Gurpreet Singh Johal, pictured with the poster, is standing for the Labour Party in the West End at the council elections. With him is his running mate David McBride and Labour’s Scottish leader, Anas Sarwar.
As if sectarianism is not bad enough – there is far too much of that on the go under the guise of Celtic and Rangers affiliations – we now have racism here in West Dunbartonshire. Reports of it rearing its ugly head are unfortunately accurate and completely disgusting, WRITES BILL HEANEY
A pernicious leaflet has been going through letter boxes and, at the time of writing, only been seen in the centre of Dumbarton and nowhere else.
People who know about this are assuming that it is targeted at Dumbarton because Gurpreet Singh Johal is standing for the Labour Party at the council elections.
Jackie Baillie tells me she thinks the coward behind this underestimates the good people of Dumbarton who have supported Gurpreet and his family since they moved here more than 20 years ago.
Gurpreet lives here with his extended family in Oxhill and his children go to St.Michael’ Primary School in Cardross Road. He is a lawyer who has recently been involved in a campaign to free his brother who is in prison in India.
He has appreciated the support from his community and he now wants to give something back.
Jackie has hit out at “cowards attempting to stir up racial hatred” a and says the far-right leaflet delivered to her house claimed that white Britons will be a minority in the UK by 2060.
It goes on to make preposterous claims about the impact of immigration on the United Kingdom, claiming that it is the cause of traffic on the roads, busy public transport and health delays – and calls on “like minded patriotic people to help make a difference”.
“The fact this was handed out in Dumbarton shocked me. I’ve always thought we were a very welcoming and inclusive community. I still believe that to be the case,” the MSP said.
She added: “Somebody is circulating this leaflet in Dumbarton. I’ve never seen anything like it before in this area. Somebody is trying to stir up racial hatred.
“They are a coward because they won’t put their name to it. They won’t debate the issues. They just sneak leaflets through people’s doors proclaiming racist views.
“It must be terrible for anyone from a different background who has come to this country to think that there are some people who do not welcome them.
“The overwhelming majority of the community will welcome people. We will stand up and call-out this form of racism. That’s an important thing for us all to do.”
I can guess which political group is behind this campaign, but their website shows a group of masked activists holding a banner that says Keep Scotland Scottish.
Bill Heaney has reported on government at every level over the past 55 years.
It’s a cruel old world out there. There is none crueller than the world of politics. The occupants of that particular world can’t tell the truth because how long politicians keep their seat on what is often referred to as “the gravy train” depends entirely on you. On your vote.
If you don’t vote for them then they will not be returned to the position they were in before the last election.
Some people would have us believe that things have got worse in politics in recent years and months in our two parliaments and in the 32 town halls in Scotland. I don’t agree.
My experience from working in politics for 55 years in Dumbarton, Edinburgh, London and Brussels is that it has always been mired in sleaze, sex and money scandals, graft and corruption.
There have always been partygate scenarios, although voyeurs watching pornography while sitting on the Commons’ green benches is a new one, even on me.
It’s said that one thing politicians never retire with is a clean pair of hands. Most of them don’t.
The widespread perception that they are only in it for the money is more than half true. A large percentage of them are, and they wring every penny they can get out of it.
Too many politicians who pose as caring, sharing people who would do everything and anything for you are impostors.
They break promises on an ongoing basis to their constituents, whom they promise to help but in the end do nothing to rectify those matters that have been raised with them.
Important issues such as your health and your family’s security. Your health and wealth is important to most of them them, but their own takes precedence. Always.
They can also be cruel to the people they employ which is why at the moment the authorities at Westminster are going to stop them taking on their staff directly, which has led to nepotism on a grand scale employing their wives and children as their office staff.
When you add these additional salaries to their own and then take the skim off the top for themselves they are on to a nice little earner on the side, just for them.
Of course, they are overpaid with large salaries, allowances and expenses and, if they are in Opposition, they are almost entirely powerless.
Being in power is everything to them. Not being in government means they can get nothing done. They are not actually thrown off the gravy train but they are left at the station waiting for the next one to come along.
Are you content then to allow this appalling, insulting situation to continue? To sit on your backside and not bother as much as to go down to the polling station to cast your vote for someone you are content will do a good job for you, your family and your community?
Some say council elections, which is what are taking place on Thursday, are unimportant, but they are not.
Your life, your health and wealth, your employment and the education of your children depend very much on many of the decisions taken in the town and burgh halls.
If you don’t vote then you probably don’t deserve to receive the public services you pay for through your income and council taxes. And your nose, of course.
If the services in West Dunbartonshire remain as poor as they have been over the past five years under the basket case SNP council that we have had to endure for the past five years of town hall mismanagement and poor decision making then take a long, hard look in the mirror.
If you are one of the few people who still read the Lennox Herald you will have seen their front page piece which reports that the leaders of the two main parties, the SNP and Labour, have fallen out and are accusing each other of lying and obfuscation.
In an election? Never! Which proves these guys think you are stupid and that they want you to believe them.
Jonathan McColl makes Boris Johnston look like an honourable man and Martin Rooney. Well, Martin’s just Martin.
I am afraid it’s down to you now to vote. You can’t say you haven’t been given the opportunity to change things here.
Get out to the polls. Cast your vote. It is rightly yours. Remember, this is your political moment in the sun. On Thursday, May 5, you can help decide who runs West Dunbartonshire Council, which councillors will make the much-needed changes we require to return the pride residents once had in West Dunbartonshire.
You can decide whether you thought it was a good thing for our council to pay out of our pockets £6 million to an energy company to reclaim the contaminated land at Bowling for an industrial site; you can decide whether it was a good idea to close the small community old folks’ homes and build a big one at out of the way Crosslet; You can decide whether in the midst of the Cost of Living crisis and energy cost hikes it’s good thinking to threaten and possibly pursue through the courts poor families for school dinner money they could not afford to pay.
Most people want to see change in Dumbarton. Same old, same old just won’t do. It’s time to sit up and take a real interest in our towns and the future of our deprived community.