Do you remember the Scottish Islamic Foundation?
The SNP Government spent months doing press release after press release with the senior SNP leadership talking about social cohesion.
It so happened that people connected to Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond were involved in running it namely Osama Saeed and Humza Yousaf. Some people as I recall opined that the SIF was nothing more than an SNP vehicle to give Saeed and Yousaf a higher public profile, paid for using Scottish taxpayer’s money.
The saga of the SIF goes way back, here is a post from the blog of March 2010:
Basically tax payer’s cash was provided and the organisation failed to deliver.
Here is another post about the less than startling work of the SIF under the control of Saeed:
Yousaf went on to become a list MSP for the SNP, Saeed after failing to get elected disappeared to a job aboard.
Both Saeed and Yousaf were close to Nicola Sturgeon, particularly Yousaf.
Now we have another member of Sturgeon’s clique, this one is called Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, a former Tory candidate and prior to that a member of the Labour Party. She campaigned for Sturgeon in 2011; I actually campaigned with her on one occasion in Glasgow Southside despite not having a history of activism Ahmed-Sheikh rose every quickly through the SNP ranks.
Prior to helping out the Sturgeon campaign she told me she had never done activism for 5 years.
Now, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh who some people at Westminster describe as ‘tedious’ because of her constantly standing up to get heard at Westminster has the spotlight fixed on her as people want to know why public money was used to launch her charity which was all about promoting allegedly Asian women.
Ahmed-Sheikh registers her SAWA as a charity and 48 hours later the charity receives money from the Scottish Government.
Does anyone know of a charity who was funded so quickly in Scotland or anywhere else?
After getting Scottish taxpayer’s cash, the Scottish Asian Women’s Association put on an event costing £9,000 on catering and entertainment for 160 guests at the launch, attended by Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.
The reason the SAWA is in the news this week is because the press has decided to do a bit of digging, and guess what, they found that in the first three years, the charity wasn’t very charitable at all.
It donated just £700 in its first three years.
What it did do however was put on and organised £100-a-plate award ceremonies for two years then the event wasn’t put on in the third year, this has lead people to say that the charity was effectively a state-backed publicity vehicle for kickstart Tasmina Ahmed-Shiekh’s career.
In 2014, when Ms Ahmed-Sheikh was a European election candidate, I was quite opposed to this and urged people to use tactical voting to deny her a third spot on the list for the European Parliament.
She had done nothing to deserve it.
Her charity’s SAWA Facebook page posted a message urging people to vote SNP in order to get her elected, this raises questions about why a charity isn’t remaining political neutral in my opinion. If individual members express the view she is ideal or suitable for MEP, that’s fine, but a charity in receipt of public funds, I think this stinks to high heaven.
After using the charity to raise her profile which wasn’t great in my opinion beforehand, she quit SAWA the day after being elected as MP for Ochil and South Perthshire.
Some people have said to me in passing that the SNP are using Scottish Government funds to finance Asian Candidates to give them a higher profile than they actually deserve, and that this is an abuse of public funds.
Labour MSP Jackie Baillie has decided to write Nicola Sturgeon, asking her to support an inquiry by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.
I don’t she will get it given how close Sturgeon is to Ahmed-Shiekh, and the fact yet again a member of her southside clique has been outed in the press regarding the use of taxpayer funds.
Baillie is asking why taxpayers’ money was used to kickstart SAWA before it was a charity, and what auditing was done to ensure public funds were used “appropriately”.
And I think a lot of people will be interested in the answers, especially coming out of Nicola Sturgeon’s mouth.
A Scottish Government spokesman said:
“The Scottish Government supported the launch of the Scottish Asian Women’s Association in 2012 but has not provided any financial support since. We are yet to receive Ms Baillie’s letter but will respond to it in due course.”
Now that Tasmina Ahmed-Shiekh has become an MP, I don’t think we will be hearing any more about it from the SNP Government, much in the same way as they never mention the Scottish Islamic Foundation.
Isn’t rather interesting that Asians close to Nicola Sturgeon set up Asian charities prior to standing for election buoyed up from a raise profile with some say they didn’t deserved, some people might opine that there is a pattern here emerging around Nicola Sturgeon’s clique and how they operate politically.