Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SNP Government Minister Alex Neil accuses Labour North Lanarkshire Council personnel of "robbing” elderly citizens, election flared up backfires

















Dear All

You can tell that parties are in an election mode by rhetoric coming out in the scrum to get voters.

However in using rhetoric you have to be careful, Alex Neil is a senior Scottish Government Minister. He is a very good speaker, in fact if I get the opportunity to listen to him rather than some of my less gifted SNP colleagues, I pick him everytime, he is a good performer, knows his stuff and can pitch it at a level that gets the message across.

This time in getting his message out, he has sparked fury among unions and council leaders after accusing his local authority of being "bloated" and "barely fit for purpose".

John Reid, the former Labour Minister first came out with the ‘unfit for purpose’ during an investigation into the Home Office and how it was run.

The phrase ‘unfit for purpose’ was then picked up on by many ‘professionals’ as management speak jargon.

Alex Neil is the MSP for Airdrie and Shotts, he has come out and said that North Lanarkshire Council has been "badgering people on the lowest of incomes".

Other claims are that the education department is over-staffed and that its housing division is letting homes "which are not in a fit state for a family to live in".

On badgering people, he says:

"The finance department badger people on the lowest of incomes for money which sometimes they don't even owe."

I don’t think that this type of mistake is specific to North Lanarkshire and I very much doubt that in SNP Councils mistakes don’t happen.

As to the education department being overstaffed, is he suggesting that if the SNP wins the North Lanarkshire Council, they would carry out widespread redundancies post election?

As for the housing issue, and letting homes "which are not in a fit state for a family to live in", perhaps he should as an SNP Minister bring in a bill for a minimum standard. Houses and flats have to be wind and water tight before they are let, along with having running water and other amenities as a Scottish standard. I am unsure what else Alex Neil could be referring too, perhaps he might expand.

After Neil Neil has made his comments, workers have reacted angrily towards the minister with unions stepping in to demand an apology. At election time isn’t considered smart to even hint that employees are going to get sacked.

Even if that could be part of a future SNP Council’s agenda!

Unison has reacted quickly by sending a letter of complaint to both Mr Neil and First Minister Alex Salmond criticising the comments.

Unison's rep, Chris Armstrong, said:

"Alex Neil should apologise to our 7500 members at North Lanarkshire. Fair enough if he wants to have a pop at the administration but not the workers. We don't need Alex Neil using us as a political football at a time when cuts mean the council has had to get shot of people and those remaining have to do more and more."

A senior North Lanarkshire administration source said:

"Alex Neil is an embarrassment to the SNP and Scottish Government. This type of overblown rhetoric with no basis in fact is a serious error of judgment. More than 70% of our 17,000 staff live in North Lanarkshire and will be voting in the council elections in May so hardly the smartest move in the world or a vote-winning strategy."

A spokesman for North Lanarkshire Council said:

"We do not recognise the portrayal of the council by Alex Neil MSP. Audit Scotland, in finding that the council is high-performing, stated that the council has good strategic direction, with good leadership and clear vision. We will be responding appropriately to Mr Neil in due course."

The unfortunate thing in the broadside fired back is Audit Scotland finding the council is high-performing, stated that the council has good strategic direction, with good leadership and clear vision.

One of the things in the Scottish National Party which concerns me as an SNP Member is that certain people in the party who hold positions or are connected to the senior leadership think that it is acceptable to smear people and get away with it because they are 'protected'.

Some of these people doing the smearing are the employees and relatives of SNP MSPs, the real ‘cybernats’.

In a column in a local newspaper, Mr Neil rather unwisely stated new North Lanarkshire charges were "robbing many elderly citizens of a large chunk of their pension."

By using the word ‘robbing’, he has accused personnel of North Lanarkshire of being involved in a systematic fraud through-out the council; however I don’t believe that is what he meant, I would say that he meant the charges were unfair, but regardless he still shouldn’t have used such language.

What is said publicly matters, as everything is governed by the Nolan Principles of standards conducted in public life.

His claim of believing North Lanarkshire was one of the worst-run authorities is subjective since, he hasn’t personal first hand knowledge of working in other council.

In refusing to apologise or back down Alex Neil has defending his position by saying:

"Any sensible person knows my comments were directed at the Labour leadership and a handful of senior officers, not the workers for whom I have the highest respect. The council is led by a political dinosaur and I can give example after example illustrating the points I've made. For too long North Lanarkshire has been run as a one-party state. The Unison representative should worry more about the compulsory redundancies facing the workers than any loyalty to Labour."
So, a sensible person would think it is okay to accuse North Lanarkshire Council of "robbing many elderly citizens of a large chunk of their pension."

I don’t think so.

Also giving example after example of his points only proves that personnel maybe incompetent which flies in the face of him saying that he has the “highest respect” for the workers. Generally when people are getting mucked about the chain starts with the cross the counter personnel, the workers!

His parting shot to the Unison rep about compulsory redundancies facing the workers is actually quite funny because earlier he stated that the education department is over-staffed and has more than hinted that an incoming SNP Council would have to address the problem.

By making people either compulsory redundant or voluntary redundant!

I think Alex Neil has made the best possible case for the Labour Party but he should really be making the case for the Scottish National Party.

Since he is a government minister!

And I can’t see how saying vote SNP get made compulsory redundant or voluntary redundant wins hearts and minds.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

6 comments:

cynicalHighlander said...

I fear a lot of complacency has set in since gaining a majority in May amongst some of the members and we don't need to go down the route of smearing others like other parties to win.

throbber said...

I doubt if that phrase 'unfit for purpose' will stand the test of time. It has become a double edged sword as Mr Reid was later recognised as a bully and a bruiser and not fit for purpose himself. Familiarity with the saying has bred contempt and people's hackles rise when they hear this over cliche'd saying.
Personally I try to avoid cliche's like the plague and keep my nose clean and stay under the radar.

George Laird said...

Dear CH

"I fear a lot of complacency has set in since gaining a majority in May amongst some of the members and we don't need to go down the route of smearing others like other parties to win".

Do you remember the SNP changing their media strategy?

I gave a social media talk to Pollok SNP and sitting in the room was Kirk J Torrance, just an ordinary member, at the next SNP Conference, he gave a presentation to Peter Murrell on social media and got a job.

It doesn't bother me that he got a job, good luck to him, I am not that petty, but it would have been nice to get some kind of credit.

4th Sept 2010, I went to the SNP National Assembly in Perth and laid out the case for a Scottish National Police Force and National Fire Service.

My idea has since been tweaked badly regarding the Police accountability.

When a member of Maryhill & Springburn, I wrote a report, if you look at the last three SNP Newsletters and read my report you will see my ideas on the pages regarding engagement etc, appear, with the exception of giving me no credit.

My report written July 2010!

Number 5 in my 2010 report for a new type of SNP engagement was effectively 'MAC', Moblie Advice Clinics done out on the street by elected reps and branches activists running alongside an intern programme for branch members.

Check out Anne McLaughlin's blog 'if the constituent won't come to the'

http://indygalgoestoholyrood.blogspot.com/2010/08/if-constituent-wont-come-to-msp.html

This is number 5 in my report regarding places to meet public, note the people’s reaction to be proactive in her blog.

I got no credit for that either on her blog or by way of a thank you.

She did however, fail to take up a constituency case of a 70 year old elderly disabled Catholic pensioner with heart and lung problems.

I personally handled the file over myself and a month later went back to remind her that the woman hadn’t been contacted.

The woman was never contacted.

Anne McLaughlin publicly stating that she took up every case when replying to people who criticized her for the time she spent on Mhango case.

In the case of Mrs D, Anne McLaughlin’s statement was completely untrue.

It was highly embarrassing for me as the woman’s family was personally known to me, but it showed the kind of contempt that I was held in, despite being well known in Glasgow SNP.

Despite Anne McLaughlin not supporting me, I still went to Inverclyde to support her.

Regarding smearing, I have been sent documentation that I am the alleged victim of an SNP campaign.

I have learnt a lot about the Scottish National Party recently.

And I am about to see if a working class person can receive fairness, equality and justice in the Scottish National Party or whether it’s a lie to con the working class into being cheap labour for them.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

cynicalHighlander said...

George as I am a member I don't get involved in the machinery because there are a lot of their policies with which I disagree but am not wishing to rock any boats until we retrieve our Independence. I don't like the bragging attitude displayed by some as that wouldn't sway me if I was a waverer.

George Laird said...

Dear CH

“George as I am a member I don't get involved in the machinery because there are a lot of their policies with which I disagree but am not wishing to rock any boats until we retrieve our Independence. I don't like the bragging attitude displayed by some as that wouldn't sway me if I was a waverer”.

What I find funny about the Scottish National Party is that if you regularly attend work days you are regarded as not suitable as a candidate.

But if you do a few days, you can claim to be an SNP Activist on your application form.

I failed SNP Candidate selection because the panel stated:

‘Lack of team-working focus and inability to work with people’!

In short, an SNP selection panel can simply make up any lie they like based on no evidence and it is accepted, no matter how defamatory.

When I told Glasgow rank and file members of what happened, they were shocked about how I was treated.

Yes, I have learned a lot about the Scottish National Party, when I appealed this decision and supplied evidence to refute these claims, it was ignored.

Apparently third party evidence isn’t good enough in the Scottish National Party but lies and smears are.

Maybe that explains why so few people are willing to be Scottish National Party Activists. In the Pollok branch, I was generally the sole rank and file member of the branch willing to come out, the rest were either branch officials or candidate.

My reward at the Pollok nomination branch according to SNP Councillor Khalil Malik was that not one single branch official nominated me or spoke up for me who I had worked with on a regular basis.

I could be angry but I am not, the reason, I always thought these people would let me down.

And George Laird is always right.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Anonymous said...

I have said it for a long time now
they are going to put everthing forword that suits their agenda where we like it or not it is a government full of ayatollahs and they will try to rule witha iron fist so we can all laugh when they take the fall and they will

cjm
fas