Happy New Year

As new year approaches many will reflect on 2015. 
Many would think that the highlight of the year was electing 56 SNP MPs to fight Scotland’s corner. Sadly though we ended up with a Tory Government despite the majority of us not voting for one. 
The previous year we warned of what continued Westminster governance would bring – more austerity, more attacks on workers rights, more cuts. However from the darkness Inverclyde was responsible for my highlight of the year. In the face of Europe’s greatest humanitarian crisis in decades we stood up against the political opposition and were among the first areas in Britain to give a new home to refugees from the war torn Syrian conflict. 
Next year again we will be faced with unprecedented challenges to our public services in Inverclyde. We must remember that our public services exist so that everyone in society can benefit from them regardless of wealth. We must be prepared to fight to ensure they are protected for the people that need them now and for the generations to come. Some will argue that services must go however our collective strength will prevail.
2015 was also a year that as individuals we will have had many personal triumphs, disappointments, moments of joy and times of sadness. 
Many of these events we can have no control over. 
However as you consider what your annual New Years resolutions will be remember the things in your life you do have influence over: 
Forgiveness and reconciliation. For there can be no better resolution than to offer these to those in our lives that need them. 
I wish you a happy new year. 
Cllr Christopher McEleny 

Leader of The SNP

Inverclyde Council


Refugee Crisis – Inverclyde should offer support 

A letter to the Leader of Inverclyde Council 

You will be aware of the current refugee crisis in Europe. This is in my opinion the biggest crisis Europe has faced in a generation and we cannot just sit by and watch the horrific scenes unfold if we have the power to do good no matter what scale that is on. 

You may also be aware of the announcement at First Minister’s Questions that Nicola Sturgeon will tomorrow (Friday) host a round table with organisations including the Scottish Refugee Council to discuss what further action the Scottish Government can take to support those refugees seeking safety in Europe.

You no doubt as I have, will have been contacted by many concerned constituents who desire that we as a council do whatever is within our means of possibility to support those in need. I believe that as a council that as Leader of our Council should contact the Scottish Government to inform them that we are happy to assist if there are any opportunities for us to do so. Of course we could bring a motion to the council – which would take weeks – and debate the situation. However I feel that anyone who can help, regardless of how much, irrelevant of how far away we are, must do so now. 

Once contact has been made with the Scottish Government they will hopefully be in a position to coordinate any support people in Inverclyde wish to make and any assistance we as a council can give. We simply cannot let this situation continue. 

I look forward to your response. 

Yours Sincerely 

Cllr Christopher McEleny 

SNP Group Leader 

Inverclyde Council 


Unite the Union Political fund. Time to opt out. 

Unite the Union political fund: 

For nearly 2 years now I have been pressing Unite to allow members the opportunity to contribute to our unions political fund but have the option to have none of our money given to the Scottish Labour Party. 

Today Labour announce they will support the Tory welfare cuts and cuts to child tax credits. This is a party that no trade unionist can support. 

Therefore time is now up for Unite. As they have failed to allow members to contribute to a campaigning political fund without having to contribute to a Labour Party who stand against our trade union values the union have forced us into this position. 

I will be opting out the political fund tomorrow. See below details if you wish to do so to.

Calmac Ferries statement 

My opinion on the ongoing Calmac Ferries potential privatisation and industrial reaction……written on my phone so apologies for the grammar, it’s normally good 👀

SNP Council leader calls meeting of Clyde Ferry Users Group to discuss ongoing Calmac job concerns 

The Leader of the SNP in Inverclyde and chair of the Clyde Ferry users group has today called a meeting of the group to discuss ongoing concerns over locally based CalMac ferries. 
Cllr Christopher McEleny who’s Gourock constituency is home to the Headquarters of the company will chair a meeting of the group in July. The local SNP Leader who has  spoken to staff who are impacted by industrial action and the ongoing tendering process of the CHFS ( Clyde and Hebrides Ferry service) also stated that workers terms and conditions must be protected regardless of the outcome. 
Commenting Cllr McEleny said: 
” there are 2 issues at hand. Firstly there must be the recognition that Cal Mac staff have an absolute right to take strike action over concerns that their terms and conditions will be eroded with a potential privatisation of the contract. It might be easy for people to look in from the outside and not understand the reasons behind the action as staff have better terms and conditions than they do. However we must reject this view. I have an unwavering view that terms & conditions should never be eroded in the workplace and only when we all support the end to this race to the bottom can we push for everyone’s working standards to be raised. Therefore I do welcome the transport minister Derek Mackay’s pledge that the Scottish Government will ensure that pensions of the CHFS workforce are protected. ” 
The Local SNP leader added that the current tendering process should be used as an opportunity but also criticised EU laws that required the process. Commenting McEleny said: 
” this process must be used to improve and strengthen the working conditions of all working on the Clyde and Hebrides ferry service. Furthermore every effort should be made to ensure that the workforce is at the forefront of decision making while this process is ongoing. 
” However the EU laws that have necessitated the current tendering process are completely flawed and don’t take into account the vital lifeline services that CalMac who are based here in Inverclyde carry out for communities that depend upon them across the Clyde and Hebrides routes. I will be making representations to my SNP MEP colleagues to campaign at the heart of Europe for a rethink of this regressive procurement policy which is damaging to both the workforce based here in Inverclyde and the communities across Scotland that rely on such services to survive. ” 
Finally Cllr McEleny who chairs the important Clyde Ferry Users Group spoke of the role the group has to play in highlighting concerns. Cllr McEleny added: 
” The second aspect of this situation is the threat of privatisation itself. I have requested a meeting of the Clyde ferry users group so that we can scrutinise the impact the potential privatisation will have on the service which is to be provided. This meeting will allow all relevant stake holders to get around the table to ensure the CHFS is fit for purpose.”

Holyrood 2016 – Greenock & Inverclyde 

Holyrood 2016 – Greenock & Inverclyde 

Just a short message to confirm I am not seeking the nomination of SNP members to be the candidate in the above constituency. 
It would of course be a great honour to represent the area I live in at our countries parliament and I thank everyone who has approached me to ask me to consider it. I am sure there will be plenty of like minded SNP MSPs elected in constituencies across Scotland next year to help progress our shared belief in a progressive politics of social justice, fairness and equality for all. 
Good luck to all candidates that emerge and I look forward to a good debate amongst party members. 

Zero Hours contracts – a short practical solution to stop exploitation 

Zero hours contracts are very much in the centre of the current general election campaign. The very thought of a zero hours contract is now something society frowns upon, they are very much now a taboo. However to be balanced it’s worth noting that zero hours contracts were an integral part of change initiatives across the country in the private sector since 2008. 

Of course the fact that people on a zero hours contract are less likely to be trade union members than those on “normal” permanent employment contracts is an arguement for another day. There is though a clear link between change iniatives implementing zero hours contracts in workplaces to weaken collective bargaining agreements. 

From the employers point of view there are clear benefits – note this is not an endorsement. An employer can have an employee work hours that suit the business and this means when there is a lack of demand on workload the employer can simply reduce the employees hours. This example is where exploitation does occur and legislation is required. 

From the employees point of view should there be a blanket ban on “low hour” contracts if they actually suit the employee? Students, people working second jobs in bars etc may be happy with an agreement to only work a minimal amount of hours in a week. An absolute real example is your local social club that may have a function one week and need an extra member of staff but the next week there’s not a requirement. 

The key to the debate is indeed the term exploitative. By legislating to prevent exploitation we can be left with flexible working that suits both an employer and the employee. 

How do we do that of course is the vagueness around the current debate. It’s the reason we only hear sound bites and no actual ideas.

It’s a debate not too dissimilar to the treatment temporary workers endured before tougher regulation was brought in and in fact many still have to put up with today.

I believe the answer lies by looking at the EU working time regulations and legislation on temporary workers. The solution is already there. 

If I use my own example I can better explain the solution. Believe it or not but once upon a time I was young and worked pushing trollies for a supermarket chain sadly no longer with us. I was on a 4 hour contract but that is basically as good as a zero hour contract. As you would expect I would normally work 16 to 24 hours a week. However during exams I could say I only wanted to work 4 hours that week. That suited me but of course it didn’t pay as much. Also despite working an average of 16-24 hours a week annual leave and sick absence would be calculated on me only working 4 hours a week. Therefore by looking to the working time regulations if we could put in place protection for employees that if they were on leave their pay entitlement should be based on the average of hours worked over a 16 week period. Therefore no picking up 20 hours of pay every week but getting none when you take a weeks leave if you are on a zero hours contract.

Furthermore protection needs to be put in place to ensure zero hours contracts are not bypassing laws on temporary workers. I believe that if an employee works a consistent number of hours every week over a 16 week period then they should be entitled to a contract that reflects how many hours they work. Without this protection of course the employer wouldn’t need to pay annual leave and more than likely avoids redundancy payments employees could potentially be entitled to.

However it must be accepted that flexibly is a requirement of employers will want in certain situations. To mandate that employers must offer a certain fixed minimum hourly contract is a one size fits all approach that simply won’t fit. So I think I’ve provided a simple solution that will protect employees – which I’m sure many have already thought of – but there still needs to be a lot of work put into how the small business sector can sustain this. 

Full text of Scottish Catholic Bishop’s letter urging Scots to vote

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

On the Seventh of May the people of Scotland will vote in what may be the most unpredictable General Election in generations. While each of us alone will decide whom to vote for, the teachings of the Church can offer us a guide as we attempt to reach an informed judgement that advances the common good. 

Casting a vote is both a civic duty and a Christian moral obligation. The huge turnout at last year’s referendum was an exemplary exercise in peaceful and participatory democracy and showed how much the Scottish people care about the future of our country and its wellbeing.  It was also a reminder of the power that every citizen has and the obligation upon us to use our vote.

For centuries Christian values underpinned our laws and customs but for Christians today the political complexion of Parliament is secondary to the values and beliefs of those who sit in it. The candidates we send to Parliament go there as our representatives. The values they hold will shape their understanding of what is good for our country.  

Our Parliamentarians must discern priorities in many ethical and moral matters from Welfare to Defence, not to mention our relationship with Europe. Before casting our vote, we have a duty to inform ourselves of the moral values of our candidates.  We should think and pray before we choose, considering especially the following points:

1. Life: The dignity and value of every human being should be at the heart of politics.  The sanctity of human life, protected from its beginning to its natural end, is not a single issue.  It is the fundamental issue. It demands that we proclaim the Gospel of Life in all places and at all times, for if human life is not sacrosanct then no other human right makes any sense at all. Laws which permit abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are profoundly unjust.  We do not want to accept the continued existence in our society of such fundamental violations of human rights and we commit ourselves to work peacefully and tirelessly to oppose and to change them.  

2. The Family: Common sense and much research tell us that children do best when they are raised by a mum and dad who are married to each other.  This ideal is not always possible in reality and we applaud and support families who achieve remarkable things in the most difficult of circumstances. In recent years, both the UK and Scottish Parliaments have enacted legislation re-defining marriage. Together with others we argued that marriage is a union uniquely of a man and a woman and feared that legislation allowing for same sex marriage represented an unprecedented threat to the public understanding of marriage and the family. Once again we should encourage our politicians to defend the institution of marriage and the family as the basic unit of society on which so much depends. Pope Francis has also reminded governments not to require poor countries to introduce laws redefining marriage before they can get financial aid, because this is unjust and unfair.

3. The Economy:  The first consideration for any economic policy should be the dignity of the person, not the pursuit of profit. We urge candidates to endorse the living wage campaign, giving people the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. In these turbulent financial times Pope Francis has been a prophetic voice, warning that economies stripped of ethics trample human dignity. “Unbridled capitalism,” he says, “has given us the logic of profit at any cost, (and) of exploitation without looking at the person.” The existence of so many food banks in our country offers a depressing vindication of the Pope’s warning.

4. Human Freedom: Across the globe, the right to religious freedom and freedom of worship are under threat.  In some countries, Christians are put to death simply for professing faith in Jesus Christ. In this country, an intolerant form of secularism wants to remove religion from the public square, despite recognition in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. True human dignity involves the freedom to assemble, to worship and to manifest our beliefs openly.  Religious liberty must be non-negotiable in a free society and we should make sure our candidates support it.

5. Peace.  Successive UK Governments have made plans to replace and upgrade our nuclear weapons capacity.  This is despite the considerable costs involved and in the face of persistent moral objections, to say nothing of international agreements we have entered into which commit us to work against the proliferation of such weapons.  While recognising each country’s right to defend itself, the existence of nuclear weapons, and their possible proliferation, continue to represent a grave threat to the human family. Pope Francis reminds us that peace is better fostered by greater equality – not least by fairness towards the poor, refugees and migrants – rather than by increased spending on arms.

6. Evangelisation: The Gospel compels us as a Church and as individual Catholics to engage actively in the world and convert human affairs. Voting in the election is the least a committed Christian can do.  Our politicians enter public service with good hearts and give of their best to build up our lives and our country.  Sadly, however, on serious issues, some politicians who profess a Catholic faith remain silent – or even surrender – in the face of grave ethical injustice.  As Catholics, we can never separate how we act from what we believe without undermining what we believe and damaging who we are. The time has come for a new generation of Catholics to join political parties and to dedicate ourselves to political service in a way that remains faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, laying the foundations for a new Civilization of Love that serves the common good of all, especially the most vulnerable in our society.  


As we prepare to cast our votes, the Bishops invite all of us to pray for our country, our Parliamentary candidates and our fellow citizens.  With our votes we help set the direction of our society for years to come and it is right that we ask for divine assistance that we may be guided in our choices and that our nation may flourish.

The Bishops’ Conference of Scotland,

The Second Sunday of Easter, 2015.

+ Philip Tartaglia, President, Archbishop of Glasgow

+ Joseph Toal, Vice-President, Bishop of Motherwell

+ Hugh Gilbert, Episcopal Secretary, Bishop of Aberdeen

+ Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St.Andrews and Edinburgh

+ Stephen Robson, Bishop of Dunkeld

+ John Keenan, Bishop of Paisley

+ William Nolan, Bishop of Galloway

V.Rev.Mgr James MacNeil, Diocesan Administrator, Argyll and the Isles