The Paisley Pattern

If you have a memory greater than a gnat – unlike the Better Together propagandists at the Daily Record – you’d have a belly laugh this morning at the paper’s political correspondent berating the SNP over Braziergate. (Remember? Three Renfrewshire SNP councillors burning a copy of the Smith Commission in a bin).


David Clegg was tweeting – and re-tweeting proudly – a piece saying that the reinstatement of the councillors after their suspension was ‘the SNP’s Militant Tendency moment.’ In Paisley!? If you had been around in the 80s when Davie Clegg was in short breeks, you’d know that Renfrewshire was the stamping ground of one Hugh Henry, now Labour MSP, occasional minister and former self-declared member of Militant Tendency.

That’s right, THE Militant Tendency – the one that was based on the Revolutionary Socialist League, a Trotskyist group working within the Labour Party through the tactic of entryism. Better to break the law than break the poor, they used to chant. The group was proscribed (not just suspended like the Nat cooncillors) and members expelled. Hugh declared once: ‘The ideas of Marxism are becoming more relevant to people in the Labour Party. Marxism is now firmly on the political agenda.’ Better still – and aptly for today’s decrepit Labour Party – he said: ‘I want to counteract the impression that it is the Left who are infiltrating the party. I would argue that the real infiltrators in the Labour Party were the academics and intellectuals who used the Labour Party as a vehicle for their political ambitions.’


Could he mean Paisley buddy Douglas Alexander?

Now, I genuinely like Hugh. I’ve known him a long time and backed him to be Presiding Officer before Tricia Marwick because he’d have done a good job and made sure the SNP didn’t dominate all of Holyrood. He made a conversion to Labour and good luck to him. But you can’t hide your past and frankly I would think he’s quietly furious that the Labour-friendly Record made the Militant reference which to anyone who wasn’t in school at the time is known as an embarrassing period for the party.

During his leadership (of Renfrewshire Council), the council was divided by furious rows over allegations of sleaze and cronyism which led to police being called to the council headquarters to break up the confrontations, reports the Scotsman. I was at one of those meetings and a real Tammany Hall effort it was with threats and chants and a total collapse of order. As local SNP Councilor Colin Campbell said when Hugh emerged in Jack McConnell’s ministerial team: ‘He was Leader of the Labour Group on Renfrew Council at a time when allegations were made about funds at Renfrewshire Unemployed Workers Centre. He was a leading light in the party during the scandal that beset Ferguslie Community Business and he was a central player in the party when the now disgraced Tommy Graham was endorsed as a candidate. Jack McConnell has to explain how it is that a man who was so immersed in the cronyism and sleaze of the Renfrew Labour Party is fit to be a minister in the Scottish executive.’ Now that’s what I call Militant Tendency…



Paisley of course is a place where you couldn’t have a better contrast between the ersatz Labour Party of today and its roots in industrial Scotland with the campaigning of the weavers who played a key part in the Insurrection of 1820. From the 80’s onwards Paisley became a graveyard of credibility for the party. The list of Labour failures makes grim reading for a place once represented by Norman Buchan.

For the Record’s education, let’s remember the mighty Tommy Graham.


Following the suicide of his parliamentary colleague Gordon McMaster in July 1997, a long investigation was launched, since in his suicide note McMaster had accused Graham of smearing him that he had a homosexual affair with a 17-year-old employee of Graham’s. In September 1998, Graham was expelled from the Labour Party for bringing the party into disrepute, despite his categorical denials of any wrongdoing. He became an independent and described himself as a Scottish Labour MP. For a comprehensive list of dodgy Labour Party behaviour try this from the Independent in 1997. A Very Nasty Smell in Labour’s Backyard.

In there is a story I covered myself in Paisley when Jack McConnell was general secretary. The paper reports: ‘Mr McConnell thought he had sorted out Paisley in 1995 when three constituency parties – the two Paisleys and Renfrewshire West, represented by Tommy Graham, were suspended following irregularities in membership records. There were claims of pensioners being enlisted without their knowledge and subscriptions paid for 44 trade union members with a single cheque. The object, according to local activists, was to influence selection ballots.’

It was at this time I discovered that the editor of the local paper and the chief reporter were both members of the local party and yet were supposed to be investigating it. I haven’t even touched on Irene Adams and her alleged involvement or indeed her expenses. The Sunday Post reported in November 2014 that Adams had claimed £53,000 of expenses during a period when she did not speak in debate or submit any written questions.

There’s a nice quote from the Herald around the time of the McMaster/Graham affair. ‘Scottish politics should be captivated by the devolution debate, not mired in an urban Labour enmity which threatens to blow out of the water all the work done to produce an electoral system guaranteeing that the worst kind of old-style Labour cronyism did not dominate the Scottish parliament.’

The Daily Record really should have the nous to take more care if doesn’t want to damage further its political bedfellows. The SNP Three, to be blunt, behaved like a bunch of fannies. They were suspended, did their time, and have returned not via Nicola Sturgeon, but via the votes of local members. If you apply the Record’s logic, they should never return and Hugh Henry should be thrown out of parliament. Brilliant…

But the Record can’t help itself. Instead of attacking the councillors, the Record also conflates it with the rise in SNP membership and the odd loony to construct a crisis for the leadership. (Yeah, Nicola’s in real trouble, isn’t she?) I think you’ll find Militant Tendency – the real one – and the corrupt Paisley Labour Party were what real crises are made of and I bet Record readers know that a lot better than the hacks clearly do.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

20 thoughts on “The Paisley Pattern

  1. majormacbloodnok

    Correct me if I’m wrong (someone) but from the photos I saw, Brian Lawson et al., didn’t even burn the Smith Commission Report itself, but some pieces of A3 paper with the words “Smith Commission Report” printed on them.

    I wonder when the Record or the Labour party will take to task all those (former) members publicly burning their Labour Party membership cards…

  2. Cracking read Derek.

    Decades of rot has finally come home to roost, Labour are THE toxic party. Filth from top to bottom. Scotland has finally come to terms with this kind of political party and Labour will die .

    Thank goodness and good riddence.

    Like many i new very little of these goings on but thanks to you and other brilliant blogs we are more aware than ever. A new Scottish Enlightenment. 🙂

    I really can’t wait till May just to see the faces of those corrupt phannies as they walk off to sign on. Sanctions anyone ??

    Brilliant stuff.

  3. Karma can be a bugger right enough. 🙂

  4. I didn’t know, but I can’t say I am surprised.

  5. Excellent article Derek. Boy have your forensics caught them out!

  6. Thomas William Dunlop

    Paisley was not called the Wild West for nothing

  7. Paisley, Monklands, Falkirk, Midlothian, Ayrshire, Hamilton, East Kilbride, Glasgow – the Labour list of cronyism and corruption just goes on and on and on and on…

    …but in 50 days time we’ve got a chance to draw a line. Light the pyre for a bonfire of the non-entities.

    • Well said.

      Labour: cronyism and corruption, they’re better together alright – in the Labour party.

      Outside politics, these people are generally known as criminals.

      They just can’t leave the public purse alone without dipping into it.

  8. Yup, that was Renfrew District Council. I remember sitting in the council chambers, awaiting the arrival of the Police, on a number of occasions. Thugs with ties on. Your account doesn’t even scratch the surface.

    If this is the stuff that makes it out to the light, how much do you think was swept under the carpet?

  9. I remember those times very well, Labour are a gang then and now, they think they can get away with anything hence the lying and I suspect the cheating that has gone on before and since.
    Brown envelopes abound in and around Labour’s Councils. I would dearly like to see the drains up, it would be an interesting experience for them and us.

  10. Steve Asaneilean

    Anyone with a bit of time on their hands should dig out and read Prof. Robert Black’s 1990 report on the Monklands shenanigans – or what then local MP and Labour Party leader called a local issue.

    Plus ça change. ..

  11. Its a merrygoround with Labour cronyism, high saleried people getting big payoffs from one Labour Council, then being employed by another Labour council,again on high saleries + pensions. It should be investigated by Scottish Gov .

    Good piece Derek I hope its shared all over the Internet.

  12. clashcityrocker

    Ah….memories. I remember sitting in a Renfrewshire Council Planning Committee with Hugh Henry and Jim Mitchell (he of the scarf) leading their respective sides in full verbal (and minor physical) battle. The boys in blue were called (not for the first time), and I thought to myself that this was not exactly a good advert for democracy. Same thought applies to SLAB today.

  13. Yes, I remember something about this way back,when I was working my socks off, helping my kids thro’ Uni etc. I think maybe there might have been some article in the Herald about it. Anyway, I simply voted SNP then and hoped for the day.

    And then – an SNP minority government – Alex Salmond – a disastrous Labour government led by Blair sand then Brown – a majority SNP government – a referendum!
    Prospect of a large number of SNP MPs at Westminster – and consternation at Westminster that England might be required to pay attention to the other nations of the UK.

    Alas, Douglas Alexander says, because of the internet it is so difficult ( to deceive the electorate) nowadays.

    Many thanks Derek for the reminder of the dark political place Scotland was in just but a few years ago.

  14. I remember that incident. It was the beginning of a journey were I went from voting labour out of habit, because they weren’t Tory to questioning who it was I was enabling. Whenever I see garbage like this, I start trawling about the news on line to see what if anything came out that they’re trying to draw attention away from. The prime suspect would be a yougov poll that shows labour has lost and not even the SNP could pull milibands nuts from the fire.

  15. An eye opener to us in the east Derek, but not really surprising,
    Wish the National would print it, but it may be too much for them to criticise another Scottish daily,(are these reporters all palsy-walsy with each other?.).

  16. Two points.

    Firstly, it was four Councillors that were involved in the political stunt gone wrong.

    Secondly, remember those stories and that Henry, Paul Mack,et all were never out of the Rotten Boroughs page in Private Eye (as was how wee Dougie got to be Labour’s candidate in that by-election). Funnily enough the Record or the BBC chose to broadcast those stories either.

  17. Steve Asaneilean

    The big elephant in the room for me is this. We allow our local councillors to make decisions to spend millions, tens of millions and hundreds of millions (think Edinburgh trams) on our behalf and using our money. Yet we don’t require them to have a single qualification or minimal level of experience for making such decisions.

    Indeed you can become a multi million pound spending councillor with no qualifications at all.

    Of course the same applies to MSPs and MPs.

    What other walk of life outside politics would tolerate such major decisions being taken by individuals with no relevant qualifications?

  18. What the Daily Record failed to realise is that; when those SNP councillors burned a copy of the Smith Commission Report, one quarter of Scotland was furious, another quarter wondered what all the fuss was about, while the remaining half probably thought it was a good idea.

  19. Two crackers Derek. You need to check these out.

    If you missed Marr this morning, I’d be looking to catch up on Ms Sourby’s performance. 😮

Leave a Reply