SNP cavemen who are bringing their party into disrepute

That meeting the SNP claim they knew nothing about, the advertisement for it, Cllr Jonathan McColl, who went into hiding and refused to turn up and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Pictures by Bill Heaney

By Bill Heaney

It has been said, in jest I suspect, that the elected members of the Scottish National Party (SNP) are considering moving their local headquarters to Wallace’s Cave down Havoc on the Clydeshore.

Indeed, all the indications are that they have already done so since they knew nothing about the fact that the Save Loch Lomond campaign had organised a meeting last Monday night in Alexandria North Church.

Perhaps there is no WIFI signal in Wallace’s Cave or SNP communications team have, like the new Robert the Bruce movie, been put into cold storage for the summer recess? It’s too good to screen.

The claims that the SNP knew nothing about the Save Loch Lomond meeting are stretching what politicians regard as truth to downright lies.

Every dog in the street and cow in the fields knew this was happening.

What is emerging now is that the SNP councillors decided not to turn up because only their leader, Cllr Jonathan McColl, received an invitation.

Or perhaps they were not interested enough to go along?

Cllr McColl went into Boris Johnston-style hiding and the rest of them went into a huff.

You couldn’t make it up that they had been asked by the Loch Lomond Park Authority for their views on the Flamingo Land proposals for Drumkinnon Bay and chose to ignore a meeting attended by 267 people and two dogs to be precise.

There have been only three issues which have raised that amount of interest around here in the past 20-odd years, the siting of the Sheriff Court, the plan to build a school on Posties Park and the future of the Vale of Leven Hospital.

This was a meeting in Alexandria where the views of local people, elected and non-elected, would be expressed articulately and civilly over an interesting two hours. And were.

It was incident free. No one was called a liar, as has happens from time to time at meetings of West Dunbartonshire Council, once most memorably from their leader Cllr Jonathan McColl about correspondence from Nicola Sturgeon to a member of the public.

These SNP Fainthearts ran away from truth and logic last Monday, one of them claiming that they anticipated a bloodbath. What a shower of fearties.

They couldn’t find the time or the courage to listen to the public, a fair proportion of whom had gone to the polls to elect them and their fellow councillors.

I have a feeling they won’t be doing that again, especially since much of what these councillors do flies in the face of democracy.

The SNP councillors surely cannot have thought that the consultation meeting two nights later in the not fit for purpose, £15 million and counting, new Burgh Hall, was to express their own personal views?

If they think the posh Park Authority gives a hoot about their personal opinions, then they have lost the plot.

The consultation was for them to compare notes and experiences and pass on the views of the indigenous people of West Dunbartonshire to the Park board.

That board has been variously described as packed with Tory toffs in tweeds and the holder of almost-secret elections to its board.

Not forgetting appointing placemen and women such as Heather the Weather, formerly of the BBC, falling heir to a nice little earner.

The public’s views on Flamingo Land are already well known  and have been widely publicised in print and digital media, as well as radio and television news programmes.

Nearly 60,000 people have signed a petition against the development and have told them to F [lamingo Land] Off back to Yorkshire with their cheapskate hotel plan, holiday chalets, water parks, zero hours’ contracts and low paid jobs.

Perhaps, because they now occupy an imaginary cave down the shore and are still living in the era of Bruce and the Spider or Wallace and Braveheart, the SNP haven’t got that message yet?

Rest assured, however, there is more to come – and it has all been sparked off by Cllr Jonathan McColl, who throws slanderous accusations around like a Friday night drunk spends money.

His latest is that campaigners “barged” their way into the Burgh Hall where the council meeting was being held and “shoved” a female council steward before breaking an expensive lock on one of the doors.

He has portrayed middle aged women as violent Harpies, hell-bent on trouble.

Cllr McColl has made no reference in his rant however to the fact that one of the council’s communications officers threatened a young man who videoed the whole thing and threatened to call the police if he didn’t stop.

There will be a great deal of schadenfreude today amongst people whose views the SNP and others have been deemed not to matter in this debate that has swiftly become debacle.

The Balloch Navy for example, those men and women whose families have kept boats on the Leven for generations. And the rowing and angling clubs too.

Jackie Baillie, the MSP for Dumbarton and Lomond, said some of the people involved in this planning process thought they should be disregarded. That they were just “scruff”.

Many people will be delighted that the taxpayers of this community are not bank-rolling projects designed to turn people who are already millionaires into multi-millionaires so that government employment figures can look good.

Scottish Enterprise, whose mission statement this now appears to be, should be ashamed of their part in this, and the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park Authority should stick to their remit, which is to protect the environment and wildlife in their natural habitat.

And to keep the Lochside accessible to the rest of us, as was promised many years ago when Loch Lomond Golf Club was granted planning permission for its course.

And the then planning convener received assurances that public access would be allowed in perpetuity on to (all parts of) the Loch shore.

I can’t say I am myself unhappy to see the SNP rocked by this turmoil, turning their claymores on each other and bad mouthing the members of the public who were locked out of the Burgh Hall on Wednesday night.

After all, they have banned and boycotted and lied about The Dumbarton Democrat for months now, taking anti-democratic steps to curb the freedom of the press with the unapproved dictum – something that has never been approved by the Council – that we must join a regulatory body which replaced the lame duck Press Council.

Someone should tell them this is a free country.

They are reaping the bitter harvest of that folly now, and the new Burgh Hall has in consequence become a monument to their own ongoing stupidity and hubris instead of centuries of valued corporate governance and treasured democracy.

To be a member of the administration of any council in Dumbarton was once a badge of honour. The present incumbents and their friend the Bailie, who sold out for a gold chain, have reduced that to shame and ridicule. They have brought this once Royal Burgh into disrepute.

Their in-fighting has begun to resemble that of the ancient antipathy between the Campbells and MacDonalds and the Battle of Glencoe.

Bad feeling, poor internal relations and clique-forming were often part and parcel of the SNP, but what has been happening recently must soon lead to a significant heave in the party.

It’s time for a new leader.

An indication that Jonathan McColl can’t go on chuckling along with his brother councillor Ian Dickson and blustering his way through meetings has come in an exchange of e-mails between him, the former leader, Iain Robertson, and other prominent members of the SNP.

Scurrilous accusations on twitter are being tossed around like sweetie papers at the pictures. One person has been accused of only being in it for the money that would accrue to his company through contracts from Flamingo Land.

The fact that this came from one SNP person to another is a clear illustration of how bad things have become.

It’s got beyond a joke. It is now clear that the SNP want nothing to do with the public or the press or anyone else who takes a close interest in their affairs.

The recent scandal over contracts is a clear indication of that. They were indignant about being accused when they should have been ashamed it ever came to that.

Cllr McColl said it himself on social media: “These are the folk they want us to sit in amongst in the chamber while we are trying to make decisions. They want to intimidate us to make decisions their way and get right up in our faces when we have the audacity to hold even a slightly different opinion.

“You wouldn’t believe the abuse I am still getting for moving (and the Council agreeing) that we are not opposed to any development on the [Flamingo Land] site, just over-development.”

Imagine anyone having the cheek to attempt to bring a politician, any politician, round to their way of thinking? Instead of pushing the old folk and the schoolchildren up into the Long Crags, it will be the rest of us next in an internment camp for people with political opinions.

This is the same Jonathan McColl who banned and boycotted The Democrat because we expressed opinions different from his own, which we are perfectly entitled to do and which is the role of the press in a democratic society. Two-faced or what?

Here is another indication from Chris Pollock, a party activist and McColl fan, of the internal war going on within the SNP – “The behaviour of many folk who stood with us in 2014 is out of order. It’s simply reverted back to SNP bad. But what is worse is that we have current SNP members supporting them and bad mouthing our councillors at any given opportunity.”

SNP veteran James Cormack cautioned: “These are West Dunbartonshire residents and taxpayers. They are entitled to give their opinion in a frank and forthright manner. They are also voters!”

Community councillor Linda Speir said: “I would be interested to know what meeting the protesters ‘barged into’?

“I was at Wednesday’s WDC meeting, albeit in the chamber, but there is video footage showing the campaigners in the Burgh Hall singing and being good humoured.

“WDC staff were kindness itself, providing extra seating and water. That really doesn’t tie in with how you would expect staff to respond if they were treated in the manner you [Cllr McColl] have suggested.”

It is a saga to rival War and Peace, although there is little or no peace to be found in Church Street, where it is time First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stepped in and pulled the rug from under these arrogant, disingenuous people who are dragging the SNP into disrepute.

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