Tag Archives: Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke MP, Oil Fund and Election 2015 (Advertiser 11/01/15)

Letter to the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser:

Dear Sir,

The glee which Tom Clarke revels in over the latest oil prices was barely concealed in his column in last weeks Advertiser. By his estimate around 35,000 jobs are now under threat of being lost. Yet these are 35,000 jobs which we were told by the likes of Mr Clarke and by his cronies in the Tory Party that would be safer under the “broad shoulders” of the UK. Well here we are, apparently not so Better Together. The crisis is here and those broad shoulders are shrugging and saying it is up to the SNP to come with a solution.

What is even more sickening is when the likes of Labour’s Jackie Baillie try to make capital out of this by demanding that the SNP set up a resilience fund to help cope for times when the oil price slumps. Ms Baillie has spent much of the last two years campaigning against an oil fund. Indeed a mere five months ago she on behalf of the Labour Party was stating that creating such a fund would strip money from essential public services. This clearly demonstrates that the problem with telling lies is that you have to remember which lies you have told, otherwise you end up contradicting yourself.

Since the 1970’s successive Labour and Tory governments have refused to set up any such fund, so why call for one now? The 1974 McCrone Report which was also covered up by successive Labour and Tory governments recommended setting up an oil fund, so again I wonder, why call for one now, and why call for one from a government which doesn’t actually control that revenue stream? The answer is simple. On May 7th Mr Clarke and all his colleagues are facing annihilation at the polls. Labours actual membership figures are so low that they will not release them while the SNP are now the 3rd largest party in the UK. You can almost smell the fear from Mr Clarke and his colleagues because this is a horror movie scenario for them. One by one they wait to be picked off, not knowing who is safe and who is next for the chop, so they run around wildly, panicking and shouting nonsense.

Mr Clarke’s last statement in his column was that the Scottish people aren’t daft. He’s right in that respect. We aren’t daft enough to fall for the flip-flopping lies that the Red Tories are throwing around, we aren’t daft enough to believe that voting Labour will keep the Tories out (which it didn’t in 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992 or 2010) and we won’t be daft enough to vote Labour on May 7th.  

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy,

Post Referendum Letters: 08/12/14 (Advertiser)

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

A few weeks ago you published a letter from me regarding the Recall of MPs Bill debate which took place on 27th October 2014. In that letter I pointed out that three local Labour MPs, Tom Clarke, Frank Roy and Pamela Nash all voted against the proposed legislation. Tom Clarke replied to this via your letters page with the assertion that all three did vote for the power, and I stand corrected. I have re-checked the information on the websites They Work For You and Public Whip. These websites tally with the information contained in Hansard, the official record of Parliament for the debate which took place on that date. The proposed amendment to the bill would have strengthened it by giving the public the power to remove poorly performing MPs between elections. All three, Clarke, Nash and Roy voted that the public not be given this power, and instead they voted to introduce a bill which in my opinion is significantly weaker. Mr Clarke stated that they supported the bill which now “gives unprecedented powers to the people”. This means we are still reliant on a system where the MPs call the shots, with virtually only serious crime triggering the legislation. Hardly unprecedented.

Mr Clarke’s words mirror the actions of the Labour Party in relation to the negotiations with the Smith Commission. Labour publicly stated that we Scots are being given unprecedented new powers, but at the negotiating stage they were the ones actually demanding fewer powers. Abraham Lincoln is famously quoted as saying that “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time”. It would appear that time has caught up with Mr Clarke, and the ease of access which the public now has as to who said what and how people voted means that we are less likely to be fooled now or in the future. Their actions are a matter of public record, no matter how they try to spin the story, and if people take the time to look into those records I’m sure they will be just as appalled as I am at the actions of a group of politicians who always put themselves and their party before the needs of the people who actually put them there.

Post Referendum Letters: 31/10/14 (Advertiser)

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

When the MP’s expenses scandal broke in 2009 the UK public were quite rightly enraged. The level of virtually legalised theft from the public purse was horrendous. The process of switching or ‘flipping’ your designated second home to claim more expenses was endemic, with the then Chancellor Alistair Darling gaining the nickname ‘Flipper’ for his activities in this field. Over the course of expenses revelations it became apparent that some activities fell outside the description of merely exploiting loopholes and were in fact criminal acts. Labour’s Jim Devine was one of a handful who went to jail. Some MPs did the decent thing and resigned, but others simply clung on, vowing to stand down at the next election. This of course meant they would secure a generous parachute payment and protect their pension. What became more than obvious to many was that in most cases it was simply impossible to get rid of corrupt and criminal MPs other than by voting against them at a general election. In the wake of this parliament vowed to clean its act up, and promised all sorts of new legislation, most of which never saw the light of day.

One action that was mooted but was never delivered was the power of recall. This would give the electorate the power to sack poorly performing or criminal MPs between elections. This would appear to be popular with the public and common sense, so it’s no surprise that on 27th October many MPs voted against it. What people may find surprising is that Lanarkshire’s Labour MPs, Tom Clarke, Pamela Nash and Frank Roy all voted against this legislation. I cannot for the life of me comprehend why these MPs, supposedly socialists, supposedly representing the working class, would instead close ranks and vote to protect a system that is rotten to the core. This is the system which allows the likes of Eric Joyce to lurch from one drunken escapade to another, yet cling on to the bitter end to the expenses and status of being an MP. The people of Falkirk must wonder what they have done to deserve someone like Eric. Having been convicted for drink driving, and been exposed for his relationship with a schoolgirl, his only punishment politically has been to be expelled from the Labour Party. Do these people ever put the electorate first? Do they ever do what is morally right, not just what their party tells them to? To be successful as a Labour MP seems to be to follow the mantra of ‘Party, Personal, Patrons and Public’, in that order.

We are represented at Westminster by a political class so out of touch they have no concept of real life. We have Tom Clarke who had his office contact Ed Milliband to source an actual copy of the Vow made by Milliband, Cameron and Clegg, only to be told it was mocked up and didn’t actually exist, and who recently stated he would never have voted for a council tax freeze. Then we have Pamela Nash who vote for a Tory welfare cap knowing just how hard it would hammer her constituents.

So long as we are represented by people who are interested in their party first then the people of Airdrie and Coatbridge will be treated as second class citizens. Time and again it has been proven that loyalty by the electorate is never rewarded. Marginal seats are the ones where resources are poured into, and according to a recent BBC report Essex is where the next election will be won. Airdrie and Coatbridge don’t even figure on the radar and won’t unless we are willing to do something about it. Occasionally you have to give MPs the boot to get them to change their ways. With only seven months until the general election it’s time we put our current MPs under intense scrutiny, and websites such as What Do They Know which record all parliamentary activity are ideal for this. It’s time for all of us to carry out due diligence on Pamela Nash and Tom Clarke and see if they are fit for purpose beyond 2015. Their records speak for themselves. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy,

 

The Post Referendum Letters: 25/10/14 (Advertiser)

Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

The article in this weeks Advertiser about MSP’s expenses in this weeks Advertiser was a timely one. As one who regularly criticised our former Labour MSP Karen Whitefield for her expenses claims, I thought it only right to check out Alex Neil’s expenses as a comparison. A common criticism I made of Ms Whitefield was that living less than an hour from Edinburgh she had a habit of making overnight stays in Edinburgh when a taxi home would have been far cheaper. As the people of Airdrie have elected an MSP from outside the constituency it stands to reason that Mr Neil’s claims will be higher, and as anyone can see if they go on to the parliamentary website the majority of Mr Neil’s claims are travel and accommodation based. It’s also worth noting that his claims for a hotel are on average £20 per night less than his Coatbridge counterpart. Living less than an hour from Edinburgh, surely she could get a train or taxi home for far less than £115?

This should also apply to MP’s. During the recent referendum campaign I finally met our local MP, Labour’s Pamela Nash. When I complained about her expenses her reply was that perhaps I should “spend less time online looking at her expenses.” This is a bit rich coming from a woman who voted in Parliament to support the security services being given more powers to snoop on our private emails and retain electronic information about us. Prior to writing this I checked her expenses again, just to get my facts right. It seems our MSP’s claims in Monklands, Labour and SNP alike, pale into insignificance when compared to Ms Nash’s. £1516 a month for the rental of a house in Lambeth, council tax, gas, electricity. That’s over £19,600 a year! Coatbridge’s MP Tom Clarke may be living the high life in a hotel at around £150 a night, but he still manages to come in at around £3600 a year less than Ms Nash. Taxis to Edinburgh airport are another stand out on Ms Nash’s list, with claims made due to there being “no direct public transport available.” Here’s a thought, get the train to Haymarket and catch the airport bus or take the tram, like normal people have to.

What really makes this all the more galling is that as Scottish MP’s they have far less responsibility than MP’s from the rest of the UK. Health, education, sport, transport, housing, agriculture and more are devolved. Scottish MP’s are virtually part time. They should be on half a salary, never mind the full salary, and they certainly don’t need to employ more staff to do work they should be doing themselves. More powers are supposedly going to be devolved, but here’s the problem. The “more powers” we are promised are now tied to limiting Scottish MP’s ability to vote on English only matters, and these powers are now being put at risk by Labour who as usual are putting their party first. The SNP do not vote on matters which have been devolved. Curiously the Blue Tories, one of the main complainants in this matter allow their one MP to vote on English only issues. Anyone outside of Labour would see it as right and proper that if a power has been devolved that Scottish MP’s do not vote on it, yet Labour who are putting forward a weaker “Devo Max” package than even the Tories are willing to scupper these powers simply to retain power in England. It looks as though this very thing may have forced the resignation of Johann Lamont who now complains that her party in Scotland is having to dance to London’s tune.

In this time of greater austerity we should be looking at cutting the costs generated by Parliament, and I think it should be uppermost in all MP’s and MSP’s minds that their allowances should always be thought of as other peoples money, and that when claiming for rail travel, meals and hotels and hiring staff that they should be out to get the best value that they can find for the taxpayer. When they believe that they are entitled as a right to first class travel and 5 start hotels then they have lost the right to represent us. They are not finding a solution, they are simply part of the problem.

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy,

Post Referendum Letters: 25/10/14

To: Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

The article in this weeks Advertiser about MSP’s expenses in this weeks Advertiser was a timely one. As one who regularly criticised our former Labour MSP Karen Whitefield for her expenses claims, I thought it only right to check out Alex Neil’s expenses as a comparison. A common criticism I made of Ms Whitefield was that living less than an hour from Edinburgh she had a habit of making overnight stays in Edinburgh when a taxi home would have been far cheaper. As the people of Airdrie have elected an MSP from outside the constituency it stands to reason that Mr Neil’s claims will be higher, and as anyone can see if they go on to the parliamentary website the majority of Mr Neil’s claims are travel and accommodation based. It’s also worth noting that his claims for a hotel are on average £20 per night less than his Coatbridge counterpart. Living less than an hour from Edinburgh, surely she could get a train or taxi home for far less than £115?

This should also apply to MP’s. During the recent referendum campaign I finally met our local MP, Labour’s Pamela Nash. When I complained about her expenses her reply was that perhaps I should “spend less time online looking at her expenses.” This is a bit rich coming from a woman who voted in Parliament to support the security services being given more powers to snoop on our private emails and retain electronic information about us. Prior to writing this I checked her expenses again, just to get my facts right. It seems our MSP’s claims in Monklands, Labour and SNP alike, pale into insignificance when compared to Ms Nash’s. £1516 a month for the rental of a house in Lambeth, council tax, gas, electricity. That’s over £19,600 a year! Coatbridge’s MP Tom Clarke may be living the high life in a hotel at around £150 a night, but he still manages to come in at around £3600 a year less than Ms Nash. Taxis to Edinburgh airport are another stand out on Ms Nash’s list, with claims made due to there being “no direct public transport available.” Here’s a thought, get the train to Haymarket and catch the airport bus or take the tram, like normal people have to.

What really makes this all the more galling is that as Scottish MP’s they have far less responsibility than MP’s from the rest of the UK. Health, education, sport, transport, housing, agriculture and more are devolved. Scottish MP’s are virtually part time. They should be on half a salary, never mind the full salary, and they certainly don’t need to employ more staff to do work they should be doing themselves. More powers are supposedly going to be devolved, but here’s the problem. The “more powers” we are promised are now tied to limiting Scottish MP’s ability to vote on English only matters, and these powers are now being put at risk by Labour who as usual are putting their party first. The SNP do not vote on matters which have been devolved. Curiously the Blue Tories, one of the main complainants in this matter allow their one MP to vote on English only issues. Anyone outside of Labour would see it as right and proper that if a power has been devolved that Scottish MP’s do not vote on it, yet Labour who are putting forward a weaker “Devo Max” package than even the Tories are willing to scupper these powers simply to retain power in England. It looks as though this very thing may have forced the resignation of Johann Lamont who now complains that her party in Scotland is having to dance to London’s tune.

In this time of greater austerity we should be looking at cutting the costs generated by Parliament, and I think it should be uppermost in all MP’s and MSP’s minds that their allowances should always be thought of as other peoples money, and that when claiming for rail travel, meals and hotels and hiring staff that they should be out to get the best value that they can find for the taxpayer. When they believe that they are entitled as a right to first class travel and 5 start hotels then they have lost the right to represent us. They are not finding a solution, they are simply part of the problem.

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy,

 

The Referendum Letters: 23/04/14

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir, 

This week Gordon Brown came out of retirement to lecture us all on the pensions timebomb that awaits us in an independent Scotland. According to the media one of Britains worst ever Prime Ministers, if not the worst ever is now “a well respected political heavyweight”. Gordon Brown is to pensions what David Moyes is to managing Manchester United, so it was no surprise that he dished out a few facts and ran off before they could be questioned, much as George Osborne did a few months back. Never mind the quality, feel the gravitas…

Mr Brown’s decision to talk at us, rather than with us leaves us to interpret things ourselves, or rely on other political heavyweights such as Ian Gray to interpret things for us. Mr Gray, like Tom Clarke a few weeks back on tax, manages to muddy the waters rather than clarify them. In a television interview he said that bigger nations are in a better position to manage pensions, yet the UK pension was reported in the English editions of some newspapers as being the 4th worst in the developed world and when you actually look at the figures, they show that some of the largest countries have some of the worst pension systems.

Which makes you ask, where did Mr Brown obtain his statistics? Apparently, from a leaked government document. Why is there no inquiry into the leaking of this? Is it because it wasn’t leaked in the traditional sense, it was simply supplied to Mr Brown by his Tory chums so that he could do their dirty work for them?

In any case Mr Brown should have paid more attention to the facts and figures in the secret report which we cannot see, as it would appear the figures don’t add up. That is to be expected, as he has previous for that, having raided pension funds and sold off the UK’s gold reserves to balance the books in the past. According to Mr Brown 259,000 pensioners in Scotland receive on average of £20 a week disability support, at a cost to the taxpayer of £1 billion a year. Yet 259,000 multiplied by £20 a week is only £269 million pounds, nowhere near a billion. Similarly he claimed that £700 million is paid in credits to 248,000 Scots per year at an average of £25 a week. 248,000 multiplied by £25 a week is £322 million! With arithmetic like that it’s no wonder he left the economy in tatters. It seems that his tactic is to take the actual figures and then double or treble them, before shouting it out and running away before anyone gets a chance to question it.

And here was me thinking Better Together were going to be more positive in their outlook. Two weeks ago George Roberston was warning that the “forces of darkness” lay in wait for an independent scotland. At the end of last week it was Philip Hammond claiming an independent Scotland was at risk from an attack from space, this week they are trying to frighten us with killer pensions. 

The affordability of pensions comes not from the size of the country, but how wealthy that country is. Scotland has the chance to takes it’s wealth and make it work for it, and provide a decent pension system which will pay something more than what is forecast in the United Kingdom, a less than minimum wage pittance topped up with food banks and charity.

When Mr Brown, and Mr Clarke and Ms Nash and their ilk warn that jobs and pensions are at risk, they are correct. What they fail to tell you is that the jobs and pensions they are referring to are their own. An independent Scotland means the wheels come off their taxpayer funded gravy train forever. Is it any wonder that they will try any scare story in the book to keep their gravy train on track? 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy

The Referendum Letters: 14/04/14

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser

Dear Sir,

I am writing in response to Sam Daly’s letter in last weeks Advertiser. I assume that from his letter that he is unhappy that the SNP’s definition of those who are poor differs markedly from his. Perhaps Mr Daly would like to bring in means testing, and all the costs that come with it? There are thousands of families across the country who work who no doubt would fall on the wrong side of Mr Daly’s line, and for whom a few days sick means losing wages they cannot afford to lose, leaving them to decide whether they can actually afford the medicine that will make them better. It’s all very well saying him that he is happy to pay more tax for better services, but he doesn’t speak for those I have mentioned. The truth is by stripping away the costly administration of the prescription system, it is possible to give everyone, irrespective of income, free prescriptions for little more than was already being paid. Isn’t that a fairer system? Or would he prefer that those who can as he puts it, afford it, can pay for it but not use it? 

He also states that our health service is in sharp decline due to funding cuts. Perhaps Mr Daly is unaware that our NHS, while independent of the English NHS since 1948, receives it’s funding as part of the block grant created under the Barnett Formula. This gives Scotland an allowance based on it receiving a small fixed percentage of how much England spends. As England moves towards a privatised NHS, government expenditure has dropped. PPP and PFI, along with privatisation ad directly billing the sick for treatment means that their NHS spending is dropping, and will continue to drop, and if their budget goes down so must ours, irrespective of our needs or our contributions. Even if Mr Daly’s generous offer to pay more tax was taken up it wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference, because if England spends less, they will give us less of our money back to spend. Yet we Scot’s are the ones labelled subsidy junkies! 

He then goes on to complain that the SNP only agreed to pay the Bedroom Tax, which our Labour MP failed to oppose, when forced to do so. He completely misses the point that this is a completely unfair tax, as rotten as the Poll Tax, which should never have been imposed in the first place! Even worse than that, was that the money to pay this unfair tax had to be found from somewhere, so other budgets suffered because of it. Why complain about Social Services having their budgets frozen and then support stripping money through a completely pointless tax, designed to hammer those who can least afford it? 

Mr Daly seems to be parroting the ever more out of touch Johann Lamont, a woman at the head of a party now so bitter and twisted that it would scrap every last decent thing which has been put in place by the SNP, precisely because it was done by the SNP. The fact that at some point along the line she supported these policies makes no difference, and now she cries that Scots just want something for nothing! The SNP have succeeded where she and her party failed. God forbid that woman ever becomes First Minister, as she is all for reintroducing prescription charges, imposing higher council taxes, scrapping free bus travel for the elderly and supports cutting the amount of money that Scotland gets via the Barnett Formula. When I say that she supports it a cut, what I of course mean is that she is proposing that Scotland raise more of its own tax, which would indirectly lead to a cut in our block grant, and a massive drop in what Scotland gets, as the oil revenue which trickles back to Scotland would be turned off entirely. It’s just that Mrs Lamont doesn’t understand it’s a cut. Her recent shambolic television appearances when she had to speak without having things written down proved that. Other Labour figures have chipped in to provide clarity, such as Tom Clarke MP, only to muddy the waters by contradicting what their leader says, as it appears they don’t understand it either. 

Finally, as I’m sure Mr Daly knows all too well, the cuts to the opening times at Airdrie Police Station were carried out by Police Scotland, NOT the SNP, but why let the truth get in the way of things?. Even then I fail to understand his point. If you have lost your purse and can’t afford travel to the station, why does it make a bit of difference whether someone is manning the desk? You can call 101 to report it anyway. To me it makes more sense to actually have the police out on the ground dealing with crime rather than at a desk on the off chance that someone will want to drop by at three in the morning.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy