The influence over candidate selection by local MP Mhari Black and her supporters
In my previous update, I advised I had loads of readers and enquires but no answers to a number of questions I had raised. That update remains unchanged. But this follows up contains information about the emergence from the political shadows of previously mentioned in this article Natalie Don who was a local councillor and admin assistant to Derek MacKay MSP who left office under a cloud in 2020.
She was selected as the SNP’s candidate for the Renfrewshire North and West constituency in November 2020 and elected to office in the May 2021 Scottish Parliament election. Salary £66,000 +pension+expenses+ office staff. The projected total annual cost to the taxpayer is around £180,000.
A councillor for Bishopton, Bridge of Weir and Langbank ward from 2017 she retained that office until the 2022 local council election. The assumed annual cost to taxpayers is £20,000.
She was also an admin assistant in the office of Derek Mackay MSP from 2017 to 2020. Salary between £25,000 – £45,000
Total income and on-costs between 2017-2022: £55,000 -£74,000
The nomination of Natalie Don was not universally approved within the constituency.
The national press publicity attracted comments from a number of Renfrewshire readers. Namely:
12 Aug 2020: Comment from C.B.:
I just don’t agree with this “all-female” instruction. It’s MSPs of merit we need, not people thrust upon the electorate because of their sex.
12 Aug 2020: Comment from S.A.:
Ahhhh, an ideal candidate who meets the No.1 criteria in the SNP book of selection? Can we ask what Natalie Don’s life experiences are? What unique skills she is bringing to the Scottish Parliament & indeed the probable SG?
She has a degree in history, & to be fair one of my long time friends is a History Professor? I have an interest in this subject too. That aside, what commercial or business experience does this SNP Scottish parliamentary hopeful have to offer the already chocked chamber? Am I right to be concerned, that Ms Don, perhaps is yet another ‘Professional Politician’?
The political strata are already awash with ‘careerist’ politicians. You know the type? Went to uni, decided that hang working for a living, let’s get the public purse to fund my lifestyle? Remote from the proletariat, & their daily struggles to keep a roof over their head, feed, clothe, & bring up their children in a society that just doesn’t give a rats? Not that Ms Don will ever need to worry herself about things like that once she’s got Decko the sext pests, still warm seat, at Holyrood?..
12 Aug 2020: Comment from J.C.:
Sadly the SNP as a party ask their potential candidates to agree, before selection to being gagged from revealing any misconduct they may witness or encounter as a political appointee whilst in post. To me, the first thing to be sacrificed before climbing the greasy pole of politics is personal integrity?
I know I’m perhaps being unrealistic, in the forlorn hope of seeing an open & honest politician? Nevertheless, wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear a potential candidate actually tell it as it is, without reverting to meaningless slogans, or party ideology? I want my MSP to serve me, not a political party? After all, I, along with the rest of the electorate are their employers? We pay them that very comfortable salary, not the party they hold membership with?
I certainly will want to hear what my SNP sitting MSP has to tell me, other than an SNP rosette? I’ve already voted for over 1/4 of a century on that stance before changing to SNP? Up till now, after voting for them, their performance in Holyrood has been totally underwhelming?
I want to see the timeline for a vote for independence? I want the FM, to now hand the Covid crisis management over to one of her ministers! I want her to revalidate her commitment to independence, & what she intends to do when, her pleading with the lump of shaped lard, currently pretending to be the UK PM, tells her again & again NO?…. That approach isn’t, doesn’t, & will never work? Scotland is a nation not a county of England!
12 Aug 2020: Comment from KJ:
A friend of Marie Black, enough said.
But is Natalie Don the best, most experienced, multi-skilled, ideal candidate? She said she was working class! Well almost everyone in the district can claim to be working class? Brought up in a Council house? So was I? It was a nice Council house, in a good neighbourhood? But I do agree there is a dearth of working-class MSPs? Miss Don might have been able at one time to claim a working-class upbringing but that is very much in the past. Her education was completed at an excellent school, she has moved up in class and is now a middle class, white-collar worker. Indeed she is part of the upwardly mobile middle class. But the fact she is a close friend of Mhari Black shouldn’t even come into it? If the SNP, are relying on cronyism to punt candidates through the selection process (again), then they are entering the same dangerous place as SLAB found itself in? The electors should vote for a candidate they trust to do good works for them not someone who wears an SNP rosette.
Update: Lots of readers and many also wanted answers but unfortunately nothing is forthcoming which prompts me to enquire further.
Natalie Don is resident in Bridge of Weir. This event occurred in the town in July 2010. Is this the same Robert Innes?
A resident of Bridge of Weir harassed at home by a group of yobs
Kenneth Horn of the Bridge of Weir snapped after months of harassment when yobs armed with weapons laid siege to his home. In the ensuing melee, he was hit over the head with a baseball bat. Paisley Sheriff Court heard how Horn and his family had been forced to endure a relentless campaign of terror and torment. He had previously reported numerous incidents to police and was “at the end of his tether” when a group armed with weapons appeared outside his home in Bridge of Weir’s Mimosa Road at 3.50am on March 28.
The stabbed man, Robert Innes had been socialising with friends in a neighbouring house and when Horn left his home at around 0400 hours to confront his attackers he joined the disturbance later claiming it was with the purpose of taking on a self-appointed role as “peacemaker”. But 22-year-old Innes ended up in a face to face confrontation with Horn, who was observed standing on a path holding a knife. As the pair drew close Horn prodded him on the left side of his chest with the knife and then fled. He ran to another house in the street where he asked the householder to hide the knife.
An ambulance was summoned and Innes was taken to Paisley’s Royal Alexandra Hospital with a one-centimetre puncture wound. The injury was dressed but did not require further treatment and he was kept overnight under observation.
Horn’s lawyer told Sheriff Susan Sinclair that he hoped to put the episode in perspective and revealed that his client’s house had been
“laid siege to and there had been numerous reports to the police of harassment and efforts were being made to have his family re-housed when the flashpoint occurred. He was acting under extreme provocation where armed youths had been hammering at his door and sincerely believed that his life was in danger that night and that the complainer was part of the attacking group.”
The lawyer further stressed that Horn had not gone out into the street armed but had been hit with the knife in question and had then been struck on the head with a baseball bat. The knife ended up on the ground after it had been discarded by one of the attackers, and he had retrieved it.
Horn was found guilty of assault and locked up for eight months after stabbing a man he thought was one of his tormentors.
From Innes Twitter posts:
In education: I didn’t get any standard grades at school (an ‘affluent’ school). I worked in retail and call centres for years after school and gained some great experiences. Decided to go back to college and then uni and graduated at the age of 28. Schools are not for everybody.
As a youth, I joined the army at 16. I personally hated it and left. It’s not for everyone and the other guys I was in with loved it. It shouldn’t be forced on anyone. This talk of forcing national service on young people should be nipped in the bud now.
Comment: His LinkedIn profile only states he attended college. No mention of any qualification. Even providing that he did gain a qualification of sorts it is difficult to accept he would be experienced enough politically to provide advice and assistance to Mhari Black the holder of a distinction in politics from a grade 1 university.
On illegal drug-taking:
17 Jun 2019: RossThomson tweeted: I’ve visited a drug consumption room to see it in operation for myself. Opening them in the UK will be the thin end of the wedge. We need to ensure people end their addiction not simply manage it. Consumption rooms won’t cut heroin abuse and deaths.
Innes commented: Meanwhile back in reality. Like many people, I had a family member who used heroin outside of a DCR in front of me as a child. I have kept edgy in alleys and sat in drug dens while people o.d. These safe spaces would mean other youngsters wouldn’t have this kind of experiences.
Innes tweeted: You know you can be pro independence and also be against transphobia, homophobia, racism and bigotry while at the same time be against blatant careerism taking over your party. Comment: Ironic surely!!
Robert Innes has worked as one of Mhari Black’s Research Assistants at Westminster since around the beginning of 2016.
He is standing for election as a councillor for Houston, Crosslee and Linwood and his campaign was heavily promoted on Twitter and other media over the weekend and on other days by Miss Black and Natalie Don, the local MSP who gushingly declared him to be a local based stalwart and potentially wonderful servant of the people.
But there are questions I need to ask and have answers to before I am able to advise those who read my blog whether to support his candidacy.
The blurb states he has been employed at Westminster and has resided in London, not Renfrewshire, from 2016, nearly 6 years, Is this correct?
Prior to his appointment, he was a student studying politics and psychology at the University of the West of Scotland between 2011 and 2016 meaning that he has never been in paid employment from the time of his birth until selected by Mhari Black and appointed by herself to the post of Research Assistant at Westminster on a salary between £35-£55 plus expenses. Is this assertion correct?
His profile lists him as the father of two children. Nicola Sturgeon enjoyed an extensive photo opportunity with a child Alisa Innes. It is evident from the publicity that Sturgeon was promoting the Renfrew MSP candidacy of Natalie Don who the accompanying article said was the child’s mother.
Is Robert Innes, Alisa’s father? I think the public has a right to know. since their combined financial income from the state, courtesy of the SNP probably exceeds £130,000 per annum.