By Bill Heaney updated at 5pm on Tuesday, August 18, 2020
The National, the SNP supporting newspaper, is reporting that “senior SNP activist” Toni Giugliano has thrown his hat into the ring to be selected as his party’s candidate to challenge Scottish Labour’s deputy leader for her seat representing Dumbarton, Vale of Leven, Helensburgh and the Lochside at next year’s Holyrood elections.
Reporter Kathleen Nutt states the 35-year-old wants to take Jackie Baillie’s constituency “in a bid to help deliver an SNP majority government and a second independence referendum”.
Jackie Baillie has held the seat for 20 years – since 1999 – but has seen her majority in that election of 4758 votes slashed to just 109 in 2016.
However, large numbers of the electorate – even SNP supporters – are puzzled at the assertion that Mr Giugliano is well known in the constituency.
Many of them have never heard of him and this has come through clearly on social media where it is stated they would rather have someone who was up up to speed on pressing local issues.
The SNP have found no suitable local candidate because it seems they have been unable to find one with the political skills to acquit themselves well in regard to the two big local issues of the day – care home deaths and the back to school debacle, not to mention austerity measures to do with grass cutting in parks, cemetries and open spaces. And doing a U-turn on Flamingoland at Balloch.
Those issues harvested page after page of bad publicity for the SNP and especially their council leader, Cllr Jonathan McColl, who has attempted to blacken the name of The Democrat editor with false personal allegations against him.
One puzzling aspect of Giuglianis pitch is that he mentions his support for the Save the Vale campaign. According to the SNP, they won that long ago, although insiders at the Health Board don’t believe this is the case and that the hospital’s future remains in doubt just as it has under the past three SNP Health Ministers – Niocola Sturgeon, Shona Robison and Jeane Freeman.
This heave from Giugliani’s election team is not the first time the SNP have attempted to foist a carpetbagger on the constituency and local party, which has anti-democratically (without having the approva; of the full council) boycotted The Dumbarton Democrat,on the local community for exercising its right to criticise them..
Who remembers Lloyd Quinan, the television weatherman, who forecast he would win the seat and temporarily took up residence in a small flat in Glasgow Road, Dumbarton, in order to claim, like Mr Giugliani, he had local credentials, which is important when it comes to appealing to voters, but was sent off disillusioned and defeated by Labour.
Along with East Lothian and Edinburgh Southern, Dumbarton is one of just three first past the post seats currently held by Richard Leonard’s Scottish Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament.
Giugliano is described by his publicists as a first generation Italian Scot and EU migrant who works as a senior policy manager for one of Scotland’s leading mental health charities, which would make him a relatively recent arrival in Dunbartonshire.
The story in the National gives no details in regard to his birthplace, which schools he attended and the location of his family home, which are all details one would expect to have in pre-election publicity from any candidate.
One important omission from his political CV is the area in which he has the highest profile. Mr Giugliani is a militant Gay Rights/Transgender activist.
But this has received no mention in his publicity which many see as a below the belt attack on Jackie Baillie.
Giugliani is quoted in the National as saying: “I really want to unseat Jackie Baillie. I believe the SNP should have a European national to stand for the Scottish Parliament at a time when EU nationals are being treated with contempt by the Tories, by Westminster, having to prove how long they’ve been in this country and what have been their activities, despite contributing so much.
“As a result of the contempt they have been treated with, many are coming to the independence cause and I believe we need to embrace that. I believe electing a EU national to the Scottish Parliament sends a signal about what sort of country we would be with independence – open for business, tolerant and diverse.”
In saying this, Giugliani portrays himself as being amongst those who feel discriminated against because they are not indigenous UK citizens.
The Nationalist attempts to discredit Jackie Baillie in the electorate’s eyes by stating that she was the campaign director for the anti-independence Better Together organisation ahead of the 2014 referendum, where she worked alongside the Tories and the LibDems.
It claims she remains a strong opponent of independence who earlier this year defeated the Corbynite councillor Matt Kerr in the Scottish Labour Party’s deputy leadership contest.
And that she received the support from 60% of constituency Labour parties, 60% of nominating councillors from across Scotland, and 92% of nominating parliamentarians. She was also backed by the GMB, USDAW, the Jewish Labour Movement and the Scottish Co-op Party.
He added that he believed Baillie’s anti-independence views put her out of step with the majority of her constituents who voted Yes in 2014.
They have dredged up every piece of muck (their perception of bad publicity) against Ms Baillie, who countered yesterday: “As we emerge from Covid 19, I will be focusing on helping the local community recover by fighting for local businesses; a jobs guaruntee for young people, and investment in local health services at the Vale of Leven Hospital.
“I think most people in the community are not interested right now in narrow, divisive politics; they want to see politicians spending their time on things that matter — the NHS, education, jobs, care homes and the economy.
“That’s what I will be putting my energy into at this election. Dumbarton constituency needs a strong voice in parliament who will stand up for our area and I would be proud to serve the area once again.”
The National story goes on: “Currently living in Glasgow, Giugliano has strong family connections to the Dumbarton constituency. His grandparents immigrated separately from Liguria in Italy in the 1950s to Helensburgh where they met each other. They later married in Balloch.
“Giugliano began his political activism through the Young European Movement (YEM) and was elected YEM President 2005.”
It states the SNP had planned to have all Holyrood candidates in place by spring but claim the selection process was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It is expected that all contenders will be unveiled at the party’s virtual conference in October.