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SNP NLC Clean Up
The SNP has started to reform its operation in North Lanarkshire in light of the damaging ‘Monklands McMafia’ feud between rival factions in the party.
MP Patrick Grady, the SNP national secretary, has told local activists that key decisions for next year’s council elections have been taken out their hands.
Instead, the SNP’s national executive committee (NEC) will take charge, in a move which should make it harder for people to ‘stitch-up’ council wards for their cronies.
In an email last week, Grady said that because of the “internal issues that have arisen in parts of North Lanarkshire”, the voter management strategy for the area would be overseen by the NEC “in order to offer confidence to all members that the process for selection is being handled correctly”.
Voter management strategy (VMS), the plan for maximising the number of SNP councillors elected in each ward, is currently run across North Lanarkshire by a party liaison committee
The convener of the liaison committee, Allan Stubbs, an employee of Coatbridge & Chryston MSP Fulton MacGregor, was last year the subject of a complaint to SNP HQ after he allegedly referring to an SNP councillor as “a twisted bitch” at a party meeting.
Grady’s email concluded: “In summary, the administrative role played by the Liaison Committee will instead be enacted by the NEC, but aside from that, the process will run in a similar manner to all other parts of the country.”
A key part of VMS is deciding how many candidates will stand in each multi-member ward: too many and the vote can be over-stretched, too few and a party may miss out on councillors.
By choosing to stand only a few candidates, power-brokers can abuse the process and effectively install friends as councillors.
The system can also be manipulated by giving a favoured candidate disproportionate help with canvassing and leaflets to promote them as the first choice for voters.
A local SNP source said “Hopefully, we will now have a more open system instead of fiefdoms and people pursuing their own interests.”
The NEC's intervention in the election is the latest twist in the long-running McMafia saga in Lanarkshire.
The feud has pitched a party old guard close to Uddingston & Bellshill MSP Richard Lyle against a fresh intake of activists around Phil Boswell, MP for Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill.
The turf war has generated scores of complaints to party HQ about bullying, intimidation and smear tactics - complaints which many activists say have been casually ignored.
In January, a secret recording of the Coatbridge & Chryston constituency association revealed members calling each other “animals”, “misogynist”, and “racist”, and MacGregor complaining the fighting had made him physically “sick”.