Scottish devolution: The Release of the Smith Commission report and Comments as they happened

1. 08.00 Good morning. At 08.30, Lord Smith of Kelvin will unveil a new devolution deal to Scotland that will grant Holyrood powers over income tax and welfare spending. The cross-party commission was set up after the unionist parties promised greater powers for Scotland in the event of a no vote in the independence referendum, in a pledge known as ‘The Vow’. The deal is being hailed as the biggest transfer of powers to Scotland since the Scottish Parliament was set up 15 years ago. It has been drawn up in little over two months. The deal includes:

a.. Full control in Scotland over income tax rates and bands, but not the personal allowance threshold.

b. More control over welfare, including the rate of Disability Living Allowance ands its successor PIP, Attendance Allowance and Carer’s Allowance. Scottish ministers will have the power to top up Universal Credit to effectively abolish the “bedroom tax”.

c. Control over Scottish Parliament elections will be devolved, allowing SNP ministers to press ahead with plans to give 16 and 17 year olds the vote.

2. 08.10 The devolution of income tax goes beyond what Labour intended. Gordon Brown warned the devolution of income tax would be a “trap” because it would force Scottish MPs to surrender significant voting rights in Westminster over budgets – putting the Union itself at risk. Under the deal, however, we expect Scottish MPs to retain votes over budget votes. Asked why the reversal in position, Jim Murphy, running to lead Scottish Labour, said this morning: “I’ve changed my mind.” “I listened to the people of Scotland in the referendum, who wanted real change but in the United Kingdom. We changed our mind, and reflected on the wishes of the people of Scotland. “I think this morning very many of those Yes voters who are not dyed-in-the-wool SNP people, they will be pretty satisfied with this deal. “But the second thing is that important parts of pooling and sharing of resources within the UK remain, the Barnett formula will remain, issues about the state pension will remain, and the ability to deal with a downturn in the economy will remain by Universal Credit and things like that remaining part of the UK. “So I think it’s a remarkable deal and a best of both worlds deal: really strong devolution but Scotland remaining part of the UK.”

3. 08.20 Gordon Brown has issued a statement, saying: “The Vow to deliver a stronger Scottish Parliament within the UK has been kept, as promised, and the timetable for draft laws to be published in January will now be honoured, as promised.” He says that the Smith Commission has ruled that income tax is a “shared UK tax” and that a reserve power to levy a UK-wide income tax has been retained. “The Commission has rightly REJECTED the Conservative proposal ​from the day after the referendum for excluding Scottish MPs from voting on Budget income tax decisions. It has rightly ​recommended that the whole of the House of Commons, including Scottish representatives, will ​always ​vote on​ every aspect of UK Budget tax decisions.”

4. 08.30 Lord Forsyth, John Major’s Scottish Secretary, has attacked the reforms to income tax as “piecemeal” that will be easily avoided, as the wealthy can take their income as dividends. “This is why it’s mad to rely on income tax as your main source of revenue. If the proposals are that dividends in income should be not taxed, they can change to have most of their income in dividends and avoid the Scottish rate of tax. I think we could end up if people think more powers to the Scottish parliament means more money… this has not been thought through,” he told Newsnight last night. “The Labour party’s idea that we should have a constitutional convention for the whole of the United Kingdom, and not do this piecemeal reform as a panic measure to the rise of the nationalists and the result of the referendum.”

5. 08.40 Boris & Co: Now give powers for England. Local government leaders including Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, have called for negotiation similar to that in Scotland to agree a comparable package for English local government. The letter, entitled What is good enough for Scotland, says:

a. We leaders and supporters of local government in England of all parties and types of local government congratulate Scotland on the measure of devolution they have worked for and that is now proposed by the Smith Commission. We call upon central Government and party leaders to recognise that local government should be the vehicle for devolution in England and to now negotiate with us using a similar non-party Commission to agree a comparable package of measures for local government in England which can appear in the Manifestos and be enacted after the General Election:

Signatories include:

Sir Richard Lees, Leader Manchester City Council
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
Jim O’Neill, Author RSA Cities Report
George Ferguson ,Mayor of Bristol
Cllr David Hodge, Chair County Councils Network .
Graham Allen MP ,Chair of Parliament’s Political and Constitutional Reform Select
Cllr Dave Sparks ,Chair of the Local Government Association
Cllr Ken Browse, Chairman, National Association of Local Councils
Cllr Marianne Overton ,Leader LGA Independent Group
Cllr Neil Clarke, Chairman of the District Councils Network
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Leader LibDem group LGA
Cllr Julie Dore ,Leader of Sheffield City Council,
Clive Betts MP ,Chair of Parliament’s Local Govt Committee
Cllr Nick Forbes, Leader Newcastle City Council,
Cllr Albert Bore ,Leader Birmingham City Council,
Joe Anderson Mayor of Liverpool,
Cllr Jon Collins Leader Nottingham City Council,
Cllr Ruth Dombey,Vice Chair London Councils
Cllr Keith Wakefield, Leader Leeds City Council
Jules Pipe,Chair London Boroughs Association

6. 09.00 Lord Smith of Kelvin begins the press conference. He praises political leaders for coming together after the “bruising” referendum. The Scottish Parliament will be “stronger” with “more tools to pursue its tools and objectives”, he says, after the biggest transfer of powers since it was created. It will be “more accountable” because more spending will be funded from tax within Scotland. Specific mentions;

a. New borrowing powers alongside tax raising and the Barnett Formula block grant.

b. The Parliament will get the first ten per cent of VAT.

c. Receipt of Air Passenger Duty.

d. Control over how elections are run.

e. The number of msp’s to be elected to parliament and how they are to be disqualified.

f. Power to give 16 and 17 year olds a vote.

g. Scotland will get power over disability and care benefits.

h. Control of unemployment programmes, welfare subsidies, cold weather, winter fuel & funeral payments and the maternity grant.

i. power to create new benefits.

j. The Scottish Government will be given a bigger role in EU negotiations.

k. Urging the Scottish people to be “patient” for the delivery of the new powers. he said:

l. “Change of this magnitude cannot be rushed through.” He says inter-governmental working “needs to be improved”.

m. David Cameron and Nicola Sturgeon must meet to discuss outcomes soon after after 25 January 2015.

n. The Speakers of the Commons and the Scottish Parliament should meet to discuss how public understanding of the new settlement can be improved.

o. Some believe the commission has gone too far, others not enough,” he said, “but my work is done – responsibility now passes to the Scottish Government.”

7. 09.15 Comments were received from:

a. John Swinney, the Scottish finance minister and Deputy First Minister, said the proposals lack the job creation powers, welfare powers, control over personal allowance or national insurance that will allow Scotland to succeed. “I regret these powers have not been delivered.” He said they recognised the Smith Commission could not grant independence but they hoped it would allow Scotland to succeed economically. They say this does not happen. “We welcome the new powers – as we support all progress for Scotland – and pledge to use them when they are in place in the best interests of the Scottish people. We also welcome the acknowledgement of the ‘sovereign right’ of the people of Scotland, and our ability to proceed to independence if we so choose. “But the proposals clearly do not reflect the full wishes of the people of Scotland, and also fall far short of the rhetoric from the No campaign during the referendum. Then, Gordon Brown promised ‘nothing less than a modern form of Scottish Home Rule’ and ‘as close to a federal state’ as the UK can be. That was the context for the “extensive new powers” promised in the Vow. Regrettably, the Westminster parties were not prepared to deliver the powerhouse parliament the people of Scotland were promised – under these proposals, less than 30 per cent of our taxes will be set in Scotland and less than 20 per cent of welfare spending will be devolved to Scotland. That isn’t Home Rule – it’s continued Westminster rule.” “Most significantly, the proposals do not include the job-creating powers that Scotland so badly needs to get more people into work and grow the economy, or welfare powers to tackle in-work poverty.” That claim is based on these two sentences in the report:

i. “Reflecting the sovereign right of the people of Scotland to determine the form of government best suited to their needs, as expressed in the referendum on 18 September 2014, and in the context of Scotland remaining within the UK, an enhanced devolution settlement for Scotland will be durable, responsive and democratic.”

ii. “It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose.”

b. Iain Gray, for Labour, says the vow has been kept. “This is a good day for Scotland.”

c. Annabel Ewing, the former Scottish Tory leader, says the Scottish Parliament will have to “look people in the eye” over how taxpayers’ money is spent.

d. Michael Moore, the former Scottish secretary, says the deal is “Home Rule for Scotland” and a “transformation of the United Kingdom”. “We are creating a Scottish welfare system,” he says.

8. 09.30 On Twitter, ‘betrayal’ is now trending in Glasgow, which voted yes. A sample of some reaction from separatists;

a. The SNP should NOT accept this deal. Barnett Formula IS being cut. That is NOT acceptable. It’s a betrayal.

b. These banners are all over the east end of Glasgow. Telling labour that they won’t forget

9. 09.40 John Redwood, the standard bearer for the Tory right, warns Scottish MPs voting on English income tax will be “unjust”. He wants a new settlement where the Speaker will declare which issues are English only. “I’m here to speak for England, and what we need is the ability to make a decision on behalf of England, just based on the votes of the English MPs at Westminster. Or in some cases we may be doing it with Wales and Northern Ireland if the issues are not devolved there, but not with Scotland, because the issues have been devolved to the Scottish Parliament. “Now that Scotland is going to get this mighty power to choose the tax rates and the bands for income tax, [it’s important] that Scottish MPs don’t come to Westminster and then impose an income tax rate or income tax band on England that we don’t want. It would be quite unjust if Scottish MPs were still able to vote on our income tax when they could not vote on their own income tax, and when Scotland had her right to choose her own income tax without us.”

10. 09.50 Nick Clegg says the parties have over-delivered on The Vow. “Call it Vow Max, Vow Plus Plus,” he tells his weekly radio show on LBC. “Because what you have got in the Smith Commission, which I think is truly remarkable, is the devolution over money so that Scotland now will be responsible for the majority of the money that it spends which is a good thing. “This is not asking more of English tax-payers. It is saying that if the Scottish people and the Scottish politicians they elect want to do more things, on welfare for instance, they have got the freedom to raise it for them themselves and they will have, basically, a new welfare system for them to manage themselves in Scotland. They will have to fund it but they will be allowed to take responsibility for it. “That is basically Home Rule and that is something that Liberals down the ages have argued for over a long period of time. We also need Home Rule for Sheffield for Liverpool for Newcastle… we need devolution, decentralisation across the country.”

11. 10.00 A re-cap from the report – in full here – on what the deal proposes:

– Scotland can set the rates and thresholds of income tax, but the personal allowance will remain set in Westminster. All the revenue will stay in Scotland. It will be administered by HMRC, with any extra costs footed in Scotland.

– Scotland will take the first 10 percentage points (i.e. half) of VAT receipts.

– Scotland will have have the power to borrow on the international markets, within a “prudential borrowing regime consistent with a sustainable overall UK framework.”

– Scotland will have control on air passenger duty from Scottish airports, and can scrap it.

– Power over the running of Scottish Parliament elections, including spending and the age of the franchise and the number of MSPs.

– Consultation with Scottish ministers on negotiations with the European Union, and allowing Scottish Government ministers to speak on behalf of all of the UK at the Council of Ministers in Europe.

– The Crown Estate i.e. Government land will transfer to the Scottish Parliament. This includes the seabed, rural estates, stretches of coast line and mineral and fishing rights. But it will not cover “critical national infrastructure” covering defence, oil and gas.

– The Scottish Government will have a role in reviewing the BBC’s charter and the BBC – vilified in the referendum campaign by nationalists – will have to answer to the Scottish Parliament’s committees.

– Scotland will have a greater say over running the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Northern Lighthouse Board, Ofcom and Ofgem.

– the ability to top-up benefits payments to cancel out the so-called Bedroom Tax.

– Benefits for carers, the disabled and the ill; cold weather, funeral payments, maternity grants and winter fuel payments.

– The right to create new benefit payments.

– The running of back-to-work schemes for the unemployed.

– The report calls for “serious consideration” to devolving control over abortion and call for immediate consideration.

– It calls for a discussion around the devolution of medical rules on embryology, surrogates and medicines.

– Tribunals will transfer to Scotland, except the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission.

– Transport will be devolved, including the power to set speed limits, and allowing the state to bid for rail franchises.

– The level of so-called Green Levies on fuel bills will remain in Westminster, but how they are raised will be devolved.

– Scotland will take control of onshore oil and gas licencing, but off-shore will remain a UK-wide issue.

– Scottish ministers can request competition authorities investigate issue in Scotland.

– Scotland takes control of consumer advocacy, and will have the power to prevent the spread of payday loan shops and fixed odds betting terminals.

Powers explicitly staying with Westminster are:

– The Barnett Formula, setting the block grant from Westminster, will remain.

– The state pension, including the pension age.

– National Insurance, Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Corporation tax, fuel duty, oil and gas receipts remain controlled by Westminster.

– Universal Credit, the new DWP system for delivering working age benefits, including the rates and sanctions regime

– Housing benefit, maternity pay, statutory sick pay, bereavement allowance and child benefit.

– the National Minimum Wage.

– The Equality Act will remain UK wide, but Scotland will be able to set new rules such as gender quotas.

– The Treasury retains overall responsibility to manage risks and shocks to the economy, including a power to levy UK-wide taxes if required.

12. 10.50 David Cameron welcomed the Smith Commission, and says the case for English votes for English laws is now “unanswerable”. He will unveil proposals before Christmas. “I’m delighted with what’s been announced. We are keeping our promises and we’re keeping our United Kingdom together. I always said that a ‘no’ vote didn’t mean no change. Indeed, we made a vow of further devolution to Scotland. And today we show how we’re keeping that vow and we’ll continue to keep that promise. “The Scottish Parliament is going to have much more responsibility in terms of spending money. But it will also have to be accountable for how it raises taxes to fund that spending. And I think that’s a good thing. “I think the report today also makes the case for English votes for English laws unanswerable and we’ll be taking action on that shortly. And I think, taken together, this extra devolution for Scotland and dealing with the all the issues in our United Kingdom will make our United Kingdom stronger. So it’s a good day for the UK.”

13. 10.58 On Twitter, the Smith Commission becomes #smithscommission;

a. This Charming Mandate For Radical Change #smithscommission — Robert Hutton (@RobDotHutton)

b. heaven knows i’m miserable vow. #smithscommission euan mccolm (@euanmccolm)

c. Please please please let me get greater fiscal autonomy #smithscommission — Steve Van Riel (@steve_vr)

14. 11.04 Jim Murphy, the Labour leadership front runner, says the deal means the SNP will no longer be able to blame London for failing to deliver. “The Vow made during the referendum campaign has not only been delivered – it has been exceeded. “This huge package of new powers is a good deal for Scotland. More decisions about Scotland will be taken here in Scotland, without losing the financial security that comes with the Barnett formula. “The days of political parties in Scotland promising the earth but blaming someone else for their failure to deliver are well and truly over. There will be no hiding place for those parties which preach social justice but duck for cover when called to act.”

15. 11.15 In the Commons, MPS are discussing the Smith Commission;

a. Alistair Carmichael, the Scottish Secretary, says the measures “will be implemented without hesitation, without reservation and without equivocation”. He says “work starts today” to turn recommendations into draft legislation by Burns Night in January 2015. “For the first time over 50 percent of the money spent by the Scottish Government will be raised by the Scottish Government,” he says.

b. Alistair Darling, the former Chancellor, says devolution must do nothing “that undermines the integrity of the United Kingdom.

c. Stewart Hosie, the SNP Deputy Leader, says the SNP “won’t stand in the way” of the package but says it has not turned the Scottish Parliament into a “powerhouse”, and says the Scottish voters have been let down.

d. Carmichael chided Stewart Hosie’s tone and said he should have failed to welcome the deal. “He predictably and depressingly seeks to claim this is not the fulfilled.” He waved a copy of today’s Record, which declared: “The Vow Delivered”. He demanded the SNP respected the outcome of the referendum for a generation. He went on to say, “Britain needs federalism,” but held back from saying that’s what the report achieved.

f. Redwood demanded English MPs have control over English taxes. Carmichael dodged the question a little, and said that the Smith Commission ruled that income tax is a UK-wide tax. MPs shouted “Rubbish!”.

g. Carmichael is asked if the UK Treasury will have to undewrite Scotland’s extra borrowing. He responded; “Scotland will be liable for any debts it incurs under its new borrowing powers”. (How that works in theory and practice is not clear since the UK retains responsiblity for overall fiscal framework.)

h. Carmichael is asked whether Scottish control of income tax could trigger a low-tax race between England and Scotland. “That is indeed one of the possible consequences,” he responded.

i. Pete Wishart (SNP, Perth) said the package is disappointing.

j. Carmichael said Wishart just wanted independence. “He lost. It’s about time he and his party came to terms with that loss. For him and his party to try and get independence by the back door does not respect the views of the Scottish people as expressed in the referendum. He has a duty to speak for the 60.91 per cent of his own constituents who rejected independence.”

k. Philip Davies asks “how those people who wanted the status quo should have voted in the independence referendum.” Carmichael said it was clear that a “vote for no was not a vote for no change”.

l. Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle, asked about air passenger duty and the competition from Scottish airports v northern English airports. Carmichael said it was for her and her city to propose the new powers they wanted.

m. Asked about English votes for English laws, he said: “I am confident that England will get what England wants, when England decides what it is it wants.”

17. 12.00 Update on borrowing: the PM was asked about this at the Liason Committee last week. He said borrowing would be capped at £2.2 billion and the UK is the lender of last resort.

18. 12.20 Elsewhere in the world, the price of Brent Crude has fallen to the lowest level in four years as Opec meets. The Yes campaign’s finances were built on assumptions of oil at $113 a barrel. It’s now $75.75. Under the Smith Commission, oil revenues will not be devolved – to SNP chagrin.

19. 12.40 A number of aspects outstanding will be clarified in time by Westminster;

a. What English votes for English laws really mean – and whether MPs from north of the border will be barred from voting on income tax bands and rates in the rest of the UK.

b. Details are due to be set out by Mr Cameron before Christmas but the PM’s official spokesman said that the principle would be that the differentiation would apply to “all financial matters”.

c. Some elements of income tax would remain UK-wide, he pointed out, such as the allowance thresholds and how income was defined – and there would “continue to be a UK Budget”.

d. Asked specifically if MPs from north of the border would be excluded from voting, for example, on a change to income tax bands or rates in the rest of the UK, he declined to give detail of specific plans.

e. But he added: “Where you see significant areas of devolution, there is an important principle there in terms of English votes for English laws.

f. The Prime Minister was pretty clear when he was in front of the select committee that he thinks he is going to bring forward proposals which are going to reflect that because that is the fair thing to do.”

20. Ed Miliband insisted the settlement meant Scottish MPs WILL vote on English budgets. “The system of tax reliefs remains at a UK level, other aspects of the income tax system remain at the UK level. “I think it’s part of the integrity of the UK that it continues to be the place that Scottish MPs vote on the budget. The Smith Commission itself recognises that in their report.

21. 13.30 Other matters arising;

a. Nicola Sturgeon ‘wants to impose stealth tartan tax’.

b. Nicola Sturgeon attacks Scotland powers deal agreed by SNP.

c. Ed Miliband trys to win back Yes voters in Scotland.

22. 13.30 Labour are concerned about regional airports in the north of England, and tax competition from lower levels of air passenger duty in Scotland.Is a tax race brewing? Balls and Umunna have written to their Tory counterparts;

a. All of our parties support the Smith Commission conclusions and its principle that implementation should “not cause detriment to the UK as a whole nor to any of its constituent parts.” and ”cause neither the UK Government nor the Scottish Government to gain or lose financially simply as a consequence of devolving a specific power”

b. It is important that, in implementing the Smith recommendations in relation to Air Passenger Duty, this principle is upheld. This means ensuring that English Regional Airports are not disadvantaged.

c. English Regional airports cannot be faced with continuing uncertainty and risk through not knowing whether they will be significantly disadvantaged should a future Scottish Government introduce changes to Air Passenger Duty.

d. It is therefore imperative that the UK Treasury leads work across Government – and working with the Scottish Government – on a mechanism to ensure that English airports, particularly in the North of England, are not disadvantaged.

The Rise & Fall of Steve Hilton – The Man Who Brought the Tory’s to Government

1. An Introduction to Steve Hilton

a. He is the son of Hungarian immigrants whose original surname was Hircsák who fled their home during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. They came to Britain, initially claiming asylum, and anglicised their name to Hilton. He won a scholarship to Christ’s Hospital School in Horsham before reading Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at New College, Oxford.

b. Hilton is married to Rachel Whetstone, a former aide (political secretary) to Michael Howard, who is now head of communications at Google. They live in the San Francisco Bay Area with their two sons, Ben and Sonny. The couple were godparents to David Cameron’s son Ivan, who died at age six.

c. After graduating from Oxford University with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, Hilton joined Conservative Central Office, as a researcher, where he came to know David Cameron and Rachel Whetstone, his future wife and Global VP of Public Affairs and Communications for Google.

d. He liaised with the party’s advertising firm, Saatchi and Saatchi, and was praised by Maurice Saatchi, who remarked, “No one reminds me as much of me when young as Steve.” During this time Hilton came up with the “New Labour, New Danger” demon eyes poster campaign for the Conservative’s pre-general election campaign in 1996, which won an award from the advertising industry’s Campaign magazine at the beginning of 1997.

e. Hilton went on to work for international advertising agencies Saatchi & Saatchi and M&C Saatchi, during which time he led campaigns for clients in the private and non-profit sectors, as well as numerous political campaigns around the world – including for President Boris Yeltsin in Russia’s first free elections.

f. Hilton started his own company, “Good Business”, a corporate responsibility consulting firm advising international and UK clients on ways to improve their impact on society. With his business partner Giles Gibbons, Steve also set up an award-winning London restaurant, The Good Cook, which aimed to showcase the ‘Good Business’ philosophy.

g. During this period, Steve spoke and broadcast internationally as an advocate of corporate responsibility, and wrote a book, Good Business – Your World Needs You, which set out the case for businesses to play a more direct and active role in advancing social progress.

h. Before the British General Election in 2010, Steve served as chief strategist for David Cameron throughout his five years as leader of the opposition and in his party leadership campaign. He is widely credited with developing the ideas associated with the modernisation of the British Conservative Party.

i. His responsibilities, in government focused on the development and implementation of domestic policy, with a particular emphasis on: the promotion of enterprise and economic growth; public service reform; family policy; decentralisation, and government transparency and accountability.

j. It has been reported that Hilton’s ‘blue sky thinking’ caused conflict within the civil service in Whitehall and according to The Economist, despite guiding the Party to electoral success Hilton “remains appallingly understood”.

k. Steve is co-founder and CEO of, a new Silicon Valley technology start-up that will make it easier for people to find and support political candidates that match their passions and beliefs. He is also a visiting professor at Stanford University, teaching classes on innovation in government, and new solutions to poverty in America.

2.January 2010; The campaign to discredit Steve Hilton, Cameron’s favourite moderniser?

a. Somebody has it in for Steve Hilton, the advertising wizard who packaged and marketed David Cameron. Somebody – almost certainly a colleague in the Conservative party – is intent on keeping him out of the team of advisers whom David Cameron is expected to take into Downing Street. The evidence of a conspiracy is the stream of revelations calculated to embarrass him at a critical moment in the political cycle. The main ones could only have come from Conservatives who think Mr Hilton has too much influence for the party’s good.

b. First there was the leak of five “Strategy Bulletins” he had circulated to Tory MPs between 16 October and 4 December, which turned up in The Times a week ago, and then found other outlets. They reveal Mr Hilton’s boyish enthusiasm for up-to-the-minute political ideas. “What does he think we do?” a furious Tory shadow minister demanded in The Mail on Sunday. “Does he think we sit on our hands waiting to read emails from a 10-year-old who has just discovered Conservatism, on a £200,000 salary, in some farmhouse, with a wife who works for Google? It’s crap. Steve Hilton has discovered Conservatism without any understanding of it. He has just bumped into it and said, ‘Hey, guys, it’s amazing!’.”

c. Mr Hilton was the brains behind the poster campaign launched across the country on Monday, with a giant picture of Mr Cameron alongside the slogan: “We can’t go on like this. I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS.” It was an invitation to vote for Mr Cameron and forget his party. That pronoun, “I” cut the shadow Chancellor George Osborne out of the picture, along with everyone else, and was sure to create wounded feelings. To add to the doubts, the Daily Mirror, which tailed Mr Hilton for two days to obtain pictures of him jumping red lights on his bike, also came up with evidence that Mr Cameron’s picture had been touched up to give him more hair and pouting lips. Questioned about this on the Today programme, Mr Cameron replied tetchily: “Look, I don’t produce the picture or the poster” – not very encouraging for the person who did.

d. Then there was the sudden, late appearance of a story that is actually more than a year old. On 1 October 2008, at the end of the Conservative conference in Birmingham, Mr Hilton had an altercation with a member of staff at New Street station as he was hurrying for a train and could not lay hands on his ticket. Allegedly, he called the official a “wanker”. He was arrested, but later de-arrested and served with a £80 penalty notice for disorder. It is not the fine that will have hurt Mr Hilton, but the humiliation of having the story all over the media in the very week when electioneering began in earnest.

e. Mr Hilton is not a politician but an advertising man who was a rising star at Saatchi & Saatchi, and who voted Green in 2001. The most familiar image of him is as the prototype for Stewart Pearson, the fictional, bald, casually dressed Tory spin doctor in Armando Iannucci’s The Thick of It, who regales staff with buzz phrases like, “knowledge is porridge”.

f. Friends say Mr Hilton, the son of a Hungarian immigrant who changed his name from Hircksac, is nothing like his fictional counterpart, yet he cycles to work in shorts, never wears a suit, is almost bald, and uses phrases such as “harnessing the insights of behavioural economics and social psychology can help you achieve your policy goals in a more effective and light touch way”.

g. He has more influence over David Cameron than most, if not all, MPs. His wife, Rachel Whetstone, was an adviser to Michael Howard before she became head of communications for Google. They recently bought a £1,050,000 house in Oxfordshire, seven miles from the Camerons’.

h. While some of the sniping at Hilton may be fired by jealousy, it has a political purpose, and the success or failure of his enemies will influence the party’s future. A few months ago, there was an attack on his strategy in the right-wing magazine, Standpoint. It was summarised as: “Euroscepticism must be reserved for private consumption; socially progressive attitudes paraded at every opportunity; and a healthy respect for Blair’s electoral success must be transformed into the dogma that Blairism worked.”

i. He is the guru who persuaded David Cameron to cycle to work, be seen without a tie, to be photographed in the Arctic, and come over as a policy-light, eco-friendly Tony Blair lookalike. This makes him anathema to Conservatives who want less image and more policy, less modernity and more banging of the traditional Tory drums.

k. Recently, Mr Hilton was reported to be embroiled in a row with Cameron’s head of policy, James O’Shaughnessy, over how much detail should be in the manifesto. This has opened up a battle over who will get jobs as special advisers in a Cameron government. This is a sensitive matter: the Tories have attacked Labour over their number of special advisers – about 70. The Tories will be open to a charge of hypocrisy unless they restrict the number of political advisers they employ at public expense. David Cameron owes so much to Mr Hilton that it seems impossible that his future could be in question, but if a paid adviser attracts bad publicity, he becomes dispensable. “Let’s imagineer the narrative,” the fictional Stewart Pearson has said. Just now, the narrative needs re-imagineering for Steve Hilton.

3. May 2010; Having largely detoxified the Conservative Party – Steve Hilton Outlines how open government will work

a. David Cameron’s, (Steve Hilton’s) letter to the nation 1 May 2010. Our contract between the Conservative Party and you by David Cameron

b. We go into the general election on 6 May 2010 with trust in politics and politicians at an all-time low. And I can understand why: the years of broken promises, the expenses scandal, the feeling that politicians have become too remote from the people – they’ve all taken their toll. That’s why I’m making this contract with you.

c. For too long, you’ve been lied to by politicians saying they can sort out all your problems. But it doesn’t work like that. Real change is not just about what the government does. Real change only comes when we understand that we are all in this together; that we all have a responsibility to help make our country better. This contract sets out my side of the bargain: the things I want to do to change Britain.

c. But it also makes clear that I cannot do it on my own. We will only get our economy moving, mend our broken society and reform our rotten political system if we all get involved, take responsibility, and work together. So this is our contract with you. I want you to read it and – if we win the election – use it to hold us to account. If we don’t deliver our side of the bargain, vote us out in five years’ time.

d. We will change politics: Our political system needs to change. Politicians must be made more accountable, and we must take power away from Westminster and put it in the hands of people – individuals, families and neighbourhoods. If you elect a Conservative government on 6 May, we will:

i. Give you the right to sack your MP, so you don’t have to wait for an election to get rid of politicians who are guilty of misconduct.

ii. Cut the number of MPs by ten per cent, and cut the subsidies and perks for politicians.

iii. Cut ministers’ pay by five per cent, and freeze it for five years.

iv. Give local communities the power to take charge of the local planning system and vote on excessive council tax rises.

v. Make government transparent, publishing every item of government spending over £25,000, all government contracts, and all local council spending over £500.

e. We will change the economy. Gordon Brown’s economic incompetence has doubled the national debt, given us record youth unemployment, and widened the gap between rich and poor. Unemployment is still rising, and this year we will spend more on debt interest than on schools. We need to get our economy moving. If you elect a Conservative government on 6 May, we will:

i. Cut wasteful government spending so we can stop Labour’s jobs tax, which would kill the recovery.

ii. Act now on the national debt, so we can keep mortgage rates lower for longer.

iii. Reduce emissions and build a greener economy, with thousands of new jobs in green industries and advanced manufacturing.

iv. Get Britain working by giving unemployed people support to get work, creating 400,000 new apprenticeships and training places over two years, and cutting benefits for those who refuse work.

v. Control immigration, reducing it to the levels of the 1990s – meaning tens of thousands a year, instead of the hundreds of thousands a year under Labour.

f. We will change society: We face big social problems in this country: family breakdown, educational failure, crime and deep poverty. Labour’s big government has failed; we will help build a Big Society where everyone plays their part in mending our broken society. If you elect a Conservative government on 6 May, we will:

i. Increase spending on health every year, while cutting waste in the NHS, so that more goes to nurses and doctors on the frontline, and make sure you get access to the cancer drugs you need.

ii. Support families, by giving married couples and civil partners a tax break, giving more people the right to request flexible working and helping young families with extra Sure Start health visitors.

iii. Raise standards in schools, by giving teachers the power to restore discipline and by giving parents, charities and voluntary groups the power to start new smaller schools.

iv. Increase the basic state pension, by relinking it to earnings, and protect the winter fuel allowance, free TV licences, free bus travel and other key benefits for older people.

v.Fight back against crime, cut paperwork to get police officers on the street, and make sure criminals serve the sentence given to them in court.

vi. Create National Citizen Service for every 16 year old, to help bring the country together.

4. July 2011; Leaks reveal coalition government conflict over David Cameron’s policy advisor Steve Hilton

a. Downing Street and Treasury aides have often been at odds since the autumn over how to boost economic growth after the deepest recession since the war, say senior Whitehall sources. The disclosure that Steve Hilton, the prime minister’s policy guru, proposed abolishing maternity leave was the most powerful example of the battles that have been playing out behind the scenes in Whitehall. “Steve Hilton comes up with lots of ideas – they do not all see the light of day,” said one senior figure who is familiar with Hilton. “Some of his ideas work and some do not.”

b. Tory sources blamed the Liberal Democrats for leaking Hilton’s thoughts, a view which took hold when Vince Cable dismissed his ideas on the airwaves at lunchtime. “That most definitely is not government policy,” the business secretary told Radio 4’s The World at One regarding Hilton’s proposal to abolish maternity rights. “Steve is a fine blue skies thinker but this is not part of what we are going to do. We are looking at labour legislation in general but it has got to be sensible and balanced and I think that particular proposal isn’t.”

c. The leaking of Hilton’s thoughts to the FT appeared to owe more to the investigative powers of the newspaper rather than to an operation by a particular faction in government. but the fact that a series of Whitehall figures felt free to speak in dismissive terms to the FT about Hilton’s ideas show that he has detractors at the heart of the government. A number of Lib Dems around Nick Clegg regard Hilton as a refreshing but somewhat wacky thinker. Furthermore, some figures in the Treasury believe that Hilton’s loose thinking was partly to blame for George Osborne’s failure to create a coherent and compelling message for the Tories’ election campaign.

d. There was much mirth among these groups when the FT reported that Hilton had suggested that maternity rights and all consumer rights legislation should be abolished to help revive the economy. Hilton even suggested that Britain should ignore EU labour rules on temporary workers, much to the annoyance of the No 10 permanent secretary, Jeremy Heywood. “Steve asked why the PM had to obey the law,” one Whitehall source told the FT of a meeting in March to discuss the government’s growth strategy. “Jeremy had to explain that if David Cameron breaks European Law he could be put in prison.” (new to me this one since the French, German’s etc pick and choose which laws they will accept or ignore as it suits their agenda).

e. Hilton also suggested that Whitehall could do its bit to cut the fiscal deficit by abolishing hundreds of central government press officers and replacing them with a single person in each department who would blog. He also said that Job centres should be closed and replaced instead by community groups. (Sir Jeremy Heywood alerted, warning lights switched on within the Civil service, enemy action counter action necessary).

f. One source who works close to Hilton said that many of David Cameron’s team were startled by his proposal in opposition to buy cloud bursting technology to provide more sunshine. Hilton’s fans rallied to his defence. One said: “Steve is brilliant. He has such a fresh and lively mind. He makes boring documents sparkle.” Another said it was important to understand the mindset of one of Cameron’s closest allies who has known the prime minister since their days together at Conservative Central Office in the late 1990s. “You have to realise that Steve is an impatient revolutionary. He really will be furious if, at the end of our five years in government, we have not completely transformed this country and freed people up to run their own lives.”

g. Hilton has been a central figure as No 10 and 11 have struggled since the autumn of 2010 to develop a coherent strategy for growth. There were reports earlier this week that Downing Street’s two neighbours and their aides were at odds over the government’s core economic strategy – the elimination of the structural deficit over the course of this parliament. This was wrong. But there have been tense discussions dating back to the spending review last autumn over how to stimulate growth.

h. Hilton has lined up in the modernisers’ corner as he lobbies for radical deregulation and a focus on innovative new industries. The Treasury welcomes many of Hilton’s ideas but is more cautious and does not want to lose sight of the importance of established industries. One Whitehall source spoke of “institutional differences” between Hilton’s team at No 10, which was instrumental in the prime minister’s “new economic dynamism” speech to the CBI last October, and the Treasury and the business department. They take what is described as a traditional and “quite corporatist view”. (power struggles between Steve Hilton and Danny Alexander, the de-facto chancellor)

i. Hilton prevailed in that speech when the prime minister warned that the traditional model of business, in which goods are shipped around the world, has been “blown apart”. He was instrumental in writing this into the speech: “There has been a surge in new, young, high-growth, highly innovative firms. It wasn’t long ago that Apple, Cisco and Google didn’t even exist – now each one has a market value of over $100bn … The impact this change is having on our economic landscape is unprecedented. In 1950, the average life of a company in the S&P index was 47 years. By 2020, it will fall to just 10 years.”

j. Treasury sources say there are no differences with No 10. They point out that in the budget in March, the chancellor announced an entrepreneurial investment scheme and tax break for entrepreneurs. “George thinks it is great that Steve agitates and pushes his ideas,” one source said. “Ideas are discussed and challenged in a process by people who all work very well together.” Despite praise for his ‘blue-skies’ thinking, the outspoken ideas man has detractors at heart of coalition government. (Osborne undermining Hilton’s efforts. Intent on gaining singular confidence of Cameron).

5. March 2012; Farewell Steve Hilton, the PM’s most unconventional adviser

a. Downing Street have just announced that “Steve Hilton will be taking an unpaid academic sabbatical at Stanford University, starting this summer and returning next summer. With his wife and young family, Steve will be moving to California. He will join Stanford as a visiting scholar at the university’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and will also be a visiting fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. He will spend his year on campus teaching, researching and writing, and will focus on innovation in government, public services and communities around the world”.

b. Downing Street won’t be the same when you head off to California. Gone will be the man who greeted President Obama in his socks and who walked the corridors of power in shorts and a T-shirt. Gone will be the person prepared not just to think the unthinkable but to challenge officials and ministers to explain why it couldn’t or shouldn’t be done – like scrapping maternity rights to make it cheaper for businesses to hire new workers, building a new airport on an island to the east of London or going to war with the EU to escape its bureaucratic rules. Gone will be the friend who calls the prime minister “Dave” and is willing to challenge him for not being clear enough nor impatient enough about how he wants to change the country.

c. When they get home Sir Jeremy Heywood, George Osborne, Danny Alexander will secretly raise a glass and hope that yours is a one-way ticket to the United States and not just a year’s sabbatical. They will tell their friends and families that you were not an easy man to get along with. They will whisper that they’ve heard that you were the man who told the Times that the health secretary should be “taken out and shot” for his failure to sell the NHS reforms. Your departure, will further increase the power of two men in this government – the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood and the Chancellor, party strategist and Dave’s other best political friend, George Osborne.

6. March 2012; Steve Hilton, David Cameron’s strategy director and closest confidante, to spend a year teaching at Stanford University in California

a. On 2 March 2012, Downing Street announced that Hilton would be a “visiting scholar” at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies for a year. His departure will leave a strategic hole in the heart of Downing Street but Hilton – who has a young family – is taking a sabbatical because his wife, who is a senior executive at Google, needs to be close to the company’s California headquarters. Hilton will take up a teaching job at Stanford University, focusing on innovation in government, and has promised to return to London in 2013 ahead of the run-in to the 2015 general election.

b. In a bid to show that his fundamental instincts have not changed Cameron will use a speech to party activists in London to say his vision of compassionate Conservatism, which Hilton helped develop, has not been dulled. But Hilton’s departure represents a blow to Cameron as he struggles to define his politics in the face of austerity, problems over the health bill and the more personal threat posed by his links to News International. Hilton’s skill has been to draw Cameron, instinctively a traditional Conservative, into a more unpredictable and modern figure.

c. Hilton himself believes he is leaving at the right time with the bulk of the party’s 2010 manifesto agenda gradually taking legislative shape. But he has been pondering his departure for many months, expressing frustration at the slowness of the government machine. A natural insurgent, he feels at times he has been banging his head against a benign brick wall of civil service complacency. His often impatient style lost him friends in the civil service, leading to hostile briefings suggesting his ideas were impractical. He himself became frustrated at the pace at which the civil service moves, the apparent deference to EU regulations and the feeling that the levers in Numbers 10 do not work. His last memo advocated severe cuts in the number of civil servants in the United Kingdom and further welfare cuts.

d. Although there was no great rupture, there was also a gradual disillusionment that Cameron in office has not proved as radical or risk-taking as he hoped. That sense of impatience led some to question whether Hilton return from California, especially since he finds the West Coast’s cultural distaste for rules matches his own attitude, dress sense and ability to make friends across political divides. He has taken leave before, in opposition, when he took six months off again to join his wife in California, spending much of the time on the phone to London to advise the Cameron election campaign, something that will be difficult to do in a rules-based government environment. Number 10 said he would not be replaced.

e. Modernisers such as Hilton feel they are still in the ascendancy inside Number 10 and the cabinet office, whilst the leading conservative think tanks such as Policy Exchange share Hilton’s instincts. But the pressure will now be on backroom figures such as Rohan Silva, in effect Hilton’s deputy and advocate of transparency government, his speech writer Julian Glover and the polling adviser Andrew Cooper, to keep the flame alive. There has been talk of Silva quitting as well.

f. Gaby Bertin, the press secretary, will also grow in influence, as will the cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood. The pressure on the public finances has already seen some of Hilton’s agenda pushed aside. His departure in particular will be seen as the final nail in the coffin of ‘big society’, an idea that Cameron and Hilton put at the centre of his opposition politics but that has disappointed in government. Similarly, the Treasury has been putting a remorseless pressure on the green agenda favoured by Hilton, a man who once voted Green.

g. His wife has been travelling California once a week every month, putting pressure on the family. In the formal announcement Number 10 said:” Steve Hilton will be taking an unpaid academic sabbatical at Stanford University, starting this summer and returning next summer. “With his wife and young family, Steve will be moving to California. He will join Stanford as a visiting scholar at the university’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), and will also be a visiting fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution.

h. He will spend his year on campus teaching, researching and writing, and will focus on innovation in government, public services and communities around the world. “He will work with a wide range of centres and organisations across the university, including FSI’s Centre on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law and The Europe Centre; the Graduate School of Business’ Centre for Social Innovation; the Centre on Philanthropy and Civil Society; and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design.”

i. In his speech today Cameron will challenge claims that the economic crisis has led him to abandon compassionate Conservatism. He will say “People say Conservatives in government are taking tough action because they don’t care. But the opposite is true. We’re taking those decisions because we do care. “We care about the kind of country our children are going to grow up in; about not burdening them with debts that we are too timid to pay back. We care about giving people dignity in old age, which is why we’re making difficult decisions today – so we can afford our pensions system tomorrow. We care about keeping a health service that is truly there for all and free for all, which is why we’re prioritising prevention and not just treatment. He will argue:” True compassion isn’t wearing your heart on your sleeve – it’s rolling up those sleeves and taking the long-term decisions that will really change our country for the better.”

7. March 2012; David Cameron’s strategy chief Steve Hilton was a Tory moderniser

a. Steve Hilton’s decision to leave Downing Street and decamp to California’s Silicon Valley with his wife and young son says a lot about politics, some of which is deeply traditional and a lot of which is peculiar to the times in which David Cameron’s closest source of strategic wisdom – to Star Wars fans his Yoda – cut his teeth as a workaholic practitioner in an addictive trade. Politics has always been a rough old business in which reputations can be made or destroyed by unforeseen events, bad judgment and worse luck. No one could have predicted a sitting prime minister being linked to an elderly police mount loaned to a scandal-laden tabloid apparatchik, as happened to Cameron in “Horsegate” this week. Hilton could be forgiven for banging his head on a desk.

b. Yet it is par for the course once any government’s ever-briefer honeymoon with the voters – and events – is over. Unseen civil servants who run Whitehall’s private offices, as well as party appointees giving political advice such as Hilton, work gruelling hours, are there to shout and be shouted at when things go wrong, to share the adrenalin rush when their plans work. The pace wrecks nerves and livers, family life and marriages – and has long done so. Sheer physical stamina keeps the addicts afloat but most burn out sooner or later and need quieter jobs in which to recover. But nowadays the changing nature of communications technology makes the pressure that much greater, there is so much more that informed people are supposed to know from all quarters. It is the same for many professions, but government is conducted in the spotlight and nowadays that spotlight is never switched off by 24/7 TV, by the internet, Twitter and the rest.

c. Hilton, 42 last August, is deeply enmeshed in this world. His parents were refugees from the Soviet tanks which crushed the Hungarian revolt in 1956 (it is, alas, not true that the Hirckacs adopted the name Hilton because they spent their first British night in one). Hilton went on a scholarship to Christ’s Hospital school in Sussex and did the inevitable PPE degree at Oxford, as Cameron and much of today’s political class also did. The pair met in John Major’s HQ campaign team in 1992, bright young men with an eye to the main chance, who shared some of the credit when Major came from behind to beat Labour and seed the fateful myth that “It was the Sun Wot Won It”. Cameron became a Whitehall special adviser – alongside Hilton’s future wife, Rachel Whetstone – while Hilton set up his own Good Business consultancy, advising firms (Coke and McDonalds were among his clients) on corporate social responsibility. That alone must have marked his card among free market Tories, that and the refusal not only to wear a suit and tie, but often socks and trousers. Biker Hilton still prefers T-shirts and shorts, a suit remains the big occasion option. Many on the right argue that a firm’s social responsibility is to make profits, create jobs and pay taxes – leaving social goals to government.

d. When the Tories were defeated in the 1997 campaign by Tony Blair (Hilton shares some blame for the misjudged “demon eyes” poster) Hilton recoiled from William Hague’s doomed lurch to the right (and is rumoured to have voted Green). When Cameron succeeded Michael Howard in 2005 he saw that such “no such thing as society” talk had critically tarnished the Tory brand and that dramatic symbolic gestures of reform – hugging hoodies and huskies, learning to love the NHS, choosing HS1 over that third Heathrow runway – were need to “detox” the brand. Turning Etonian “Tory Boy” Cameron into middle class Dave was also a priority. The concept of the “big society” in which the state shrunk and private or voluntary groups grew to fill gaps is also laid at Hilton’s door as an over-arching election theme which few voters understood. With a recession under way it came to look like a posh word for cuts.

e. In any case such marketing language appalled traditional Tories who believe that softie Hiltonian policies simply drove disaffected voters into the arms of UKIP or their own armchairs and help explain why Cameron failed to win an overall majority and was forced into a coalition with the hated Lib Dems. The bad feeling lingers on in disputes over NHS reform, welfare, the AV referendum which Cameron conceded (but also squashed) and Lords reform. That underrates Hilton’s successes, which include the promise of a referendum on the Lisbon treaty and putting fashionable theories – Richard Thaler’s “nudge” is one – into a practical context. But he clashed with Andy Coulson, Cameron’s ill-chosen hotline to Essex voters and thus a counter-weight to the brainy immigrants’ son, also with civil servants and colleagues who resented his influence, his restless energy, so much greater than most, and his lack of the silkier diplomatic skills.

f. According to tonight’s No 10 statement Hilton is simply off to mighty Stanford University for a year’s intellectual refreshment, something he did before when his wife – as tall and willowy and Hilton is short and chunky – landed a senior post at Google, another of the IT treadmills which makes political life more demanding. It is a blow to Cameron and may signal disappointment that the sharp realities and constraints of coalition government two years in (Lib Dems and Thatcherites pulling the pragmatic Cameron in both directions) have finally dampened Hilton’s boundless enthusiasm. Then again, when Cameron speaks of the importance of a better work/life balance and non-material satisfactions he is articulating Hilton Speak which their author also believes. Hilton likes to see a bit of his son, Ben, and would probably like to see more of his wife too. If a wife’s career takes her across eight time zones to California then sometimes a husband has to compromise with his own and go too. The very thought is enough to get older Tory MPs spluttering into their gin this weekend – but it’s probably a factor and a very zeitgeisty one. Very Steve Hilton.

8. May 2012; David Cameron’s chief strategist begins sabbatical, calling for further reductions in welfare bill and Whitehall streamlining

a. Steve Hilton, David Cameron’s chief strategy adviser, has left Downing Street, calling for £25bn welfare cuts and claiming an inefficient Whitehall machine could be massively reduced in size, possibly more than halved. The prime minister’s closest adviser for more than five years is taking a year-long sabbatical in California where he plans to study how governance can be improved. Hilton has had a series of run-ins within Whitehall, frustrated at the slow pace of reform and impatient for more radical thinking, including from Cameron himself.

b. The Daily Telegraph reports that he has submitted a policy paper marking out a second phase of welfare reform that builds on the changes implemented by the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith. Hilton claims another £25bn can be cut on top of the £18bn identified through the 2010 spending review process. The chancellor, George Osborne, has already signalled that he believes another £10bn of welfare cuts will be necessary by 2016 if extra cuts are not to be demanded from other government departments.

c. Universal credit, the major reform being introduced by the government, has yet to be implemented, and there are nerves across Whitehall about how well it will work in practice. It is due to be implemented for new claimants from October 2013 with the transition completed in 2017. It is expected 500,000 people on current trends will be on universal credit by April 2014. The Telegraph sources claimed universal credit needed changing so there were clearer incentives for individuals to work longer hours.

d. It is not entirely clear what this proposal means in practice since universal credit has already been structured so that an individual receives more the longer they work. One of the reforms being examined is how housing benefit can be reformed so that young people are required to live with their parents if they have no work. In public, at a lecture to the Policy Exchange think tank last week, Duncan Smith refused to be drawn about the need for further welfare cuts, but he is not temperamentally opposed to fresh reforms and has already outlined plans to reform disability living allowance. At the same time he has said there are no easy targets.

e. Ministers have however been struck by the speed with which some people are disappearing from the welfare rolls as they are being brought in for work capability assessments by officials from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). The DWP announced this week that of the first 47,400 incapacity benefit claimants to be reassessed and found fit to work, 27% – 12,900 – had been on the benefit for more than 10 years. Eight per cent – 3,900 – had been on the benefit for more than 15 years.

f. The Liberal Democrats have already indicated that if there are to be further welfare cuts to be identified before the next election, the first victim should be middle-class welfare, especially the wealthy in receipt of cold weather payments or free bus travel. Hilton’s direct or indirect briefing will infuriate the Lib Dems as they try to focus attention on efforts to improve social mobility. The sabre-rattling about the inadequacy of the civil service comes as the FDA, the senior civil servants’ union, welcomes David Penman as its new general secretary. He has said: “The relentless onslaught of organisational change, the government’s austerity measures and the resulting attacks on jobs, pay and pensions mean this is an unsettling and difficult time for many public servants.”

9. May 2012; Danny Alexander Leads attack on departing Steve Hilton

a. Steve Hilton’s parting shot as he left No 10, was to call for a slimmed down – some might say, an emaciated – civil service, and further welfare cuts. Mr Hilton was a long-standing adviser to the prime minister, at David Cameron’s side (apart from a brief spell in the States) in opposition and in government. But his latest advice has not been readily embraced by Mr Cameron’s Lib Dem partners in coalition. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander delivered a withering response at a lunch for political journalists on Thursday.

b. With Mr Hilton in mind, he said most people don’t fire off memos when they leave an employer, adding “on their last day, they usually bring in a cake”. Further indicating that Mr Hilton’s views were sticking in the throat a little, Mr Alexander talked about his own “talented and committed” civil servants in the Treasury. And for his audience’s consumption over lunch, he made it clear that no decisions had been taken on any further reductions in the welfare budget. Sources at the Department of Work and Pensions are sceptical about the capacity to make further deep cuts. For good measure, Lib Dem sources say they have also seen off Steve Hilton’s plans to make it easier for private sector employers to “hire and fire” workers.

c. But in the next few weeks, when a civil service White Paper is published, the coalition as a whole will have to decide how radical their reforms to the “Rolls Royce” service should be. Can it run more efficiently on less fuel, or does it need a more drastic redesign – something altogether more compact? With 434,000 staff, the civil service is the smallest it has been since the Second World War. That’s down from half a million when the coalition came to power.

d. Allies of Steve Hilton believe this still represents a bloated bureaucracy – a hundred times larger than the number of staff that ran the Raj. But it would be mistaken to think that the majority of civil servants are mandarins – hundreds of thousands of Sir Humphreys who are experts in alliteration, obfuscation, emollience and procrastination. Numbered amongst the civil service are nuclear scientists at DECC; agronomists at DEFRA; economists at the Treasury; and “frontline” staff in local job centres. Paul Eddington as Jim Hacker and Nigel Hawthorne as Sir Humphrey in Yes Minister Battles between ministers and their civil servants for supremacy is nothing new

e. Well there are fears in some circles that too few, rather than too many, are staying within the civil service; that “institutional memory” – and experience at how to pull the levers of power – is being lost. More than a quarter of the 3,700 senior civil servants who were employed at the time of the last election have been lost. In some departments more than a third of senior civil servants have moved on – including some of those at the Treasury who were involved in tackling the banking crisis. And – off the record – some senior civil servants are worried about the prospect of more rigorous “performance measurement” will have on the morale of the remaining staff.

f. Broadly speaking, there is an acceptance for the need to cut numbers and for pay restraint. This even applies, grudgingly, for pensions reform but there is scepticism bordering on resistance to appraising staff in a manner which is similar to the system used in big private sector consultancies. There, it is argued, it is easier to assess individual performance because it is more straightforward to measure a member of staff’s ability to generate new business or profits.

g. In the highly inter-connected world of Whitehall it is more difficult to judge who are the star performers, and who are seriously at risk of the sack. But clearly ministers do want a more robust way of deciding who should be candidates for the exit door as the civil service continues to shrink – albeit by a far smaller degree than Steve Hilton would like. Although there may be disputes over how to do this, ministers are also likely to want to bring in more leaders from the private sector and to put more civil servants on fixed-term contracts.

h. The controversy over the Budget has put the advice being given to the ministers under the spotlight. Reforms of this kind date back to the Thatcher era and were also championed by Tony Blair. But insiders say that so far, the transfusion of new blood hasn’t always lead to a healthier outcome. Some newcomers go native; others leave in frustration. But less reported is the resentment generated by having employees who carry out similar functions on very different incomes. And the tax arrangements for some civil servants who were brought in temporarily from the private sector have already led to an outcry and swift reform.

i. But the role of the civil service has really come into sharp focus since the post-budget “omnishambles” or to use the foul-mouthed term borrowed from BBC satire The Thick of It, which is in common parlance in Whitehall, “the clusterf**k”. Rows over tax changes affecting charitable donations, hot food (including, famously, pasties), pensioners and much more have pummelled the coalition. Some civil servants were blamed for not advising the government in advance of the potential pitfalls; others for putting forward potentially unpopular policies for ministerial approval. But civil servants aren’t the sole scapegoats for the shambles.

k. Danny Alexander warned ministers not to “get in to the habit” of blaming civil servants when things go wrong. That’s probably good advice as ministerial attacks on the mandarins and government leaks appear to rise in direct proportion. Backbench Conservative MPs and some ministers instead blame “communications” at the heart of government for the recent troubles. Some special advisers are seen as not “political” enough or, bluntly, not competent enough. Some also say there is no strong “vision” coming from the centre. It remains to be seen if Steve Hilton’s departure makes that perceived problem better or worse.

l. The coalition came to power determined to cut the number of special advisers, to give ministers their head, and to end the informal style of “sofa government” that was a hallmark of Tony Blair’s time in Downing Street. But behind all the headlines about the civil service or the omnishambles, you will find the number of political advisers is once again creeping up; that Mr Blair’s idea of a “delivery unit” in Downing Street is no longer mocked; that the centre is taking a closer interest in what the periphery gets up to. And that yes, No 10 does see the need to “get a grip”. And as part of that process, further – if limited – civil service reform is inevitable.

10. May 2012; Radical Civil Service Cuts ‘Not Remotely’ The Policy Of No.10, Insists Cabinet Secretary

a. The suggestion that the civil service could be cut by up to 90% is not the policy of the prime minister or “anyone else in Number 10”, the cabinet secretary has insisted. In what could be interpreted as a final swipe at David Cameron’s director of strategy Steve Hilton, who left Downing Street for California last week, Sir Jeremy Heywood said leaks to the press that suggested as much had “no authority whatsoever”. In the days leading up to Hilton’s departure stories appeared in the papers detailing proposals included in his final memo – claiming the government could make radical cuts to the Whitehall machine and slash a further £25bn from welfare. Hilton has taken a year-long sabbatical from government, and there continues to be intense speculation as to whether he’ll come back.

b. There are currently 434,000 civil servants in Whitehall, and Hilton is said to have suggested a trial run of slashing one department by 70% before cutting the total number of officials by 90%. Sir Jeremy told the Commons public administration committee on Thursday that this plan did not “remotely reflect the view” of the government and that Cameron and Clegg “totally share” his anger at the reports. “They are just as frustrated and angry as myself and Bob Kerslake [the head of the civil service] when that is put in the papers,” he said. He added: “There has clearly been briefings in the newspapers.” Asked where he thought the leaks came from he said: “I don’t know whether it’s definitely come from Steve Hilton.” He earlier observed: “The way Steve operates is to challenge, he is a very challenging person.”

c. Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander alluded to the incident at a recent lunch for journalists, when he noted most people did not make such controversial proposals when leaving a job. “On their last day, they usually bring in a cake,” he said. There have been widespread reports of tension between ministers and senior civil servants in recent months. The perception that mandarins were blocking radical reforms desired by Hilton is said to have persuaded him to quit government.

d. Acknowledging the tension Sir Jeremy said: “It is true some ministers and advisers have been frustrated. I know in some quarters there is frustration at the pace of change.” Sir Jeremy also insisted he had not been upset by the prime minister’s past attack on the civil service as the “enemies of enterprise”. The cabinet secretary said he thought those words had just been a “rhetorical flourish” although he admitted his colleagues were “a little surprised by it”. Comment in song: “Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hilton’..We are are the boys that will stop you’re little game?”

11. May 2012; David Cameron aides at war with Civil Service in battle of Downing Street

a. Relations between senior civil servants and Downing Street are at an all-time low, with both sides engaged in a bitter blame game over the Government’s recent political travails. One source yesterday described the atmosphere in Whitehall in the past month as “bloody”, with officials and politicians blaming each other for the failure to get the Government’s message across and clashes over plans for Civil Service reform.

b. On Wednesday, Ian Watmore, who was in charge of cutting costs across government departments, quit as Permanent Secretary at the Cabinet Office. Several Whitehall sources told The Independent he decided to leave after falling out with the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude – with whom he had previously had a good relationship. “It would be fair to say that they used to get on well but things deteriorated in the last few months and Ian became more and more detached,” said one. “The top of government is not a pretty place at the moment.”

c. Another source of tension has been disputes between David Cameron’s combative head of strategy, Steve Hilton, and the Head of the Civil Service, Sir Bob Kerslake. Although he is leaving Downing Street at the end of this week, Mr Hilton has infuriated senior officials by departing in a blizzard of anonymous briefings. Sir Bob blames Mr Hilton for leaking details of a private meeting they held to discuss plans for Civil Service reform – due to be announced this summer.

d. Mr Hilton is said to have walked out of the meeting after seeing Sir Bob’s proposals, which were described as “the kind of thing you would expect from a second-rate human resources department”. Mr Hilton is also believed to have referred to Sir Bob as “Bungalow Bob” and suggested he was trying to protect under performing civil servants from reform. Sir Bob is said by his supporters to have described Mr Hilton’s suggestion of cutting the central Civil Service by 90 per cent and outsourcing most of its policy work to think tanks and the private sector as “nonsense”.

e. Mr Hilton was also accused of being unprofessional: turning up at the meeting in shorts and a T-shirt, clutching a plastic bag full of oranges. As the meeting went on, Mr Hilton is said to have started “inexpertly” peeling an orange, getting juice all over the “crotch of his brushed cotton shorts”. But Mr Hilton is not the only senior aide around Mr Cameron to have expressed anger at the performance of officials.

f. The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman, Gabby Bertin, has been heard to complain at the poor service press offices in Government departments are providing Number 10 in identifying and promoting eye-catching initiatives to help the Government. But this is dismissed by senior civil servants. They describe the political appointees in Downing Street as “flailing around” with no sense of clear strategy and being led by the latest shifts in polling.

g. The spats are beginning to filter through to wider Civil Service perceptions. Civil Service World magazine released details this week of a poll of almost 1,400 senior officials which suggested some now felt promotion was being increasing driven by political considerations. Asked if they believed that people have been appointed to jobs on the basis of their connections within, or experience with, the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats, 55 per cent of civil servants in the Cabinet Office answered Yes. Across Whitehall, civil servants also expressed fears about about being able to provide “impartial, honest and open advice to ministers”. Feeling blue? Tories who lost their ‘Sir Humphreys;

h. Michael Gove; The Education Secretary’s disagreements with his Permanent Secretary, Sir David Bell, saw the department lose its most senior civil servant last year. Mr Gove is said to have been unhappy about the support he was receiving from officials and about what he believed were leaks orchestrated by pro-Labour staff.

i. Francis Maude; Reported clashes between the Cabinet Office Minister and his Permanent Secretary, Ian Watmore, saw Mr Watmore quit only six months into the job. Mr Watmore – a former head of the FA – allegedly became “increasingly detached” after being undermined by the appointment of Sir Bob Kerslake as part-time Head of the Civil Service.

k. George Osborne; The Treasury lost the director of its international department, Nicholas Joicey, earlier this year – although this time it was the prospect of conflict rather than the real thing that led to Joicey leaving his post. The civil servant is married to the Labour shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves, and he quit before his marital status caused him problems with his boss.

12. October 2012; How Steve Hilton helped the PM find his mojo again

a. Days before David Cameron’s most important party conference speech in five years, Steve Hilton surprised more than one member of the Prime Minister’s circle by “dashing back” to California for 12 hours. Mr Cameron’s influential former policy chief and long-time Svengali had been in the UK for barely a few days to help with the premier’s speech when he boarded a plane again. “He needed to be back in the States for something to do with Rachel,” says a friend, referring to Rachel Whetstone, Hilton’s wife and a senior Google executive who had also criss-crossed the Atlantic last week. “It was literally for about 12 hours, and then he came back again.

b. He is extraordinary.” While in the UK, the couple even squeezed in two weddings – one was Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales’s marriage to Tony Blair’s former aide Kate Garvey, the other between Hilton’s former deputy Rohan Silva and Kate MacTiernan. Amid all this transatlantic travel and church-hopping, Hilton was helping to craft Cameron’s speech. After leaving Downing Street earlier this year, he was always going to come back for conference, and he will return well in time for the next election campaign. While most of the speech had been written by last weekend, there was still some fine-tuning, mainly in response to Ed Miliband’s “One Nation Labour”.

c. Hilton left Cameron’s side in May after the political version of “creative differences” over delivery and the Civil Service. This was getting the band back together. One friend says: “He flounced out because he was disappointed at David being too compliant. David became a mediator, not a force for the sort of change Steve believes in. It was clear that it wasn’t going to work with Steve being bad-tempered with civil servants and making himself unpopular, so that’s why he went. “Steve’s view is that he’ll help out if he can, but he has another life in the States. Of course, they go back a long way and were very close indeed, so, when he’s free, he’ll do it. But I think Steve also thinks it’s very difficult for them to win next time.”

d. The Prime Minister’s address in Birmingham didn’t, as the BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, said, contain a “cor blimey moment”, as the Labour leader’s had. The “One Notion” riposte to Miliband’s “obsession” with borrowing more taxpayers’ money was effective. But the most memorable line was one that had Hilton’s fingerprints all over it: “I’m not here to defend privilege, I’m here to spread it.” It was the moment when Cameron appeared to tackle what insiders say has become one of his greatest problems: the lack of self-confidence that has crept over him this year. Ministers and aides have noticed a slump in the shoulders after unremitting bad headlines following the Budget. These have included his “LOL” text messages to Rebekah Brooks, revealed to the Leveson inquiry; Boris Johnson “owning” the Olympics in a way he never could; and the Andrew Mitchell “plebgate” saga. “He is in a funk, completely drained of confidence,” one minister said before the speech. And Hilton’s absence from No 10 has not helped.

e. Now Cameron was declaring to the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, and to the wider world, that he was no longer afraid to be posh. The man embarrassed by his Bullingdon Club past, who fought shy of wearing a morning suit in the run-up to last year’s royal wedding, declared: “To all those people who say: ‘He wants children to have the kind of education he had at his posh school,’ I say: ‘Yes, you’re absolutely right.’ I went to a great school and I want every child to have a great education.” Cameron’s closest political friends have spent years briefing journalists that he was always “true to himself” – yet this major aspect of his background was repeatedly played down.

f. Now he has publicly embraced it, as if to say: if Boris Johnson, another alumnus of Eton and the Bullingdon, can be popular, why can’t I? Of course, it is not Johnson’s schooling and university misadventures that make him popular. But Hilton, who is also on friendly terms with the London mayor, is thought to have developed the “spreading privilege” theme. It is exactly why Mitchell’s rant at Downing Street police officers came at such a disastrous time. One minister says the Mitchell affair made Cameron “the angriest I’ve ever seen him”, though he has in the past told friends he refuses to sack people on “hearsay”.

g. While Hilton was involved in sending drafts of the speech backwards and forwards by email in the run-up to conference, he wasn’t the “formative force” he has been in the past, according to friends. Yet, despite the cooling in their relationship, the Prime Minister could count on Hilton restoring his mojo. The personal sections, particularly that in which Cameron described how people often saw the “wheelchair, not the boy” when he was out with his disabled son, Ivan, were genuinely moving. But the overall result of Hilton’s input was a much harder, clearer speech; one that contained Conservative steel, appealing to the aspiring “strivers” who helped win elections for Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. One friend of the PM says: “People underestimate how important Steve is to David. He is the one who gave David the confidence to think he could become leader and go on to be PM. They think he was just a branding person, but, actually, his influence on David himself is huge. In a way he invented David Cameron.”

h. Another close acquaintance of Cameron says: “They are in the middle of a dilemma about modernity. It boils down to the fact that the PM has no beliefs. Pretty well the only aspect left of the modernising agenda is gay marriage.” The impression that the right of the party is still calling the tune remains: the only concrete policies of the week were new laws permitting householders to “bash a burglar” and employee ownership plans that will erode workers’ rights. The dire economic situation hangs over everything, with one cabinet minister describing it as “hell”.

i. Cameron may have restored some self-belief, but he returns to Westminster tomorrow with the same problems, including the Mitchell saga threatening to run into a fourth week. Downing Street is being blamed for allowing that row to continue. So a shake-up is quietly under way: Ed Llewellyn, Cameron’s chief of staff and one of his longest-serving aides, will focus solely on foreign affairs issues, while Oliver Dowden, a former member of the Conservative Research Department, will take over Llewellyn’s duties on the domestic front. There is also speculation about the future of the communications chief Craig Oliver after Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, was sent into the conference press centre to brief the media after Cameron’s speech.

k. Negotiations will start between the Tories and Lib Dems for the autumn statement on 5 December, which will coincide with the signing of a new coalition agreement between the two sides, to bind them close together until the 2015 election campaign starts. For some, that campaign has already started: the Tory chairman Grant Shapps’s general election countdown clock may read 935 days to go, but he has devised a tightly honed “40-40” strategy – focusing on defending the 40 most marginal Tory seats and winning the most achievable 40 target seats. Significantly, party chiefs concede that “10 to 12” of these seats – possibly including Vince Cable’s Twickenham – are currently held by the Tories’ coalition partners.

l. But will Cameron’s mission of “spreading privilege” help the Tories win that election outright? Bemoaning the fact that “we are in a very different world” because of economic turmoil, one Tory MP said: “Things are always going to be difficult, and the public aren’t going to be happy because they can’t afford two foreign holidays a year and they are worried about losing their jobs.” He’s surely right: they hardly feel like they’re on the receiving end of “privilege”.

13. January 2013; No 10 Downing Street powerless against Whitehall – bureaucracy is the master of the politician – Steve Hilton exposes the omnishambles that is Westminster

a. Hilton revealed to his students that the prime minister routinely left out of the loop as important policy changes are pushed through by “papershuffling” mandarins. Hilton, who was Cameron’s chief policy advisor but is currently on sabbatical, told students at Stanford University in California that the PM and his cabinet often find themselves powerless in the face of Whitehall bureaucracy and that they often learn of new policies only when they open the papers or listen to the radio.

b. “Very often you’ll wake up in the morning and hear on the radio or the news or see something in the newspapers about something the government is doing,” he explained. “And you think, well, hang on a second – it’s not just that we didn’t know it was happening, but we don’t even agree with it! The government can be doing things … and we don’t agree with it? How can that be?”

c. Hilton discovered that about 40 per cent of daily government business related to implementing EU regulations, and 30 per cent related to “random things – which were not anything to do with the coalition agreement”. He said he found it “pretty horrific” that only a third of government time is spent actually delivering on what they as a government have promised. Comment: “Did he actually think Yes Minister was fiction?”

14. September 2013; Steve Hilton returns to help with Cameron’s conference speech

a. When Steve Hilton left Downing Street he regarded his friend David Cameron’s premiership as a disappointment. Hilton regarded Cameron as ‘reactive not transformative’. When he didn’t return at the end of his sabbatical, it was thought that was that. But for the last few days, Hilton has been back. When Cameron asked him to come and help on his conference speech, their old friendship kicked in and Hilton flew back from California. He was one of five people who hunkered down with Cameron at Chequers to work out how the Tory leader should respond to Miliband. With Hilton, Cameron and Michael Gove finishing each other’s sentences, it was like old times—a reminder of the energy of that 2005 leadership campaign. Though, Hilton will not be in Manchester this week. Hilton’s willingness to help out raises the intriguing possibility that he might be involved with the 2015 general election, after all. It is hard to see how Hilton’s impulsiveness would fit with the disciplined campaigns that Lynton Crosby likes to run. But the fact that Cameron asked Hilton to come back to help with this speech is a reminder that the Prime Minister thinks his old friend gives him something that nobody else can.

15. November 2013 Farewell to WebCameron, and the legacy of Steve Hilton

The Tories’ attempts to erase their own online history are wider than first thought. After ‘cleaning up’ their website by hiding pre-2010 speeches and announcements, The Guardian’s Alex Hern reveals that the WebCameron videos have been made private on YouTube: ‘Now it has emerged that every video on the Conservatives’ YouTube page that dates from before 2010 has been removed or marked as private. Videos such as Ask David Cameron: Shared ownership, EU referendum, PMQs are now marked as unavailable on YouTube. Others, such as Boris Johnson at the pre-election rally in Swindon, and David Cameron down on the farm, are now unlisted, ensuring that only users with a direct link can see them.’ As Hern points out, they are still on YouTube if you know how to find them, as well as being archived on the Tory website.

The demise of the WebCameron project says a lot about the fate of Steve Hilton’s modernization project. You may recall that Hilton, who was Cameron’s director of strategy until 2012, advocated ‘open source’ digital politics. Nearly all evidence of his work has been hidden or deleted by his own party. Hilton is unlikely to return to the Prime Minister’s side anytime soon to right these wrongs. Whispers around Westminster suggest that he’s enjoying life in California and looks on with frustration and dismay at how little Cameron is achieving in government. I’m sure that he’ll be even more dismayed that the Tories are now embarrassed by his efforts to detoxify their brand.

Comment; Nothing has been erased. The party has come to an agreement with Google, to hide their past websites from us. Just use a different search engine.

Good grief – they’re trying to wipe the entire history of Cameron’s (failed) modernisation project or the betrayal of the radicalism he and the Party Leadership once promised? The Tory’s must be absolutely bricking it about the General Election. Russell

Is there anything these dumb Tories can do adequately in the realm of politics? George Igler

Rachel Whetstone probably asked Google to do as much as possible to protect young children from Deviationism on the Web. itdoesntaddup

So much for the so-called “Great Repeal Act” and Cameron’s promise to “sweep it all away” with which he lured us. He has turned out to be one of the biggest nannies of them all. A very slippery fellow.

Michael McCann – Rejected by Voters of South Lanarkshire Still Hankers After Power Over the Electorate – But the Labour Party is a Busted Flush in Scotland – Voters Have Sussed them at Long last


dsc_0586-finalMichael McCann


1.Union Official then on to finer things

a. Michael McCann is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow since 2010. He is married to Tracy Anne McCann (nee Thomson), who is employed by him, on a salary of £35,000 as his office manager.

c. 1992–98. Scottish Officer, Civil and Public Services Association (CPSA). 1998–2008 Scottish Officer, Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS). 1999–2010 Elected Member, Labour Party, South Lanarkshire Council. 1999–2003 (Vice-Chair: E Kilbride Area Committee. 2003–07 Social Work Resources. 2007–10 Depute Leader, South Lanarkshire Council.



_52375353_-26Michael McCann



2. December 2010; Press Complaints Commission

a. Mr Michael McCann MP complained to the Press Complaints Commission that a letter headlined “A claim too far from our MP”, published in the East Kilbride News on 8 December, was inaccurate and misleading in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) and represented harassment in breach of Clause 4 (Harassment) of the Editors’ Code.

b. The anonymous letter – attributed to an “East Kilbride taxpayer” – criticised the complainant on the topic of his latest expenses, stating that his “first few months in office have cost the taxpayer more than almost every other MP in Scotland”.

c. The complainant said that this claim was incorrect and had been presented as fact. He also said that the criticism had appeared in the same edition of the newspaper as its own report on the issue, making much the same points. He said that the letter appeared to have been written in response to the article, and did not believe that the letter had been sent independently by a member of the public.

d. The newspaper said that the letter had been received by email on 3 December, and provided a redacted copy of it. The writer of the letter had asked for their name to be withheld.

e. A number of the points raised by the author had been previously highlighted in the public domain, and it had not been in touch with the individual before publication. It had chosen not to censor the opinion of the letter writer, which had been clearly presented.

Adjudication: Not Upheld

f. The Commission was not in a position to determine the provenance of the letter, which had been submitted by email. It accepted that the letter had echoed many of the points in the report, but noted that the IPSA figures had been made publicly available on 2 December, and the overall amount of the complainant’s claims (and individual claims such as a £2 parking charge) had been discussed in other newspapers.

g. Overall, the Commission was satisfied that readers would have recognised that the letter represented a reader’s appraisal of the figures which had been released. No inaccuracy could be established on this point and there was no breach of Clause 1.

i. In addition, the Commission had previously ruled that Clause 4 “relates to physical harassment of individuals by journalists and/or photographers in the news gathering process”. A letter of criticism about a local MP published by the newspaper would not raise an issue under this Clause of the Code.



21724442Michael McCann



3. February 2011; Labour MP’s friendship prompts council planning concern

a.There has been a demand for a criminal investigation into the planning process of one of Scotland’s biggest councils after a BBC investigation revealed relationships between a millionaire developer and senior politicians.

b. The investigation reveals allegations that Michael McCann, the new Labour MP for East Kilbride, Strathhaven and Lesmahagow, has had an undeclared relationship with local property tycoon and Labour donor James Kean.

c. Mr McCann did not declare a relationship whilst he was a councillor, serving on the planning and estates committees in South Lanarkshire. During Mr McCann’s tenure numerous applications related to Mr Kean came before committee.

d. The BBC also learned that as an MP, Mr McCann vigorously intervened in a supermarket planning dispute, from which Mr Kean could end up making millions of pounds. The MP wrote a letter detailing some 33 questions.

e. This follows a BBC investigation last year which revealed that Mr Kean was godfather to local Labour councillor Jim Docherty’s child. Mr Docherty, an influential member of the planning and estates committee, has never declared this relationship, despite supporting dozens of Mr Kean’s proposals at committee.






f. SNP MSP Alex Neil has called for a criminal investigation into South Lanarkshire’s planning process. He said: “Very clearly there are legitimate questions to be asked and answered, and my view is, there is enough information made available by the BBC that there is a strong case for a criminal investigation, to establish whether anything untoward has actually happened. “I’m not saying there has or hasn’t, but I think to clear the air and make sure the system is above board in South Lanarkshire, there needs to be a criminal investigation to establish facts.” Very clearly there are legitimate questions to be asked and answered, and my view is, there is enough information made available by the BBC that there is a strong case for a criminal investigation, to establish whether anything untoward has actually happened”

g. Mr Kean owns large tranches of land in South Lanarkshire, mainly in East Kilbride. He is a longstanding Labour supporter, and has made, alongside his brother, donations totalling more than £5,000 to the East Kilbride Labour branch and to the Scottish Labour party.

h. The BBC understands he has been an associate of Mr McCann’s for at least six years. Mr McCann won a bitterly fought election campaign in May last year.

i. The BBC understands he held his late night election victory party at Legends Bar, in East Kilbride village, a building owned by Mr Kean.

j. The BBC has also learned that Mr McCann’s daughter stables her horse on Mr Kean’s farm. BBC Scotland asked Mr McCann what the financial arrangements for the stabling of the horse were, but he declined to answer.

k. There is no mention of it on his parliamentary register of member’s interests. As a councillor, Mr McCann supported numerous applications from Mr Kean’s companies as they came through committee, never declaring an interest.

l. Eddie McAvoy, leader of the council, has confirmed to the BBC that Mr Kean and Mr McCann go “back a long time” but said it was up to an individual councillor to decide whether a relationship should be declared.






m. Mr McCann’s interest in applications involving Mr Kean didn’t stop when he left his job as a councillor. Under Freedom of Information, the BBC has obtained a copy of a letter he wrote to Scottish Enterprise (SE) in September last year. It indicates a forensic interest in SE’s proposal to sell a piece of industrial land at West Mains Road, East Kilbride, to Asda, who want to build a supermarket.

n. SE’s proposal is going head-to-head with another supermarket application, involving Tesco, who wanted to build on nearby Peel Park, much of which is owned by Mr Kean. If successful, the land owned by Mr Kean and other companies linked to him could be worth up to £20m.

o. The Kean-related bid was granted planning permission in October 2010. The developer behind the Asda bid, Dawn Developments, has taken the matter to judicial review, alleging the Tesco bid was given an unfair advantage by South Lanarkshire Council.

p. Mr Neil said: “Given the apparent relationship over a number of years between Mr McCann and Mr Kean, I think there is a case for the Parliamentary Standard’s Commissioner in London investigating this case as to why Mr McCann is pursuing this matter. “There might be perfectly legitimate reasons for him doing so, but I think there is a case for investigation to establish whether he is doing so in his role as a member of parliament, using that role and the powers it gives you legitimately, or whether he is abusing his power.”

q. Mr McCann refused to speak to his local newspaper, the East Kilbride News, which, during a tense election campaign, published questions from opponents about his relationship with Mr Kean.

r. Mr McCann does, however, write a column for the rival free-sheet, the EK Mail, which rents its office space from Mr Kean. Mr Kean is one of the paper’s significant shareholders.

s. Mr McCann accused the BBC of peddling “outrageous smears”. In a statement, he said: “This is a rehash of a smear story that appeared during the general election campaign and is simply untrue. “BBC Scotland has made several unsubstantiated and false allegations, some of which originate from a Tory political opponent and journalist I defeated at the general election.

t. McCann’s daughter stables her horse on Mr Kean’s farm “Others are linked to an ongoing court case on a planning matter with which I have no involvement, but I am therefore prevented from discussing these outrageous smears in public until the legal process has ended.

u. During my time as an elected member of South Lanarkshire Council’s planning committee, I never once voted against a recommendation made by officers, I complied at all times with rules rightly imposed upon councillors and I therefore reject any allegation of impropriety whatsoever. “[The BBC’s] claim that I have a relationship with Mr Kean is wildly exaggerated.”

v. Mr Kean’s lawyer said his client “vigorously denies any wrongdoing in connection with securing any planning permission from any planning authority”. He also pointed to a report commissioned by Mr Kean and carried out by Mackay Planning, which analysed 50 of his planning applications and concluded that all had been “dealt following the correct procedures and there is no indication of any preferential treatment or maladministration.

w.  A spokesman for South Lanarkshire Council said: “If the BBC is in possession of evidence that shows that any member of the council or employee acted in a way that was illegal, the council asks that this is provided to it as soon as possible, or, if appropriate, to the police. “All decisions on applications for planning consent must be taken solely on planning merits, and councillors who sit on the planning committee have received appropriate training in this aspect.”






4. February 2011; Investigation by BBC Newsnight – murky goings on in East Kilbride Labour Party. U-Tube video

a. Nothing surprising to anyone who has lived in the West of Scotland. You only have to look around at the strange amount of developments that have appeared on what was supposed to be green belt land. I’m sure that a young, hungry journalist could uncover many, many cases of corruption involving planning applications and brown envelopes stuffed with cash changing hands.



10440962_439401019558112_4569774495807503261_nJohn Prescott



5. February 2011; Labour split deepens as Michael McCann blasts Lamont’s bid to devolve tax powers

a. Scottish Labour divisions on more tax powers for Holyrood have deepened after it emerged that the next chairman of the party’s MPs blasted the plans as “weak” and “not serious politics Michael McCann also said MPs “weren’t consulted” about the devolution commission proposal to give the Scottish Parliament control of income tax and insisted there were “serious questions” about how policy is made in Scotland.






6. November 2012; Waging War on Corruption – Inside the Movement Fighting the Abuse of Power

a. Michael McCann is well respected member of the right wing Henry Jackson Society. and organises presentation and discussion meetings in Westminster. He invited Frank Vogl, co-founder of Transparency International and a distinguished journalist and financial advisor to outline the main thesis of his new book, arguing that it is time to convert discussion about the prospects of curbing graft and bribery from one of skepticism to one of cautious optimism and hope.






7. January 2013:  Israel’s advocates – and critical friends. Groups and individuals who are countering messages of hatred and delegitimisation.

a. A debate was held in the House of Commons to discuss how best to promote renewed negotiations and a two state solution. This was jointly organised by Labour Friends of Israel and We Believe in Israel. The debate was chaired by LFI Vice Chair Michael McCann MP, a member of the International Development Select Committee.

b. Concluding the debate, Michael McCann spoke of his “heartening” experience meeting with schoolchildren in southern Israel during a 2011 LFI delegation. He said that the desire of the children for peace with their neighbours, despite living under the perpetual threat of rocket fire, gave real “hope for the future”.






8. February 2013; How Scottish MPs Voted on Same Sex Marriage

a. The House of Commons yesterday voted by 400 to 175 in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its second reading. Michael McCann voted against the motion.

b. He said: “Whilst civil partnership legislation unequivocally broke the back of unlawful discrimination this Bill doesn’t end any discrimination whatsoever and has the potential to open up a can of worms of Olympian magnitude.






9. May 2013: Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) Vice Chair Michael McCann MP calls on the EU to proscribe Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation

a. Michael McCann MP led an important House of Commons debate calling for Hezbollah to be designated as a terrorist organisation by the EU, a policy which is supported by both Shadow Foreign Secretary Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP and Foreign Secretary William Hague.



What is the point of the Labour party



10. January 2014: Michael McCann, Labour MP invites PM Cameron – not elected by Scots – to attack FM elected by Scots- U-Tube video

a. McCann talks nonsense – the native language of Scottish Labour MPs – on sterling, White Paper and Bank of England. Who can blame him – he’s facing redundancy in 2016, and worried that there won’t be a stampede of those offering alternative employment.



Bx_bII5IAAE2s-z.jpg large



11. April 2014; Michael McCann verbally attacks audience. U-Tube video

a. Shame of Michael McCann MP who verbally attacked a woman in the audience at East Kilbride STUC hustings






12. September 2014; Independence referendum intimidation tactics anger East Kilbride MP and MSP

a. East Kilbride’s MP and MSP have this week condemned intimidation on both sides of the debate in the lead up to the independence referendum.

b. Both Michael McCann and Linda Fabiani have been subjected to offensive, and sometimes personal, abuse both in public and on social media. Better Together campaigner Mr McCann described the indy debate as “gutter” level and lambasted the “scandalous” personal attacks against him.

c. McCann added that in his 32-year career as a politician and trade union official, he has never experienced such levels of intimidation. He said: “There are always moments in campaigns when people can get a bit upset because they believe passionately in their views but I’ve never seen a debate descend into the gutter like this one.

d. People are making comments on social media that have nothing to do with the debate and some of those comments have been about my family. It’s nothing short of scandalous. “There has even been a prominent member of the East Kilbride Yes campaign following the No campaign around and videoing us. I must ask the question, why?”

e. Fabiani said: “I too have received annoying, and on occasion offensive, messages on social media. I refuse to engage with such correspondents, and have many times noted my abhorrence of such behaviour on either side of the debate. “I note the charge of intimidation by Yes campaigners. This is not something I have either witnessed or had relayed to me by any No activists.

f. A spokesman for Yes East Kilbride said: “Contrary to Mr McCann’s complacency, local Yes volunteers were so outraged at the actions of a prominent No campaigner that, in July, they lodged a formal complaint with Better Together. Further concerns about the actions of this same No campaigner were highlighted within the past week.

g. Perhaps Mr McCann should reflect on whether, as a senior elected representative, his own actions and language helped achieve this.”






13. September 2014; Labour’s business manager in South Lanarkshire Jim Docherty condemned for tweets branding SNP supporters “rats”

a. Residents in East Kilbride call for councillor to stand down after accusing him of tweeting “offensive” remarks following No’s referendum victory Tweets by Labour Councillor Jim Docherty describing Yes campaigners as “rats” has sparked outrage.

b. The tweets on the East Kilbride South councillor’s private Twitter account following Thursday’s independence referendum have led to calls for his resignation.

c. This is not the first time Councillor Docherty has come under fire over tweets – two years ago he posted a derogatory comment about Health Minister Alex Neil.

d. In one tweet, posted on Monday morning, he said: “Do not feel any sympathy for any Separatist they tried to break our great nation and least we forget Salmond is a Rat.” And, shockingly, Docherty, Labour’s business manager in South Lanarkshire, re-tweeted a picture of Alex Salmond sitting in front of a computer screen with a picture of a noose and a stool.

e. In another tweet he says No are willing to reconcile but Yes are not. He goes on: “Because they are bitter and will try again to be vigilant watch their every move.”  The councillor also tweeted: “Scotland is British now and forever you SNP and other rats.”

f. Docherty also re-tweeted tweets from the founder of the English Defence League – Tommy Robinson. An angry East Kilbride resident told the News: “Irrespective of your political views, any fair-minded person would surely agree that his position is untenable as a result and he should resign from his position immediately.”

g. In relation to the picture of Alex Salmond, which Docherty re-tweeted, another angry resident, John P Anderson – not the SNP councillor – said: “I was disgusted to see a member of South Lanarkshire Council’s executive saw fit to be posting pictures on Twitter that sought to make light of suicide.

h. I am sure that there are many families in East Kilbride that have been impacted by suicide and I am sure they find it no laughing matter. “This behaviour from a supposedly senior councillor can’t be allowed and I call for the local council and the local Labour Party to take disciplinary action against him.”






14. October 2014: Labour MP Michael McCann charged over Yes schoolboy leaflet row

a. McCann is facing a breach of the peace charge over an alleged altercation with a schoolboy leafletting for the Yes campaign before last month’s Scottish independence referendum. Michael McCann, 50, allegedly confronted a 17-year-old boy and his friend as the pair campaigned for Yes Scotland in his East Kilbride constituency.

b. It is believed that the schoolboy’s father made a complaint to the police after the incident. Mr McCann, who said he was “absolutely delighted” with the result of the referendum last month, is said to have made counter allegations against his accusers. Mr McCann is the chairman of the group of Scottish Labour MPs at Westminster. A police spokesman said a 50-year-old man had been reported to the Procurator Fiscal.




After the Scottish referendum.



15. November 2014; Backbench Business: Devolution and the Union

a. Back benchers discussion time in Westminster addressing the impact on the UK after the referendum Michael McCann said, “We have much to celebrate about the constitutional decision made by the Scottish people, but I also remember the acrimony of the debate.

b. I remember being abused every single day of the campaign by people who did not support my view. I know that families are divided and friendships have been broken and we must remember that that happens in constitutional debates.

c. Frankly, the levels of intimidation were unprecedented. But despite the SNP’s yes campaign having every conceivable advantage, including the serendipity of two SNP supporters winning the Euro millions it was still defeated by the Scottish people who rejected the idea of separation because they believed in their vast numbers that a stable system of governance enables us to absorb difficult economic times more easily than we would if we were component parts within a divided United Kingdom.”,_strathaven_and_lesmahagow






16. November 2014; Action 4 Equality Scotland Not impressed with Labour Party MP’s Time to Clear out the deadwood

a. Westminster remains the last redoubt where the old Conservative v Labour politics holds sway and Scotland’s interests after the next general election would be better served by a Popular Front of ‘independent minded’ MPs.

b. As opposed to the present Labour contingent who have shown over equal pay, for example, to have all the backbone of a jellyfish when it comes to standing up for the interests of their local constituents.

c. Consider for a moment the behaviour of Labour MPs in North Lanarkshire where a fierce fight over equal pay has been raging for the past 10 years. What have any of them had to say to support the position of low paid workers such as Home Carers?

d. In neighbouring South Lanarkshire Council the same thing happened even while the Labour-run Council was dragged all the way to the UK Supreme Court before being forced to publish details of the huge pay gap between traditional male and female jobs.

b. And what did all the Labour MPs in South Lanarkshire Council have to say about the scandal? Nothing. One of their number, Michael McCann MP, happens to be the former deputy leader of South Lanarkshire Council and he must have known what was going on, yet decided not to stand up and be counted.

c. So I think it would be great if these Labour MPs were driven out of Westminster and replaced by people who are committed to doing the right thing without fear or favour – and without pulling their punches.






17. November 2014; Radical Is The New Normal: Radical Independence Campaign Conference 2014

a. There was reference to the recent intemperate comments of Labour’s Michael McCann, MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow, who in his Twitter feed labelled the delegates at RIC 2014 as “Trots, extremists, infiltrators” and dismissed the entire event as “aka Trot convention” (sic).

b. McLaughlan also pointed out that McCann will shortly be going to court over his alleged attack on a teenage Yes activist during the referendum campaign, so perhaps McCann’s more virulent comments should be welcomed given that he stopped short of actual physical violence.

c. Walking around the vast main hall of Clyde Auditorium you would be hard-pressed to find many people fitting the description of “radical”, or any of McCann’s more scathing adjectives. A typical cross-section of the massive crowd: placid middle-aged women; bespectacled middle-class gents taking notes; young, friendly people chatting animatedly with each other; babies and young children roaming around; thoughtful pensioners slowly taking their place in the packed rows of seats; fashionable young Asian women and ordinary working blokes in crew cuts and Super dry shirts.

d. Appearances may deceive, but if the 3,000 people in the hall could be described as radicals, then there must be a cadre of ultra-radicals somewhere else, wearing camo and plotting revolution.






18. Running Costs:2011/2012

Office Costs:£15,408.42. Computer/purchase, Advertising, Rent/Accn, Tel/Rent & Use , Mobile Tel/Ren & Use, Stationery
General Admin:£1,036.25. Stationery/Furniture/Mobile/Printer – Purchase & Rental.
Misc Expenses:£481.72. Office Relocation costs
Constituency Rental:£130.06. Tel/Rental
Payroll:£106,953.26. Includes Wife’s Salary £30-35K
Accommodation:£21,754.17. London Rent £19606, Council Charges £1500, Electricity/Gas £600, Service Charges 1560, Water £160.
Travel and Subs:£21,997.02. MP travel by car to and from London and within the constituency. Travel by air from Scotland to London & return
Loans Advances:£4,000.00.
Accn Deposit:£2,040.00.
Basic Salary:£65,738.00.






19. Running Costs:2012/2013

Office Costs:£17500,00 Computer/purchase, Advertising, Rent/Accn, Tel/Rent & Use, Mobile Tel/Ren & Use , Stationery
Accommodation:£21,754.17 London Rent £19500, Electricity/Gas £160,
Travel and Subs:£18892.15 MP & staff travel by car to and from London and within the constituency. Travel by air from Scotland to London & return


Above from left: MP Michael McCann, Adam Ingram, former MP for East Kilbride, developer and Labour donor James Kean

MP Michael McCann, Adam Ingram, former MP for East Kilbride, developer and Labour donor James Kean




20. Running Costs:2013/2014

Office Costs:£16,584.00 Computer/purchase, Advertising, Rent/Accn, Tel/Rent & Use , Mobile Tel/Ren & Use, Stationery
Payroll:£132,424.00 Includes Wife’s Salary £30-35K
Accommodation:£19,207.00 London Rent £18192, Council Charges £750, Electricity £265,
Travel and Subs:£21,340.00 MP travel by car to and from London and within the constituency. Travel by air from Scotland to London & return
Basic Salary:£67,000.00

Note: over a 5 year government McCann would be expected to cost the taxpayer around £ 250,000 each year. Total over 5 years £1,250,000







21. 15 March 2015: Labour donor accused by a local authority chief executive of threatening to coerce his council into selling a lucrative piece of land.

Developer James Kean allegedly told South Lanarkshire council officials that, unless the site was sold to his charity, he would use information he had to ensure that “people were not re-elected”.

The charity’s legal representative described the claims as “preposterous” and asked the council to withdraw the allegation.

Kean is an East Kilbride-based businessman whose firms have made donations to the Labour party. In 2011, his association with local Labour MP Michael McCann was the subject of a BBC Scotland investigation. It was alleged that McCann, when serving on South Lanarkshire Council, did not declare his ties with Kean when dealing with planning issues relating to the tycoon. Both McCann and Keane denied any wrongdoing.

Kean is at the centre of another controversy with the Labour-controlled council, this time involving the East Kilbride Community Trust (EKCT), of which he is a trustee and major funder. It was revealed  in 2014 that the EKCT wanted to buy council land in the Langlands area of the town for £175,000 in order to build a sports arena. McCann offered the “magnificent project” his support but the council declined due to the offer being below market rate.

Emails, volunteered to this newspaper by the Trust, reveal an extraordinary row between the charity’s legal representative Stuart Chalmers and council chief executive Lindsay Freeland on the land talks. Kean and Chalmers met senior council officers about the issue in June last year, a meeting the local authority’s head of administration and legal services Geraldine McCann also attended.

Ms McCann also serves as the council’s Monitoring Officer, whose job is to raise issues of concern with the chief executive. Eight days after the meeting, the council chief executive emailed Chalmers:

“As you know, the Council’s Monitoring Officer was in attendance at the meeting and she has provided me with an update of the meeting and raised some concerns regarding statements made during the meeting.

“I understand that your client referred to a ‘trump card which he had up his sleeve’ information which he held and was prepared to use if the Council did not agree to sell the land to him.”

Freeland continued: “This could be interpreted to be a threat to coerce the Council to undertake a particular course of action. I note that your client did not provide any detail of the nature of this information other than that he was ‘prepared to use it to ensure that people were not re-elected’.”

“If your client is implying that any officer or elected member has acted with impropriety, then I would be obliged if you would provide me with more detail of the nature of the alleged information to allow me to take the appropriate action.”

Chalmers responded: “The Trustees…have asked me to convey their deepest concern about the language of your second paragraph.

“The suggestion that any words said by Mr Kean ‘could be interpreted as a threat to coerce the Council to undertake a particular course of action’ is an extremely serious one. In view of the nature of this comment the Trustees require that it is withdrawn. The Trustees also require a copy of the note of the meeting taken by the Monitoring Officer.

“Mr Kean also wishes to put on record that he did not use the phrase ‘prepared to use it to ensure that people were not re-elected’. He did make a reference to the next Council election and it is his recollection that the words used were quite clearly stating his wish that his dealings with the Council would hopefully improve if a new batch of Councillors were to be elected at that time.”

However, the chief executive supported the Monitoring Officer in another email to Chalmers:

“I note your interpretation of the comments made by Mr Kean at the meeting. However, having discussed the matter with the Council’s Monitoring Officer, she has confirmed, to me, her interpretation and I am therefore not prepared to withdraw the comments to which you object to in the second paragraph of your email.

“The Council’s Monitoring Officer has confirmed to me that the statement was made, and in her opinion, could be interpreted in the way set out in my email of 24 June 2014.”

“The Council’s Monitoring Officer prepared a note of the meeting. The note is confidential and I am unable to provide you with a copy.”

Chalmers responded by again disputing the “preposterous” claim:

“Apart from the quantum leap required to attribute anything threatening to those particular words, how can a “Council” (a non person), feel threatened?”

“The Trustees reiterate their request that you withdraw your suggestion of a threat or a perceived threat to the Council.”

He added: “The Council’s shortcomings in its dealings with the Trust constitute a disgrace which the people of East Kilbride deserve to know about, and no doubt they will soon enough.”

The land deal was not agreed, but the council voted to enter negotiations about granting the charity a right of access through the Langlands site to develop other land under the EKCT’s control.

It is understood the dispute regarding Kean’s alleged statements remains unresolved.

A spokesperson for the council: “It would not be appropriate to discuss conversations in meetings that are commercially sensitive.”

Asked to comment on the row, Chalmers said: “It’s all in the emails. It’s there for you to see, and we are quite happy for these to be quoted, as long as they are quoted fairly.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “There is no absolutely place for threats in Scottish politics – Labour must confirm that any donations given by Mr Kean for the general election campaign have been returned immediately while this matter is fully investigated.”

Sc��ottish Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “This is typical of the murky world of Lanarkshire Labour. You’d think lessons had been learned after the Falkirk fiasco, but Labour is a party that never learns.”






18th March 2015: Labour’s ‘dirty tricks’ campaign – rotten to its core

Just a few weeks ago, East Kilbride SNP called for a change to the political culture in East Kilbride.  Last week, Michael McCann MP gave a definitive answer – it is business as usual for Labour, with lies, deception and false accusations the order of the day.

The local Labour Party, which at one time sought to represent the people of East Kilbride, has become a sad shadow of its former self. Far from being a mass party, it has become a number of small factions haggling over the interests of close associates.

The Sunday Herald of 15 March carried two news stories about East Kilbride Labour.

The first story highlighted complaints of intimidation from senior members of the local Labour Party. The Herald revealed that the details of the allegations and the findings of an investigation into them are not to be made public. It seems the people of East Kilbride are not allowed to know the kind of people Labour offers to represent them.

The paper also revealed that the Chief Executive of South Lanarkshire Council expressed concern at threats allegedly issued against Councillors who failed to approve a land transaction pursued by a prominent Labour supporter who is closely linked to Michael McCann.


In an attempt to deflect attention from these issues, McCann resorted to the age-old tactic of throwing accusations at opponents. We have been here before. During last year’s referendum campaign McCann accused Yes campaigners of indulging in threats and intimidation, but without a shred of evidence emerging to support his allegations. Of course, McCann himself ended up facing a charge of Breach of the Peace following a  clash with a couple of teenagers during that campaign.

On 12 March, East Kilbride SNP held a very positive – and a very transparent – ‘Meet the Candidate’ event in the Murray Lounge. Linda Fabiani MSP introduced Dr Lisa Cameron who talked of the coming campaign and responded to questions. As the photographs show, it was a hugely positive event, attended by a wide range of people.

The next day, Michael McCann put up on his website a comment on the event, which those present have described as a tissue of lies and innuendo and ‘like a different meeting’. He makes clear that his comments are based on the presence in the meeting of one of his (very few) activists, masquerading as an SNP supporter.

In reviewing photographs of the event, an eagle-eyed SNP member picked out a face he had previously seen on social media working alongside Michael McCann and his election agent, Graham Scott.

Graham Scott and activist McCann team at Murray Owen Centre

And, here he is, without sunglasses.

Murray Lounge photo 1

His companion for the evening was apparently very pleased with his performance – overheard, as they departed, congratulating him on ‘having played his part well’. When the credentials given by the Labour activist and his companion were checked, it turned out they had provided false details, laying a trail to the door of an innocent local couple. Nice people!

The irony of using such deception to accuse your opponents of running a dirty tricks campaign seems lost on Michael McCann and his ever-diminishing campaign team. These are the kind of tactics discussed by student activists in the bar on a Friday night, but which never see the light of day once sobriety returns. They are signs of a growing desperation in East Kilbride Labour, of an MP devoid of ethics; this is a campaign rotten to its core.

In his press release about the fantasy event he created, McCann says he wants to talk about the challenges of our time. Perhaps he could start by explaining Labour’s record over the five years since he was elected, and what ‘Voting Labour to beat the Tories’ in 2010 achieved for East Kilbride.


• Labour failed to challenge the Tories on austerity. When provided with opportunities to defeat the Coalition Government, Ed Miliband let Labour MPs abstain from voting, ensuring the government would win crucial votes.


• In January, Labour backed the coalition’s planned fiscal strategy for beyond the General Election, including a further £30billion of cuts above those already planned by George Osborne.


• Labour leaders are defying their own members to back spending on a new generation Trident nuclear missile system. This will undermine efforts to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and divert up to £100billion from vital public services, including conventional defence, in the years ahead.


• At a local level, Labour let East Kilbride down over the closure of Rolls Royce. Instead of building a consensus to take the town forward, they chose to work only with the Tories in a secretive and ineffective Task Force. Future generations of the town’s job seekers will pay the price for that politically-motivated decision.


The event in the Murray Lounge was just one of a number of opportunities for Lisa Cameron to lay out the positive vision the SNP is campaigning for in this election. It is noteworthy that Michael McCann sees no need for such an event. His is a campaign devoid of vision , just as he has been an MP devoid of connection to the ordinary lives of the people of East Kilbride.







21st March 2015: Call for Murphy to act on ‘canker on the body politic’ of East Kilbride

Cllr Gladys Miller, Convener of East Kilbride SNP has written to Jim Murphy MP, Leader of Scottish Labour calling for an inquiry into the local branch of the Labour Party and action against those who regularly attract bad publicity for both East Kilbride and Scottish Labour.

Cllr Miller’s letter follows an extraordinary week of revelations about East Kilbride Labour:

  • The Chief Executive of South Lanarkshire Council expressed concern that an East Kilbride Labour supporter may have threatened to use damaging information against elected members unless they acted in a particular way on a disposal of Council land.
  • Scottish Labour refused to release details of an investigation into complaints by prominent Labour members about a culture of intimidation within East Kilbride Labour.
  • Michael McCann MP attacked the SNP, apparently  based on the account of a Labour activist and a female companion who provided false details when they attended an SNP campaign briefing.  Other attendees have condemned Mr McCann’s description of the meeting as a ’tissue of lies and innuendo’.

The text of Councillor Miller’s letter is below. We will post an update when we receive a response from Scottish Labour.

Letter text
Dear Mr Murphy

I understand that the current state of the opinion polls has resulted in some Scottish Labour MPs and candidates realising, perhaps for the first time, that they face a prospect of defeat in the General Election on 7 May.

For some candidates, this prospect will act as a spur to fight for their seat by engaging with their electors, listening to local concerns, and responding in a way that recognises the legitimacy of political accountability. Unfortunately, there will be other candidates who take a different approach, who lash out at those they perceive as threatening their power base, or their livelihood, or any other benefit to which they feel entitled, simply by being lucky enough to be selected for (what used to be) a safe Labour seat. Unfortunately, in Michael McCann MP, East Kilbride, has an MP pre-eminently in the second camp.

Just a few weeks ago, East Kilbride SNP called for a change to the political culture in East Kilbride. Last week, Mr McCann gave us a definitive answer – it is to be business as usual, with lies, deception and false accusations the order of the day.

You will be aware that concern about East Kilbride Labour is of long-standing, with Councillors, including Mr McCann when in that post, failing to declare interests when others would have done so, and internal feuding. The Sunday Herald of 15 March carried two news stories about East Kilbride Labour. The first related to complaints of intimidation from senior members. The second related to concerns expressed by the Chief Executive of South Lanarkshire Council at threats allegedly issued against Councillors who failed to approve a land transaction pursued by a prominent Labour supporter who is closely linked to Mr McCann.

Being aware that these stories were due to surface, Mr McCann resorted to a diversion – using the attendance of one of his activists at an SNP event, under a false name, as the basis for unfounded allegations against members of East Kilbride SNP, including Linda Fabiani MSP. I understand that he has gone so far as to write to Nicola Sturgeon repeating these allegations.

Mr McCann has form in this kind of tactic. During last year’s referendum he accused local Yes campaigners of threats and intimidation, without a shred of evidence emerging to support his allegations. Embarrassingly, Mr McCann ended up facing a charge of Breach of the Peace following a street confrontation with a couple of teenagers. People in East Kilbride are amazed that he has been left in the post of Chair of the Scottish Group of Labour MPs after receiving this charge, which suggests a tolerance of his aggressive style. I look forward to hearing why he has been left in this post, contrary to previous practice when an elected member is charged with an offence.

On 12 March, East Kilbride SNP held a very transparent ‘Meet the Candidate’ event, in which Linda Fabiani introduced Dr Lisa Cameron, who talked of the coming campaign and responded to questions. This was a hugely positive event, attended by a wide range of people. The next day, Michael McCann put up on his website and issued to the press a comment on the event, described by those present as a tissue of lies and innuendo and ‘like a different meeting’. Having reviewed photographs of the event, SNP members identified that one of the attendees had been seen on social media working alongside Mr McCann and his election agent,Graham Scott.

The Labour activist was accompanied to our meeting by a female companion. At the end of the evening, she was overheard congratulating him on ‘having played his part well’. When the credentials given by the couple were checked, it turned out they had provided false details, laying a trail to the door of an innocent local couple. If SNP activists in East Kilbride were anything like the fantasy creatures of Michael McCann’s imagination, this could have had very serious consequences.

I don’t know what monitoring Scottish Labour carries out of the integrity of its local branches. However, the number of times East Kilbride Labour has featured in the press spotlight (for the wrong reasons) suggest something seriously wrong with the culture of that organisation.

Its members, including elected members, have been reported as indulging in behaviour that may be unethical, misogynistic, mendacious and intimidatory, yet the same small group of people continue to occupy its senior posts year after year and nothing is done to tackle this pattern of unacceptable behaviour.

As a newly elected leader of Scottish Labour who has promised to change the organisation for the better, I am asking you to tackle the canker on the body politic that is East Kilbride Labour. Please initiate an early investigation into the issues that have been running through the history of that organisation and deal with those who drag the name of East Kilbride and of Scottish Labour into disrepute.

I attach for your interest a photograph of the McCann campaign activist who attended our meeting, and his companion on the night. This may help you identify the source of the misinformation currently being broadcast by Mr McCann about our event on 12th March.

I look forward to an end to Mr McCann’s unprincipled attacks on the integrity of members of East Kilbride SNP and to hearing of your proposals for further action. Yours for Scotland: Councillor Gladys Miller: Convener, East Kilbride SNP:



scottish labour party photo: brown cartoon GordonVoodooScotland.jpg






21st March 2015: Fury as McCann mishandles data notices

Michael McCann has angered constituents by raising concerns over his handling of voters’ personal information if he is not re-elected. A number of constituents contacted East Kilbride SNP about a letter Mr McCann has distributed at taxpayers’ expense. Despite being very badly written, the letter clearly implies that if he doesn’t hear from the recipient before the election he will destroy any personal information he holds on them ‘immediately’ if he loses his seat.

McCann ICO letter
Appalled at the terms of the letter, we went in search of guidance on what Mr McCann should tell constituents. Not surprisingly, the guidance, published by the ICO and the UK Parliament, bears no resemblance to the letter that has dropped through doors all over East Kilbride.

The summary guidance from the ICO is

“GOOD PRACTICE TIP: Explain to constituents clearly what you intend
to do with their information whenever opportunity offers.”

The guidance confirms that personal information can be ‘processed’ for up to four days after the election; it therefore need not be destroyed ‘immediately’. So, there was no need for Mr McCann to cause distress to elderly and vulnerable constituents. The guidance suggests the use of a user-friendly form outlining the options available to constituents. This includes having their personal information returned, an option not even mentioned in Mr McCann’s letter.

ICO - UKParl guidance on handling personal information

The letter singularly fails to do its job, unless Mr McCann really means that if he is not re-elected he will act in the outrageous manner it describes.

One experienced Westminster case worker described this exercise as primarily for getting McCann’s name dropping through constituents’ letter boxes courtesy of Royal Mail and House of Commons expenses.

In his column for the East Kilbride News on 18 March, Mr McCann claimed to have worked with up to 6,000 constituents. If even a quarter of them received this notice, the cost will run into thousands of pounds. This badly executed publicity stunt further damages Mr McCann’s credibility and raises serious doubts about his competence and that of the team around him. We are calling on Michael McCann to write to his constituents again – this time using his campaign funds – clarifying that they do not need to contact him until after May 7th and giving them the full range of options for what he will do with their personal information.


A pattern of abuse

After this blog went up on-line, people got in contact from across Scotland, reporting Labour MPs sending similar letters to constituents. Some, amazingly, were even worse than Michael Mc Cann’s. We heard tell of similar letters from Jimmy Hood in Lanark and Hamilton East, Tom Greatrex in Rutherglen & Hamilton West, and this one from Jim McGovern, in Dundee West.

Letter to constituents from Jim McGovernIt seems there is a general decision by Scottish Labour MPs – or a directive from head office – that they should make one more call on House of Commons expenses to send out letters that are little more than badly designed personal promotion. Come 8th of May, there will undoubtedly be a call for more public funds for another round of letters, hopefully this time telling constituents the real options for dealing with their personal data.






30th March 2015: An open letter to Michael McCann     From: Duncan McLean, Secretary, East Kilbride SNP

Dear Mr McCann

I understand from the East Kilbride News of of 26 March that you hold what you assert to be a transcript of a ‘Meet the Candidate’ event held by East Kilbride SNP in the Murray Lounge on Thursday 12 March. This recording was made without my knowledge as organiser of the event and, if such a recording exists, I have been recorded without my approval.

Please note that I assert ownership of any of my personal data contained within that unauthorised recording, and in any transcript or re-recording of that event. I am issuing you with notice under Section 10 of the Data Protection Act that you should cease processing my personal data and should not pass to others any further personal data of mine, or data that you assert to be my personal data obtained without my consent.

According to the Act, I must provide you with a reason for serving this notice. My reason for issuing this notice is as follows:

My objection to your processing or transmitting my personal data is that it is being used as the basis for false and misleading statements about East Kilbride SNP, and the SNP Candidate for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow in the General Election, Dr Lisa Cameron.

As an example, your statement “SNP activists have infiltrated local schools in a bid to brainwash pupils into supporting their political brand.” has no basis in reality, and certainly not in any statement made at this meeting.

The only SNP supporters who have ‘infiltrated’ schools are pupils required to attend by law, or have stayed on beyond the leaving age to advance their education. Your attack on them as ‘infiltrators’ is bizarre from someone who claims to be a serious politician. It is even more bizarre from someone who regularly attends local schools and young persons’ voluntary groups in a political capacity.

That you continued to make these visits after being charged with Breach of the Peace for a confrontation involving a school pupil raises serious questions. If the charge is no longer outstanding, your constituents are entitled to know the basis on which it has been discharged.

On their website, Scottish Labour Students say, “We are active on our university and college campuses, in our schools and in our local communities, helping to take Labour’s message to wider society and spread Labour values wherever we go.” (my emphasis) I look forward to receiving by return your condemnation of this infiltrationist, brainwashing organisation, or a retraction of your ludicrous allegations against East Kilbride SNP.

The Herald newspaper has already carried a response to your claims “Jim Gilhooly, executive director of Education Resources at South Lanarkshire Council, said: “It is worth noting that these allegations are anonymous, so must be treated with caution. Furthermore, our secondary schools have all confirmed that there are no such political meetings organised within school premises at lunchtime or any other part of the school day.””

Had you taken the allegations seriously, you would have made immediate contact with Mr Gilhooly or with local schools before making such outrageous statements. Your misrepresentation of decent SNP members and associated attack on Lisa Cameron’s character are unwarranted and intolerable, and you do not have my consent to hold my personal data and to use it in this way.

The use to which you have already put selected extracts from the transcript of this event you say you hold may well be a breach of Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act, the terms of which you can find online.

A defence to the charge of making a false statement is that you show you “had reasonable grounds for believing, and did believe, that statement to be true”. EK NewsYou say that you made your statements based on a transcript presented to you by Andy MacMillan. It is reasonable to expect that you would have satisfied yourself as to his character and suitability to be your sole witness for these allegations, and therefore a key plank in your campaign against East Kilbride SNP and its candidate. Your comments in the EK News reveal how little you knew about Mr MacMillan and the nature of his business.

Whilst selling ‘Clubwear’ is a perfectly defensible business, another strand of the company’s business – the sale of dresses for strippers – was made clear by the company’s Twitter account. This account was closed down as soon as attention was focused on it by your allegations. However, the ‘pinned tweet’ shown in the EK News article, posted almost a year ago, linked this Twitter account to the world of online pornography. There was no discernible warning on the home page of the account that this was the case. The voters of East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow will be amazed that you are continuing to link your campaign to such activity.

You claim that your record is ‘transparent and unblemished’. It is certainly transparent, but to call it ‘unblemished’ while dragging your campaign into the gutter in this way and with an unresolved charge of Breach of the Peace in the public domain is a serious error of judgement.

I insist that you stop associating my name and what you allege to be my personal data with your sleazy and underhand campaign.

Please note that you are required to respond to this request to stop using my personal data within 21 calendar days. I reserve the right to make public that this notice has been served and your response, or failure to respond, to it.

This notice is served without prejudice to any other rights or remedies I, or any other party, may have.








 6th April 2015: Controversy over Council’s sweetheart deal for McCann

On 30th March, the 2010 to 2015 UK Parliament was dissolved, and Michael McCann ceased to be Labour MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow and became just another candidate.

Before dissolution, his campaign had already begun to plumb the depths. After the dissolution, the McCann campaign launched its biggest attack yet on the norms of political campaigning. Overnight, it turned South Lanarkshire Council’s operational HQ in East Kilbride, the Civic Centre, into its campaign headquarters.

As staff entered the Civic Centre the next morning, and every morning since, they have had to troop past a bank of posters promoting the Labour candidate’s campaign. Many of the staff know Mr McCann of old; not only did he have his parliamentary office in the building, he is also a former Deputy Leader of the Council, which has a dire track record of dealing with equal pay claims by its female employees. Although there have been reports of rifts between close associates of Mr McCann and the Council, and of former colleagues refusing to campaign for him, these don’t seem to get in the way of the Council doing what it can to aid his re-election.


As the challenges from political opponents and voters mounted, the Council stalled, dithered, and delayed answering the question, “Why has this been allowed?”.  Only when they were safely off for their long Easter weekend did the Council slide out a carefully worded response to an enquiry from the media, “The Council rents accommodation to Michael McCann in the same way that it has at times rented accommodation to politicians of different political parties.”

Mr McCann has run his constituency operation from the Civic Centre since 2011. Before that, it was the base for East Kilbride’s former Labour MSP, Andy Kerr. When the SNP’s Linda Fabiani defeated Andy Kerr, she asked about moving into the Civic Centre. The Council rebuffed Ms Fabiani’s approach, allowing Mr McCann to move in instead. This decision will have cost taxpayers thousands of pounds in wasted IT and telecoms costs and alterations to signage for the Civic Centre.

Since 2011, the Council has resisted attempts by the SNP to find out the terms of its lease with Mr McCann. While citing the spurious grounds of ‘commercial confidentiality’ (a favourite tactic of SLC), it now seems that the over-riding concern has been to conceal the advantageous location Mr McCann’s campaign would enjoy at this General Election.

The Council’s attempt to cover its tracks on this sweetheart deal has extended to asking the wrong question about its legal obligations and reassuring everyone it had done nothing wrong: Its press statement said, “After discussions with the Electoral Commission our legal advice is that the Council is not in breach of electoral law as a result of these posters being displayed.” (our emphasis)

The question the council should have asked, to which it may very well have received a different answer, is, “Are we in breach of Local Government law?”, to which the answer would probably have been ‘Yes, you are’.

Local Government Act 1986 - summaryFor the avoidance of doubt, the fact that it was Mr McCann’s team that put the posters up inside the Civic Centre is no defence. The act is absolutely clear “A local authority shall not give financial or other assistance to a person for the publication of material which the authority are prohibited by this section from publishing themselves.”

We know that the Council believes the publication of this material on the Civic Centre could be construed as their endorsement of a political position. We know this, because they very vigorously advocated and defended this view during the independence referendum.

Yes sign on the grass outside the Civic CentreWithin minutes of the above ‘Yes’ sign appearing on the grass outside the Civic Centre, the Council swung into action. Senior staff from its Hamilton Head Office contacted the Civic Centre and instructed removal of the ‘offending’ sign. To provide backup, a Council lorry was dispatched, with two operatives, to ensure it was removed. The following email from a senior council employee makes clear that the Civic Centre, even the grass outside it, should not be used for campaigning,

“For future reference, I would advise you that campaign materials are not permitted at the East Kilbride Civic Centre or other such operational buildings of the Council … The landscaped area you refer to is part of the Civic Centre complex and therefore falls within the above guidance.” (our emphasis)

If a Yes sign resting on an area of public open space is not permitted because it could give the appearance of Council endorsement, this is true in spades of two large banks of posters on the Civic Centre itself. Despite demanding urgent removal of Yes signs from the grass outside the Civic Centre, the Council’s current defence appears to be that, three years earlier, it had entered into a lease that allows Mr McCann to convert his MP’s office into the headquarters for his election campaign and to use the building as a very high profile poster site.

This is an indefensible position and the Council Leader and its Chief Executive, who also happens to be the Returning Officer for the Council area, need to take action. Having permitted Mr McCann a week’s publicity at the expense of its reputation, when the Council resumes normal business after the Easter break, they must address this outrageous demonstration of political bias.

If Mr McCann refuses to remove the posters, it can not be beyond the wit of the Council to find a means of concealing the posters from general view.






30 April 2015: East Kilbride Labour candidate demands probe after learning breach charge is dropped via social media

Michael McCann, Labour candidate for East Kilbride, says he is considering civil action against his accusers amidst claims that he was the victim of a politically-motivated attack designed to ruin his reputation. He was charged with breach of the peace after an incident involving young Yes campaigners in the run-up to the referendum.Mr McCann, who is campaigning to be re-elected as MP for East Kilbride, was arrested after a 17-year-old schoolboy’s father reportedly made a complaint to police.A counter allegation was made to officers about Mr McCann’s accusers.

Prosecutors said last week no proceedings are to be taken against either alleged victim. But a furious Michael McCann has now formally complained to the Crown Office claiming the charge against him was mishandled. He says, while the charge against him was dropped in February, the Fiscal’s office did not inform him of their decision. Instead, he learned about it via social media. He is now demanding an internal probe into procedures at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal’s Office.

Claiming he was the victim of a politically-motivated attack, Mr McCann says he is now taking legal advice about raising a civil action against his accusers. He told the News: “I was the victim of a malicious crime and I want justice. “I want the Crown Office and Fiscal Service to pursue the individuals who wasted police time, CO&PFS time and tax payers’ money. “I am awaiting an opinion from my solicitor about what action I can take against these people. “At the same time I am completely dissatisfied with the way the authorities dealt with this case. “I was forced to undergo the trauma and humiliation of being questioned by police and arrested in full view of my family, while knowing that I had done absolutely nothing wrong. “I had to fork out for legal advice then wait for months on end to find out my fate. “Then, when the Procurator Fiscal made the correct decision to drop the proceedings, they didn’t have the decency to inform me.

Mr McCann added: “Charging people and then not informing them that those charges have been dropped does not best serve the cause of Scottish justice. “The system has to change. At the moment it is illogical and insulting. “Without pre-judging their response, I would be astonished if the Crown Office and Fiscal Service could find a way of justifying their behaviour in this instance.” Comments about the incident, on September 9, appeared on Facebook before the involvement of officers.

The youth and a young female friend are understood to have been leafleting in the constituency for the Yes campaign at the time. Mr McCann says he was charged after he told a youth to stop defacing a “No” campaign advertising board during the lead-up to the referendum. He said: “I have been a victim of a malicious crime designed to ruin my reputation. “The accusation caused great personal damage to me and a great deal of distress to my family. “The case made the front page of the East Kilbride News and has been repeatedly referred to on social media by political opponents, with ridiculous exaggerated allegations that I had assaulted a schoolchild.

A spokesman for the Crown Office said: “The Procurator Fiscal received reports relating to an incident involving a 50-year-old man and a 17-year-old man, said to have occurred in East Kilbride on September 9, 2014. “After full and careful consideration of the facts and circumstances of the cases, the Procurator Fiscal decided that there was insufficient evidence available for prosecution. “The Procurator Fiscal instructed no proceedings after a thorough investigation into the allegation. Intimation of the decision was dealt with in the normal manner in accordance with our procedures and practices.”





5th May 2015: Press attack on young activists sees McCann branded ‘not fit to be an MP

In October 2014, Michael McCann MP was charged with Breach of the Peace following an incident in which it has been alleged Mr McCann verbally abused two young Yes campaigners. Last week, it was revealed no further proceedings were to be taken against him.

The young Yes activists, Jordan Lindsay (aged 17 at the time of the incident) and Eryn Semple (aged 19) have lodged a statement with the East Kilbride News describing the incident and its aftermath. They have issued a challenge to Mr McCann to do the same.

After hearing that the charges have been dropped, Mr McCann used the opportunity to launch an astonishing press attack on Jordan and Eryn. In the East Kilbride News, he claimed to be the victim of a ‘malicious crime’ and accused them of wasting police time. He also said he was taking legal advice about suing both young people.

These are serious charges and threats, and were carried on the front page of the EK News. Jordan and Eryn, both of whom are well known through social media as having been involved in the incident, were given no right to reply when these accusations were carried. The EK News has refused to carry the response by Jordan and Eryn in this week’s paper. Clearly, Michael McCann’s bullying behaviour pays off.

Jordan and Eryn are furious at this decision. Both families fully support their version of events, and have hit back at Mr McCann, branding him unfit to be an MP.

Jordan Lindsay said:

“Eryn and I were making our way home after a leafleting session for the Yes campaign when a car u-turned and pulled up beside us. The driver, who I recognised as Michael McCann, accused us of defacing a poster and said he would deface us. I asked him to repeat his statement, which he refused to do. “His allegation that we had defaced a billboard was untrue, it is so high off the ground we would have needed a ladder to reach it. His behaviour was very aggressive.

Eryn Semple said:

“When a car u-turned and stopped beside us, I was concerned at where this was going.  When I realised the person shouting at us was Michael McCann, I was shocked at his behaviour.”

Below is a picture of Jordan and Eryn at the billboard they were accused of defacing, now being used by Michael McCann as part of his campaign. As can be seen from the photo, even Jordan, at six feet two, can’t reach the bottom of the billboard from the highest point on the ground.

Jordan trying to reach for the billboard
Jordan spoke to his father, Steven Lindsay, about the incident. Mr Lindsay, who was not involved in the Yes campaign, and is not an SNP member, was shocked at such behaviour from someone in Mr McCann’s position. He told Jordan he should report the matter to the Police or he would go and speak to Mr McCann. Jordan reported the incident to the Police.

Hearing about Michael McCann’s allegation that the complaint was politically motivated and a waste of Police time, Jordan and Eryn’s parents were furious. Steven Lindsay said: “Michael McCann’s allegation that the complaint to the police was politically motivated is a fantasy of his own invention. Jordan was clearly shocked at Mr McCann’s behaviour, both in making a false allegation of vandalism and his aggressive attitude. It was because of my insistence that Mr McCann be spoken to about his behaviour that Jordan reported the matter to the Police. “Someone who is let off a charge of Breach of the Peace and responds by slandering a couple of young people is not fit to be an MP. That is not a matter of politics, it is a matter of character.”

Aamer Anwar, Jordan Lindsay’s solicitor said “Jordan has protested his innocence from the start, and whilst relieved the Crown have dropped charges against him, he is disappointed that there are no further proceedings against Mr  McCann. The last few months have been a tremendous strain for a young man who had every right to campaign, without being bullied and intimidated. Despite Mr McCann’s recent assertions that he is seeking legal advice, there are no proceedings against Jordan, who would of course welcome his day in court to let everyone know what happened that night”

Duncan McLean, Secretary of East Kilbride SNP, said: “Within minutes of this incident occurring, my attention was drawn to Jordan’s post on Facebook, giving a clear statement of the event, from which neither he nor Eryn have wavered. That account, and their subsequent behaviour has the ring of truth. “The contrast between their behaviour and that of Michael McCann couldn’t be more stark. Making serious allegations against young people, but failing to give them the opportunity to respond is the kind of moral failure Michael McCann has displayed throughout his political career. “His decision to make a counter-complaint, backed up by two unidentified witnesses, and now his wild accusations of criminal behaviour, are the mark of a politician not in control of his decisions. He is a liability to his constituents and to his party.”



We had been campaigning in the Jackton area with Yes East Kilbride. We left our colleagues at Hairmyres Station and set out for Westwood along Eaglesham Road. As we walked away from the bus stop located near the entrance to Windward Road, we became aware of a car behind us performing a U-turn and accelerating back towards us. At this time, we had no idea of the identity of the occupant.

The car pulled to a halt beside us, the window on the front passenger side was pulled down, and the driver shouted at us. Jordan heard the driver say that we had defaced a No poster and he would deface us. He bent down, looked into the vehicle, and recognised Michael McCann. There was no one else visible in the vehicle. He and Michael McCann conducted a brief conversation but Mr McCann refused to repeat what he had said when he first drew up. Having also realised who the driver was, and in an effort to calm things down Eryn jokingly said “Just Vote Yes”. Mr McCann muttered “Typical Yes supporters.” and drove off. Mr McCann remained in his car for the whole conversation, which lasted approximately two minutes, therefore the words he used could have been heard by no one other than the participants in the incident.

Jordan posted a description of the incident on his Facebook page as soon as he got home and this was being read and shared by his Facebook friends within minutes of the event. Eryn texted her mother immediately after the incident and discussed it with her when she got home.

That evening, Jordan discussed the incident with his father and made clear that he felt threatened by Mr McCann’s approach and his language. Jordan’s father said someone needed to speak to Mr McCann about his inappropriate behaviour, and either he would do it or the Police should. The following morning, Jordan reported the incident to the Police. Thereafter, statements were taken from both Jordan and Eryn.

In early October, Police Officers attended Jordan’s home, they confirmed that Michael McCann had been charged with an offence in response to the report he had submitted. The Police Officers advised Jordan that Mr McCann had brought forward two witnesses and, on the basis of  statements they made in support of Mr McCann, Jordan was also to be charged with an offence.

As the incident largely consisted of a conversation between Jordan Lindsay standing at the side of Eaglesham Road, speaking to Michael McCann through the passenger side window of a car in which Mr McCann appeared to be the sole occupant, it is not clear what understanding of the incident these witnesses would have had.


Labour Party Women






29th June 2015: Council still in lockdown over Civic Centre scandal

East Kilbride SNP has grave concerns about the way South Lanarkshire Council discharges, or fails to discharge, its statutory obligation to remain politically neutral. In recent months, the Council has given the impression that it handed decision-making over East Kilbride Civic Centre to East Kilbride Labour Party to do with as it wishes.

We have challenged the Council to come clean over its arrangement with the Labour Party, but it has refused to do so, instead indulging in delaying tactics and dubious legal challenges to requests for information.

Voters who asked for information about the Council’s sweetheart deal with Labour have received lengthy emails asking them to justify the release of ‘personal data’, despite the fact none of the information requested is sensitive personal data.

For the record, it has long been established that the release of personal data may be justified if there is a legitimate public interest. Certainly, as regards the misuse of the Civic Centre by Labour, even if personal data is to be disclosed, this is entirely justified.

Office premises in EK Civic Centre were made available to Adam Ingram, Andy Kerr, and Michael McCann only because of the office to which they had been elected. At least, that has been the reason given by South Lanarkshire Council; maybe the reluctance to provide information indicates that no such policy has ever been approved by the Council.

Could it be the case that they only got access to the Civic Centre because they carry the right party card? Certainly, the address given for ex Labour MP Jimmy Hood‘s Constituency Office suggests East Kilbride is not the only town in which South Lanarkshire Council has proven a willing landlord for a Labour MP; but it has been strangely unable to provide space in any of its operational premises for an MP, MSP, or MEP of a different political party.

Jimmy Hood picture and address

If there is a clear policy covering all-party access to Council premises by elected members, why is the Council so unwilling to disclose how it has been implemented?

All of the elected members, particularly Michael McCann, a former Deputy Leader of the Council, should have been aware that a lease with the Council would be subject to Freedom of Information disclosure. Indeed, if their use of the premises have been funded by either the Scottish or UK Parliaments, information will be available from these bodies as well.

The statement below, which is from a decision of the Information Commissioner in respect of Caerphilly Council in Wales is clear:

 “When considering what information third parties should expect to have disclosed about them, the Commissioner considers that a distinction should be drawn as to whether the information relates to the third party’s public or private life.

“The Commissioner’s view is that information which relates to an individual’s private life (i.e. their home, family, social life or finances) will deserve more protection than information about them acting in an official or work capacity (i.e. their public life).”

If the Council was unaware of this Caerphilly case and many others like it, they certainly have been aware of guidance, issued by the Scottish Information Commissioner. We know that, because, the Council drew attention to the guidance in the email sent out to inquirers as part of the process of delaying making information available.

 “In an Information Rights Tribunal decision which looked at the disclosure of details of MPs’ expenses the Tribunal considered that there were clear legitimate public interests at stake.

These included the general principle of freedom of information, public scrutiny of the use of public funds, encouraging MPs to make better value for money choices, assessing politicians’ probity, enhancing public confidence in Parliament and informing public debate on reforms of the allowance system.

The legitimacy of these interests was enhanced by a history of mistakes and misuse of the expense system, …(our emphasis)”

These two statements point very clearly to South Lanarkshire Council releasing the information requested without further delay. Here is why:

  • The information requested relates to the tenants operating in their public capacity – this includes the period spent by Mr McCann winding up his MP’s office if he insists on doing so within the Civic Centre to the detriment of his successor’s ability to serve the voters.
  • As the landlord is a local authority and the tenant the current or immediate past holder of a public office and funded from the public purse there should be a presumption in favour of freedom of information.
  • The public is entitled to examine how the Council implements its policy of making an office available to elected members of the Scottish, UK, and European Parliaments.
  • The history of South Lanarkshire Council’s apparent political bias adds legitimacy to the public’s interest in these matters, not least because the Civic Centre was turned into a political poster site for two weeks, almost certainly a breach of the Council’s statutory obligations.

So, what is the Council achieving by withholding the information requested, apart from further damage to its reputation? It is of course buying time to cover its tracks, and to hope that attention moves on to other matters, letting it return to ‘business as usual’.

It is time for the Council to bring its cover up and stalling tactics to an end, and stop using a spurious ‘data protection’ defence that has long since lost any credibility. They must release the information requested, in full, and as quickly as possible.






The waters of the Clyde – Forth – Tay Estuaries and Many Other Offshore Areas are contaminated after many years of illegal dumping of Toxic Waste by the MOD and others – And they ain’t done yet – The legacy our children will inherit





Archive files have revealed dumping sites.



13 July 2016: Shocking extent of radioactive waste dumped in Scottish seas

Documents have emerged which show more than 75,000 luminised dials coated with radium were tipped into the Tay Estuary after the Second World War.

Archive files from the 1950s also reveal how radioactive waste from a Dundee plant was secretly dropped into the waters below the Forth Bridge, less than a mile from a radium-contaminated beach at Dalgety Bay in Fife.

The archive files also show other dump sites around Scotland and how waste and sludge from nuclear submarines based at Rosyth Dockyard was regularly being deposited in the Firth of Forth during the 1960s.

Documents at the National Records of Scotland show the now-defunct electronics firm Ferranti Ltd dumped scrap from its Dundee radio valve manufacturing plant in the Firth of Forth at North Queensferry every three or four months between 1954 and 1956 without permission.

Minutes from a Government meeting in 1957 show how national chief chemical inspector Eric Birse concluded Ferranti “had simply decided on their own that it would be a good place for dumping”.

During a visit to the plant in October 1956, the Radiological Protection Service told Ferranti that “the quantities involved could well present a hazard and that you should obtain approval for your dumping point and quantities to be dumped”.

The dumping spot is close to the beach in Dalgety Bay which has been closed because of radium contamination.

The beach was used to break up to 800 planes after the Second World War and the contamination there is thought to come from the instrument dials on the aircraft which had been illuminated by paint containing radium.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency last year blamed the Ministry of Defence for the contamination, which is being released as the headland erodes.Defence chiefs have disputed its findings.

Documents at the National Records of Scotland also show how the now-defunct Dundee firm UK Time a forerunner to Timex arranged a deal with local fishermen to put 35,000 luminised dials coated with radium into drums and dump them in the Tay Estuary in 1949.

The arrangement, according to Scotland Office papers, continued for eight more years at an estimated 5,000 dials a year before dumping was switched to the UK Government’s site at Beaufort’s Dyke between Northern Ireland and Scotland.”











August 1994; Rosyth to become ‘nuclear graveyard’ says local MP Gordon Brown

The Tory government insisted that ‘storage afloat’ of Britain’s decommissioned nuclear submarines would not compromise safety, after leaked defence documents revealed proposals to moor the vessels at Rosyth naval dockyard indefinitely.

Local MP Gordon Brown, said the plans would turn Rosyth into a ‘nuclear graveyard’. The leaked proposals came as an ironic second blow for dockyard workers who were told last year that Rosyth, Fife, had lost a drawn-out battle with Devonport for the £5bn order to refit the Trident submarines.

Brown, whose Dunfermline East constituency includes Rosyth, attacked as ‘totally unacceptable’ plans to moor seven decommissioned nuclear submarines at the dockyard, while long-term policy was formulated.

Brown said the documents showed safety restrictions at the site were to be downgraded. One proposal was to set aside only £30,000 a year until 2004 for the upkeep of the submarines.

The document suggests that the body for dealing with safety questions will be moved almost 100 miles to Faslane, Strathclyde, and tugs suitable for moving the nuclear submarines are to be located 600 miles away at Devonport.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman emphasised that no decision had been made about future storage of the submarines at either Rosyth or Devonport. Four decommissioned nuclear submarines are already moored at Rosyth with another three at Devonport.

Brown said that the proposals were contained in a leaked government document marked ‘Urgent Restricted’, which he was confident was authentic.

The Government had promised to produce a consultative paper setting out its options for disposal of decommissioned submarines. But this has not yet appeared.

Brown said: ‘My fear is that they have no intention of making proposals at all, and that short- term proposals will turn into medium-term proposals, which will turn into long-term proposals.’

Decommissioned submarines have their highly radioactive nuclear fuel removed, and sent to the BNFL site at Sellafield. The reactor itself is less radioactive and is left in place within the hull.

The MoD said that once the highly radioactive fuel was removed, decommissioned submarines ‘present no hazard to residents near the dockyards or to the workforce. Safety is paramount’.

Brown said: ‘We will not allow the Rosyth area to be frozen by nuclear dumping or becoming a nuclear graveyard. The Government proposals cannot be allowed to go ahead.’

Update:  at 2016 the decommissioned submarines remain dumped at Rosyth








August 2004; Rosyth Royal Dockyard Ltd’s strategy for decommissioning the Rosyth nuclear licensed site

The Rosyth Dockyard in Fife, Scotland comprises a nuclear licensed site and a non-licensed site, both of which contain facilities used to support the refitting and maintenance of nuclear powered submarines.

Rosyth Royal Dockyard Ltd (RRD) is the owner of the facilities on both of these sites and is responsible for decommissioning of these facilities, including management of the resulting waste. RRD is the holder of the nuclear site licence.

Ownership of the waste rests with the Ministry of Defence (MoD), which bears the cost of decommissioning and waste management.









October 2008; Just where the hell are we with nuclear submarine dismantling and disposal

In the UK there are around 27 nuclear submarines awaiting decommissioning, de-fuelling and dismantling. Political decisions surrounding the disposal of nuclear compartments, radioactive wastes and spent fuel are proving to be a major headache for successive governments due to outstanding quantification and preventative measures required to resolve, to the satisfaction of the public risks associated with long-term water storage of the boats, radioactive and chemical contamination, spent fuel and waste management, and handling and recycling reactor compartments.

It is anticipated the works will take around 300 years to complete.








September 2009; Babcock to Buy UK Govt.’s Commercial Decommissioning Arm for £50 Million

Babcock International last week agreed to buy the full commercial arm of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)—a UK government body that provides nuclear decommissioning, waste management, and new nuclear build support services—for £50 million.

The sale follows the government’s announcement in March this year that the UK Atomic Energy Authority was seeking a buyer for UKAEA Ltd.

Its decision to withdraw from the clean-up side of its nuclear sector marked a departure from policies to keep decommissioning and waste management services state-owned.

“The sale of the business will help to reinforce the UK’s strong heritage in the nuclear industry and provide a platform for the further development of skills in this important marketplace,” the government said in a press release on Friday.

“The new ownership structure will help give UKAEA Limited greater commercial focus on its operations, allowing it to capitalise on its core skills, strong track record and brand and I am confident that it will continue its growth in the UK and internationally under Babcock International’s ownership,” said Business Secretary Peter Mandelson.








November 2009; Deep Sea Burial off Barra – Final disposal of nuclear waste

Inexpert work and inexperienced operatives are more likely to cause accidents and take wrong decisions on the hoof. Deficiencies in these areas would aggravate any environmental risk arising from such activity.

For evidence of the phenomenon we are identifying here, one has only to look at the hicksville that was Doonreay in its pomp – chucking nuclear waste down a rock cleft. This is the real issue for watchfulness into the future.

At the moment, nuclear waste goes into containers and his held secure in a number of open sites in Scotland. But this is a holding operation, albeit a mid-term, (2040) holding operation.

According to the experts, we are at least 30 years away from having a secure deep-burial final location for such waste.

Unable to neutralise radioactive material, the existing primitive risk ridden solution is all there is, operating at little more than best guesstimates of the time-frames within which the material can be assumed to remain secure.

Deep-burial will involve drilling 1,000 metres down into rock shown by geological surveys to offer stability, then inserting nuclear waste in secure jacket containers and sealing up the facility.

It is obvious how many points of potential failure exist in such a proposed procedure. We know that Scotland’s seabed south of the archipelago of the Isle of Barra has shown the sort of geological reassurance the MoD is looking for. And we know that the imperial mindset will always look to dispose of risk in what are perceived as the colonies.

The procedures that would apply should the MoD wish to use deep-burial procedures for nuclear waste in a marine location in Scottish waters require the permission of the Crown Estate, (not devolved to the Scottish parliament) which owns and generates revenue from the UK’s seabed out to the 12-mile limit.

Since there is little doubt that the current Scottish Government would not be minded to offer such permission Westminster may introduce changes in the law so that they would not need to seek consent from the Scottish Government, through Marine Scotland, under the Food and Environment Protection Act (FEPA) to dump such waste in this way.

Such solutions are untested, short-term responses to a very profound problem. They will do nothing other than get the stuff out of sight and, in political terms, out of mind.

We would be – literally and irresponsibly – burying time-bombs. The Scottish nation should be ever watchful and stand ready to resist the introduction of a policy to locate deep burial sites for nuclear waste disposal on Scotland’s land or marine territory.








October 2011; Submarine Dismantling Project

Following public consultation, the Ministry of Defence decided that initial dismantling of the submarines will take place at both Devonport and Rosyth Dockyards and that the Reactor Pressure Vessel from each submarine will be removed and stored whole.

Further public consultation, on the selection of a site for the interim storage of Intermediate Level radioactive waste from the submarines, is planned to be carried out in 2014.








August 2012; MoD planned to dump old nuclear submarines in sea

A secret MoD briefing found in the UK National Archives reveals the ministry’s “technical preference” was to dispose of the radioactive hulks at sea without dismantling them. Dumping in this way, however, would raise “many environmental and other issues”, it said.

Since Britain’s first nuclear submarine, HMS Dreadnought, was taken out of service 30 years ago,(still to be found in dock at Rosyth) the MoD has been trying to work out how to get rid of its reactor. Over the decades it has been joined at Rosyth by six other retired nuclear submarines.

Since 2000 the MoD has conducted a series of prolonged public consultations on what to do with all the submarines’ radioactive remains. The latest in the last year suggested that the reactor pressure vessels should be removed from the submarines at Rosyth and Devonport.

But what would then happen to them is still unclear. The MoD says it wants to work with the Government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority on whether to build a new waste store, or to use current or planned stores at nuclear power station sites, like the one at Hunterston, Ayrshire.

The briefing unearthed from the UK National Archives by nuclear researcher Brian Burnell shows that the MoD has not always been so indecisive. Marked “confidential” on every page, it was prepared for Dr Dov Zakheim, a senior US defence official, ahead of a meeting in London, and sent in August 1981 by Newman Beaumont, an MoD section head.

How to get rid of defunct nuclear submarines was a “major issue”, the briefing warned. “Disposal by cutting up and burial on land in the UK or long-term laying up at UK berths are not favoured due to practical, financial and environmental reasons.” It continued: “The MoD technical preference is for dumping the whole defuelled submarine at sea, which is considered to be the cleanest, safest and most practical solution.” Defining the submarine as low-level radioactive waste, the briefing concluded, “should mean that there is no strictly legal bar to its disposal at sea but this raises many environmental and other issues”. The MoD dumped thousands of tonnes of radioactive waste in the English Channel and the northeast Atlantic from 1946 to 1983. In 1993 the MoD agreed to an indefinite ban on dumping radioactive waste at sea.









March 2013; Rosyth: No to a nuclear dump.

It was announced in March 2013 that Rosyth will be one of two sites in the UK (along with Devonport ) where decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines will be dismantled. Radioactive waste will be removed from the boats at the site, but no plan is yet in place for what to do with this dangerous material.

This kind of activity carries the risk of radioactive leaks contaminating the local environment, with possible adverse health and safety effects on the local community.

It is therefore particularly worrying that this is set to take place in Rosyth, which is very close to Edinburgh the capital city of Scotland with a population of around a half a million people.

The base, which is situated alongside housing estates, does not have a good safety record, with various accidents in the past possibly causing radioactive substances to leak into the Forth.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced a new Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP) policy in March 2013, following a public consultation. There are 27 submarines which are nearing the end of their shelf life and need to be decommissioned.

After an initial trial of the radioactive waste removal process at Rosyth, the submarines will be dismantled both there and in Devonport. Submarines will be de-fuelled before the dismantling process begins. De-fuelling facilities at Devonport are currently being upgraded with funds from the MoD’s Future Nuclear Facilities programme. De-fuelling is the most dangerous operation of the entire decommissioning process.

Radioactive Reactor Pressure Vessels (each the size of two double-decker buses and weighing around 750 tonnes) will be removed from the nuclear-powered submarines at both Devonport and Rosyth Dockyards and stored intact, prior to disposal in a planned – but as yet non-existent – Geological Disposal Facility.

The MoD is yet to find a location for storing intermediate level radioactive waste. Concerns have been raised that if a suitable site is not found, Rosyth could find itself being used as a ‘temporary’ solution.

The MoD has indicated that no submarines will be dismantled until a storage site has been agreed. It remains to be seen, however, if they will maintain this position if no progress is made in locating a site, especially as a significant delay in the dismantling process would have an adverse economic effect. The next step is for the government to seek regulatory approval for the initial dismantling at Rosyth.

Local people are increasingly anxious at the possibility of increased radioactive contamination of their environment. In the recent government consultation on the submarine dismantling project, many of the responses from the community complained that it was ‘inappropriate’ to use an urban location for dismantling, due to the risk of an accident.











July 2013; MoD can’t be trusted in Rosyth either says Brown after Bay radiation row

Gordon Brown, in parliament said, “if the MoD cannot be trusted to deal with radiation contamination at Dalgety Bay, how can they be trusted with the work of dismantling and breaking up of submarines at Rosyth?” MOD assurances about the safety of Rosyth’s nuclear submarines won’t be believed after their denials in Dalgety Bay.

The MoD, which has conceded responsibility for the contamination of Dalgety Bay has refused to pay for the clean-up of the polluted beach.











December 2013; MoD to be held to account as more than 1000 radiation particles discovered at Dalgety Bay

Gordon Brown MP is to complain that action promised in Dalgety Bay by the MoD by May this year has still not happened. He will reveal the recommendations of health experts that work to clean up the bay should be carried out as soon as possible – and not be subject to further delays.

Dalgety Bay is the first area in the whole of the UK to have a polluter ‘named and shamed’ in this way – and under the legislation which saw the MoD named as the responsible party, it is at risk of being named the only radiation-contaminated area in the UK, blighting the houses and local amenities.

Waste from Dalgety Bay is being stored in the special waste facility at Rosyth but there can be no agreement to long-term storage of nuclear waste from decommissioned submarines at the site as long as local fears about safety along the coast at Dalgety are not properly addressed.








A town meeting of Dalgety Bay community has been called by the Community Council. This will see the community vote on the Ministry of Defence’s plan to clean up radiation from the beach. The pollution resulted from the dumping 800 wartime planes with radiated dials and other hazardous equipment, and subsequent coastal erosion that has brought the pollution to the surface.

The people of Dalgety Bay have won their long campaign to guarantee that the beach area covered in radiation particles would be the subject of an extensive clean up. The work will include removing many of the radiation particles and engineering work will be carried out to build a wall to entomb the remaining materials, preventing them coming to the surface as a result of coastal erosion.









December 2013; Fears over Rosyth nuclear submarine waste

Scotland has been chosen for the pilot project to break up some of Britain’s old nuclear submarines, prompting fears it could become a dumping ground for radioactive waste.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials will test the removal of reactors in Rosyth, but politicians and anti-nuclear campaigners have hit out at the plans, fearing nuclear waste will be dumped in the area. A total of 27 submarines are to be dismantled at UK naval bases, with one at Rosyth the first to be cut up.

The Fife yard has been home to the old vessels for years, but concerns have been raised that the site could become a toxic dump after the MoD ordered the “demonstration of the radioactive waste removal process”.

However, the pilot will not go ahead until a storage facility for the waste is identified and further consultation is undertaken, expected to start next year.

SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson MP said: “The Ministry of Defence’s approach to nuclear safety in Scotland clearly leaves a lot to be desired.“ Instead of experimenting with cutting up these submarines and worrying about the consequences later, the MoD needs to put a credible plan in place for what to do with the radioactive parts of these subs before it begins work.”

The Nuclear Submarine Forum, a coalition of pressure groups, has called for an end to building such vessels until a proper way of dealing with the resulting waste is found.









January 2014; Gordon Brown escapes scrutiny from BBC over Dalgety Bay scandal despite inaction when Prime Minister

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has escaped questions over his role in the scandal that has led to the radioactive contamination of Dalgety Bay after the MoD was formally named as the polluter.

Brown, who is the local MP, refused to act when warned about the contamination five years ago when he was UK Prime Minister. Despite this, the former Labour leader is now attempting to portray himself as a leading campaigner calling for the MoD to clean up the mess. Locals are angry amid mounting fears that the area may now be closed down to the public.

In a report on BBC Radio Scotland, the former PM faced no questions from reporter Glenn Campbell over his inaction. The BBC Scotland reporter told listeners the Labour MP was someone “who has been campaigning on this”.

The lengthy piece heard Brown say he was “shocked and dismayed” at the lack of action from the MoD. Mr Brown called on the MoD to clean up the mess and remove risky contaminated material, claiming “it’s not too expensive”.

However, as revealed by Newsnet Scotland as far back as December 2011, Gordon Brown did little to facilitate a clean-up of the area when he was Prime Minister, despite being made aware of the issue two years earlier.

In 2009 when Brown was Prime Minister, the MoD’s own scientists refused to analyse material from the site because of the risk it could give them cancer. Despite this, the MoD continued to resist pressure to pay for a clean-up of the radioactive pollution.

In 2011, the Ministry also continued to play down the possible health risks for members of the public even though official minutes from a meeting in 2009 revealed that MoD scientists had such grave concerns over the contamination that they refused to handle it.

In 2011 after losing the general election, Brown made a rare appearance in the House of Commons and bizarrely gave a speech calling for a debate on the issue, suggesting the seriousness of the situation was new.

Speaking in front of MPs, Mr Brown said: “I call this debate for one purpose and one purpose only, to persuade the Ministry of Defence of the need for urgent action in an area in my constituency where radioactive materials have been discovered.”

The naming of the MoD as the culprit follows years of investigation work carried out by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA). According to SEPA, the area around the bay was contaminated by radioactive material caused by the dumping of components from old World War 2 aircraft.

Concerns for the Fife beach rose after hundreds of radioactive contaminated fragments were discovered by scientists working for the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.

Some of the material discovered was been described as being so radioactive that it would cause burns if touched. The Dalgety Bay discoveries were made after the MoD had conducted a survey of the area in September 2011, discovering only 33 radioactive fragments.

SEPA scientists carried out their own survey and discovered over four hundred contaminated fragments, some 76 times more radioactive than the previous discoveries.

In November 2011, the MoD refused to accept responsibility for the contamination, something condemned by SNP MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Annabelle Ewing.

In December 2011, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the MoD’s failure to act was “entirely unacceptable”. Ms Sturgeon also revealed that the Cabinet Secretary for rural affairs and the environment Richard Lochhead had already written twice to the UK Secretary of State for defence urging the MOD to take immediate action, but had received no reply.

In 2012, Annabelle Ewing also revealed how Westminster knew of the contamination half a century ago, (Dalgety Bay is built on the old RNAS Donibristle/HMS Merlin airfield.

After the Second World War the airfield was used to break up redundant aircraft and the waste was used to reclaim land. Included in that waste was traces of radium from the luminous paint used on instrument dials) but kept the revelations secret.

Responding to reports that the MoD was still trying to get out of its obligation to clean up radiation at Dalgety Bay, Ms Ewing said: “Local residents of Dalgety Bay and Fifers from across the Kingdom have been waiting decades for this mess to be cleaned up. “A SEPA investigation last year found the MoD were solely responsible for the contamination.

Any suggestion from the MoD that this matter can be resolved via fences and warning signs is an insult to both local people and all who care about Scotland’s environment. “There can be no more excuses from the MoD – they need to fund and carry out a clean-up at Dalgety Bay immediately.”









February 2014; How Babcock plans to decommission UK nuclear submarines at Rosyth

Rosyth Royal Dockyards Ltd. (RRDL), a subsidiary of Babcock International Group, has applied for consent to begin the dismantling project in January 2016.

The UK nuclear regulator initiated a formal, three-month consultation on the project in late January (for which comments must be received by 21 April 2014.) after what it calls ‘considerable consultation’, the UK Ministry of Defence has chosen to remove radiated waste in-situ at Rosyth and Devonport Nuclear Licensed Dockyards.

But because of delays expected to develop an intermediate-level waste store for the Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPVs) of ultimately 27 decommissioned nuclear submarines, MOD and Babcock have decided to split the d&d operation into two stages. (The ILW site is now expected to be identified in 2016, and operational in 2019.)

Stage one is docking a submarine and removal of low-level waste, primarily within the reactor compartment (RC). Stage two will involve removing the reactor pressure vessel and surrounding primary shield tank.

Stage 2 will only commence when the ILW interim storage solution is agreed. The plan is to dismantle a first demonstration submarine entirely, and study the process, before contracting for dismantling the remaining units. The initial project is expected to take 12 years to complete.







February 2014; Chapelcross Group of discuss submarine plan

Chapelcross Site Stakeholder Group will meet in Annan town hall on Friday to discuss the potential for storing radioactive waste from the UK’s submarine fleet at the former nuclear power plant.

The Ministry of Defence’s Submarine Dismantling Project has shortlisted the site near Annan – whose nuclear rods were removed last year after a major de-fuelling project – along with four others across the border at Sellafield in Cumbria, Capenhurst in Cheshire and at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire.

A public consultation will take place later this year to determine which of the five sites will be ultimately chosen to store reactor components from disused submarines. The chosen site will be used as an interim storage site for the reactor components until after 2040 when the UK’s geological disposal facility is planned to come into operation.











March 2014; Statement on Hazardous incident at Vulcan Nuclear Test Establishment

The MoD has on Scottish soil, and in Scottish waters, an operational test reactor; a fleet of redundant submarines awaiting dismantling; and an operational fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, four of which are Trident armed. All significant environmental hazards.

Vulcan is the test-bed for the pressurised water reactors used in Britain’s nuclear submarines. As the Defence Secretary put it, the reactors at Vulcan are “hammered”, so that any faults will show up there rather than in an operational submarine.

In January 2012, low levels of radioactivity were detected in the cooling water of the reactor. This took place in a sealed circuit, and we were reassured by the Ministry of Defence last week that there was no detectable radiation leak from that circuit.

However, there should be no radioactivity in the cooling water, and the incident was of such significance that the reactor was shut down for much of 2012 until tests and trials could be carried out. The reactor was only restarted in November 2012 – 10 months later.

The MoD believe that the problem lay in a microscopic breach of fuel element cladding, but they do not know what caused that breach. Nevertheless, they appear to be confident that the reactor can be operated safely until decommissioning begins next year.

The Defence Secretary indicated that this incident would be rated at Level 0 on the 8-point International Nuclear Event Scale, indicating that it is a mere “Anomaly” with no safety significance. Whilst that may sound somewhat reassuring, the incident led to the significant decision to shut down the reactor as a precaution for 10 months.

During 2012, SEPA became aware of an increase in discharges of radioactive gases from the site. Those discharges, at 43% of the annual limit, were within the threshold permitted by SEPA. However, they were much higher than the previous year, when emissions were only 4% of the permitted limit.

We now understand that this was probably due to the testing that took place following the shut-down. That is why the Defence Secretary was wrong when he told the House of Commons that there had been “no measurable change in the radiation discharge” – a publicly reported ten-fold increase is most certainly measurable and I am sure he will want to correct the record.

SEPA were first contacted by the MoD in September 2012 seeking a meeting, but with no details being divulged at that point. A SEPA officer responsible for Vulcan was then summoned to a meeting which took place on 11 December at the site.

At that meeting, SEPA were told about the incident; the tests that had been carried out; and the suspected cause. By then the incident had been classified as one with no safety or environmental impact, and the MoD instructed that the issue must be kept on a strict need to know basis.

Accordingly, neither SEPA senior managers nor the Scottish Government were informed. The UK Government’s own Office for Nuclear Regulation similarly confirmed what was said to SEPA as according to their own spokesperson, “We were required to keep the information on a need to know basis for security reasons.”

We now know that SEPA and Ministers weren’t the only victims of the UK Government’s veil of secrecy. When my own officials visited the site in February 2012 to discuss its decommissioning, there was no mention of any problem.

Let’s be clear. It was the responsibility of the MoD and the UK Government to inform the local community, this Parliament, and the Government, of the events at the test facility. No-one else. We therefore propose to use the forthcoming regulations under the Regulatory Reform Act to leave behind the Crown exemption for MoD sites.

We are fortunate that what we are discussing today is not a nuclear incident, but the failure of the UK Government to be open and transparent about an incident at Vulcan. Where we can act to restore public confidence, in shedding the Crown exemption, we will.

But the MoD’s handling of it – keeping SEPA in the dark for months, and Ministers, Parliamentarians and the public for much longer – is a major concern.

The MoD has again demonstrated a deep-seated culture of secrecy. This raises questions about what else they know but are not telling us. The MoD is in control of facilities which present a great potential hazard in Scotland and it appears that we cannot rely on them to volunteer information.








June 2014; Scottish independence: ‘Yes’ vote could scupper nuclear clean-up

At present, only the seven out-of-service submarines that are currently floating at Rosyth are scheduled to be dismantled there. However, space at Devonport is tight and it is expected that Rosyth would eventually have to take on much more of the dismantling work. There are a further 20 Nuclear submarine hulls at Devonport awaiting dismantling.

A number of engineering companies have registered their interest in dismantling and removing waste from 27 submarines in Devonport near Plymouth and Rosyth on the Firth of Forth. But they are understood to be concerned that a “Yes” vote for independence could complicate the 60-year programme of de-fuelling and breaking up the submarines.

The MoD has refused to draw up any contingency plans.

One industry insider said that delays were “absolutely” a risk, but that the Navy just “laughs off independence as something that isn’t going to happen”. The US has large decommissioning facilities, but these are nearly full to capacity. Sending vessels there would also add to the cost, said to be about £60m a submarine.





17. September 2014; Adverse effects of exposure to Low level radiation underestimated

Insufficient research of low level radiation risks, a matter of much voiced concern was addressed at a recent conference. Speaking during a panel session at the World Nuclear Association’s (WNA) 2014 Symposium, Roger Coates, vice president of the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA), said that the nuclear industry and governments “have not been honest in presenting the risks of radiation at low levels”.

He suggested the nuclear industry should encourage its radiation protection practitioners to join the debate on presenting the risks of radiation. “If we express risks of radiation in what is defined as ‘normal’ … we will be in a more honest and better situation,” Coates said, rather confusingly. More revealingly, Willie Harris, Director of Radiation Protection at the US utility Exelon Nuclear, stated that the nuclear industry “does not have a significant amount of research in low-dose areas” in its studies and concepts, and that, in some cases, there had been a ‘mis-communication’ of radiation risks.






October 2014; Managing the use and disposal of radioactive and nuclear substances and waste

Five UK nuclear facilities have been confirmed as potential sites to store waste from decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines. A public consultation process will run from 14 November 2014 until 20 February 2015 to help determine which site is selected.

The sites, which already hold radioactive materials, are either owned by MOD, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) or industry. They are:

i. The MOD owned Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) site at Aldermaston

ii. The MOD owned Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) site at Burghfield

iii. Sellafield in west Cumbria, owned by the NDA.

iv. Chapelcross in Dumfriesshire, owned by the NDA.

v. Capenhurst in Cheshire, which is run by Capenhurst Nuclear Services.

Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Philip Dunne, said: “When the submarines in the Royal Navy fleet reach the end of their lives we need to dispose of them in a way that is safe, secure and environmentally sound. This open and transparent public consultation process provides the opportunity to work closely with local communities near to potential sites to listen carefully to their views with the aim of delivering a solution that achieves these objectives. We value the views of those who have something to say about the submarine dismantling project. All of them will be considered properly as part of our decision-making process. After consultation we will publish a report on our findings and after we have selected a site, we will explain why we reached that decision”.

The submarine dismantling project will oversee the disposal of 27 Royal Navy nuclear submarines that are due to have left Naval service by the mid 2030’s and be defuelled, including 19 submarines that have already left service and are stored afloat at Rosyth and Devonport. The submarines can only be completely dismantled once reactor components, which are categorised as radioactive waste, have been removed. The initial dismantling process will support up to 60 skilled jobs.

There will be a series of exhibitions and workshops close to all 5 sites – which were previously announced on a provisional shortlist on 13 February 2014, plus 2 national workshops. The site chosen will be used for interim storage of reactor components until after 2040, when the UK Geological Disposal Facility (a deep geological site for the permanent disposal of spent fuel and nuclear waste) is complete.

The Scottish government is furious that a site north of the border, Chapelcross in Dumfriesshire, has been shortlisted as a location that could store radioactive waste removed from the submarines. When the shortlist was revealed in February, Holyrood environment minister Richard Lochhead wrote to UK Defence minister Philip Dunne demanding that the waste should not be dumped in Scotland.

Dismantling cannot start until a storage site for the 90-to-135-ton reactor pressure vessels, which hold the submarines’ nuclear cores, is agreed upon.





October 2014; SEPA’s Approach to Regulating Civil and Ministry of Defence Premises

The MoD has a specific programme for deciding on the most appropriate way of dismantling and disposing of submarines. It is called the Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP) and includes an Advisory Group (on which SEPA is represented) to ensure effective stakeholder involvement.

The public were consulted on the MoD’s proposals for dismantling the UK’s redundant and de-fuelled nuclear-powered submarines and its assessment of any environment effects it will have.

Submarine dismantling will be closely regulated by a number of independent bodies, including SEPA, to ensure it is conducted in a safe and environmentally responsible way.







November 2014; Dounreay Prototype Fast Reactor Sodium Fire

The Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) sodium tank farm houses four tanks that contain sodium residues from the operation of the reactor. On October 6, following operations in the PFR sodium tank farm to remove the residue sodium from a redundant tank, the tank was left overnight under surveillance. In the early hours of October 7, the Dounreay fire brigade was alerted by an alarm from the tank farm. About the same time, an operator undertaking surveillance heard banging noises and saw smoke, and also called the on-site fire brigade. The fire brigade arrived promptly and quickly extinguished the fire. The area was monitored by the fire brigade until it was deemed that there was a low probability of re-ignition. We continued to monitor the situation and the area was kept under surveillance, until the residues from the fire were cleared up.

The initial investigation confirmed the probable mechanism for the initiation of the fire and concluded radioactivity may have been released, via an unauthorised route. SEPA were informed. It also indicated that there were a number of aspects that required further investigation. The level of the investigation was increased to ensure that the full picture of the reasons for this incident were understood. The investigation thoroughly checked each aspect of the work and identified procedural non-compliances and behavioural practices that were factors in the incident, and fell short of the values and standards expected of our people. It also confirmed the release of radioactivity via an unauthorised route.

Direct action has been taken to stabilise the situation and stop work in the tank farm area. It will not be re-started until the authority is satisfied with improvements. A dedicated team led by a senior manager will be responsible for a safety improvement plan focused on learning lessons from this and other incidents and ensuring there is improvement in the way we undertake work. This improvement plan will be wide ranging and ensure the whole site recognises the improvements that must be made. chapelcross





Rejected by the voters of Renfrewshire for Westminster – Jim Sheridan Eye’s Up a Local Councillor Job in Ward 10 – Houston – Crosslee – Linwood – Renfrewshire North – Check his record Before You Vote





_47893950_-4James Sheridan



James Sheridan MP for Paisley & Renfrewshire North – lives in Erskine, Renfrewshire with his wife Jean. They have a son and daughter. Daughter works for him (salary paid by the taxpayer) full time.

He is a Labour Party politician who has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Paisley & Renfrewshire North since 2005. He was previously MP for Renfrewshire West from 2001 to 2005. He was born in Glasgow and attended St Sixtus Primary School and St Pius Secondary School in Drumchapel. He also served on Renfrewshire Council from 1999 representing Erskine Central.

Before entering politics he worked in shipyards from 1970 to 1978, then as a printer for the Paisley Daily Express from 1978 to 1984, then for Thales Optronics (formerly Barr and Stroud before 2001) on Linthouse Road in Glasgow, where he was a trade union convenor for the TGWU from 1984 to 2000.





Voicing concerns over the use of UK airports like Prestwick to refuel US aircraft travelling to Israel the 52-year-old said many of his Labour colleagues believed the government’s policy was flawed.

He also said he believed the Palestinian situation had been put on the back burner. “The reason I am resigning is the current conflict in the Middle East,” he said. “I don’t expect my resignation will have any significant impact on the prime minister’s objectives in the Middle East, which I genuinely believe to be honourable on his part, but I don’t believe they reflect the core values of the Labour Party or indeed the country.”

In a letter to Tony Blair, he said that he did not believe that America or the UK were serious about bringing about an early end to the conflict. He added that the decision to allow US flights to Israel to stop off in the UK did not sit comfortably with the International Convention on Human Rights.

There have been protests after planes carrying “hazardous” cargo refuelled at Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire. He said: “I can no longer support the government’s position of calling for restraint on both sides of the current conflict in Lebanon whilst, in my view, facilitating the refuelling of aircraft in our country that are carrying real weapons of mass destruction, as seen on our television screens.”

Bit of a smokescreen this one. The flights were “rendition” in purpose transferring prisoners to nominated countries for interrogation.





November 2008: Sheridan backs a UK Soccer side

Sheridan, (who recently voted in favour of transferring to Olympic funds £175k of lottery money allocated to good causes in Scotland) tabled a Commons early day motion backing a Great Britain football team at the 2012 Olympics, saying football “should not be any different from other competing sports and our young talent should be allowed to show their skills on the world stage”. The football governing bodies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all opposed to a Great Britain team, fearing it would stop them competing as individual nations in future tournaments.






March 2009: Jim Sheridan claimed for plasma TV and leather bed

Benefitting from a very generous second home allowance he rented a flat in London’s  Dolphin Square, designating the property as his second home,  reclaiming rent of about £13,200 p/a.

In the 2005/06 financial year, he used this second homes allowance to pay a £991.95 bill for a Memory foam mattress and “ivory leather bed”.

A further £500 he spent on furniture and household accessories that year was also claimed on his expenses.

Between January and April 2006, he reclaimed £699 for a three-seater sofa, £829 for a two-seater sofa bed, £219 for a coffee table and £199 for a lamp table.

In 2006/07, he bought a flat in London, designated it as his second home and started reclaiming the monthly mortgage interest of around £924.

A further £359 was claimed on his expenses for a wardrobe in August 2006, along with £299 for a chest of drawers, £159 for a bedside cabinet and £109 for a mirror.

In July that year, Mr Sheridan charged the taxpayer £1,200 for painting the ceilings, walls and woodwork in his second home.

The MP then claimed £1,280 to supply and fit a new shower, although the fees office initially threatened to withhold payment because of a lack of proper receipts. However, Mr Sheridan provided an invoice and the money was paid.

The same month, February 2007, he claimed the £595 cost of supplying and fitting three sets of blinds.

In October last year, Mr Sheridan claimed the £699.99 cost of a 42-inch plasma television, just under the £750 limit imposed by the Commons fees office. He also claimed £219.99 for a four-year warranty.






May 2010: Labour MP Jim Sheridan claims new expenses system ‘vindictive’ and ‘discriminatory’ against poorer MPs, (IPSA was set up by Labour!)

When you say the words ‘expenses’ and ‘Westminster’ it is very hard to generate any sympathy for MPs because of what has transpired.

The new Commons expenses system is “cumbersome and vindictive”, this is the verdict of Labour MP Jim Sheridan.

He claims politicians will be left out of pocket and may have to “sack staff” because of new measures brought in by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

Poor politicians he says will be discriminated against because they will have to pay money upfront and claim it back which could take three to four weeks.

Sheridan said; “I didn’t enter politics to make money but neither did I enter politics to subsidise my job and I should not be asked to pay upfront money that I then have to wait three, four weeks to get back.”

Expenses in my opinion should be split, MPs’ personal expenses and office costs should be handled as separate issues.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is a knee jerk Labour creation which begs the question why he didn’t speak out effectively before?

It is run by Sir Ian Kennedy, described by Alistair Campbell as (Labour) ‘party people’.

MPs should be issued with two Government credit cards which all expenses incurred during the course of their tenure are put through. One for the running of their office and another for personal expenses, on top of that any staff should be directly paid by the House of Commons.

It seems that the new fairytale of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) needs to put back on the drawing board. Yet again, another Labour creation which is a complete mess, they clowns can’t get anything right.

I don’t think Sheridan will move the public by his tale of woe.





May 2011: Jim Sheridan snubs Holyrood fight for holiday flight

Scottish Labour MPs are demanding that one of their colleagues should be barred from standing for the party again after he decided to take a three-week holiday abroad instead of campaigning during the Holyrood election.

The Scotsman has been told that Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP Jim Sheridan told colleagues that the result was “in the bag”.

He added he would not be needed to help in campaigning during the election, which instead led to the SNP winning a historic majority.

Among the Nationalist gains on the dramatic night was the Paisley Scottish Parliament seat, until recently held by former Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander, which overlaps Mr Sheridan’s constituency.

Mr Sheridan’s decision to take a holiday rather than help fight the Nationalist surge has become symbolic of a growing divide between many of the Scottish Labour MPs elected to Westminster last year and their colleagues who came in before.

MPs from the 2010 intake have privately complained about the “disdain” many of the veteran MPs have for the Scottish Parliament.

One MP said: “It was noticeable that several of the older group didn’t bother to campaign much. “The fact one of them decided to go on holiday pretty well sums it up.”We really have to end this total disdain for Holyrood and various people need to start treating it seriously or we will never fight back against the Nats.”

Another added: “It’s totally outrageous that while activists and colleagues were flogging themselves around streets to try to save the campaign one of us should go on holiday.”

A third said: “I hope when the boundaries are redrawn and there are less seats to fight this is remembered and Mr Sheridan is not chosen as a candidate. He has let everybody down.” Mr Sheridan was not available to comment.






February 2012: Alex Salmond’s Invitation by BBC (Scotland) to add half time match comment withdrawn at the last minute on instruction of BBC London. Jim Sheridan gets involved.

Rugby fans will be aware that at the weekend Scotland and England faced each other at Murrayfield. However, behind the scenes another showdown was taking place.

Alex Salmond, due to comment at half time as a pundit, was at the last minute denied participation on instructions of BBC (London) quoting English concerns his appearance would impinge BBC’s rules intended to ensure political neutrality. The move angered the First Minister  who expressed disappointment that in taking sides they had become involved in politics.








There were 118 recorded responses to the aforementioned article. The vast bulk were highly critical of Sheridan’s negativity which revealed the motivation that drives him to do what he does. A very sad person who is blinded by an all consuming hatred of Alex Salmond.

I presume Ed Miliband and his new friends Cameron and Clegg won’t be appearing on TV during the Olympics then. What utter tripe. And don’t forget the (Labour) First Minister of Wales took part in the coverage of the Ryder Cup and the Rugby World Cup last year. You need to get over your obsessive hatred of the SNP and start thinking about how to make Labour relevant to the people of Scotland again, before your support disappears completely. We miss you. Honest we do.

We shouldnt be supporting or praising the undemocratic actions of the bbc just because they are nat bashing, it is unhealthy for scotland to have a politicaly biased media , and in the long term it will only become an achilles heal for the labour party. Also the strategy of using the word separatist instead of independence only weakens the point you are trying to make and is well past its sell by date.

Jim Sheridan has a reputation for making false allegations and refusing to retract or apologise for such allegations, examples:

Claiming that Scottish government ministers were involved in the nomination of a knighthood to Brian Soutar. – FALSE.

Claiming that the Scottish FA officials were biased and bigotted. – FALSE.

On both occasions despite efforts by both Scottish government and football officials Mr Sheridan refused to retract those patently false allegations

Perhaps if Mr Sheridan dealt with the rising levels of poverty in his constituency due to Coalition and Labour cuts instead of mixing politics and sport he would be seen by his constituents as doing the job he is being paid to do.

The facts are that a London BBC political editor made a decision about a BBC Scotland sporting event without first discussing the matter with the people at BBC Scotland.






Alex Salmond had given the editors at BBC Sport Scotland his assurance that he would not use the time on the programme to speak about politics and he does have a very extensive knowledge of Scottish rugby, so would have been a very good commentator for the game and would be someone who any most people in the UK (like him or not) would have found his take on the match interesting.

Sheridan supports the London BBC overriding decisions made by BBC Scotland, without them even having the decency to inform the editor at BBC Scotland, so if anyone had doubt that the labour Party in Scotland suffers from an internal cringe that allows themselves to be treated with complete contempt by London and yet continue to ‘suck it up’ only have to read this article to find out the truth.

Pathetic really, but this kind of person will soon be swept out of Scottish politics and we will look back at these articles one day and marvel that Quislings and traitors had so much power in our nation and done so little the people who elected them (have you been to Paisley).

Not knowing anything much about sport, I have no problem with this new policy of the beeb’s so long as it is applied consistently. We shall, of course, be watching very closely. I do occasionally chance upon radio football programmes with pundits who seem to have some definite views about politics, I feel a reciprocal rule should be in place. If politicians cannot talk about sport, sport’s pundits shouldn’t talk about politicians.

Here’s a tip for Jim Sheridan. Go onto the House of Commons website. Type the word “gauleiter” into the search engine and hit return. It will bring up 31 results from Hansard and minutes of committee meetings.

The Labour party are keen on Nazis/fascists, what with Tom Harris’s hilarous downfall vid:

And how could we forget good old Ian Davidsons outburst:






March 2013: Jim Sheridan, noblest parliamentarian of this or any era deplores “the parasitical elements of the press”.

less than 24 hours after the Commons noisily congratulated itself on regulating the press, he called for Parliament to exclude journalists. Not all journalists, to be clear. Just those he called “the parasitical elements”.

He complained to fellow MPs, “they abuse their position in here” by  “hiding behind their pen and calling people names”. In light of this insolence, continued the Labour member for Paisley & Renfrewshire North, “I don’t understand why they’re allowed to come into this place.” The Royal Charter, he concluded grimly, “won’t stop them behaving the way they do. But hopefully it’ll bring some kind of decency into them.”

Sheridan, has form since he called for sketchwriters to be banned before; in 2009, he demanded they be flung out of Westminster for poking fun at his friend Michael Martin, the Speaker who so sadly resigned after criticism of his handling of the expenses scandal.

Among the sketchwriters’ many outrages they referred to Mr Martin as “Gorbals Mick”, an appellation his fellow Glaswegian decried as “racist”.







Residents of his Paisley and Renfrewshire North constituency gathered outside Sheridan’s offices, yesterday venting their anger at his attack on press freedom.

Glyn Clements, 50, said: “If politicians are saying and doing things that are bad, the public have a right to know. “A free and strong press is important.”

Unemployed Edward Gronan, 51, said: “Newspapers tell it how it is and you read about corrupt politicians all the time. “Reporters shouldn’t be prevented from telling the public about this.”

Hairdresser Kirsty Schuler, 22, said: “Any kind of censorship of the press is a bad thing. “I don’t trust politicians so we need someone to keep an eye on them.”

Retired William Harkess said: “MPs should be doing their jobs but when they don’t newspapers help hold them to account.”

Debbie Knight, 21, said  “People have a right to know what the people they elect are doing.”

Jean Finnigan, 62, said: “If anyone else wasn’t doing their job right they’d be held to account. Why should politicians be different?”

Trying to defuse the row, Sheridan released a brief  statement that he had been attacking sketch writers who had lampooned him and his friend Michael Martin, the former Speaker.  Eating humble pie he said “It is not a question of banning the press from Westminster since it could not function properly without the press. If the press weren’t here we’d be talking among ourselves.”

Sheridan later gave the game away in an interview on Radio 4 when Quentin Letts of the Daily Mail made reference to his expenses, among them an expensive plasma screen for which the people of Paisley had been charged £1000. Spluttering with fury, the MP started blustering about “bullying” that should be “unacceptable in this day and age”. It’s worth repeating this just so that we’re all clear; charging the taxpayer a thousand quid for a telly is acceptable, but mentioning it on the radio is not.

It is clear what Sheridan’s agenda is, and clear that for many of his fellow members of the Commons – rightly exposed as cheats and thieves after years of press silence – this is their chance for revenge. Well, I say that state control of our press (including this website – Ed.) – however “light touch”, or “hands-off” is what should really be “unacceptable in this day and age”.

I’d rather live with the anarchy of a messy, feral and occasionally lawless press than the dictatorship of oafs and cretins like Jim Sheridan. Paisley can keep him.





July 2013: Sheridan denies he plotted with union to unseat colleague in Paisley

Sheridan yesterday was forced to deny he plotted with union bosses to unseat Douglas Alexander in a constituency coup. Sheridan, who chairs the group of Labour MPs sponsored by the Unite union, had faced a potential battle with the Shadow Foreign ­Secretary for a seat at the next ­general election under proposed boundary changes.

According to reports ­ yesterday, there was an attempt by Unite to help Sheridan secure the seat by recruiting union members to the party.

Sheridan denied the claims amid the escalating row between Labour and Unite, that has seen the party’s internal report into the Falkirk ­selection ­process being handed over to police.

The union are accused of ­packing the local party with ­members to ensure their candidate Karie Murphy was ­chosen to fight the seat when Eric Joyce MP stands down at the next election.

Sheridan admitted Unite had attempted to recruit more of their members to Labour in Paisley, but denied there was an orchestrated attempt to remove Alexander.






July 2013: The Paisley Slagometer High score condemns Jim Sheridan

20% of local politicians hog 80% of the Paisley Daily Express newspaper daily limelight. and use it to slag off the opposition. Media manipulation is rife even in the local press






July 2013: Jim Sheridan Gave Parliamentary passes to political lobbyists for Unite, allowing free access to the House of Commons to promote the trade union’s agenda to MPs.

Steve Hart, Unite’s political director, has been leading efforts to install the union’s favourites as Labour candidates for Parliament in 41 constituencies, including Falkirk, where police have been called to investigate vote-rigging claims.

Mr Hart is one of four of the union’s political officers who have been given Commons security passes by Labour MPs. According to the latest official register, Nick Parrott, another political officer for the union, was given a pass by Jon Cruddas, the senior MP who is directing Labour policy review.

Unite said it would be “expected” that Mr Hart had access to the Palace of Westminster in order to fulfil his duties as the union’s political director. Mr Cruddas said Mr Parrott had been his researcher “for many years”.

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by either the union officials or the MPs who arranged parliamentary passes for them. However, the disclosures underlined the extent of the close working cooperation between Unite and Labour at a highly sensitive time for the party.

Lord Reid, the Blairite former Home Secretary, warned Mr Miliband that he is locked in a “struggle” for the future of the party in the wake of the Falkirk controversy.

He claimed that Unite, which is Labour’s biggest financial backer, was attempting to take the party back to the 1970s, a course that would lead to electoral “oblivion”.

Labour has referred the case of Falkirk to the police after claims were made that Unite sought to ensure that its first choice won the nomination by packing the local party with its members. Unite denies any wrongdoing and has accused Labour of “smearing” the union.

A leaked union document last week disclosed that Mr Hart had drawn up plans to ensure that the Union’s favoured candidates were successful in 40 other constituencies across the country.

According to parliamentary records, he was given a security pass for Parliament on the sponsorship of the Labour MP, Jim Sheridan.

Mr Sheridan is the chair of the Unite Parliamentary Group, which the union says consists of about 100 Labour MPs. Unite provides the group with briefings on the impact of legislation passing through the Commons on union members.

A Unite document produced shortly after the last election highlighted the union’s “strong level of influence” on Labour MPs and peers, as well as the Shadow Cabinet.

Mr Hart is in the process of handing back his pass because he is leaving the union to take up another role at a think-tank, according to a spokesman for Unite.

Mr Parrott and the other two Unite pass-holders have already handed back their passes, the spokesman said. “Jim Sheridan is chair of the Unite group of MPs and as such we will give him support in running that group,” the Unite spokesman said. “It is all completely open and above board.”

Mr Sheridan and Unite have both denied claims they plotted to unseat Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary and a leading Blairite MP.

The Unite leader Len McCluskey has criticised Mr Alexander in the past. On Sunday, Labour’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, said the party would impose strict spending limits on candidates campaigning to become prospective Labour MPs in an effort to prevent a repeat of the Falkirk scandal.

The party is also due to publish a new code of conduct for candidates seeking to stand for Parliament. However, Mr Miliband ruled out breaking Labour’s historic links with the unions.

Grant Shapps, Conservative Party Chairman, said the fact that Labour had given parliamentary passes to lobbyists for the party’s biggest union donor “raises very serious questions”.





September 2013: Unite parliamentary chair lambasts Labour diehard over energy plan attack

Jim Sheridan has launched a broadside at “out-of-touch” Lord Mandelson following the anti-union peer’s public attack on the party’s plans to take on profiteering power firms.

Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP Mr Sheridan hit out after Mr Mandelson condemned Labour leader Ed Miliband’s plans to enforce a 18-month freeze on bills, saying the party was “in danger of being taken backwards.” Mr Sheridan – also chair of the Unite union parliamentary group – lambasted the Labour peer’s decision to attack his own party as an example of “all that is wrong with the Lords.” “The only thing going backwards is people’s standard of living,” the MP said.

“Our party stands up for ordinary people – those who are struggling to pay soaring energy bills – but all he seems interested in is protecting his financial portfolio in the energy companies.”

Lord Mandelson was a member of ex-PM Tony Blair’s inner circle and once pronounced that he was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich.” He is also on the books of global consultancy firm Global Counsel. It counts energy as one of its areas of business, although it says it is not linked to big firms in the sector in Britain. The peer also has a number of other ties to energy firms, including as chairman of investment bank Lazard International.

Mr Sheridan said: “Mandelson’s attack just typifies how out of touch he is on this.

“Like many in the Lords he has become part of the establishment and is using his links within the Labour Party as an extension of his outside earnings. “These people have made a good living out of the Labour Party but have left those who supported them behind.”

Mandelson has been among right-wing Labour figures linked to the Progress faction – funded by billionaire Lord Sainsbury – who have hit out at union involvement in the party.

He told a Progress conference in May that trade unions wielded a “disgraceful” influence. The faction once ruled the party with an iron fist but fears that it is being pushed out of its position of power under Mr Miliband’s leadership.



millionaire mps



October 2013: Jim Sheridans Claims rejected

The latest round of MP expenses is, as ever, most illuminating. However, Jim didn’t fare terribly well with all of his claims as nine claims totalling £1,226.45 were rejected.

Those expenses included hotel accommodation in Europe and first class flights to Cyprus as befits a man of the people. Gaun yersel, Jim, boy. Perhaps Jim should be referred to from now on as Jim Sheridan, MP for Cyprus?






April 2014: Running costs Jim Sheridan MP

This MP provides verifiable information, pertaining to his claims for financial support.






18. July 2014; Jim Sheridan, Labour MP asks PM to get businesses to bully their workers into No vote

A contemptible spectacle – a Scottish Labour MP attempting to enlist his Tory Better Together boss Cameron into persuading Scottish business bosses to intimidate their workers – for that’s what it would be, given power relationship – into voting against the independence of their country.

Cameron convened meetings with chief executives of large businesses putting  in place measures designed to spread alarm and despondency amongst workers in Scotland.  Cameron and Sheridan lying through their teeth.






October 2014: European matters under discussion – Jim Sheridan’s contribution

The Bruges Group ranks MP’s according to their voting record in Westminster since the 2010 General Election. It is possible to check how they voted on key EU related issues that came before them indicating the genuine Eurosceptics and those that are Europhiles.

b. Sheridan avoids voting on just about anything. Hardly acceptable practice.


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James Hood – Labour Party Candidate For South Lanarkshire – Inputs Minimal -Outputs Loadsa Money For Jim – The Electorate Are Onto You Old Boy – Time To Retire





April 2014: This is Jimmy Hood

James “Jimmy” Hood (born 16 May 1948) is a British Labour Party politician, who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Lanark and Hamilton East since 2005. He was first elected in 1987, as MP for Clydesdale. He has remained a backbencher throughout his parliamentary career, serving on various select committees, including Defence 1997-2001.

Educated at Lesmahagow High School,  Motherwell Technical College and the University of Nottingham he worked with the NCB for 23 years, as a mining engineer. He became a NUM trade union official in 1973. During the Miners’ Strike of 1984-5 he led the striking Nottinghamshire miners.

He has been married to Marion McCleary since 1967, they have a son and a daughter and two grandchildren. He suffered a heart attack in 1998.






November 2008: Hood supports UK national football team

Hood was one of 18 MPs who signed a Commons motion backing a Team GB football team at the 2012 Olympics, saying football “should not be any different from other competing sports and our young talent should be allowed to show their skills on the world stage”. The football governing bodies of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are all opposed to a Great Britain team, fearing it would stop them competing as individual nations in future tournaments.






February 2014: Hood places self interest before his constituents

It was Lanark’s very own Jim Hood that sparked the controversy which ignited fury across social networks; as my constituency MP, I found his words particularly alarming.

It can easily be viewed on YouTube for anyone who wants evidence of Jim Hood’s words, which can easily be interpreted as against his constituents.

He said  “If the Scottish People are to be better off economically, I’d still be against Scottish Independence, and I’d still vote no.”

Not only do Jim Hood’s words declare that he values his personal interests higher than the interests of the Scottish people, but that he values his personal interests higher than the interests of his constituents – the very people who put a tick next to his name at the ballot box to ensure his big salary.

The people of Lanark through to Larkhall have elected this man for nearly 30 years, and for him to make a statement which indicates that he cares not for the economic prosperity of his own people I interpret as downright shameful – no wonder turnouts are so low at elections when MPs like Jim Hood appear so self interested, and careerist.

I believe that the problem doesn’t just lie with Jim Hood, but with the a large portion of the Labour Party at Westminster, who only reflect self-interest and a lust for power at Westminster.

Video: Hood said he would vote against independence even if it meant the Scottish people would be better off economically.






November 2009: Refuge supporting homeless ex-soldiers threatened with closure by Jim Hood MP

About 6 minutes into the video, Griffin explains that ex-soldiers are at the bottom of the housing queue, below everyone, including illegal immigrants and asylum seekers many of whom are bogus. Earlier a local ‘Labour’ MP, Jim Hood, said he would close the charity because BNP members donated.



JimmyB4xNT5GIcAEb1_C.png medium



May 2009: MPs’ expenses: Jimmy Hood claimed up to £1,000 per month on second homes allowance

He designated a London property as his second home for expenses purposes, entitling him to reclaim the cost of its upkeep.

Before April 2008, MPs did not have to provide receipts for some categories of maintenance work if each type of claim totalled under £250 per month.

He used the allowance to claim back £200 per month for cleaning his second home, and up to £200 per month on “repairs, insurance and security”.

He also occasionally claimed money for “service and maintenance”. All but four of this type of claims, submitted over a four-year period, were less than £250, and therefore did not require receipts.

He also claimed £400 per month for food, the maximum allowed without receipts.

Altogether, he was able to use his second homes allowance to claim up to £1,000 per month without receipts or a precise description of work carried out.

In the 2004/05 financial year, he claimed £400 per month for food for 11 months and £200 in August 2004, even when the Commons was in recess.

He also claimed £200 per month for repairs, insurance and security, and four claims for service and maintenance.

A similar pattern of claims was made in the following three financial years.

He was recompensed between £600 and £1,000 per month across the four categories of expense without receipts, except on infrequent occasions where the £250 limit was exceeded for service and maintenance.

Three of these claims were successful because he provided an invoice, but one, for £360.52 in November 2005, was not, because no receipt was submitted.

The £250 limit remained until April 2008, when the threshold for receipts was lowered.

His monthly claims also included mortgage interest on his designated second home, the amount of which varied from £728.68 at the end of 2004 to £445.14 at the start of 2007/08.

He also made a series of expenses claims for furnishings and household goods for his designated second home in London.

In March 2006, he claimed £1,500 for furniture, including a bed and headboard, and £1,400 for carpets.

The following July, he claimed more than £1,000 for household goods bought at the electrical shop, Comet, including £489.95 for a 26-in LCD television, a cooler and humidifier (£89.99) and a deep fat fryer (£39.99).

Asked about the maintenance charges, he said, “they were permissible under the old expenses system.






November 2013: Jim Hood and nine other Scottish Labour MPs didn’t bother to vote for the Labour motion against the Bedroom Tax

That this House regrets the pernicious effect on vulnerable and in many cases disabled people of deductions being made from housing benefit paid to working age tenants in the social housing sector deemed to have an excess number of bedrooms in their homes.

Calls on the Government to end these deductions with immediate effect.

Furthermore calls for any cost of ending them to be covered by reversing tax cuts which will benefit the wealthiest and promote avoidance, and addressing the tax loss from disguised employment in construction.

And further calls on the Government to use the funding set aside for discretionary housing payments to deal with under – occupation by funding local authorities so that they are better able to help people with the cost of moving to suitable accommodation.

Result; Government won 252 – 226 (26 votes). A total of 41 Labour MP’s either didn’t vote or abstained.






February 2010: In the wake of the House of Commons expenses scandal, 29 Scottish MPS were ordered to repay some of what they received.

James Hood:  Overpaid mortgage interest, food. Repayment recommended: £5413.49. Repayment received: £5413.49. Balance: Zero.






March 2008: Bob Doris MSP condemns Glasgow Labour MPs on Iraq vote

Bob Doris MSP condemned outright the actions of Scottish Labour MPs, (including Jim Hood) who last night voted against holding an enquiry into the Iraq war.

Speaking in Glasgow Mr Doris said: “Yet again, Labour MPs have failed to represent their constituents. “Last week they voted to close Post Offices, this week they have voted to cover up the lies that lead Scotsmen and women to their deaths in Iraq. “Scot’s have constantly condemned the Labour Governments actions in taking us into an illegal war based on a pack of lies.

Yet their so called representatives in London have ignored them and voted to throw a blanket over the whole shameful episode. “They constantly tell us that the war was just.

Well why don’t they tell that to the families of the hundreds of thousands who dies innocent, helpless deaths. “But even if they are convinced – what have they to hide from an enquiry? “Surely in their world, an enquiry would absolve them?

“It is another disgraceful episode from people who put career before principle and party before Scotland. “Perhaps they could get a ticket back to Scotland and explain to their constituents why they have let them down again.” The Chilcott Inquiry, cost to date £9million is yet to report.






March 2014: The 30 Scottish Labour MPs That Voted For Osborne’s Welfare Cap

As a service to you, here is the list of those ‘weekend socialists’ who voted with the Tories to cap the level of spending allocated to helping the poorest in our community.






July 2009: Scottish MP gets money for nothing as ‘second job’ pay revealed

Jim Hood, the Scots Labour MP, admitted pocketing £625 a month – in addition to his MP’s salary of £64,766 – as a consultant for Scottish Coal.

This adds up to a £7,500 a year boost to the income of the veteran politician, an MP since 1987 and leader of the Nottinghamshire miners during the strikes of the 1980s.

His task, “to advise on parliamentary matters as they pertain to the coal industry” on behalf of Scottish Coal. When asked, under new Commons rules on disclosure, how many hours he spent on the consultancy in return for the latest monthly payment, Mr Hood replied, “Nil.”



1958204_1552451481691538_5105037307914882006_nfear murphy



Comment from a constituent; I once asked for an appointment with Jimmy Hood. I asked him to bring to Parliament the question of allowing the continuation of free postage for our Troops in Iraq. He said he would consider it, but also reminded me that life can be made very difficult for the lives of Troops on the front line if families at home meddled with the Politics of War. I doubt his Secretary included that little threat into her shorthand!

He recently wrote to me inviting me to display his ‘little red card’ in my window if I wished to participate in his local Constituency walkabout. If your reading this Jim, ‘I’ll leave what I have to say to you at a more public gathering than have you contaminate my doorstep!–just-jobs-side.html






January 2010: Mainshill Solidarity Campaign against open-cast mining in South Lanarkshire

Jimmy Hood, MP for Lanark and Hamilton East, has a £7,500 a year contract with Scottish Coal to “advise on parliamentary matters as they pertain to the coal industry”.

But the veteran politician, a former mining engineer, admitted yesterday he could not remember exactly when he last did any work for the company. “I advise Scottish Coal on anything to do with legislation, although they haven’t asked me anything for some time,” he said.

“It is so long since I advised them on anything, the last thing was probably the floods at Longannet.” Scotland’s last deep coal mine at Longannet in Fife was closed down after an underground dam burst in 2002, with the loss of 500 jobs.





Last night, the SNP questioned whether Mr Hood was also more interested in pursuing “lucrative” consultancy work than his constituents’ interests And Scottish Green party leader Patrick Harvie MSP claimed the arrangement, “smacks of an ongoing pay-off” to ignore environmental concerns about opencast coal mining in his area.

The MP, who was leader of the Nottinghamshire miners during the 1980s strikes, said he began his consultancy work with Scottish Coal in 2001, replacing former Midlothian Labour MP Eric Clarke. The precise arrangements only came to light when new rules were introduced last July, forcing MPs to declare their income from second jobs on the Commons Register of Interests. Last week, Mr Hood made an identical entry on the register for the ninth consecutive month: “£625 received. Hours: nil.” The money he is paid for doing nothing comes on top of his £65,000 MP’s salary.

By contrast, voters in his constituency, a former mining area that is one of Labour’s safest seats in Scotland, have an average hourly pay of just £9.37.



What is the point of the Labour partyed and jim



A spokeswoman for the SNP said: “Jimmy Hood seems to have struck gold with his coal mine consultancy. “But after the disturbing lobbying revelations about his Labour colleagues in London, Jimmy Hood’s constituents may be left wondering whether their MP is also more interested in lucrative consultancies rather than constituent concerns.”

Mr Harvie said: “Jimmy Hood has notoriously failed to assist or represent those people whose lives are being blighted by opencast coal mines in his constituency and local area. “The fact that he has been pocketing large amounts of cash from Scottish Coal for years, for essentially doing nothing for them, nor against them, smacks of an ongoing pay-off from the company to allow it to continue polluting unchecked.”

During Mr Hood’s recent months of inaction, Scottish Coal was given planning permission to open a hugely controversial opencast coal mine just outside his own constituency.

Protesters spent seven months holed up in trees and tunnels at Mainshill Woods, near Douglas in South Lanarkshire, before being evicted by police in January.



Bx_bII5IAAE2s-z.jpg largetrident




Regardless of the debate on open cast mining, what is true is that Jimmy Hood needs put out to pasture – I turned in my Labour party membership after twenty years because of shiftless, lazy career politicians like him.  He is a classic example of the class traitors Labour MPS, MSPs and councillors have become. They and their blinkered supporters wave “opencast – jobs” around without the temerity to imagine what new nature reserves, new forestry and nature reserve jobs could be created.

From the inception of opencast coal mining in this area, there has been no more than a handful of jobs available for local people. It is time the propaganda was exposed for what it is and put to bed. The landowner, the Earl of Home, wrote  ‘When we were talking to Scottish Coal we did ask them to employ as many locals as possible and they do employ a handful. The problem is that equipment used on site is now very sophisticated and in many instances specialists are needed, who are not available locally, even with training. The huge earth moving equipment used nowadays, result that surprisingly few people are needed on site at all.”

Jimmy Hood MP said ‘the nonsense about opencast bringing jobs into the area is a myth and has long been exposed as such.  Anyone who thinks that opencast mining brings long term and quality jobs into our area is stretching the realms of reality to its limit.”

There is a spirit of sad resignation rather than sheer anger in the Douglas Valley this week as Scottish Coal asked to be released from ALL limits on the time it can operate its controversial Mainshill opencast mine each day. Because of the mine’s close proximity to the Lady Home Hospital and the village of Douglas, an eight hours a day limit was agreed when the company was given the go-ahead to mine there over two years ago by South Lanarkshire Council and the Scottish Government. But as feared at the time the Mainshill workforce have been asked by Scottish Coal bosses to co-operate with their plans to expand the working day by a third, from eight to twelve hours daily.






Videos covering events at Mainshill Open-cast site just south of Douglas.

Mainshill Open-cast. Disgusting Behaviour of South Lanarkshire Politicians.

Mainshill resistance to open-cast coal mining in Scotland.

Stopping Work at Mainshill – Solidarity Camp Gathering.

The True Spirit of Black Douglas Lives at Mainshill Solidarity Camp.

Exposure of the open-cast expansion in the West of Scotland.

Local newspapers.

Loadsa information exposing the destruction of communities and open land.

Interactive map of lanarkshire showing potential open cast sites.,-3.841267&spn=0.065302,0.222988&z=13

Adverse effects on locals.






Total Running Cost 2013-14

Office Costs £18,860.95  The cost of renting, equipping and running an MP’s office and surgeries

Staffing £104,484.72  Includes Marion Stewart Hood, P.A. Salary £20,000.00 and £24,999.99.

Travel £20,553.15

Accommodation £10,932.00

Miscellaneous Expenses £390.00

Basic salary £66,396.00

Other salary £14,727.96  additional salary for serving as a chair on a parliamentary committee or panel.

Total cost for year £236,344.78






Total Running Cost 2012-13

Office Costs £17,716.97  The cost of renting, equipping and running an MP’s office and surgeries

Staffing £102,096.25  Includes Marion Stewart Hood, P.A. Salary £20,000.00 and £24,999.99.

Travel £11,736.10

Accommodation £6,322.44

Basic salary £65,738.00

Other salary £14,582.04  additional salary for serving as a chair on a parliamentary committee or panel.

Total cost for year £232,164.37






Total Running Cost 2011-12

Office Costs £16,311.53  The cost of renting, equipping and running an MP’s office and surgeries

Staffing £97,642.70  Includes Marion Stewart Hood, P.A. Salary £20,000.00 and £24,999.99.

Travel £14,760.01

Accommodation £3,473.91

Basic salary £65,738.00

Other salary £14,582.04  additional salary for serving as a chair on a parliamentary committee or panel.

Total cost for year £212508.19









Frank Roy – Ex MP For Motherwell & Wishaw – Member of the Infamous Labour Party Lanarkshire Mafia – Potted History of His Time In the Service of the Public is Appalling









November 2014:  Frank Roy British Labour Party politician

He is a British Labour Party politician, who has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Motherwell and Wishaw since 1997. He was educated at Our Lady’s (RC) High School, Motherwell, and later at Motherwell College (1992) and Glasgow Caledonian University in Consumer and Management Studies (1994). Like many others in the area, he was a steelworker until he was made redundant in 1991 when Ravenscraig Steelworks closed. He worked as a parliamentary assistant to Helen Liddell MP, for a short time before becoming MP for Motherwell and Wishaw.








Dec 2000: MP censured over speaker bets

Frank Roy was singled out by the Commons standards and privileges committee, which declared “Betting by members on the outcome of any parliamentary business brings discredit on the House.” The committee backed a decision by Parliamentary Standards Commissioner Elizabeth Filkin to uphold a complaint against Mr Roy by a member of the public. No action was taken against Roy, however, in a letter to Ms Filkin he expressed “sincere regret” for failing to anticipate the controversy that news of his betting would cause. (BBC News)








February 2001: Unveiling of Carfin memorial to the Irish potato famine deceased.

Roy resigned as parliamentary private secretary to Helen Liddell in the wake of the cancellation of a visit to Carfin Grotto by Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern. He was widely criticised for writing to the Taoiseach warning his visit on the day of an Old Firm clash might cause security problems by raising sectarian tensions. In his letter of resignation he wrote “I am certain that if I had not highlighted my concerns about the timing of the visit, I would not have been fulfilling my duty to the people who elected me.” Critics said, “the Labour Lanarkshire mafia have dragged Scotland’s political reputation into the gutter and caused severe embarrassment to our country.” ( BBC News)










March 2002: William Gage jailed for 20 years for killing of gangster Justin McAlroy

On the 3rd of March 2002 Justin McAlroy co-hosted a charity fund raising dinner for the Labour Party. The event was one of the now infamous “Red Rose Dinners”, which raised funds for the now Lord McConnell and other Labour election campaigns from businessmen, including the building firm run by Tommy McAlroy. Justin McAlroy was in the company of his friend Frank Roy, who is the Labour MP for Wishaw. Also present was Jack McConnell the First Minister for Scotland and John Reid the (then) Secretary of State for Northern Ireland together with various Special Branch bodyguards, senior police officers and a surveillance team from the Scottish Drugs Enforcement Agency (SDEA) who had Justin Justin McAlroy under surveillance for the previous four years.

The SDEA had recently tailed Justin McAlroy to and from Europe, at the time he travelled to Estonia where he met some men who were then arrested while trying to smuggle a multi-million pound consignment of heroin back into Scotland. McIlroy had been openly boasting about various meetings between himself and senior figures within the Russian Mafia. He further claimed that he had previously travelled out to meet them and had also entertained them in a Glasgow hotel.

The police “forgot” to detain Mcilroy, but arrested two other men. Four days after the charity dinner Justin MciLroy stepped out of his Mercedes jeep outside his house and was shot dead. The SDEA, asked why they had not witnessed nor filmed the incident said that (after four years of surveillance and despite Justin MciLroy’s serious criminal activities and associates) they had decided that MciLroy was no longer a person of interest and removed the surveillance.

Jack McConnell and Frank Roy were probably embarrassed by the later revelation that Justin Justin McAlroy had slipped more than ten thousand pounds into the Labour party coffers during the charity dinner. It was a serious business that their friend Justin Justin McAlroy had been a suspected gangster and heroin importer with links to the Russian Mafia but now they had over ten thousand pounds that they had not declared to anyone. In an amazing twist the secretary who worked in the Wishaw office (shared by Jack McConnell and Frank Roy) was subsequently jailed for misappropriating the money!  Frank Roy and Jack McConnell were never interviewed.

While it is clear that major heroin barons do amass millions of pounds, that money comes from ten-pound deals. Every tenner comes from someone finding their house burgled or some poor pensioner being kicked to death for her meagre pension money. On the 2nd of May 2002, two full months after Justin McAlroy murder (it was alleged by solicitor Bob Kerr) that the MP for Wishaw Frank Roy had been contacted by a person connected to Justin McAlroy.

Kerr claimed that one of the police officers involved in the murder enquiry told him that the MP for Wishaw Frank Roy had contacted a senior officer in charge of the murder enquiry and somehow put pressure on the officer to make a bogus arrest in order that Justin McAlroy case would be closed quickly. The very next morning an innocent man called William Gage was arrested and charged with the murder.



Frank-Roy-MP-001Frank Roy





Follow up: Gage was tried and convicted of the murder of McAlroy and sentenced to 20 year’s without remission He is still in Shotts Prison. He has consistently denied the offence but despite two appeals he remains in jail.  Full story:







The McAvoy Link to Estonia was later confirmed with a vengeance when it was revealed that Tommy McAlroy, 52, Secretly visited the country, to meet with two businessmen, friends of his late son Justin and himself.

Robert Wright and Les Brown, (millionaire criminals) fought but lost a long legal fight against extradition to Estonia, where they were each jailed in 2005 for 4 years and seven months (but were allowed home immediately because of the time they spent behind bars before the court case) for trafficking £2.4million worth of heroin destined for Scotland which was seized in the capital, Tallinn.

The pair, whose front firms included security and catering businesses were accused of using every trick in the book to delay the extradition process and stay in Scotland.  Brown was once one of Scotland’s top house-breakers but quickly realised the profits to be made from the drugs trade.






13 Feb 2011: Robert Wright – Convicted Heroin Trafficker and Dealer is Allowed to Sell £610k Mansion Despite Drugs Plot

A major heroin smuggler is free to flog his £610,000 mansion … as it wasn’t targeted under proceeds of crime laws. Security firm boss Robert Wright, 45, has put sprawling home Ten Acres on the market. The house has six bedrooms, snooker room, cinema and is set in 10 acres of land. Buyers are told the driveway is big enough to park a fleet of 20 cars. At one time Wright owned his own Formula One racing car and a fleet of other expensive motors. Wright’s wife Gillian paid £275,000 for the property in the village of Westfield, near Bathgate, West Lothian, 12 years ago. (The Record)









May 2008: Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

In the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Frank Roy voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 12 weeks against scientific and medical consensus which is currently 24 weeks.

After four separate parliamentary votes on varying time limits, the majority of MPs voted to keep the abortion time limit at 24 weeks, in keeping with scientific and medical consensus, hence no abortion amendments were added to the bill.

he also voted for Nadine Dorries’s amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill on 7 September 2011, which was ultimately defeated by 368 to 118 votes.

This amendment would have stopped BPAS and Marie Stopes from providing counselling for women with unwanted pregnancies and allowed ‘independent’ counselling including that provided by faith-based organisations.

He voted first against the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at its Second Reading in February 2013, and then for the bill at its Third Reading in May 2013.










5 Dec 2010: MPs cash in on ‘Third Home’ ploy: Despite strict new expenses rules some are now £1,000 a month better off

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) was set up to curb cheating MPs. But after a tip from MPs outraged at alleged continuing abuses it has been established that, several MPs have used a loophole in rules phasing out second-home mortgage expenses to move into a third subsidised home.

Some now claim more for new rented third homes than they did when their second homes were bankrolled by voters. By using a second loophole, they can avoid a penalty clause intended to recoup profits made from any rise in property prices. Instead, they can pocket every penny of any gain, even though taxpayers have footed most of their monthly home loan bills.

Before the 2010 Election, Motherwell Labour MP Frank Roy claimed £885 a month expenses for the second-home mortgage on his £500,000 flat in County Hall, the former GLC building across the Thames from Parliament.

He now claims £1,430 per month rent and declares in the Commons register a, “residential flat in London from which rental income is received”. It is understood to be his Southwark flat, which has an estimated monthly rental value of up to £1,750.

Assuming that former steelworker Mr Roy’s mortgage still costs him £885, it means he is now nearly £1,000 better off every month than he was under the old system. Meanwhile, the cost to the taxpayer of supplying him with a London home has increased by £545 a month. (Daily Mail)










11 Jul 2012: The Hall of Shame – The 117 Labour and Tory MP’s Who Voted Against Lords Reform

Last night, 91 Conservative and 26 Labour MPs (including Frank Roy) voted against the manifestos on which they were elected, voting against the second reading of the House of Lords Reform

But the Labour 2010 manifesto was explicit: “We need fundamental reform of our politics to make it more accountable. “We will let the people decide how to reform our institutions and our politics,  changing the voting system and electing a second chamber to replace the House of Lords.”

The Tory manifesto supported Labour’s position. It said::“We will work to build a consensus for a mainly elected second chamber to replace the current House of Lords, recognising that an efficient and effective second chamber should play an important role in our democracy and requires both legitimacy and public confidence.”

The Liberal Democrats are understandably furious at what they see as a Tory betrayal of the coalition agreement, having delivered the votes on tuition fees, health reform and other policies many in their party loathe.

David Cameron pledged to get his party back onside by the autumn, though there are real fears he will fail, with some Conservatives, like Peter Bone MP, openly advocating for minority government, feeling they’ve nothing to lose, with no desire to please Nick Clegg.   (Leftfootforward)









Feb 2014: Heated Independence debate in Motherwell

Labour MP Frank Roy experienced two of the more torrid hours of his political career

The MP was putting forward the argument for maintaining the Union in a debate organised by the Lanarkshire Forum for Independence. During his introduction at what was a lively evening, he admitted to the 300-strong capacity audience that his wife had warned him beforehand he’d “get a doing” at the event and the warm reception this prescient prediction received from the largely pro-independence crowd proved to be as good as it got for the long-serving MP.

Indeed, his misery was compounded towards the end of the evening when one of the audience – an Englishman to boot – took the mic and criticised the elected member for his, “unconvincing arguments” declaring the debate had persuaded him to change his previously unshakeable No stance to Yes.   (Daily Record)











Mar 2014:  30 Scottish Labour MPs That Voted For Osborne’s Welfare Cap

Frank Roy and 29 other labour MP’s voted with the Tories limiting the financial level of support able to be provided to those in most in need in the community


The List of shame:

Margaret Curran – Glasgow East – Tom Greatrex – Rutherglen & Hamilton West – Ian Murray – Edinburgh South – Willie Bain – Glasgow North East – Gordon Banks – Ochil & Perth 

Tom Clarke – Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill – Dame Anne Begg – Aberdeen South – Alistair Darling – Edinburgh South West – Ian Davidson – Glasgow South West

Thomas Docherty –  Dunfermline & West Fife – Frank Doran – Aberdeen North – Gemma Doyle – West Dunbartonshire – Sheila Gilmore – Edinburgh East – David Hamilton – Midlothian

Tom Harris – Glasgow South – Jimmy Hood – Lanark & Hamilton East – Cathy Jamieson – Kilmarnock & Loudon – Mark Lazarowicz  – Edinburgh North & Leith –

Gregg McClymont – Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East – Anne McGuire – Stirling – Anne McKechin – Glasgow North – Iain McKenzie – Greenock & Inverclyde –

Grahame Morris – Livingston – Jim Murphy – East Renfrewshire – Pamela Nash – Airdrie & Shotts – Sandra Osborne – Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock – John Robertson – Glasgow N. West  

Frank Roy – Motherwell &  Wishaw – Lindsay Roy – Glenrothes – Anas Sarwar – Glasgow Central        (petewishart.wordpress)










28 April 2014: Frank Roy will provide some light relief for the Yes campaign

Frankie boy was at one time an official of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a kind of Catholic Orange Order. In his teens he was a flautist member of the Muirhouse Division of the AOH and the St Francis Xavier Flute Band, Carfin.He will provide plenty of spark between the patrician Darling and the real Scottish Labour party and don’t forget how hated John Reid is by the Brownites who in turn can’t stand Darling. (This is Labour, remember). I see even the mainstream have stopped pretending that Darling and Brown have buried the hatchet. They haven’t and won’t.

What we are now seeing is jostling egos as the campaign enters the panic zone. Frank may be an ace card in one way. He at least knows the core vote and relates to them in a way far beyond Darling’s capability. It is shoring up those waverers in the West that holds the key to success. Clearly they have deduced that Johann can’t do it – and her figures are truly mind-boggling – so it’s Frank’s turn. It may work, if he can stay out of trouble but it’s hard to think something wont turn up to add to the disastrous decision-making by Darling and McDougall. (Derek Bateman)




Labour-Cartoonfrank roy






13 July 2014: Better Together – Frank Roy wants fewer egos involved in campaign

When Better Together needed someone to whip the operation into shape they turned to Roy. One senior Labour figure said: “You’ve got Douglas Alexander poking himself in where he’s not wanted, Gordon Brown and Alastair Darling competing for attention and the Labour party careering around the country in a big red bus with the words Vote No plastered along the side like something even Ian Paisley at his height would have deemed over the top.

Now working alongside the Tories and Lib Dems in Better Together headquarters. Frank said, “Back in the ’80s I worked with people from other parties in the fight to save Ravenscraig. “I disagreed with Tories on nearly everything except this issue. Once the campaign is over I will get back to normal campaigning to kick the Tories out of Downing Street and the nationalists out of Bute House.”

Evelyn McCulloch commented:

“Well, well, well, You did a great job with Ravenscraig working alongside the other parties! I wish you the all the same success!”  (Sunday Post)










6 Mar 2016: Scottish Labour general secretary Brian Roy and father, ex-MP Frank Roy, in party cash row

Kezia Dugdale’s top official is at the centre of a cash row that has split one of Labour’s most marginal seats.

Scottish Labour general secretary Brian Roy is facing questions over how his dad Frank Roy spent around £1400 owed to Scottish Labour HQ on his own re-election campaign. The money represented two years of affiliation fees owed to Labour HQ by Frank Roy’s constituency Labour party (CLP) in Motherwell & Wishaw.

First elected an MP in 1997, Frank Roy stood again in the seat again last May. At the time, Brian Roy had newly taken over as Scottish general secretary and treasurer. However a leaked internal audit shows the Motherwell & Wishaw CLP hadn’t paid its annual subscription to Labour HQ since 2013, despite having funds to do so.

The report states: “No Labour affiliation fees have been paid since 2013 despite having a balance of £8737.70 in the CLP account in 2013. This leaves the CLP in debt of around £2000. The balance of the CLP account on 28/9/15 was £109.48.”

Although failing to pay the fees to HQ didn’t disqualify Frank Roy from standing, it did leave more in the CLP account to spend on the election. The fall-out from the audit is now dividing the CLP and the Labour administration on North Lanarkshire Council, with many members furious at Frank Roy’s election agent Paul Kelly, who has been accused of failing to explain the state of the CLP’s finances.

Kelly, last week elected the council’s deputy leader, was CLP chair during the election. The audit report says that in early 2014, the CLP’s general purpose bank account of around £3200 was merged with a previously separate election account of £2800. “There are no minutes recording that this change of policy was agreed by the CLP,” it says.

The resulting single account was then cleaned out in the election – again without any minutes of the CLP agreeing to it – as Roy defended his 16,800-vote majority. The report states: “There are no minutes of the CLP agreeing to the level of expenditure to be used on the General Election.” Roy’s campaign cost £13,701, compared to £6,852 for the SNP’s Marion Fellows, who nevertheless won by 11,900 votes.

Roy got £4703 worth of staff support from Scottish Labour HQ, but the bulk of his campaign money, around £8600, came from draining the CLP account. The total outlay was twice that of the 2010 election, when Roy’s campaign cost £6766. The political co-ordinator of Better Together, Roy is now campaign director of the Scottish arm of Britain Stronger in Europe.

The failure to pay affiliation fees emerged last week after an audit into Motherwell & Wishaw CLP, which found “total unknown deposits” of £4474 were paid into its bank account last year without explanation, and “total unknown expenditure” of £2108 left it. The auditor noted: “These matters were raised by CLP members on several occasions from July 2015 and as far as I am aware the issues have not been properly addressed.”

A senior Labour source said the draining of the CLP account in election, including affiliation fees, had left the local party struggling going into the Holyrood election, when Labour MSP John Pentland is defending a 587-vote majority in Motherwell & Wishaw. The insider said: “There are very unhappy people here. The council Labour group is very fractious. We can’t even pay our bills far less run an election campaign.”

Kelly did not returns calls. Frank Roy could not be contacted. A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “The Labour party is working with this CLP to address any outstanding issues, including payment of affiliation fees.” (The Herald Scotland)









And How Much Did Franks Westminster day’s Cost the Good People of Motherwell & Wishaw??

Total Running Cost (2011-2012)

Constituency and Staffing Costs

Office Costs office rental – stationery – mobile phone rental/use – web site cost – accountancy charges

General Admin new boiler £1500

Staffing Expenses

Constituency Rental 1 month only

Payroll staffing costs

Direct Parliamentary Expenses

Accommodation rental £1430 monthly = ancillary costs

Travel and Subsistence personal travel by air Scotland London – car use home (Motherwell to airport) – Food drink in parliament parking charges London

£150,187.92 grand total for year; £252,987.60





Total Running Cost (2012-2013)

Constituency and Staffing Costs

Office Costs office rental – stationery – mobile phone rental/use – web site cost – accountancy charges

General Admin

Staffing Expenses

Constituency Rental

Payroll staffing costs

Total £166,636.90

Direct Parliamentary Expenses

Accommodation rental £1430 monthly = ancillary costs

Travel and Subsistence personal travel by air Scotland London – car use home (Motherwell to airport) – Food drink in parliament parking charges London


Total £102,158.27 Grand Total for year; £268,795.17






Total Running Cost (2013-2014)

Constituency and Staffing Costs

Office Costs office rental – stationery – mobile phone rental/use – web site cost – accountancy charges

Staffing Expenses

Total £135,369.29

Direct Parliamentary Expenses

Accommodation rental £1560 monthly = ancillary costs

Travel and Subsistence personal travel by air Scotland London – car use home (Motherwell to airport) – Food drink in parliament parking charges London


Total £101,302.69 Grand Total for year; £236,671.98

Approximate full 5 year parliament cost £1,250,000