It is with much regret and very much soul searching that I must cancel my membership of the SNP. A party that I have supported for many years both financially and indeed a vast amount of my time.
To give you an idea of my commitment to the party and indeed the fight for independence which is what, up to recently I have always thought that the SNP were all about, I list below some of the input I have had to the independence cause and therefore the party.
Going back to 2013 and the wonderful march and rally in Edinburgh I supplied two coaches free of charge at a worth of £***
I also supplied a mini bus for disabled people free of charge at a worth of £***
Over the years I have allowed free storage and parking at our depot for SNP vehicles
In the run up to the referendum I took in Chris Law’s 50 year old fire engine and turned it into The Spirit of Independence, in our workshops this involved completely stripping the paint by hand and repainting it , refurbishing the brass work and completely overhauling the mechanical elements of it . The value of this was £*,***
I made available the Yes Bus Scotland’s dragon for independence to any grass roots organisation to campaign in their own particular manner. A 20 year old double decker bus with a history of service in two countries which had gained their independence from the UK. The value of this could be conservatively assessed at £**,***
This bus then went on to actively campaign throughout Dundee Angus and fife with the Yes bus team, a group of committed volunteers from all parties and none. This yes bus has continued to promote independence mainly in the City square both during and since the referendum.
The value of this could conservatively be put at £**,***
During the campaign I supplied vans and minibuses to collect yes materials from Edinburgh and distribute these materials throughout the area and convey SNP campaigners throughout Dundee. A conservative estimation of a worth of £*,***
During the referendum campaign I supplied for a whole 2 months, a coach and driver for Business for Scotland who worked very closely with the SNP, **********************************************************************************the worth of this is £**,*** with a contribution from business for Scotland of £*,***
There have been many other areas of assistance which I have given.
So the forgoing plus the direct donations that I have made to the party I feel shows that I have had unstinting commitment both to the party and to the cause of independence.
I have since the referendum mainly through social media and discussions with SNP politicians sought to offer suggestions regarding the ongoing fight for independence. Sometimes this has been taken as being anti SNP by some of the less able to think members of the party instead of constructive criticism.
A couple of days after the referendum I approached a local SNP politician and said “well we have lost a battle but not the war so what is the plan. The response I got was “what plan”. I said that we had made mistakes during the campaign such as muddle on plan B and we failed to convince pensioners that their pensions were not at risk in an independent Scotland and before any further referendum we must at the very least answer these questions and we should continue at a lower level the grass roots campaign to make people aware of these and many other issues that they were obviously uncomfortable with. Again the equivalent of a blank look. In short we have not made any preparation for a future referendum and it is still that situation today.
During the referendum campaign we, the yes Bus team were on the streets of Dundee almost every day talking to thousands of undecided and hard no voters explaining the positive side of independence. We had a fantastic mix of people from all walks of life and political persuasions including people from business for Scotland of which I am a member. We had people out on the periphery and the streets surrounding the city square handing out merchandise and leaflets (when we could prise the material from the SNP run Yes Hub in St Andrews Street. And most important was that all these people sometimes 20 to 30 (far more than the SNP could muster to deliver leaflets and 10 times more than the amount of people who manned the occasional SNP stall including the politicians who huddled ineffectually around their stall in the Nethergate.
Now I should have realised at the time but this reluctance to have much to do with the grass roots groups was actually apparent even then, because the only time we saw the politicians at the Yes Bus was when the press were there and they disappeared along with the press, so they did absolutely no campaigning in Dundee with the grass roots groups that I was associated with.
After the referendum the yes organisation was disbanded and I can only wonder at the wisdom of this as it was a catalyst for the grass roots groups and to my mind would have been a logical way of keeping the independence movement alive.
We sent 56 MP’s down to London out of a possible 59. A massive majority and I cannot for the life of me understand why they were not tasked with attempting to wrest the power to hold a referendum at a time of our choosing from Westminster to Holyrood. You will be aware that with a majority of one in Holyrood we managed to persuade the British Government to grant temporary power to hold a referendum after the last Scottish elections.
So I have over the last few months began to have an uneasy feeling regarding the actual commitment of the SNP to actually commit themselves wholeheartedly to the cause of independence .
I keep receiving messages and postings from unthinking people with the well-worn message of “ the SNP knows what they are doing they have a plan “ well with half a century of business behind me I have found that blind allegiance and faith generally leads to disaster.
So I have had misgivings as to the commitment or lack of strategic planning exhibited by the SNP with regards to a future referendum for some time, but what has brought this to a head is recent events in connection with a rally myself and others organised in Dundee on Sunday 4th October.
This rally was a “road map to independence” misconstrued by some of the mindless SNP trolls to be pressure for an imminent referendum. I realised for the reasons previously mentioned that we are not ready for a referendum should the opportunity present itself and taking into consideration the remarks from Nicola Sturgeon that “the Scottish people will decide when we are ready for another referendum” and also realising that many people in Scotland , a great many SNP members among them are becoming restless because of the inability or reluctance of the SNP to present a reasonable way forward (a road map) I reasoned that a sensible approach and opportunity for the SNP would be to present a road map , not necessarily with a date but showing that proper preparations had been put in place . I feel that this would have been a good compromise and would have placated the unrest which is brewing.
Now we had asked Tommy Sheridan (being a prominent pro-independence campaigner) to talk together with several other speakers. We had a great line up of top class bands to entertain the crowds. The problem was that we could not get any SNP speakers. Eventually the top brass put forward Jimmy Black who is not a parliamentarian but a councillor, who made it clear that he had been “put forward.” Now he promptly did a posting on Facebook asking all and sundry (not necessarily his constituents) if he should appear at the same event as Tommy Sheridan. I have never in my life seen anything so transparent, immature and incompetent being initiated by anyone let alone a politician. As if that was not bad enough he actually made reference to why he thought he should not appear siting Sheridan’s conviction for perjury ( which he has served his punishment for ) and inexplicably reference to a book about Sheridan which made unsubstantiated allegations about his past. So we had an SNP politician “on Facebook” indicating that a punishment handed down in court was not sufficient and the person should continue to be ostracised presumably for the rest of his life and more incredibly acting as judge and jury on unsubstantiated allegations that for some reason have never come to court.
Now this started a torrent of abuse, mainly from insiders within the close confines of the SNP in Dundee, mainly Dundee West, both to me and another person (a woman) who was involved in the organisation of this event.
Now we had properly applied within the time constraints for permission to hold the rally but because of a misunderstanding concerning the parade element of the day we had not applied separately (despite the staff in the council offices stating that only the one form was needed) for the parade and therefore we applied as soon as we realised this. Now late applications are very common place and happen all the time and the Convener of the Licencing committee has discretion in this. This man is Stewart Hunter an SNP councillor. Now despite all the necessary departments being happy with the parade including the police who I had detailed discussions with and in an apparent attempt to harm the rally he decided not to use his disctecionaly power to allow the parade to go ahead. He used the excuse that the last time I organised a rally in May it was chaotic and he only gave permission on the morning of that rally.
So I will go on now to explain what actually happened to the last rally, again a grass roots rally organised by Yes We Care and not me .I was in fact nothing to do with the application.
This rally was to take place on the weekend before the general election. Several days before the rally was to take place I had a visit from Chris Law (now Chris Law MP) at my office. He asked me if I could use my influence to stop the rally (a yes rally) and have it postponed to the week end after the general election as he did not want people filling up the City Square waving saltires and having yes signs all over the place. Yes, incredibly the SNP did not want any mention or sign of independence before a general election. I at first expressed my disbelief at this and found it difficult to comprehend what he had just said. I firstly explained that I had not applied for the permission so he was speaking to the wrong person, although I had agreed to put the Yes Bus there on the day as a focal point and to use as a changing room for the Highland dancers. I however agreed to have a word with the organisers to see what could be done however I did mention that as the event had been booked for that particular weekend, there was no permission in place for the following weekend. He assured me that this would be sorted! Now apparently and before I had had the chance to speak to the organisers he had asked them to go to the Dundee west office and again asked them to postpone the event until after the General election and again I believe stated both by him and another person employed by the SNP that the short notice application would be sorted. In the event the rally went ahead without, as far as I can ascertain even an application being submitted and was only passed by Councillor (SNP) Stewart Hunter on the very Morning of the Rally.
So for this councillor to try to use my late application for an event that I had nothing to do with and was in fact the internal machinations and political manoeuvring of local politicians (which in itself throws up questions of probity) that caused the late (if any) application to prevent a yes parade going ahead is nothing short of a disgrace.
The event on 4th October minus the walk around the town went ahead and was a huge success with over a thousand yes supporters present. This engendered extreme sour grapes on the part of the SNP and Stewart Hunter through the Dundee Courier (a staunchly unionist paper) tried to put a negative spin on the event calling it a shambles and stating the there was only 300 at the event. Negativity I have not witnessed since the referendum and all by unionist papers and project fear. It would seem that the Dundee SNP have taken that mantle for themselves.
Because of the success of the event, there appeared on Facebook yesterday a posting by Tom Thompson (a parliamentary assistant to both Joe Fitzpatrick and Chris Law, showing the front page of the unionist paper the Courier with a totally false impression of how the event had gone and a very negative slant on it. This was closely followed by negative comments by several people who are either employees of the SNP or in a close cabal that can be seen regularly inhabiting the Dundee West offices, in a blatant attempt at character assassination of which I was the subject. I never thought that I would see the day when the SNP used a unionist paper to attack one of their own.
One of these people I mention is already the subject of a complaint to you in regards to libellous statements in reference to me on social media and of which I took great exception to especially as he was an officer of the SNP . A complaint by the way that you yourself have for some two months failed to address.
Well Peter I have had enough, I have supported the SNP through thick and thin for many years I have walked the streets of Dundee for months during the referendum I have engaged with people from all walks of life and convinced them to vote for independence or in the case of the General election, to vote for Chris Law .I have offered honest constructive criticism when I thought that they were straying off the road to independence. I have lived and breathed independence for the last two years and more during the campaign and after it.
During this last two weeks I have been sickened by the vile comments posted about myself and the other organiser of this Yes event by members of the SNP including staff members and I will say it again in case you missed it A YES EVENT.
I feel the SNP have indeed strayed of the road we are all going down I feel they are side-lining the grass roots organisations that did so much good work. I feel that the SNP are more interested in retaining power , power they see diminishing after a yes vote when we will have in Scotland a Labour part of Scotland , Conservative party of Scotland , a Lib Dem party of Scotland and all the smaller parties ,all off Scotland.
It is with a heavy heart that I must leave the SNP but my loyalty is to Scotland above any political party. Scotland, the place that gets me excited every time I come home to it. Scotland, the only place on the World I would ever live in and lastly Scotland, the country that belongs to the Scots