Is Scotland the only country in the world where the Transport Minister is required to resign if there is snow? As far as I can see from an internet search the answer is yes. It really shows how desperate British Nationalist politicians are, calling for Humza Yousaf to be sacked when they are reliant on the plight reckless drivers who ignored warnings not to travel in severe weather as an excuse. In December 2017 many drivers were stranded on the M25 in London and I can recall no calls for for Chris Grayling to be sacked. Mr Yousaf also regularly takes criticism for the cost and performance of the Scotrail franchise, which figures released by the RMT show is the third cheapest per passenger mile in the entire UK and is consistently one of the better performers in terms of punctuality. So why is there no clamour for the failing Westminster Transport Minister to be sacked? The hypocrisy is staggering.
The economic impact of Brexit is now estimated to mean a cut in income for each and every Scot of £2,300 a year. That’s the real cost of Brexit, previously obscured by a slogan on a bus, and now exposed for all to see. How many Scots would now wind back the clock to September 2014 and think again about their decision to stick with the UK? The same UK that told them that they’d be £500 a year worse off outside of the UK and also that they would be thrown out of the EU. Unfortunately for us there is no going back, but If given the chance to vote again on Scotland’s future, Scots have to be braver than last time and rather than cower under London’s threat and fear campaign must rise to the occasion and show the world that we have learned from our mistake and are ready, willing and able to take our place amongs the nations of the world as equals.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 peopleindulging 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.
In the run up to the Scottish independence referendum I wrote a number of letters to mainly the local press, although there was also also some to the national press as well. I’ve decided to put these all in one place and will collate all of them on here. Some may refer to letters, responses or replies which were made in the press, so the full context will not be available. Had I been a compulsive hoarder I would have these tucked away. If there are any compulsive hoarders out there who have the originals…can I have a copy?
The letters which I will be adding will be the versions saved in my files. The vast majority were published, mostly with no or minor editing from the publishers.
During the referendum I also contributed to may online discussions and created a number of images which were shared on Facebook. I think it may be interesting to see this laid out in order. Hopefully I’ll get around to that. This is a work in progress…