Herald reveals SNP covert operations in independence campaign

Yesterday’s edition of the the Sunday Herald blew the cover off a covert SNP operation to boost the 2014 independence vote and destabilise Scottish Labur at the same time.

Ir had occurred to virtually no one to question the authenticity of the Labour for Independence group that had appeared during the ongoing campaign.

The first speaker at the Yes Shetland [devolved powers or independence for Shetland] meeting on which we reported, taking place a week ago when the Scottish Cabinet was in Shetland on its summer tour, was the very vocal Celia Fitzgerald. She was billed as a Labour party member of the Labour for independence group adn one of its office bearers.

The Herald revealed that Ms Fitzgerald has admitted to being a long time SNP activitist, moving in to the Labour Party only a few months ago with the motive of destabilising it over the September 2014 independence referendum. Her intention was to deliver insider agitation against Labour’s support for the Union. She is group Treasurer and organiser of Labour for Independence in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

It is notable that the SNP and the Yes Scotland group seized immediately on the emergence of Labour for Independence as evidence of internal Scottish Labour dissension on the party’s stance on independence.

The reality of this Trojan horse manoeuvre was underpinned last week when The Herald got photographs of SNP councillors from Midlothian holding a big Labour for Independence banner and distributing leaflets for the campaign. It named these men as Councillors Douglas Reid, Owen Thompson, Andrew Coventry and Derek George Rosie.

The leader of the Labour for Independence group, Allan Grogan, told The Herald that no more than 40% of the group’s 80 members are in the Labour party; and that he personally knows of other SNP members handing out Labour for Independence leaflets.

He admitted that Labour for Independence had received financial support from the Yes Scotland campaign; and The Herald claims that Yes Scotland paid for the premises for its first conference in 2012.

This in itself is not necessarily evidence of complicity in the infiltration of another party with malicious intent. It is to be expected that Yes Scotland will support groups campaigning for independence, whatever their political origin.

However, Celia Fitzgerald is well known to and a major supporter of Alex Salmond. It is inconceivable that he does not know what she and many other SNP members have been doing – and that, if he disapproved of it, they would have ceased.

Celia Fitzgerald was once a Labour supporter but joined the SNP in 2004, leaving it, officially, in November 2012 and, The Herald says, immediately joining the Labour Party and Labour for Independence, in which she has quickly risen to being a key official.

She admitted to the The Herald that her political migrations were ‘curious’  before producing a rambling ‘explanation’ for them. This focused on the sort of attack on current Labour philosophy which, even in her situation of being confronted by The Herald,  speaks for the core drive to create dissent from within that party.

For Argyll has learned to be cynical as its default position but it had not occurred to us that the SNP campaign would go so far as engaging in covert operations of this kind. The designs of this trick are to present to the electorate the impression of a much wider support for independence than is the case – and to destabilise the opposition in an unacceptable way.

This is cheap and grubby stuff. Where is there evidence here of any brave new world on the horizon?

Trojan horses may seem like a smart wheeze. They may even achieve short term success. Their outcome, though, is to degrade trust in political life even further, leaving all of uncertain of whether anything is as it seems. From now on we have all to operate on that basis. Who can guess what other tricks are going on – but they will be out there.

The Herald’s revelations, by its Scottish Political Editor, Tom Gordon, indicate that the Independence Lite on offer would simply, in airline terms, be a ‘code share’ journey by the carrier you hoped to avoid, at huge cost and with no return ticket.

The Sunday Herald article is here. Yesterday’s newspaper versio also carried an inset photograph of Alex Salmond with his arm firmly round the shoulder of a laughing Celia Fitzgerald, alongside him.

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50 Responses to Herald reveals SNP covert operations in independence campaign

  1. While I’m not a supporter of independence I can fully understand why there may be a Labour for Independence movement (or Conservative or Lib Dem one for that matter). There will be referendum, fact. What is missing from the current debate from both sides is what each party will do if the vote goes yes or no. I can see there is a party political preference for the outcome and why they might not even want to discuss the possibility of an outcome they don’t want, but as it stands we have no idea what direction SNP might go in if it is a No vote, but more importantly, what Labour, Conservative or Lib Dem will do if it is a Yes vote.
    The independence vote isn’t a vote for SNP. Its a vote for self determination. On the other side, any party could still win an election as they do now.
    Why does it follow that if you voted labour / conservative / lib dem you automatically don’t want independence? Thats no more logical than assuming everyone who voted SNP does.
    SNP members supporting a Labour for Independence position is utterly logical and if Labour were grown up they would accept that within their party there are those who hold to labour principles but also believe independence is a good thing. The two are not mutually exclusive.
    The problem with the whole referendum is that its overtly political and actually it should be nothing at all to do with politics. You either believe in principle its a good thing, or not. Whatever party you might support or regularly vote for is in many ways totally irrelevant. You get that choice whatever the outcome is.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 46 Thumb down 13

    • Jerry you entirely fail to address the issue in the article. No one disputes that people of different political presuasions might support independence. The point here is that the SNP engaged in subterfuge, misrepresenting themselves as being Labour for independence. That is shabby and deserves to be condemned by all, including SNP supporters. How would the latter feel if people were pretending to be SNP members to gain a political advantage ?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 23 Thumb down 45

        • “Rational” and “wingsoverscotland” do not belong in the same sentence ;)

          This is deception by the SNP. I’m amazed, but not surprised, that so many SNP folk are defending this shabby deceit. It tells me they know they can’t win fair and square.

          This seedy operation reminds me of sham marriages: an attempt to acquire a new nationality by illicit means. While the SNP may not have broken any laws, they’ve broken the trust of those among their own supporters who rightly condemn such sordid practices.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 27 Thumb down 45

          • nonsense, it’s Labour stamping on a splinter group of Labour & managing to draw someone into story who has been supporter of SNP in order to continue the lies/misconceptions train which with any luck will derail

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 44 Thumb down 19

      • I’m afraid Scottish Labour for Independence is very real & to suggest it is just a front for SNP is rather pathetic … strange it’s existence has only become an issue since SLFI had a policy conference recently!

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 60 Thumb down 25

          • Not scared, Iain. Just keen for the world to know the truth.

            SNP councillors posing in front of a Labour banner, enlisting their family members to swell the numbers, is deceitful. End of.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 24 Thumb down 42

          • @ Mairi – photo you describe & others I’ve seen pushing your angle aren’t showing the real truth … that they were taken at or near Yes Scotland stands over last year where groups have pulled together and explanatory captions have been ignored or deleted by better together eg Yes Scotland in support of Scottish Labour for Independence. Nothing wrong with supporting friends especially when there’s a common cause.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 44 Thumb down 14

          • in which case Iain, will the Yes group stop bleating on about Labour and the Tories joining efforts to save the Union? Because it amounts to the same, and yet the Yes group never stop criticising Darling for it.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 32

          • Jamie … better together isn’t really a joint effort, it’s very much Tory dominated with a few people like Darling (in it to save his political future) thrown in to give illusion of being cross party

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 34 Thumb down 16

    • Well said Jerry and not sure what SNP membership or loyalty will be after independence. They won’t win the following election. Smart move by these SNP councillors to get publicity for Labour for Independence. Interested to hear Labour plans post a yes vote.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 6

  2. What your article missed but was clearly pubished in the Herald was this:

    “Fitzgerald, from Dunbar, said she was in Scottish Labour for 30 years from 1974 but left after being disillusioned by the Iraq war. She conceded her journey from Labour to the SNP and then back to Labour was “curious”.”

    and this:

    “I left Labour ages ago and joined the SNP to work for independence, then rejoined the Labour Party [in East Lothian] after I heard about Allan Grogan and Labour for Independence.”

    No duplicity there, but there certainly is in your spiel.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 47 Thumb down 16

  3. Such tactics by the SNP simply give more evidence of their likely behaviour should the referendum go in their favour.

    In my opinion they are dangerous and no more than a potential dictatorship hoping to rule Scotland.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 23 Thumb down 46

    • oh deary me … sorry to burst your bubble but SNP aren’t remotely of same mindset as BNP… grow up!

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 46 Thumb down 22

      • I don’t think I mentioned the BNP – but if that’s your comparison, so be it. There are plenty of dictatorships already in power, in the world, that are showing us all how dreadful the world can be when democracy is ignored.

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 21 Thumb down 27

        • where did you dig up the “potential dictatorship” idea from?
          You were giving impression that SNP has fascist/authoritarian/dictatorship leanings which is just a myth put forward by trouble makers

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 31 Thumb down 18

          • i wouldn’t go so far as to say dictatorship, but using their majority to push throug SNP policy without appropriate scrutiny is an SNP trait of late.

            Courts closure being one, corroboration will be a close next. Indy ref matters another. I accept fully that a lack of credible opposition is aiding them in this.

            Other issues are around the leadership effectively telling lies and getting away with it ala EU legal advice and bullying from Mike Russell on various occasions, the Stow College example being one of the most disgraceful

            All this smacks of a party not being held to account and not holding themselves to account properly. Let’s not forget Alex Salmond’s blunder by not condemning the behaviour of Nigel Farage’s lynch mob – he couldn’t rise above politics to at least ackowledge the behaviour was appalling.

            So no, not a dictatorship, but a party enjoying power a bit too much.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 29

    • The politics of nationalism are by default dictatorial.
      SNP’s sole reason of existence is based on independance from the union…this is where their fault lies…they cannot govern…as a leader the ‘wee eck’ is a dictator … QED.
      In regards to indy… whatever the outcome I pray for the good of the Scottish electorate that the SNP will finally crawl back under their tunnock cake.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 31

    • For goodness sake. Potential Dictatorship????? Shows how little you know about the Scottish cultural mindset that you can think they would even allow such a thing. Scotland has turned towards the SNP largely because it has railed against, first Thatcher’s dictatorship and then Blair’s.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  4. Funny how this gets met with shock and horror from FA, who continue to pedal the more demonstrably false claims of Shetland wanting independence from Scotland.

    There are plenty of folk who are natural Labour supporters who want to be Labour supporters in an independent Scotland. Some of these people may have chosen to join the SNP in recent years. It looks a little dodgy but given the consistently London-centric unionist line from Labour it shouldn’t come as a galloping shock.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 40 Thumb down 19

  5. Scottish Labour is just a smokescreen cover for UK Labour.
    In Scotland there is at very least 20% support for independence among Scottish Labour’s ranks … Labour party doesn’t approve of this so has gone on attack mode on Scottish Labour for Independence who dared to have a conference which put forward policy that doesn’t follow Westminster Labour line .. attack shows that Labour is afraid SLFI might get more popular .. hence the panic!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 36 Thumb down 19

    • Apparently only 40% of LFI’s 80 or so members are actually members of the Labour party. Even if all 80 were Labour members it’s hardly a groundswell of opinion is it ?

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 20

      • You don’t have to be a member of Labour to join LFI as long as you are NOT a member of another political party. So 99% of Scots feel free to join.

        From small acorns grow…

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 34 Thumb down 14

    • I’d like to know where you get your ‘facts’ from, Iain, but if you mean that 20% of potential labour voters support independence you might be nearer the mark. If that’s the case, it was also mentioned on Newsnight Scotland that there are SNP supporters that don’t want independence. So, either way, they probably cancel each other out.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 12

  6. Grubby stuff indeed, and a bad day for anyone who hoped that the debate for & against independence might transcend the past sleaze of some Scottish mainstream political shenanigans – but I suppose I’m just being naive.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 20 Thumb down 15

    • I think this just shows how desperate the SNP are to try to win. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more to come before the referendum, but clearly there are plenty of folk keen to expose such shenanigans.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 28

      • you haven’t fallen for the nonsense in cobbled together already discredited content in article have you?

        Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 27 Thumb down 22

        • Are you saying that you haven’t fallen for any nonsense in your support of the SNP? Next you’ll be saying that the SNP renewables policy is founded on sound scientific evidence.

          Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 13 Thumb down 24

          • pre September 2012 I’d reached conclusion by process of elimination of bigger party’s in Scotland that SNP seemed the best choice for me, never liked the totally Westminster centric (in my lifetime) Tory OR Labour and wasn’t all that happy with LibDems either & saw little point voting for smaller party’s (despite agreeing with some Green policy ideas) … sure it’s impossible to agree 100% with everything all the time 1 party might say BUT life forces compromises on you & least compromise for me is with SNP — still is!
            Now after Edinburgh Agreement (2012) I found any slight doubt about choosing independence over devo-max in my mind disappeared after being given just the yes/no option … in fact I’d decided back in 1980′s that if choice was ever given to vote for independence I’d have to have a very big reason to vote against & there now isn’t one!
            Icing on the cake (and reason I once was LibDem leaning) is the nuclear arms issue .. we need rid of that white elephant submarine system & voting Yes seems only way to do that.
            Now the arguments being put forward by better together mob are the same arguments put forward and found to be totally false for decades now — why would I fall for them? I wouldn’t would I & attempts at throwing in misleading grenades like wind farms won’t work — I know they are just stop-gap solutions & yes I know some of the reasoning behind decarbonisation is energy security/energy conservation linked (partly thanks to Bsc on subject) .. so such things can’t divert my views

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 33 Thumb down 13

          • What makes you believe that a vote for independence will mean the removal of ‘that white elephant’?
            I also have a BSc which included the subject of renewables and how such energy was supposed to be useful. Science has since moved on – its only use currently seems to be to line the pockets of the rich.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 25

          • majority of Scottish parliament & Scotland wants rid of trident, should there be a Yes vote it’s fate is sealed

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 25 Thumb down 3

          • Decisions like EU membership and Trident should be put to a vote. If the SNP are so confident that Scottish people want to be in the EU and rid of Trident, they should be open to this.

            I’ll keep saying it – a vote Yes is a vote for SNP policy, nothing more. They will work hard in the following 2years to get their policies so far down the line it’ll be virtually impossible to reverse them, no matter who is voted in.
            Were they to agree to hold a series of referendums on key issues affecting Scotland and to move into the future and I might believe this is not about SNP policy. Sadly, it’s not on the cards and I doubt it ever will be.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 1 Thumb down 28

          • And your evidence for this statement is where? For someone with a BSc I fear you are confusing your white elephants.

            Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 8 Thumb down 12

  7. Well Iain I can see that you have made up your mind and from what you say you seem to be stuck with it,I cannot agree with your logic but you have obviously had a good think about it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 5

  8. The photograph was doctored by the Better Together lot which the BBC & papers seized on, the following link produces the evidence – http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/7806-labour-for-independence-photo-was-doctored-by-better-together – not only that the other doctored photographs are on the labourforindependence facebook page, March 10th – be informed before you start insinuating things you know little about!!

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  9. What utterly shoddy and inaccurate journalism.

    I’m a member of the SNP who has mixed with members of Labour for Independence. We work together!

    The photographs concerned have been doctored. The Yes activists are not posing as LFI activists; they are posing with the banner, and apart from that, they are wearing Yes Scotland vests and are well known SNP councillors.

    Anyone taken in by this Unionist propaganda is an idiot!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

  10. What a poor article. the writer not only failed to observe the basic tenets of journalism by checking the facts of the story, but also added their own spin to it, thereby declaring their pre-disposed bias.
    This was a manufactured story by Better Together. They deliberately cropped photographs and removed the associated legends that clearly stated where the photos were taken and who the subjects were. A campaign team from Labour for Independence visited a YES Scotland event. Given that LFI declared themselves to be part of the YES Scotland campaign shortly after their formation, this is entirely appropriate. Just as Alistair Darling and Blair McDougall of the Labour party have been photographed at Conservative events, with conservatives (no cropping required) – as they are their partners of choice in the Better Together NO campaign. (Guess where the money for that campaign comes from). I see no articles examining that partnership.. why not?
    As an already confirmed YES, I will stand with anyone who advocates Scottish Independence. Their particular political party affilation (or none) is irrelevant – and will remain so until after we achieve Independence. Then, I believe, we will have the opportunity to build a truly democratic country, with strong political parties, whose interests are exclusively those of the people who live and work in Scotland.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  11. This article reads as if whoever wrote it didn’t even read the whole Sunday Herald article. Celia Fitzgerald was a Labour party member for 20 years. She said she left the Labour party over the Iraq war. How is that rambling or “curious”?

    She said she wanted to get back to a socialist Labour party instead of the “New Labour” leadership and thought independence was the best way to do this – so when she saw Labour for Independence established by Labour member Allan Grogan she rejoined the Labour party to join LFI.

    Celia Fitzgerald does not know Alec Salmond. In what way is she a “major supporter” of him? Facts please? Sources please? This article is half made up out of nothing – though to be fair to it apparently some of the things the Sunday Herald quoted Fitzgerald as saying she never said to it – e.g that her change of parties was “curious”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

    • Celia Fitzgerald admitted herself to The Herald that her political journeying ‘was curious’. These were her words and either The Herald’s not ours.
      The Herald also published a photograph of a laughing Celia Fitzgerald beside Alex Salmond, with his arm tightly around and over her shoulder.

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6

      • So she was photographed with the First Minister once. Is everyone photographed once with the First Minister a “Major Supporter”.

        The Sunday Herald did quote her as saying her change of parties was curious but she says she never said this.
        http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-news/7823-labour-for-indy-treasurer-challenges-newspaper-claim-she-is-snp-agitator

        Fair enough though, that’s the Sunday Herald’s error not yours

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

          • I find it quite slanderous what your media and other media are trying to do to Celia’s character,Celia has always been upfront in her letting her Labour membership lapse a number of years ago and joined SNP because of her being pro Indy, after all, until Labour for Indy, it seemed to be only party that those in favour of Indy could be with likeminded supporters. I think you’ll find over the years many Labour folk left party to join SNP more so for Independence. I think in this democracy its not a crime,nor is being in favour of Indy if you are Labour. I toyed with idea over the years but I’ve had Labour in my blood for 38 years of voting,supporting,canvassing for them yet I am a very avid supporter and member of Labour for Independence, I did cancel my Labour membership just months before I heard of the LFI movement but in my heart I was grass roots Labour through and through and had LFI not come along I would have been behind no party rather than SNP,no offence to SNP though. Membership of Labour has dropped massively over the years,folk going to SNP,Greens or like myself….was for short time a no party supporter. SNP have a common goal to LFI..Independenc! By standing side by side at Yes Events to SNP and other Yes supporters,even letting them hold our banner for a minute all because we live in a democratic Scotland but where we most definitely draw the line is active SNP members or any other party active members join our movement. I most certainly would not have joined had that been the case, our values are strictly grass roots Left Labour,even to the part that like Keir Hardie we most definitely believe in self determination. Its a dream come true for many ex Lab voters, to be back fighting for a Left Labour in an Indy Scotland! It took me a long time to throw of the Labour brainwashing of Independence is wrong and SNP are evil, both I think are good for Scotland and we in LFI are fighting for Independence too, so our beloved grass roots Scottish Labour can rise again in Scotland. In the union it is gone for ever, a Scottish voice in Labour has already died, I should know,as one of the canvassers in Scot Election I seen how we were abandoned by London Labour, no help from them and the turning tides of the electorate were even against us because they know Labour abandoned us a long time ago! your paper owes Celia Fitzgerald and all the members in LFI an apology for continuing the lying propaganda of the Bettertogether/unionist papers. By the way I presume you are aware that Labour,Tories and Lib Dems are all together side by side,even Alistair Darling speaking at a Tory event….no way would we speak or be asked to speak at an SNP conference,maybe its them that are members of each others parties! I didn’t see the crucifying of bettertogether so brutally in the unionist media like yourself! Rules for them is it?

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  12. And when Allan Grogan said that only 40% of Labour for Independence members are Labour party members he meant that the other 60% were voters for Labour or people who supported the Labour party and also support Independence for Scotland, but who are not party members.

    And what is so terrible about SNP members handing out LFI leaflets when they’re campaigning together as part of the Yes Campaign? Or is Alastair Darling’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference as party of the No Campaign proof that he’s a tory infiltrator? (that actually wouldn’t be so hard to believe given half of ‘New Labour”s policies)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  13. Nothing wrong with it at all Duncan. Although read the links below and tell me if you see any similarities and why suddenly the Yes and SNP think it’s now okay to share a platform with a rival party?

    Newsroom – I hope you don’t mind.

    http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-politics/7502-better-together-head-darlings-tory-conference-visit-ridiculed-by-snp

    http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-politics/7545-darling-of-the-tory-conference

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5

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