettigrew who preceded him alphabetically on the ballot paper. That shows a clear lack of voter management strategy. Airdrie South was no better where the Team Coyle leaflet campaign undermined actual SNP candidate Paul Di Mascio. Airdrie North was struck by a social media debacle and Coatbridge was racked by internal disputes too. The only part of North Lanarkshire to deploy an effective voter management strategy was in Cumbernauld, where the SNP swept the boards, and it raises the question: why aren’t they in charge of the group? They know what they are doing, are cohesive and work well as a team, everything North Lanarkshire SNP isn’t under David Stocks.
The SNP now have five years to get their party in shape to win convincingly in North Lanarkshire. It will require them to honestly appraise themselves and they must be prepared to clear out the dead wood and hangers-on who cost them victory. The current plan seems however to be not to carry out that self critical analysis but to fashion a narrative of a secret Tory/Labour coalition and to shout it for the next five years. As a plan of action it is unsustainable and is reveals a complete lack of self belief and vision. If I were an SNP member I would be asking these critical questions at every opportunity, as clearly the elected representatives will not. If they don’t, they’ll be asking in five years time, and that’s five years too late.

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The Elephant In The Corner (Of North Lanarkshire)

Letter from Councillor Tom Johnston; The Herald, 20/05/17

Letter to The Herald, 22/05/17

Dear Sir,

In his letter in Saturdays Herald, Councillor Tom Johnston, Depute SNP Leader alluded that some kind of back room deal had been done between Labour and the Conservatives to block an SNP administration from taking control in North Lanarkshire. His proof was the voting pattern displayed, whereby the SNP were on the losing side of every vote by a margin of 41 to 33. It’s hardly surprising that the Tories would vote against the SNP, considering that across Scotland they are campaigning on a single policy: Stop the SNP. This is not proof of a deal.

The SNP point to the convenorship of the Audit Committee and it’s £29,000 salary going to the Tories, yet Labour Group Leader Jim Logue twice said during the meeting that he had not only offered the post to SNP group leader David Stocks, who refused to take the position he had held until the elections, but that he was disappointed that he wouldn’t reconsider his decision. It seems to me that the SNP had realised before the meeting that the game was up and that with victory clearly out of their reach they would go down a petulant road of not co-operating, refusing to take places on committees and refusing to even pose for a group photograph, all so they could fashion a narrative of a Tory and Labour stitch-up.
Councillor Johnston noted that there was one independent Councillor who voted against the SNP, Councillor Alan Beveridge. In 2015 Councillor Beveridge resigned from the SNP citing a “climate of fear, bullying and intimidation”. Perhaps if Councillor Johnston’s group had dealt with the issue back in 2015 it would not have snowballed into the Monklands McMafia fiasco, they would have retained the huge number of members who joined in 2014 and would have gone on to hammer a final nail into North Lanarkshire Labour. Instead they gained a pyrrhic victory, gifted the Audit Convenors job to the Tories and have in all likelihood blown their last chance to take control in North Lanarkshire. With such a level of ineptitude it appears the voters of North Lanarkshire may well have dodged a bullet.

Yours,

James Cassidy

Airdrie SNP: An Omnishambles Wrapped In A Disaster, Tied Up In A Debacle

wp-1487169002404.jpgThe relatively tame article in today’s Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser regarding the deselection of the husband and wife team of Councillors Michael and Agnes Coyle is enough to make you despair of proper journalism. This being the first Advertiser article on their deselection, one might have expected a mention of why this situation came about. From reading this one may have got the impression that this came out of the blue. Some time back I contacted the Advertiser to ask why it appeared to be difficult, if not impossible to find any mention of what I felt was the biggest political story in Monklands since the original Monklands Mafia story many years ago, and the response was not promising. In November 2015 Councillor Sophia Coyle was in the news over an interview in which she vociferously opposed gay marriage. Ms Coyle refused to respond to The Advertiser, yet only a few weeks later was again appearing in the newspaper promoting some local initiative she was involved in. You might think that the paper might have asked her views when they finally did contact her, but that wasn’t the case. So to see around two years of political infighting summarised in 29 words was no surprise.

wp-1487169382461.jpg

One glaring point (and there are so many) which has been missed is this: how can a branch with a claimed membership of almost 1100 people only muster around 60 people to attend an emergency meeting? I’d imagine that I could get more disaffected members to sign a petition SUPPORTING headquarters decision than actually attended the branch meeting!

The big question is how long can Michael Coyle hang on to his jobs with Alex Neil and Neil Gray? Again, no mention of this in the “in-depth” analysis.

Over the weekend I saw that Labour candidates were out canvassing around Airdrie. Bless them, they are poor deluded fools, but I’ll say this for them: they are organised. With only around 10 weeks to the 2017 Council elections the SNP don’t even have candidates.

This appears set to run and run, just don’t expect the details in the local press…

 

Eat Your Cereal

Letter to The National, 14/03/16
Dear National,
In the article in Satuday’s National Silent protest to make point about the Monklands McMafia it quotes the Airdrie and Shotts SNP blog which said that “People generally join an organisation because they identify with it, and not to radically change it”. I think this speaks volumes about just how unprepared Airdrie and Shotts SNP were in taking on the surge of new members who joined post referendum and how unwilling they were to adapt to a massive influx of people who joined, not because they slavishly supported SNP policy, but because they believed in independence. This smacks of an “eat your cereal” attitude where new ideas are unwelcome, and where the positive changes which could have seen the party grow locally were abandoned to maintain tight control. More ‘No You Can’t’ than ‘Yes We Can’…
Yours Sincerely,
James Cassidy

Monklands McMafia Saga: Time To Speak Out

(c) Express Newspaper

(c) Express Newspaper

I’ve spoken to a few people over the last couple of weeks about their experiences of what is now referred to in the mainstream press as the Monklands McMafia scandal and there are striking similarities between what has went on locally and the Jimmy Saville scandal which has engulfed the BBC and forever tainted its reputation.

Saville’s behaviour was an open secret at the BBC and he was actively protected, with the reputation of the company on the the line complaints were ignored or swept under the carpet. The report into Saville states that “The review found that senior managers were not told of complaints about Saville because of an “atmosphere of fear” which still exists in the BBC.” For those who did complain they would have felt intimidated, likely to be ridiculed or disbelieved, and that what happened to them was an isolated incident, making it less likely they would be given a fair hearing. It was only afterwards, when the trickle of stories became a flood that the full picture became clear, and that picture is a distressing and disturbing one.

Here in North Lanarkshire I’m seeing the same patterns of behaviour exhibited by the BBC adopted by the SNP. They attempt to ignore the issue. They attempt to rubbish the concerns raised. Like the BBC they are failing. Voices are being heard, and it’s time that those out there with ANY knowledge of the dirty goings on in North Lanarkshire spoke out as one. Single voices can be drowned out. But as a chorus of voices WE are louder, we can make ourselves known and ensure that people see that big picture. Yes, they might try to rubbish you. To paint you as cranks or left wing infiltrators. To say that it’s just sour grapes, or that you are just jealous of their brilliance. But I’d urge anyone out there with experiences of the smear tactics, the dirty tricks, the legal tricks employed by the SNP to silence members, to come forward and speak out.

BE the media and tell your own story. Because to remain silent is to let the situation continue.

#MonlandsMcMafia

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

Letter to The National: Monklands McMafia

Letter in The National: 010316

Letter in The National: 010316

Dear Sir
I believe that the front page of today’s National was a turning point in the Monklands McMafia saga and that the allegations of SNP links to organised crime, illegal payments for support on planning applications and bungs for public service contracts can no longer be branded by many on social media as simply the Unionist press attacking the SNP. These revelations come on top of the stories of bullying, fear and intimidation which have been circulating for some time now and which have also been completely ignored by Nicola Sturgeon. Given that the SNP suspended Julie McNulty on the basis of a “he said, she said” report which is now looking less credible by the day, it would be completely wrong of the SNP to not suspend anyone who is subject to the investigation mentioned in the article. Precedents have been set: Natalie McGarry and Michelle Thomson being the most high profile. It is time that Nicola Sturgeon stopped tiptoeing through the Tulips and takes the decisive action which is required to deal with this scandal.
With an election coming up Nicola Sturgeon MUST reassure voters in North Lanarkshire that the SNP are a party with the courage to deal with difficult internal matters head on if they are to retain any credibility in the eyes of the public. This matter is not going away and will likely have a great effect on the council elections in 2017 as well. Nicola may sweep this under the carpet for now, but to paraphrase Quint in the movie Jaws, She’s going to need a bigger carpet. Focus on Europe may deflect for a while, but that too will soon be history. I believe that the party immediately suspending all candidates in North Lanarkshire and imposing candidates from outside the area would be the first step in showing a commitment to regaining that trust.
As regards your mention of Councillor Michael Coyle, I’m sure that until Councillor Coyle drew the media’s attention to them, most people would have been unaware of the allegations he claims were made against him in regards to organised crime and also to the arson attack on my car which he raised prominently in the Sun last week. I would like to state that having only seen the very brief extract carried in the local press I cannot comment on the scope of the thorough enquiry which took place in the last few weeks 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!


Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy