By Bill Heaney
So it’s turbans all round for the SNP in Dumbarton. The Nationalists’ attitude to the media and women was in place here long before the Taliban arrived in Kabul on Sunday.
SNP council leader Lumberjon Jonathan McColl had already taken steps here to silence the media by boycotting The Democrat and ordering West Dunbartonshire Council’s £500,000 a year communications department not to speak to us.
And so far as their attititude to women is concerned the local SNP, acting in concert with their national office headed up by Nicola Sturgeon’s husband, stitched up Councillor Caroline McAllister when she looked certain to be their candidate in the Scottish Parliament election in Dumbarton in May.
Cllr McAllister had, some would say successfully, positioned herself as the local women’s champion in politics, taking up the cudgels in a high profile manner on subjects such as domestic abuse.
But she was disgracefully shoved out the door and replaced by a man who was parachuted in from Edinburgh and who came second here to Labour’s Jackie Baillie.
Cllr McAllister then joined Alex Salmond’s Alba Party, and it will,be interesting to see if she is ever allowed back into the SNP.
SNP leader Jonathan McColl and banished women’s champion Caroline McAllister.
And which party she will stand for come the next local government elections next May.
Blackford insists it should be a a priority to take in residents of Afghanistan who have an association with this country and who have been working for the UK as interpreters and back-up for the British Forces.
He wants the asylum given to Syrians in 2014, when 20,000 were given a safe haven.
That was 0.1 per cent of the population, meaning 35,000 Afghans would be able to set up home here.
Scotland housed over 3,000 Syrians – twice as many as the UK average.
Thousands of desperate residents are currently fleeing Afghanistan after the Taliban seized Kabul to complete their conquering of the nation.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford.
Mr Blackford told Sky News: “I think we’ve all got to recognise there is a priority of getting those that are vulnerable out of Afghanistan.
“Of course first and foremost that’s about those we have an association with and getting them out at pace.
“But beyond that, I think what we need to do is replicate what we had with Syria in 2014, the vulnerable scheme we had in place there. It’s probably worth recalling that the UK took 20,000 Syrian nationals at that point, it was 0.1 per cent of the Syrian population.
“On that basis we should be looking to take about 35,000 of those from Afghanistan. We need to do this working with the governments throughout the United Kingdom, and the local authorities.
“What has to be different this time is it has to be done at pace. It’s clear there are a lot of vulnerable people in Afghanistan, vulnerable to the loss of their human rights from the Taliban administration.
“This is a humanitarian crisis. We need there already large amounts of people on the move, let’s get them out as an immediate priority.
Mr Blackford says he has “deep sense of shame” that the situation in the south Asian country has been allowed to escalate to where it is today.
And he insists that the UK must be prepared to negotiate with the Taliban to try and improve it.
He said: “I feel a deep sense of shame that we’ve let the people of Aghanistan down. We asked them to work with us, we asked them to support us in our operations. We cannot now leave them in the lurch.
“It’s really important now that all of us come together and stand by those that need out support. That has to start right now.
Asked about entering negotiations with the Taliban, he added: “We shouldn’t be in this position, but I accept that’s absolutely where are today.
“I absolutel regret we’re in the situation where we have a Taliban administration.
“I guess at the end of the day we’re going to have some sort of dialogue with them, but let’s work with the agencies that we can do so.
“Let’s make sure we’re supporting the people of Afghanistan, because that is the priority.”
This week, I am going to the Edinburgh Book Festival, where Nicola Sturgeon is lined up to speak – to be an interviewer even – so, parhaps in the spirit of a free press, I will have the opportunity to ask the First Minister about the anti-democratic behaviour of the SNP and her party’s council leader in Dumbarton.
This is happening while …
- US President Joe Biden said he “stands squarely behind” his decision to pull US troops out of Afghanistan
- Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab admitted Nato allies were surprised by the “pace and scale” of the Taliban takeover
- The SAS are to join a “Dunkirk-style” rescue mission to save 6,000 Brits from Kabul airport
- The UK Ambassador will stay “for as long as possible” to help the evacuation.