Statement on Ethichal Standard’s Commisioners findings 

Statement on Commissioner for Ethical Standards in public life Scotland’s findings regarding complaint lodged by Inverclyde Council’s Chief Executive 

In February of this year, in the run upto the 2017 Council elections, the Chief Executive submitted a complaint to the above body regarding alleged breaches he believed I had made of the Councillor’s code of conduct. 
The maximum sanctions in the run upto the May Council elections could’ve been suspension as a councillor. 
Documentation released during the investigation highlighted that this complaint originally generated from a complaint the Leader Inverclyde Council of the Council raised about me regarding criticism I had made of the Council’s administration. 
The complaint centred on the following: 
* Public comment I made criticising the Labour administration of Inverclyde Council 

* Showing disrespect to the Chief Executive and Chief Solicitor of the Council in the aftermath of the above comment when they demanded I retract the comment and apologise to the local Labour Party 

* Publicly criticising council officials
The above complaint received widespread press coverage and attracted a social media campaign by opponents questioning my suitability and that of my parties regarding whether we were fit for office leading upto the Council Elections of May.
At the time the complaint was raised I stated that I believed I had no case to answer. I also believed that ultimately this was a waste of public funds that did nothing but damage the reputation of our council and that of Local Government in general, an area I care so passionately about. 
I would like to thank the Commissioner for Ethical standards for the time that he was duty bound to invest in the investigation.
I welcome his findings that on every single allegation of a breach of standards that he has deemed that I have no case to answer for.
I particularly welcome his findings that it is not appropriate to deem a critical reference of the actions of a council’s administration as a breach of standards.
Furthermore I welcome his statement that as a councillor I am entitled to ask questions of senior council officials and seek explanations from them where I believe their actions are inconsistent dependant upon which political group they involve. 
From the beginning of this investigation I was clear that I was not guilty of any wrong doing and that since I was elected I have ensured that my actions as an elected representative shall always be conducted in a transparent manner. 
Undoubtedly, questions will be asked again by members of the public about the motivations of this complaint at a time immediately before a Council election. 
However, I will continue to get on with the job of representing my constituents and scrutinising the council services many of them rely on.
It is now time that as a council we move on from this and together face the challenges that lie ahead.


The age of collaborative working and a cooperative model for local politics 

THE recent general election was a bittersweet experience for SNP members, activists and supporters.
On a personal note, as a local government ‘Young Turk’, it was the second such feeling in the space of a month having been re-elected in Gourock but having failed to secure enough seats for the SNP to implement the type of changes we want for Inverclyde.
As the SNP’s Inverclyde Council group leader, I apologise to those that had hoped for a better result. To those that didn’t give us your vote, I will keep working hard to try and earn your trust in the future.
We respect the Labour party’s decision to form a minority run council, but we rightly express our disappointment that they have done so on the back of Tory support, appointing Tory councillor David Wilson as part of the deal.

At council leader Stephen McCabe’s request, I have provided the Labour party with a copy of the SNP’s manifesto ‘Ambitious for Inverclyde’.
I am hopeful that the Labour group on the council will take the summer holidays to reflect upon what we can achieve together and what the SNP want to deliver: free school meals for primary school children; investment in infrastructure; helping to build hundreds of affordable homes; protecting care of the elderly and ensuring that council tax stays fiscally responsible – but financially affordable – to you.
I hope they come to the conclusion that working in partnership together to deliver these policies will lead to a better Inverclyde than carrying on as a minority on the back of Tory support.
Support from a party responsible for many of the austerity policies that have caused real pain in Inverclyde. The reason that surely many of us put ourselves forward for our communities?
However the legacy of the snap general election of June 8 has naturally opened up discussion on ‘what next?’ Will there be another election because the result of this one has resulted in such utter chaos?
People keep telling me that they are sick to the back teeth of politics, and perhaps they are right. Who would have thought that not only would we be governed by a party the country didn’t vote for (Conservative) but on the back of a deal with the DUP of Northern Ireland, a party we can’t vote for.
I don’t have any confidence in a government that relies on a deal with the only political party that opposed the Good Friday Agreement. A deal that will see Scotland get nothing.

All politics is, of course, local. If Scotland received the Barnett formula increases that the SNP, the Labour party and even the Conservative Secretary of State for Scotland believe we are entitled to, this would work out at over £20 million a year of extra cash to Inverclyde.
Instead of the council having to consult on which area should be cut next we would be consulting on where best to invest next.
Politics is all about priorities, it is clear that holding onto power through a shady deal with the DUP is more important to the UK Government than delivering for Inverclyde and Scotland.

Finally, can I thank all of the area’s teaching and school staff and wish them a well-earned break. To parents, guardians and pupils I wish you a good summer holiday.
I know that this break can be a difficult time for some families, so please remember that the council will be running seven holiday lunch clubs through July.
These are designed for families, will have a range of activities and will provide a healthy lunch. 

More info here:

SNP offer to Labour: A coalition for Inverclyde 

SNP Labour Coalition: Inverclyde offer 
” Last night on behalf of the Inverclyde SNP Group I made a formal offer to the Labour Party to enter into coalition in Inverclyde. 
The results of the election mean that nobody has overall control and neither Labour or the SNP have a sizeable minority either on the Council.
The council’s 4 independent councillors have been clear and principled that they wish to remain independent, we respect that they believe that was the mandate they were elected on.
A Labour minority of 8 out of 22 councillors or indeed an SNP minority of 7 out of 22 councillors would not create a stable administration to provide the political leadership our area needs. 
Therefore after positive discussions with the Local Labour group I have taken up their invite to make a formal proposal to them to form a coalition. I hope the Labour Party take the opportunity to work in partnership with us to improve Inverclyde and stop the Tories getting control of Inverclyde’s council services. ” 
• The coalition offer would result in Labour taking up the position of the areas provost and the SNP replacing the Tories as Depute Provost with an SNP councillor being appointed to the role. 
• A potential coalition would also see a new co-leader being appointed with Cllr Stephen McCabe and Cllr Chris McEleny stepping down from leadership positions to allow a new gender balanced leadership team. It is believed this could allow both groups to progress past any political impasse. 
• The above key appointments would be made at Thursday’s Full council meeting as well as statutory positions, with appointments to committees deferred to a future date whilst both sides formalise an agreement.

Statement on forming and administration for Inverclyde 

Ambitious for Inverclyde – Statement on seeking to form an administration for Inverclyde 
Tonight I have written to Independent councillors and the local Labour Party inviting them to work in partnership to form a new administration for Inverclyde. 
The SNP group are alarmed that the Tories are on the verge of coming to power in Inverclyde as part of a deal to prop up the Labour Party. 
This cannot be allowed, the Tories are the party of the bedroom tax, the rape clause, they’re the party that impose the austerity that we spend every day in the council mitigating against. 
The Labour Party must not do a deal with the Tories to retain control of the council. 
We recognise that no party has a mandate to rule the council by themselves. Most of the electorate voted SNP, the Labour Party gained one more seat than the SNP and independent candidates received support across Inverclyde. 
Inverclyde rejected the Tories overwhelmingly. 
It’s time for change, not just change in political makeup but change in the culture of local politics. 
We will work with Labour Councillors and independent councillors to get the best deal for the people of Inverclyde and stop the Tories getting any influence over our council services. This partnership will be based on 2 key principles: 
• agreeing a program of government for the next five years and; 
• appointing to key leadership positions people based on who is best for the job and not based on what political party they belong to.
I look forward to their responses. 

SNP Depute Candidate – Scotrail should be brought back into public ownership

An SNP Depute Leadership candidate has called for Scotrail to be taken back into public ownership. SNP Council Group Leader Chris McEleny made the statement ahead of speaking today at the inaugural meeting of a new internal group of the party – SNP Socialists. 

The new group aims to help promote the aims of socialism, something McEleny – who has been dubbed ‘the socialist candidiate’ – has been telling party members he will champion at the heart of the SNP.
Commenting Cllr Chris McEleny said:
‘ During the Depute Leadership contest to date I have been signalling out to members that I believe a vote for me will see Local Government strengthened and that I will be a louder voice for the grassroots movement of our party. It is my belief in socialism that drives me in politics and many people have asked just what will that mean if I am elected as Depute Leader.
‘ There can be no doubt, if people vote for me because they too share my vision of Stronger Local Government, more strength to party members and a louder socialist voice in Scotland, they are giving me a clear mandate to progress new policy ideas in these areas.
‘For a party which has grown from 24,000 members to over 120,000 members it is clear that we must ensure that the historic policy positions of the SNP reflect the hopes and aspirations of party members, supporters and the country of today.
‘ Next month I will be publishing my manifesto for Leadership, that is why today I am highlighting that issues such as bringing Scotrail into public ownership are policy issues that should be part of this debate.
‘There was no choice to not hand the contract out at the time it was awarded because we didn’t have the power to re-nationalise the service, but our parliament now has that power.
‘Promises were made about a better deal for staff and passengers but I think it is fair to say that workers who have been forced into industrial action have proven this simply hasn’t been the case. In actual fact the better deal is being delivered to the people of the Netherlands who are benefitting from the profit our already expensive railways are generating which is free to be spent on their public services.
‘By bringing our railways back into public ownership we send out a clear message of our intent to do things differently in Scotland so that we can become one of the fairest most progressive countries in the world with public services to be proud of.”

Chris McEleny – Why I think I should be the next Depute Leader of the SNP

Please allow me to introduce myself to you and explain why I think I’m the right person to be the next Depute leader of the SNP and advance the cause of Scottish independence. 

In our party of over 100,000 members we are certainly not short of talent. From Holyrood to Westminster our parliamentarians are proving they are stronger for Scotland. From councillors in council chambers to activists on the streets we are standing up for communities across Scotland.
We should celebrate this breadth of talent: harness it and use it for the betterment of our party and our country.
Some believed that there should be no contest in our appointment of a new Depute Leader, but I believe that we do ourselves, the SNP and Scotland a great disservice if we make an appointment without that person earning a single vote.
For that reason, I am standing for the position.
I may not come from the usual background, and I certainly don’t underestimate the enormity of the task in standing against seasoned and highly respected political heavyweights.
However, as a local councillor, a committed trade unionist and a young Scot I look forward to putting my values at the heart of my campaign for Depute Leader.
I believe in Strong Local Government. Local councils are at the frontier of delivering the SNP policies that make a difference to people’s lives each day. It has been an honour leading the SNP at a council level. As a Councillor I am in a unique position to build a better relationship between the grassroots of our party and the various strands of local and national government. 
Since the referendum our party has increased at an amazing level. We are the party of Scotland. This is the right time to look at our stance on policies that we have had since before our massive growth to make sure we truly represent the hopes and aspirations of our members. 
I am a socialist. I believe in an independent Scottish republic. If elected as Depute Leader I would use this mandate to further establish the SNP as a left wing party in Scotland. 
A contest in which our members can choose who the best person is to work alongside Nicola Sturgeon can only be a good thing, re-galvanising the party and building upon the Yes movement to work towards a better Scotland.

Inverclyde Council CEO post – The story behind the story 

Inverclyde CEO Appointment 
There has been a lot of press about this appointment, or lack of appointment. The two candidates are now public knowledge so I have no hesitation in saying that they were both first class candidates. Each of them would’ve brought different strengths to the role as CEO of Inverclyde Council, each of them would’ve been a good appointment and would have been a first class CEO for Inverclyde.
Of course I have stated that perhaps our own rules need looked at as due to council policy we have left ourselves in the position of not having a CEO in place to replace the outgoing CEO despite both candidates being more than capable of carrying out the role. 
However to me it is the story behind the story that is perhaps more important here. The day before both candidates were interviewed it was reported in the national and local press who they were. One of the candidates reported in a less than positive manner. 
For me there was only one reason this happened, to discredit a candidate to the benefit of another. However I think many of my councillor colleagues saw through this and instead made a decision on the day based on the merits of the candidates.
Of course The Council failed to appoint a candidate. National and local press has now published what they believe were the secret ballot results. Only 3 people were in the room who weren’t councillors and I hold their integrity at the highest possible level. 
So again why did the results come out? Results showing who voted for an internal candidate – reported as every Labour Councillor – and who voted for the external candidate. 
I think it is clear what has happened here. It has been put to me by many independent bystanders looking in from outside the council that it looks very much like the Inverclyde Labour group have first of all attempted to discredit one candidate in favour of the other and then made the results public to keep favour with the unsuccessful candidate with complete disrespect to both candidates in terms of their entitlement to go through an interview process with the privacy every applicant for a job deserves. I truly hope this is not the case as if it is then it is a sad day for local democracy. However I have asked the council’s monitoring officer to investigate this and take the action he must take.