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Showing posts with label The Jaconelli Case. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Jaconelli Case. Show all posts

Friday, 17 June 2011

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.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

The NUJ, the Herald and the freedom of the Press

The Herald carried a letter yesterday from Paul Holleran, NUJ Organiser calling for the press to hold the Trump organisation to account, a call one might have thought redundant, since the press and media have never let up on Trump since he first appeared on the Aberdeen scene.

Trump, in fact, is a popular target for the  press for the following reasons - he is a loud American with a bad hairdo, some risible political opinions, and not the most diplomatic of men. But more significantly, his project on the Menie Estate is a safe distance from the central belt of Scotland, where most of the media is centred, it is in Alex Salmond’s heartland, and because of the history of the project, it can usefully be laid at the First Minister’s doorstep.

But the press and media, with the honourable exception of the Scottish Sun, have carefully either avoided, underreported or misreported and misrepresented a much more egregious scandal involving a large property development in the central belt - the Glasgow East regeneration/Commonwealth Games project, especially as it affects Dalmarnock and its people.

The reasons for this neglect are fairly obvious - there is no single convenient foreign villain, there is little that can be presented sentimentally about rolling sand dunes and ecology, and most importantly, the ‘villain’  is the powerful monolith of Glasgow City Council, a Labour hegemony that up until May 2010 had intimate links with the UK Government, and still has links with a powerful Labour opposition party. The ordinary people of Dalmarnock can safely be sneered at, jeered at and ignored by the complacent Glasgow professional classes - a much safer option than offending the powerful.

This ‘villain’ can call on the Glasgow Police, the full resources of a council workforce and the draconian power of the law when necessary - and they have used all three to crush the hopes of the Dalmarnock families and businesses.

And it exercises powerful patronage through its political and commercial networks. GCC can make you rich; it has made many speculative property developers rich - or richer than they already were - through the settlements it reached with them over land purchase deals, all perfectly legal and a matter of public record, for those who take the trouble to look.

As far as my recollection serves me, the Herald has never published a letter of mine on the Jaconelli case - and I have sent many. I sent another yesterday (text below) - it has not appeared today.

The Herald, however, has no problem in using the services of Gerry Braiden today to attack the First Minister for supporting the Save the Accord campaign, a Dalmarnock disabled centre threatened with closure by GCC, obliquely accusing him of bowing to political pressure, and ‘kowtowing’ to the Save the Accord campaign. Of course, nothing the Labour-controlled GCC do is ever remotely political in the eyes of the Herald, and they fight only with the “sword of truth and trusty shield of fair play”.

A Google search, or Herald site search will give anyone interested a fair idea of how Gerry Braiden reported the Jaconelli case. It would be fair to say that neither he nor the Herald have been enthusiastic advocates of the cause of the Dalmarnock families and businesses, but have always managed to faithfully reflect the position of Glasgow City Council.

Glasgow councillors up the Eely-ALEO!

UNPUBLISHED LETTER TO The Herald - 14th June 2011

Paul Holleran, NUJ Scottish Organiser (Letters 14th June) calls for a 'healthy, functioning Scottish press' to hold powerful people to account over the behaviour of the Trump organisation in Aberdeen. I agree wholeheartedly.
  But where was the Scottish press when ordinary families and small businesses were being forced out of their homes and livelihoods in Dalmarnock by Glasgow City Council to make way for the Athletes' Village for the Commonwealth Games. Where were they when the Jaconelli family were faced by 80 police, 20 riot vans and masked council workers with sledgehammers as they mounted a last, defiant protest against eight years of derisory offers and legal intimidation. The answer is that they initially gave inadequate and often wildly inaccurate coverage, virtually a slanted re-hash of GCC leaks and press releases, and only at the final brutal end of the siege of Ardenlea Street to behaviour that would have disgraced a totalitarian regime in other parts of the world.
  One newspaper, the Scottish Sun, actually engaged with the story, with the facts, and with Margaret Jaconelli and the other families, and actually had a journalist inside the house as the combined forces of municipal power broke into the last refuge of a hard-working Glasgow grandmother and her terrified family and friends.

  Unlike the Trump homeowners, none of these Dalmarnock owner-occupiers were refusing to sell their homes or businesses - they simply wanted to negotiate a fair price for having their lives uprooted. But they were denied this and subjected to arbitrary and unrealistic valuations under compulsory purchase legislation, and because they refused to be intimidated into accepting grossly inadequate settlements, are now homeless and virtually penniless, all that they had worked for destroyed in the name of progress. All of this happened in parallel with speculative property developers being allowed to negotiate and reap astronomical profits, in some cases for doing little more than opportunistically acquiring vacant lots and re-selling them for profits that reached into millions of pounds for modest investments of a few hundreds of thousands of pounds.
  It's not too late, Paul Holleran, for the Scottish Press to start holding powerful people to account, and they can start in the City of Glasgow, where the HQ of the NUJ is situated, with a much bigger story than the Trump story, and a much more egregious injustice to get their journalistic teeth into. Or are there some people who are just too powerful to be held to account? Is it just easier to go for a cardboard villain from another country with a bad hairdo?

Saturday, 26 March 2011

To the people of Glasgow East

An attempt to say something in verse, especially when it carries a political and social message, is challenging even for those with infinitely more talent and skill than I can muster. And the spectre of  McGonagall hovers beside me as I struggle …

But sometimes, only verse will serve the emotions.

(I shrink from calling it a poem but hope that it is more than doggerel)

So here goes -

The spirit of Ardenlea Street

Mungo came to a dear, green place

where Fergus chose to die

He built a church near a sylvan stream

where Fergus chose to lie

The Molendinar ran beneath

the hard grey rock above

And a great cathedral - stone by stone -

was built by men, with love

And from this place, a city grew

from the grove of the Lady Well

Some say that Wallace was betrayed

by men in this leafy dell

A child of the East, I knew this place

I played in light and dark

in the waters foul that the stream became

below the old fir park

The City now - a giant place

A second war has come

with death and devastation, yet

a spark of hope for some

In the East end of the City

In tenements dark and grey

lived a great, resilient people

And they live there to this day

But the wealth and power shifted

to the centre, west and south

and the great betrayal started

from the People's Party's mouth

So these ordinary people

must be broken on the wheel

And the things that they most value

must be ground beneath the heel

Of politicians venal

and the men that fund their greed

And while the riches flow to some

The Glesca people bleed

Among this devastation

A woman held her ground

She tried to fight for all she loved

in the wasteland all around

The brutal heart of power

to its eternal shame

has used the force that it commands

to play its dirty game

The men who fund their party

are on the inside track

and they become obscenely rich because

the poor are on the rack

And all the rich Glaswegians

believe the Council's claims

They're dazzled by the PR spin

and the promise of great Games

But back in Ardenlea Street

the doors are battered in

Unequal force has forced them out

The Party has to win

Now, for the Jaconellis,

a life begins anew

They're out, but not defeated

Although a great wind blew

And there are those among us

Who'll never let this rest

A great injustice has been done

and now begins a quest ...

To find the truth for Glasgow

and bring a cleansing rain

Then Mungo's spirit may return

to Glaschu once again