Tag Archives: Neil Gray

Some Things Never Change

This just in…

The current constituency MSP for Airdrie & Shotts, Alex Neil, has announced his intention to stand down at the next Holyrood election, creating a vacancy for a new SNP candidate. Already two potential candidates have come forward, firstly local councillor Paul Di Mascio, and sitting Westminster MP Neil Gray. The latter will, under current rules, have to stand down as a Westminster MP prior to the election, letting his office staff go in the process.

If I recall correctly sitting MSP’s who were standing down had to notify the party of their intentions by March this year, and the NEC would then impose a quota of all-women shortlists for those seats. The cynic in me feels that perhaps Mr Neil held off from announcing his resignation to allow the all women shortlists to be allocated – leaving the field free for his apprentice Mr Gray to make the jump from London to Edinburgh.

While some may view this as a risky move, the SNP are currently flying high nationally, the new candidate would be standing against the political Mr Bean that is Richard Leonard; in addition a high placing on the party list would give a belt and braces guarantee of walking in to a new highly paid job, joining the rest of the limpets who cannot be removed from our parliament. Westminster has many, many faults, but at least there the public can remove politicians they don’t like.

With the high profile gained from his Westminster role Mr Gray must surely be seen as the favourite, and the new members flocking to join the local branch will surely be primed and ready to vote for him. It’s deja-vu all over again, and the only positive side I can see to this is that this may open up the Westminster seat to someone else, who may in the process raise their profile while remembering that they have been sent to England’s parliament to settle up, not settle down.

For me, representing your constituency should be a responsibility bestowed upon you by your constituents for a short period of time, not a job for life, and I am deeply suspicious of anyone who seeks to make politics a career. The SNP has become an industry in itself, with a huge amount of cash swilling around as MP’s and MSP’s employ staff who are often also Councillors or family members as research and office staff. As voters and activists our aspirations and those of our politicians are widely apart. For us the loss of an election can be hugely disappointing – for those occupying political office electoral loss can mean the loss of income, status and everything that accompanies it. Highly addictive I’m sure, and personally I’d like to see a two or three term limit imposed on any future Scottish political system to encourage fresh talent and new ideas and to discourage those who cling on long past their time like a blockage in the sewer.

The question each and every Yes voter in the Airdrie & Shotts area should be asking is which candidate will be more likely to put independence at the top of their priority list. Of the two candidates Councillor Di Mascio has reached out to local independence campaigners,  attended local independence group talks and has been seen in his own time on independence marches. Mr Gray has not done the former and I’m unsure if he’s done the latter. Choose wisely, Airdrie & Shotts SNP…

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 and Shotts- Labour Gain?

All aboard!

It’s early days yet and perhaps I’m jumping the gun a little, but there is currently no Tory candidate for Airdrie & Shotts. In the 2015 election Neil Gray romped home when the independence vote coalesced around the SNP to kick out Pamela Nash who has since gone one to take over as the Chief Executive of British Nationalist extremist organisation Scotland in Union. Helen McFarlane of Labour almost came close to making Gray a one term wonder reducing his majority from around 10,000 to a mere 196. Or did she?

In the 2017 election the SNP famously campaigned while trying not to say i*******e and shed votes across Scotland. Turnout in Airdrie & Shotts was down by around 7% with many SNP voters simply not turning out. The Labour vote dropped and the Tory vote rose, with many in the area enthused by the Ruth Davidson Party for Ruth Davidson’s North Britain and unwilling to vote for the allegedly “pro-IRA” Jeremy Corbyn.

It would be not only overly simplistic but indeed extremely silly to assume that the voters who failed to turn out for the SNP somehow jumped to the Tories. I think many Scot’s voted for the SNP out of a sense of deep personal shame at their No vote in 2014 and were unlikely to jump ship. The real realignment in the vote was within the British Nationalist bloc. Ruth Davidson at least realised that the Tories, Labour and the Lib-Dems were all fishing in the same pot for a share of the 55% and falling who backed the UK, and this led to many working class people turning a blind eye to their previous behaviour and rallying to the fleg. The Conservatives gain was probably what led to Neil Gray clinging on.

Unionist guide to voting 2019

With the Tories and Labour in a loose coalition in North Lanarkshire could it be that they have realised that they will have to work together again to remove the seat from the SNP? With no  Lib Dem candidate announced and no Tory candidate either, are they giving Labour a clear run at the seat? Between that and the Greens perhaps siphoning off vital votes there’s every possibility that the seat will go from SNP back to Labour, and the SNP have only themselves to blame. Their failure nationally to campaign on independence cost them dearly, and locally the party shed members hand over fist. They made no attempt to enthuse new members, to train them and to turn them from voters and supporters to activists and agitators. Recently attempts have been made in North Lanarkshire to drain the SNP swamp but it may be too little, too late. The lack of activists will tell dearly and Labour will not struggle on that score, with trade union backing courtesy of Leonard and McFarlane, and more reinforcements in the north of England available a short bus ride away. The clock is ticking, and on current form Neil Gray will not see the inside of Westminster again.

It’s Airdrie’s Hospital










To: The Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser

Earlier this week Airdrie MP Neil Gray announced that the Scottish Government had announced that it had instructed NHS Lanarkshire to begin the process for replacement of Monklands Hospital. The SNP have repeatedly committed to keeping 3 A&E equipped hospitals in North Lanarkshire and his should silence all those who have said there are plans in place to completely close the hospital and the A&E, and should be good news for the town. I say should, but one thing did concern me about Neil Grays announcement, and that was the phrase “potential sites for the new hospital”. The people of Airdrie have fought long and hard to protect Airdrie’s hospital and the one commitment that must be made is that the hospital stays in Airdrie. A new build hospital on a greenfield site such as Newhouse would be a gross betrayal of the people of Airdrie. The current hospital has good public transport links and importantly is within walking distance from the town; indeed it’s part of the community. An out of town development would be as difficult to get to as Hairmyres or Wishaw and must be resisted by anyone with the towns best interest at heart. Somewhere within the town must be found, and I believe that Craigneuk Park is an ideal site for this. Often touted around as a potential site for another unnecessary supermarket, a hospital here would finally perhaps prompt the much needed and long promised road improvements which have failed to materialise here in the past. Such a move could perhaps even help relocate the football club to a smaller, more affordable stadium elsewhere back in the town. This venture would not only bring construction jobs directly to the town but would guarantee that there was long term employment in the Scottish health service in Airdrie for years to come.
This project is already looking as though it will fail to meet its initial 2023 delivery date, and it cannot be delayed any further as the current hospital is eating up millions of pounds in repair costs alone. I hope all our local politicians can put their differences aside and agree that whatever happens “It’s Airdrie’s Hospital” and that they fight tooth and nail to ensure that it remains that way.

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.



Airdrie SNP Lose 9596 Votes in Just TWO YEARS

2017 result

Neil Gray and Airdrie SNP will be in no hurry to have a forensic examination of the results of Thursday’s general election as it would raise some rather embarrassing questions. Much better to celebrate the win with some bland statement and carry on as before, but that isn’t an option, or at least it shouldn’t be.

2015 results

Having had the smallest swing in the 2015 landslide, Neil Gray’s hard work should have started two years ago, but he has silently watched as the party locally has shed members by the bucketload. The internal fighting in Airdrie SNP has not been contained and has spread outwards and beyond the confines of the party. At one point they were bragging of a membership of around 1100, yet by the local council elections were reliant on the same few half-dozen faces. Even his campaign launch photo at Airdrie stadium appears to be boosted by a number of faces from Coatbridge. The failure to show any leadership by reversing the flow of members out of the party has had a dramatic effect on the vote, as those members are not only leaving but leaving and taking a bad impression away with them.

Looking at the figures from 2015, almost every other parties votes are up, and in Neil Gray’s case he pulled in a full 9596 votes less than two years ago. That is a truly disastrous performance and it is ironic that the only thing which retained him his seat was the Orange Order voters  who wanted to send a message to Nicola Sturgeon by leaving Labour for the Tories; had they been more tactically aware they would have stuck with Labour and would have denied the SNP the seat! It’s now rumoured that there will be another election in October, and if the more bitter Unionists are prepared to switch back (many switched because of Corbyns apparent support for the IRA) then there is every chance Neil Gray will be gone.

Clearly the UKIP vote this time went to the Tories, but that still doesn’t account for the almost 5,500 vote Tory rise. Realistically those votes didn’t come from the SNP. There is the possibility that some 2015 SNP voters went to Labour at the same time that the hard-line British Nationalists shipped out to the Tories, but that still leaves thousands of SNP voters who failed to come back and endorse them on Thursday. Did they think the job was done and that this was now a safe seat or have they been turned away altogether?

So what can be done? SNP HQ could finally act and clear out what has become one of the most toxic branches in British politics (incidentally the loss of Phil Boswell in Coatbridge can be directly attributed to the in-fighting there and the continuing suspension of the SNP branch). The SNP should be getting itself out on the streets and into the community on a regular basis. The political awakening of 2014 has to be reignited, and the SNP has to be again seen as a radical party of the streets, not a sanitised party where, especially in Airdrie, no dissent is allowed and where challenges to the established order are followed by smears and personal attacks.

A question I regularly people is “What has YOUR candidate done to further the cause of independence?” For far too many they appear only when they want you to endorse them personally. They don’t enthuse or inspire, they are never seen on independence marches or rallies and they never, ever speak with passion about their vision of what an independent Scotland could look like.

Neil Gray falls into the latter category and unless he has a radical change of direction in the next few months he will be out at the next election. His seat has already been highlighted by the BBC as a key marginal, which means that he will get the Angus Robertson and Alex Salmond treatment next time: regular reports by the BBC reminding people that this is a key seat and who the most likely rival candidate is, nudge, nudge, wink, wink. I’ll Say no more.

Neil Gray Pays a Flying Visit to Airdrie Town centre

While the real independence supporters were in Glasgow, Neil Gray took the opportunity to actually hold a street stall in Airdrie. For a branch with a membership last reported at over 1100, that’s not a great turnout.

I’m reliably informed that a street stall was planned for the previous week but was cancelled at the last minute. No reason was given for the late cancellation.

If you look closely you’ll notice one of those campaigning for Neil Gray is Agnes Coyle who was recently de-selected by the SNP, and then went on to stand against the SNP in the May council elections.

It should be noted that Section 4(d) of the SNP constitution states that;

A member may not contest or be a member of any organisation contesting elections in
opposition to the Party, or be a member of any organisation deemed to be a Political Party
under the Membership Rules.

To have left the party, stood against it, rejoined and be out campaigning for it again within the space of a few weeks must be some kind of a record surely? Wonders never cease within Airdrie SNP!

Neil Gray: Getting The Excuses In Early…

Letter to the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, 05/06/17

I was disappointed that SNP candidate Neil Gray signalled his disrespect for the good people of Airdrie by failing to turn up for the General Election hustings in Airdrie but unsurprised. His claim that independent councillor Alan Beveridge was not an impartial person to organise it was weak, as it was made apparent to all candidates that other than organising the event he would be taking no part in the hustings itself. He advertised the openly in the Advertiser, had the event filmed for public record and even invited the local press to ensure that things were impartially recorded. In the partial world of politics this was as balanced as it could get, and it seems to me that the SNP group were simply intent on Neil Gray not being held up to public scrutiny. It’s a pretty bizarre fact but Mr Gray is in a position where he is the incumbent standing for re-election and has never taken part in an open hustings in the town! I noticed that the letters page contained a tag-team attack on Councillor Beveridge from Councillor Stocks and Alex Neil, clearly designed to discredit the hustings before it commenced and lay the groundwork for Neil Gray’s feeble last minute call-off. Councillor Stocks showed again how out of touch he is by failing to grasp that Councillor Beveridge wasn’t even chairing the hustings, while I laughed out loud at Alex Neil’s charge of betrayal of the SNP; this from the man who is now the Unionist media’s go-to guy for an anti-SNP quote whenever Brexit is mentioned! I’m fairly certain that Neil Gray will be re-elected, but this will not be an endorsement of him, but a by-product of the Unionist vote splitting along sectarian lines. Overall the candidates themselves were not impressive and I’m fairly certain that whichever candidate wins, the people of Airdrie will be the losers.

Airdrie Hustings 01/06/17: No-Show Neil Gray

Tonights Panel. Empty chair just out of shot…

Tonights General Election hustings in Airdrie was the first to be held in the town for many years and was long overdue. The right of the electorate to cross examine candidates is a key feature of our democratic system and it was hugely disappointing that SNP candidate Neil Gray refused to take part. I was not alone in holding the view that Neil Gray was extremely disrespectful in boycotting the hustings; Independent Councillor Alan Beveridge who organised the evening read out Mr Grays whiny refusal which cited his concerns that the evening would be quite partisan, and with that the hustings was underway.

You Sir. The gentleman with the blue tie…

Last minute chair Peter Winnie introduced himself and then the candidates were given five minutes to give their pitch. Ewan McRobert of the Lib Dems led off with his reasons, Brexit being the primary one, while not seeing the irony in the fact that his opposition to a second independence referendum would deliver Scotland a future outside the EU. Labour’s Helen McFarlane cited her experience in the NHS as one of the reasons to support her; claiming that the “wool wouldn’t be pulled over her eyes”. She was very positive about Jeremy Corbyn and his manifesto, but I was concerned that her party nationally and locally have been working to remove Jeremy Corbyn; the Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale is anti Corbyn, as are numerous Airdrie members and councillors. Oh, and she was strongly against a second referendum. Finally we had Jennifer Donnellan, the Conservative and Unionist candidate who opposed another referendum, backed Theresa May as the strong and stable leader needed for Brexit negotiations, attacked the SNP’s obsession with independence, their inability to get on with the day job, their record on education and health, and oh, yes, she did she mention she was opposed to another referendum?
I was allowed to ask the second question of the evening and used the opportunity to make a point: given that health, education and the like were devolved, could we actually stick to reserved issues during the discussion, and by and large the audience and the candidates obliged, with questions ranging from Brexit to ethical foreign policy and the international arms trade to workers rights and the anti-trade union laws.
Candidates were also questioned about how they would make Airdrie a better place to live and work, and a crucial question which none could adequately answer was surprisingly simple: ‘If there was a policy which your party implemented which was directly detrimental to the town and people of Airdrie, would you oppose it?’ No one could give a satisfactory answer. Over the course of the two hours it became apparent to me that while likeable, the Lib Dem candidate was a complete lightweight, with some knowledge of party policy and no knowledge at all of other areas (he was unable to say whether the Lib Dems opposed or supported renationalisation of the railways, while his personal opinion seemed to be to oppose it).

I’m sorry, I haven’t a clue…

The Tory candidate was strong on opposing a second referendum, but was utterly bereft in other areas and was even laughed at for her inability to answer questions on subjects such as Tory policy on selling arms to Saudi Arabia. If this is the quality of George Osborne’s former special advisors it’s no wonder he failed time and time again to meet his own targets. At one point she was asked by an audience member who was in receipt of Unicersal Credit if she would join him tomorrow at his next foodbank appointment. After looking to a colleague in the audience she declined. Not a surprise. Labour’s Helen McFarlane came across as the strongest of the candidates; knowledgeable, experienced and confident. Credit must be given to her in answering the penultimate question of the night. She could have joined in with Tory criticism of the SNP for their management of the SNHS; instead she rounded on UK Tory policy of creeping NHS privatisation in England, and over the piece if there were only three candidates then she would walk it.
There are however four candidates. Neil Gray refuses to put himself up for public scrutiny, and nion  is to Airdrie what Theresa May is to the UK: a poor public debater who won’t allow himself to be subjected to fair and open scrutiny by the general public. Can he read a pre-prepared statement in Parliament: yes. Can he explain policy, and debate it with ordinary voters? No-one knows. To my knowledge he has NEVER had to. In a way his absence was a probably a blessing as the other three candidates were put under more scrutiny than they otherwise might have been, but his refusal to debate won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
My apologies must go to the last minute substitute chair Peter Winnie. His inexperience as a chair did show through and I was rather rude to him for his refusal to allow people to come back in to make follow on points or to have something clarified. While he admitted this was a first for him, he certainly can’t be accused of being unfair or biased, and credit must go to him for presiding over an informative and enjoyable hustings.

Airdrie Hustings for the 2017 General Election


Jennifer Donnellan

Scottish National Party
Neil Gray

Helen McFarlane

Liberal Democrat
Ewan McRobert

Tomorrow night sees the first election hustings in Airdrie for many years, I think perhaps around 10 years have elapsed since the last one. All the candidates have been invited and as far as I am aware all are attending. Except one…

As I understand it Neil Gray of the SNP has yet to confirm he will attend. I’ve asked him directly on Twitter if he’ll attend. He didn’t respond. My wife asked him on Facebook. He didn’t respond.

It’s entirely up to Neil Gray to decide to attend or not. It would be courteous if he would respond to a simple question about whether or not he will attend.

If he won’t attend then the unionist candidates get a free hit at the SNP with no one to defend them. He SHOULD be there and it will be extremely disrespectful to the electorate in Airdrie if he isn’t.

He can’t say he doesn’t know about it, he was informed weeks ago as were all the other candidates, and he’s been asked about it on social media. He can’t say he has parliamentary business as there is none. So his only excuse left is to say that a family emergency or engagement prevented him from attending. Even the excuse that he was out knocking on doors will be a weak one: that’s what his team is for.

7pm tomorrow night will see whether he has the decency to attend or whether he’ll weasel out.