Tag Archives: Sophia Coyle

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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You Wait All Year For An Article about Airdrie SNP Shenanigans… And Then Three Come At Once

I imagine there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth at SNP HQ this morning when the morning papers were delivered. Front page above the fold is usually a sign that the story is one of the most important of the day, and while this was the second of two main stories on the front page of The Herald, it’s still a sign that this isn’t a minor story.

Sophia Coyle Story, Herald, 02/05/17

The footage referred to in the article, a video on the Facebook page of Independent candidate Peter Owens has almost 30,000 views at the time of writing and can be found HERE, along with the following Press Statement issued on Sunday 30th April 2017:

Press Statement by Peter Owens, Independent Candidate, Airdrie South

Earlier today I was attending a car boot sale in Lanark, something I do as a regular hobby and it is something which I normally find relaxing and enjoyable. While I was at my stall I was approached by Airdrie North SNP Councillor Sophia Coyle and two other individuals, her husband Robert Clive and a man who I know to be employed as a nightclub bouncer, Gavin Scott.

Both Sophia Coyle and Gavin Scott began to film me while Sophia Coyle began making a series of allegations about me in front of the people present. She publicly stated that I had stolen goods from my employer and from a charity which I volunteer for, and was selling them at the car boot sale.

I was horrified, not only that Sophia Coyle was aware of exactly where I would be of a Sunday morning, but that she would travel over 16 miles accompanied by two burly males and be equipped with video equipment to record what I consider to be a premeditated attack on my character. I was immediately placed in a state of fear and alarm, and I have reported the incident not only to my employer, but to Police Scotland. Given the reported culture of “fear and intimidation” associated with Airdrie SNP I was less than impressed by the response I received from Police Scotland and will be pursuing this matter with them in the forthcoming days; as I and my family are concerned that we may receive further visits in the run up to the local elections. I shall also be seeking legal advice at the first opportunity regarding the defamatory claims made by Sophia Coyle.

I was able to make a video recording of my own and this has been passed to Police Scotland. In the meantime I am making the video footage available online. There have been many allegations made of bullying associated with Airdrie SNP, and I shall not be bullied. I believe the best way to deal with such behaviour is to shine a light on it, and I am calling on the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, to order an immediate investigation into the conduct of SNP Councillor Sophia Coyle.

End of Press Statement

In an expanded online article HERE it says that several other councillors have voiced their concerns. One of those was Councillor Alan Beveridge who also released his own press statement alleging online harassment:

Press Release by Alan Beveridge, Independent Councillor, Airdrie North

I was disturbed to see a statement released last night on social media by the candidate in the Airdrie South ward, Peter Owens, an independent candidate. In it he tells how he was publicly confronted by Sophia Coyle of the SNP, who made a number of serious allegations against him and his character; that he was placed in a state of “fear and alarm”; that he took his concerns to Police Scotland, and that he was “less than impressed” by their response.

Peter’s experience is not unusual in many respects. Only a few weeks ago Councillor Sophia Coyle used social media to make a post where she alleged that a “so-called member of my family” made death threats against her. This allegation was not only false, but it incited concerning responses on social media which were worrying enough for me to take them to Police Scotland. I was taken aback at the poor initial response from Police Scotland, and I have continued to speak with senior officers in relation to this matter. I believe that Councillor Sophia Coyle’s behaviour does not meet the high standards which we as elected representatives are expected to maintain, and as such I have also reported the matter to the Standards Commission and await the outcome of their investigations.

I have highlighted in the past the culture of fear, bullying and intimidation that exists within the SNP in Airdrie and have raised this directly with the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon; and I am renewing my call for a full investigation into the conduct of their representatives in North Lanarkshire. Councillors and prospective councillors must be allowed to freely take part in the democratic process without being placed in a state of fear and alarm simply because they have chosen to take part in that process. I am also calling on Police Scotland to review their procedures in relation to their response to what is perceived by the recipients as politically motivated intimidation in North Lanarkshire and I expect them not to be swayed in that duty.

As if that wasn’t bad enough for the party in Airdrie, the Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser had two hard hitting articles in their Wednesday 3rd May issue. Having studiously ignored the subject for long and weary their timing was impeccable, and things lurched from bad to worse as they published Cumbernauld North Councillor Alan O’Briens claims that Airdrie Councillor, SNP Group Leader and possible Head of North Lanarkshire Council was caught lying in court to provide an alibi for fellow SNP Councillor Michael Coyle.

The paper then went on to detail the bizarre situation in Airdrie South, where Councillor Michael Coyle who recently engaged in a political hokey-cokey of being taken out of the running before being put back in, had issued election leaflets asking people to vote for him and his wife Agnes as Team Coyle, despite her having been deselected. This situation was also a feature on the letters page where John Love highlighted what he felt was a deception on the SNP voters in Airdrie South.

Advertiser 030517: Team Coyle

It gets even more bizarre when you see that Alex Neil has apparently also endorsed Agnes Coyle. There’s no mention of his actual running “mate” Paul Di Mascio and surely even the most ardent SNP members must now be asking questions. If I were a member I’d be asking if the branch was actually funding this, and if it was I’d be asking for my money back! I’m also hearing that in Airdrie Central there have been NO SNP leaflets issued and if this is true it really is a sign that the 1000 plus membership gained off the back of the 2014 referendum has been totally and utterly squandered.

 

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…

 

The “New” Monklands Hospital…

Letter to The Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser, 24th April 2016

Dear Sir,

I was priveleged to receive an election mailshot from Alex Neil this week which stated that there would definitely be a new Monklands Hospital built. May I suggest building it next to Plains Railway Station? Whoops, silly me. There isn’t one. Only a few weeks ago, on the 23rd March in fact, it was reported that the options being looked at included a redevelopment of the existing site or a brand new hospital on another site, possibly near the “proposed” A73 bypass which would move it out of Airdrie and more likely nearer Cumbernauld! It was also claimed that this project would cost around five hundred million pounds, yet there is no mention of this on the NHS Lanarkshire website either, and as parliament closed shortly after this was released it has to be asked where are these figures from and where will the hospital be located? We are being waved the vague enticement of a shiny new hospital to vote for Mr Neil and his list colleague Sophia Coyle only a few weeks prior to an election. In the run up to the last election Alex Neil promised to deliver a new railway station at Plains, a development which was outwith his remit to promise and which remains unfunded and undelivered. I suspect that with the amount of money which has already been invested in the existing Monklands Hospital including the newly built Beatson Centre, that the new development will be pared down to a renovation and paint job on the existing hospital and an improvement on parking facilities. That’s hardly an election winner though, is it, and I’d rather vote for someone on what they have actually delivered, rather than what they have promised.

James Cassidy

The Monklands McMafia Scandal

The press have dubbed the current scandal with North Lanarkshire SNP the “Monklands McMafia” crisis, and it appears that what I have been saying for over a year about the SNP in North Lanarkshire is finally getting coverage in some of the mainstream press, and is surprisingly even being covered in The National. Last year when I wrote my Open Letter To Nicola Sturgeon I was contacted by National reporter Andrew Learmonth, whom I was happy to speak to. He asked if he could call back, but never did. I contacted him again in the light of his article on this very issue, as I felt I could offer some insight into this. He again failed to call back. I hope he does, as his article does not go far enough in my opinion.

In the Herald: SNP urged to release secret Monklands McMafia report I made the following comment, which I am posting here as the Herald webpage is renowned for removing comment. I have provided links where possible, something frowned upon by the Herald.

This is a joke right? The investigation and subsequent report both pre-date the 2014 Referendum and the current round of complaints for goodness sake!
Nicola Sturgeon has been made aware of the concerns about this branch on numerous occasions, all of which happened post September 2014.
Councillor John Taggart: Resigned, cites lack of democracy
Councillor Alan Beveridge: Resigned, cites bullying and a climate of fear and intimidation
Tom Montgomery: Resigned, after suffering series of malicious allegations made by a branch member to HQ. Allegations proven false after Police and North Lanarkshire Council independently investigated.
Councillor David Baird: Still in party, reported to HQ for alleged financial impropriety, details leaked to media.
Councillor Julie McNulty, Accused of racism by Sheena McCulloch. Reported to HQ, details leaked to Daily Record.

At the same time we see allegations of homophobia by Airdrie Councillor Sophia Coyle quietly allowed to slip away, shielded by the party, no suspension, no comment. What I find utterly amazing is that having been unable to get any comment from Councillor Coyle on the issue, the local press then carry comments from her on a wide range of other issues, a local quarry issue being one. Were I journalist who had attempted to gain a comment on this I’d be failing in my duty if, when speaking to her I failed to raise the issue. Yet this is what happens. It is no wonder that many people in Airdrie say they distrust the local press.

Nicola Sturgeon has turned a blind eye to this issue. This cannot be covered up by people indulging in whitabootery, as some have tried on here already. Nicola Sturgeon MUST now acknowledge that there is a problem with a Monklands McMafia and act accordingly.

We deserve better.

#MonklandsMcMafia

#SNP

 

 

 

The SNP and the Data Protection Act: At Long Last…A Response!

Way back in August I made a complaint to the Data Protection Officer of the SNP and received a response from Patrick Grady, now Patrick Grady MP, stating that my complaint would be responded to “within the prescribed timescales”.

In October having received no response I contacted Patrick Grady MP again, pointing out that there were no prescribed timescales and requesting an update. Again, no response.

On 8th October 2015 this was referred to the Office of the Information Commissioner, where I stated that “Having repeatedly contacted Mr Patrick Grady regarding the above issue, beyond the initial acknowledgement I have been given no response, update or indication that any investigation has taken place for a period of almost 3 months.”

In November 2015 I was contacted by the Office of the Information Commissioner, stating that they had now contacted the SNP and had given them 30 days to respond.

On 22nd December 2015, on the final day of the ultimatum, the SNP responded, and as the offices of the Information Commission were closed over the holidays there was a short delay in passing on the response.

DATA Protection 1DATA Protection 2

I was disappointed in the response in way and contacted the Case Officer for clarification. While I fully expected the SNP to find itself “not guilty” as regards the possible Data Protection breach, I was surprised that the flagrant disregard to responding to legitimate concerns by the party was not taken more seriously. I was told that unfortunately as (unlike a subject access request) there is no prescribed timescale in place for such a request there was little that could be done, although I do not that my concerns will be kept on file to help build a picture of the SNP’s information rights practices. It was also remarked that the SNP’s behaviour could be described as “not best customer practice“.

The SNP’s code of silence and stonewalling will only carry it so far. The gagging of MP’s and councillors such as Phil Boswell MP over tax issues or Sophia Coyle over homophobic comments will only work so long as we the public allow it to work. I’d recommend that anyone with concerns about the SNP’s data protection practices should do something about it. Be prepared for it to take some time though. The fact that in this case the SNP were only willing to respond after being forced to by the watchdog speaks volumes for how they treat our rights to be treated fairly. Every time I hear Nicola Sturgeon speak about fairness or transparency the phrase which comes to mind is ‘You hypocrite…’ 

 

SNP Code of Silence Part 2: Phil Boswell MP

Submitted to The Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser, 20/12/15

Dear Sir, 

I had a tweet printed last week where I had stated that Phil Boswell had engaged in a legal method of tax avoidance. M Wilkinson also commented on this by letter and their opinion was that due to Mr Boswells wealth he should do the right thing and pay the money back to HMRC. Looks like M Wilkinson is pretty envious of the fact that Mr Boswell has made a few bob, but that’s a pretty poor reason to single him out for special treatment. I’m one of over 400,000 people who use a legal method of tax avoidance: the Cycle to Work Scheme. By using this scheme I can buy a bike and at the same time I avoid a small percentage of my income tax. This is used by many people across the country, and is not only 100% legal but it’s promoted by the government. It’s used as an incentive to get people out of their cars and to adopt a healthier lifestyle. There are many other legal methods of avoiding paying one tax or another, which the government allows for one reason or another; charitable donations, pensions, ISA’s, the list goes on, and it’s perhaps surprising how many people utilise these schemes.

As far as I can see Mr Boswell has used a legal scheme to avoid paying some tax; it just happens to be a far bigger chunk than the average person saves. He’s also asking that this particular scheme be closed off. Cynics may say that’s a bit rich as he appears to be pulling up the ladder behind him, having already benefitted from it. Supporters on the other hand may say that he’s using his personal knowledge of the system to point out an outdated method which now needs to be closed off. And those who don’t really care but simply wish to make political capital from the situation, be they his opponents outside or indeed inside the SNP will engage in the time old game of throwing mud and hoping some sticks. Already some are calling for him to be reported to the Parliamentary Standards Commission, knowing fine well that earlier this year they already clarified that events which take place before someone becomes an MP aren’t within their remit. This won’t stop the calls for enquiries, suspension or the like, and I’d say that people should look closely at those doing the shouting instead and ask if the best tactic they can come up with is a pointless smear is there really any substance to their argument.

Of course it would be nice if Phil Boswell would just come out and set the record straight, but like his SNP colleague Sophia Coyle he has been gagged by his party, and it must be a real concern even to SNP members themselves that no effective rebuttals are employed, merely the issue of a brief statement, a battening down of the hatches and a faint hope that it will all just go away. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy