Monday, 20 October 2014

Labour just can't stop lying

 Fresh from their ‘success’ in lying to the people of Scotland in order the ‘save’ the British Union and keep the Tories in power at Westminster, the Labour Party is now deploying its lying strategy in the campaign for the North Ayrshire Council by-election in the North Coast Ward (Largs, Fairlie, Skelmorlie and Cumbrae).

The leaflet for Labour candidate Valerie Reid contains a section with the headline, “What has Labour ever done for the North Coast?”, under which are three sub-headings, apparently revealing what Labour has done for the North Coast – “Protected our Marine Station...Affordable Housing...Magnus the Viking”.

So, if we were to believe the Labour Party, it would seem its members have been busy boys and girls, particularly Largs-based Labour councillor Alex Gallagher. 

In relation to how Labour “Protected our Marine Station”, the by-election leaflet states, “When the SNP looked like giving up the campaign, Katy Clark MP brought experts to the table for the council report...and it was Alex Gallagher who raised the need for action at the Council.  This saved much needed jobs.”

Labour saved the Cumbrae Marine Station, then?  Well, actually, no they didn’t.

In fact, the University Marine Biological Station Millport, run by the University of London, closed on October 31st 2013.  The reason the facility closed is because the Tory-Lib Dem UK Government –Labour’s partners in ‘saving’ the British Union – completely withdrew the £400,000 funding previously provided to the University of London to fund operations in Millport.

After intense efforts by the SNP Scottish Government, SNP-controlled North Ayrshire Council and other public agencies, an agreement was made in January 2014 to transfer ownership of the Marine Station to the Field Studies Council.  Now called the Millport Field Centre, in May 2014 a package of £4m was announced to allow a comprehensive programme of development and refurbishment at the facility.  Again, major contributors to this essential funding were the SNP Scottish Government and SNP-controlled North Ayrshire Council.

Next on Labour’s list of what the party has done for the North Coast is “Affordable Housing”.  The election leaflet reads, “Labour Cllr Alex Gallagher initiated the Council policy to buy-back ex-council houses, resulting in dozens of new houses added to the council housing stock for affordable rent in the North Coast.”

So, maybe that claim is true.  Not quite.

Labour did have a hand in initiating a buy-back programme for ex-council homes sold under the Tories’ ‘Right to Buy’ scheme.  However, the initiative was begun by the Labour-Lib Dem Scottish Executive (Government) in 2006.  Alex Gallagher was not elected as a Labour councillor in North Ayrshire until May 2007: on the same day, in fact, that the people of Scotland kicked-out Labour from government and elected the SNP.

The SNP Scottish Government retained the programme allowing councils to buy-back ex-council homes, and continued it when the party was re-elected by a landslide in 2011.

In August 2012, (now reported:

With demand for housing in the local area continuing to rise, North Ayrshire Council’s SNP administration is to invest £1million to buy back some of the housing stock sold by the previous Labour-run authority.

Explaining the initiative, Cllr Anthea Dickson, SNP Cabinet spokesperson for Health and Social Care, said, “Several areas in North Ayrshire have a high demand for affordable housing but a shortfall in the number of suitable houses available.  We are committed to providing affordable homes for our residents and are building 500 new Council houses over the next decade, but while this is a significant investment, we are aware it will not meet the overall demand.”

Cllr Dickson said that by agreeing to purchase former local authority housing, the Council administration was “showing a willingness to explore every possible avenue to tackle this ongoing issue.”

So, the right of councils to buy-back ex housing stock is maintained by the SNP Scottish Government, and the decision of North Ayrshire Council to actually fund such a buy-back was taken by the SNP Cabinet that runs the local authority.

That, of course, leaves just one chance for Labour to tell the truth in its claims about what it has done for the North Coast.  The third claim, under the heading “Magnus the Viking”, says, “Councillor Gallagher was instrumental in rescuing the giant Viking statue from a yard in Kilmarnock and having it placed on the prom where it has become an icon of the town.  Alex also chairs the successful annual Largs Viking Festival.”

There doesn’t seem to be any doubt with that one, then.  The Magnus the Viking statue was apparently abandoned, maybe even rotting in a yard in Kilmarnock and had to be rescued, with the instrumental contribution of Labour councillor Alex Gallagher.

Wait, though, let’s just check what the people behind the Largs Viking Festival were saying in August 2013:

Largs is to have a magnificent giant Viking sculpture as a commemoration of the 750th anniversary of the 1263 battle of Largs.  North Ayrshire Council is presenting the statue to the town as a culmination to the 750th anniversary year of celebration and as a legacy for this special year.

The giant statue is some 16 feet (5 metres) tall and has been constructed of galvanised steel by David Ogilvie Engineering of Kilmarnock. The sculpture is to be called "Magnus" in honour of the first Patron of the Viking Festival, Magnus Magnusson, and the current Patron, Professor Magnus Fladmark.

Directors of Largs Viking Festival visited the factory where the statue is being created by David Ogilvie.

Well, that is a bit different from the version in the Labour election leaflet.  Magnus didn’t have to be “rescued” from a yard, he was actually being lovingly created by David Ogilvie Engineering, and representatives of the Viking Festival actually visited the work while it was ongoing.  

Then there is that other bit about “North Ayrshire Council is presenting the statue to the town”, rather than the Labour version that had Alex Gallagher being instrumental in having Magnus “placed on the prom”.  So it wasn’t a Labour councillor that delivered the iconic statue for Largs, it was SNP-controlled North Ayrshire Council.

Just one more thing, in the same Largs Viking Festival statement about Magnus the Viking from August 2013, the organisation’s  chair, Labour councillor Alex Gallagher, said of SNP-controlled North Ayrshire Council, “We are extremely grateful to the Council for all the financial and in-kind support it has given to the programme of events in Largs this year and in particular for the support that has been shown in preparation for this year’s very special anniversary Largs Viking Festival.”


  1. Rather a list of "Oops" moments, to say the least!

  2. i would really love the SNP to sponsor printing of your blog and then to get this through letter boxes in Largs and its surrounds. Maybe a bit late now. Absolutely hits the mark spot on... I just wish, as we all do, we had a way of delivering this message out to people which didn't involve letterboxes.