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Showing posts with label Gerry Braiden. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gerry Braiden. Show all posts

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Glasgow, Labour, the SNP, and carpetbaggers …

I have had my moments with Gerry Braiden of the Herald, mainly over the reporting of the Dalmarnock outrages directed against the Jaconellis and other families, businesses and of course the shocking callousness of Glasgow City Council over the closure of the Accord Centre for disabled children.

But I believe in crediting good, objective journalism when it makes its rare appearances in the Scottish Press, and Gerry Braiden’s exclusive yesterday – Labour axes ‘old guard’ – was an example of that.

It reflects the inchoate panic of Glasgow Labour as it faces the terrible prospect of its control of Glasgow City Council being wrested away from them in next year's local elections, a fear that must be exacerbated by  the recent Ipsos MORI poll on Scottish Public Opinion and voting intentions.

However, Labour might take a crumb of comfort from alleged infighting among SNP Glasgow councillors, if Tom Gordon’s piece Fresh blow for SNP bid to take over Glasgow in today’s New Sunday Herald is accurate.

I can forgive my party many things, but if they blow their chances to remove Labour from the GCC, and wreck the last best hope of the people of Glasgow, I will find it hard to swallow. Maybe someone will reassure me …

MURDO FRASER and DAVID MUNDEL

I have had some fun on Twitter over Murdo Fraser’s plan for a new Scottish Greed and Privilege party -

moridura Peter Curran

Murdo Fraser's New Unionism sounds a bit New Labour-ish. Could he not have called it New Imperialism? New Jingoism? NeoConism? Naechanceism?

moridura Peter Curran

Murdo Fraser will outline plans to "kill independence" and "break the SNP" at his campaign launch next week. Who, the Tories? Aye, right …

 

However, Rosanna Cunningham calls for due seriousness, in case he is on the ‘right’ lines, to coin a phrase. David Mundel, on BBC News today, looking even more rabbit-in-the-headlights than usual over a grainy, out of synch link from Skype, clearly doesn’t like Murdo’s big idea. The virtual death of his party is as nothing to him compared to the fact that, as the sole Scottish Tory MP in Westminster from a party contemptuously rejected by Scots, he nonetheless is taken seriously by the big boys, and thinks he plays a significant role in government.

I have always found David Mundel to be faintly risible, and he did nothing to dispel this today. Quotes -

Membership of the Union ---- is a very strong suit in our armour ---“

A new party is not a silver bullet that turns the problems round …”

Wearing a suit under your armour is not to be recommended, David, although if anyone can carry it off, you could. Silver bullets are for killing werewolves, and they were used to great effect in recent years at the ballot box to kill off a great threat to the Scottish people, namely, the Scottish Tories.

Back to Scottish Labour, who, if the Glasgow SNP can get their act together, will face a hail of silver bullets at the 2012 local elections. Murdo Fraser’s New Unionism leaves the way clear for Scottish Labour to re-brand itself as The Scottish Labour and Unionist Party, under the leadership of one or another of the carpetbagging hacks from Westminster. The name change would simply formalise things, for this is what they have been for some time now.

For those not versed in American history, the carpetbaggers were cynical and opportunistic politicians who move from the North to exploit the South. Labour is busy reversing the compass in this respect.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Gerry Braiden and the Herald

Gerry Braiden asks me to acknowledge his contribution to the exposure of the abuse of ALEOs by Glasgow City Council, and the regular coverage he has given to the minority SNP group on GCC.

I am happy to do both, and freely acknowledge his undoubted contribution to revealing the full extent of this patronage system, which yielded significant and in my view grossly disproportionate rewards to individuals chosen by GCC, and to the very recent ending of this pernicious practice - a blot on Scotland’s democracy.

I also accept, and am grateful for the regular platform he offered – and offers - to SNP councillors as a minority group on GCC, who otherwise might have had found difficulty in securing a media platform for their views.

If my focus on egregious abuse of the rights of the Dalmarnock families and businesses, and the appalling treatment of the disabled users and their carers over the Accord Centre closure, in the name of progress and the Commonwealth Games, have on occasion deflected me fully from recognising the above aspects of Gerry Braiden’s wider contribution as a journalist, I regret the omissions and happily take this opportunity to make amends.

In an extended private email correspondence with Gerry Braiden over the last day, a number of important issues about the relationship of the users of alternative media and professional journalists have been raised – a relationship that is increasingly significant to our democracy, and one that is increasingly blurred and misunderstood, occasionally by myself.

I intend to explore these issues in a general context later, without any breach of confidentiality: our correspondence has simply acted as a prompt to ideas and views that I have held for sometime.

A gentleman of the press - Gerry Braiden

I received an email from Gerry Braiden of the Herald yesterday. It was clearly not intended for publication, as it carried the standard warning on Herald emails at the bottom, as follows -

This document is private and confidential.
All property, copyright and other rights in it and its contents belong to Newsquest Media Group Limited.
It must not be read, copied, disclosed or otherwise used without Newsquest’s authorisation. Newsquest may exercise its legal rights and remedies in the event of any such unauthorised use.
Newsquest Media Group Limited.
Registered in England, number 3105111.
Registered office: 58 Church Street, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 8DP

I am not sure of the legal validity of such a restriction, but I will respect it anyway, as I do with any email sent to me that is not specifically intended for publication or quotation.

I would, however, say to Gerry Braiden that if he wishes to submit the email as a comment, I will be happy to publish it verbatim in my blog. I commented on Wednesday on a report of his in the Herald, and if he wishes a right of reply to this, I will readily offer him that right.

Wednesday's blog on Jaconelli case and the Accord campaign

However, one statement he makes about a third party and the police does make me think I should seek a legal opinion before I do so, and I do feel free to raise this in confidence with the legal adviser of that third party.

If Gerry Braiden or Newsquest Media Group’s legal department have any reservations or queries about this approach and intention, they should contact me immediately.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The Herald, the Court and Margaret Jaconelli

I have taken down my most recent post (a collection of today’s tweets) on the Margaret Jaconelli judgement because I now accept that the judgement, dated 3rd March (!) was available in the court, at least since yesterday. Gerry Braiden of The Herald contacted me with this information, and also sent me a copy of the judgement.

He accessed the freely-available judgement at the court, as he has a perfect right to do, and only ran the story when he realised that a freelance new agency had also accessed it. This is in accordance with good journalistic practice, and I accept completely that he acted in good faith and in accordance with professional ethics. I appreciate his information and clarification on this matter.

I still take issue with the superficial way in which the media in general have handled this case, and the inaccurate facts presented in many instances.

But the matter is now firmly in what I believe are the safe and principled hands of Mike Dailly of Govan Law Centre, and that an appeal is highly likely.

I hope it will be successful.

Friday, 21 January 2011

A tale of two newspapers - The Herald and the Scottish Sun: The Margaret Jaconelli Case

Margaret Jaconelli appeared at the Sheriff Court, Glasgow yesterday in pursuit of her case for fair compensation for her wholly-owned tenement flat in Ardenlea Street, Dalmarnock.

The purpose of the hearing was to consider the eviction order Glasgow City Council is attempting to enforce against her, and to hear Margaret’s claim that GCC had not followed due process of law in previous hearings. She was unrepresented because her solicitor had withdrawn from the case, and she therefore secured a new hearing date of 16th February to permit her to find and brief a new solicitor.

In court were two newspaper reporters, Gerry Braiden of the Herald and Paul Drury, a freelance reporter acting for the Scottish Sun newspaper. Paul Drury has been in contact with Margaret by telephone and had direct contact and dialogue with her in the court. Gerry Braiden has had no contact with Margaret since the Herald’s and Evening Times’ previous hostile and pejorative coverage of her case, and made no attempt to speak to her, before or after the court proceedings or by telephone.

The Herald and the Scottish Sun today both ran significant stories about the case, but from very different perspectives - see links below

The 'story' in today's 'Herald'

The story in today's Scottish 'Sun'

The Sun focused on the massive profits made by Grantly Developments on two plots of land bought for a total of £45k in 1988/89 very close to Margaret Jaconelli’s home in Ardenlea Street, and the analysis made by a Glasgow University lecturer, published author and expert on urban regeneration and development, Dr. Libby Porter of the the two valuations made by Glasgow City Council of two plots of land under the compulsory purchase legislation.

The Sun used these calculations to run under the headline

£3.6m - THAT’LL BE JUST GRAN

Expert’s price tag on £30k pad

Exclusive by Paul Drury

The Herald, in contrast, with no recent contact with Margaret Jaconelli and no contact with Dr. Libby Porter, chose to run under the headline

 

Four-week eviction delay for woman on Games site

Grandmother secures reprieve after being dropped by solicitor

Gerry Braiden

 

The headline and sub-header are not too bad, but the story that follows is mainly pejorative in tone and content, consistent with the Herald and Gerry Braiden’s previous coverage of the MJ case.

But there are disturbing aspects in this story relating to the facts presented by Gerry Braiden. He refers to the meeting between Margaret Jaconelli and her solicitor, Mr. Carmichael with the Glasgow City Council District Valuer, Mr. Davidson. No other person was present. No offer of any kind was made to Margaret Jaconelli and her solicitor at that meeting.

But Gerry Braiden says (last para column two) in his report today -

“The Herald understands that at the meeting, Mrs. Jaconelli was offered around £90,000, which included money for the flat, upheaval and compensation. Mrs. Jaconelli is understood to have have rejected this, and although she is no longer demanding £360,000 for the two-bedroom tenement property, she is now believed to be holding out for a figure of about £250,000”

Every word of this is either untrue or a distortion of the facts, and certain very disturbing questions are raised about the Herald’s sources of information, their accuracy and their motivation.

1. No offer of any kind was made at the meeting on Tuesday 18th of January by the Glasgow City Council District Valuer.

2. A verbal offer was made at a later point in time verbally to Margaret Jaconelli’s solicitor, of £90,000, which he relayed verbally to Margaret Jaconelli by telephone, and no terms and conditions were specified in these verbal exchanges.

3. Margaret Jaconelli neither accepted nor rejected the verbal offer - her position was - and is - that she will give full consideration to any offer made to her in writing with all terms and conditions detailed in the offer.

4. Margaret Jaconelli has never ‘demanded’ £360,000 for her flat. Such a figure was quoted as an example of how various interpretations of value could be posited if the huge settlements made with various developers - The Grantly figures - were applied to MJ’s property, assuming some form of proportionality were applied to the relative sizes of the plots of land involved. (The Sun’s £3.6m illustrates the most extreme comparison.)

5. In the discussions with the District Valuer, MJ and her solicitor stated what her aspirations were - to achieve an agreed settlement that permitted her to buy a similar two-bedroomed, red sandstone flat in an area of her choice and have all her legal, conveyancing and moving costs met, plus some recognition of the excessive heating costs she has sustained over many years as as result of being forced to live in a tenement block where every other tenant or owner had left, and have some compensation for the disruption to her life caused by GCC.

Some discussion and speculation ensued as to what this figure might be, but no specific demand was made. The District Valuer made a reference to two-bedroom flat being on the market for around £63k. Since this represented the bottom of the market, MJ and her solicitor rejected such a figure.

The disturbing questions raised by Gerry Braiden and the Herald’s article are these -

From whom did Gerry Braiden and the Herald learn of an offer of £90,000 being made which was known only to MJ and her solicitor? On the face of it, it can only have been from a source within Glasgow City Council, since neither Braiden nor the Herald spoke to MJ or her solicitor?

Why was the offer misrepresented as being made at the meeting with the District Valuer, when no offer was made at that meeting?

Why did the Herald report there being highly specific terms and conditions to the offer, when no such terms and conditions have been specified, either verbally or in writing by GCC?

Why did Gerry Braiden inaccurately report that MJ had rejected such an offer, without interviewing her or her solicitor, when her clear position is that she will give full consideration to any offer properly made in writing with all terms and conditions detailed?

The $64,000 question - or perhaps the £3.5 million question is - Why has the Herald consistently presented a highly pejorative and one-sided view of Margaret Jaconelli’s case, one that at every stage has been selective in the facts presented, effectively only giving a platform to Glasgow City Council’s version of events, and leaving an impression of the vulnerable, ordinary - but extraordinary - Glasgow grandmother as a greedy, obstructive woman making unreasonable claims?

Nothing could be further from the truth, as anyone who has spoken to Margaret Jaconelli will testify. I came across Margaret’s case by accident, and have only known her since she contacted me following my first blog on the subject. We have never met, yet I will now stay with her to the end of her persecution by powerful forces in Glasgow, and until she reaches what she regards as an equitable settlement.

Why did Chris Leslie, a  Glasgow photographer and filmmaker, engage with Margaret’s case, champion her cause, and make a very moving film of her plight for YouTube?

Why did Dr. Libby Porter, a respected academic and expert on urban regenerations projects and planning law at Glasgow University’s Department of Urban Studies become interested in the facts of this strange and disturbing case?

The answer is that Margaret Jaconelli is an extraordinary woman, resilient and determined to put her life together in the face of an onslaught from powerful forces in Glasgow society. She supports the development, supports and welcomes the Commonwealth Games, and is perfectly willing to move - but only if basic principles of justice and equity prevail, and she receives a settlement that enables her and her husband to resume their lives as hard-working Scots, typical of the very best in the Glasgow and specifically the Glasgow East end character.

And during Margaret’s long fight, where the hell have the Labour Party been? Where has Anas Sarwar,MP been? Where has Frank McAveety, MSP been? The thing that used to be the People’s Party has been conspicuous by its absence and its silence, as a City council controlled by their party attempts to destroy Margaret Jaconelli.

And what of my own party, the Scottish National Party?

They have been aware of the case, they have expressed interest and concern, and Councillor Billy McAllister - that rare beast, a Glasgow Councillor with a deep concern for equity and justice, always willing to confront corruption in the city -  has been working hard behind the scenes for justice for Margaret.

But, SNP, you have not yet done enough or said enough publicly! Now is the time to show where you stand, clearly and unequivocally. A helluva lots of Glasgow voters will have your stance in mind when they go to the polls in May, in about 100 days or so.