Wednesday, 4 September 2013

This is Planet Airth

After going rather quiet following recent publicity, Labour for Independence is back with us.
This time the controversy surrounds its leader and a private meeting of SNP councillors.
With no other party political groups taking part in the event, LFI's proximity to the SNP is again under the spotlight.

Tom Gordon

THE Labour for Independence group, which is accused of being an SNP front, is facing new criticism after its leader addressed a closed meeting of SNP councillors.

Allan Grogan spoke for around an hour at the annual conference of the Association of Nationalist Councillors at Airth Castle, near Stirling, on Sunday.

As Labour for Independence (LFI) does not admit SNP members, and claims not to be SNP backed, unionist parties queried Grogan’s action.

LFI, which is cited by the SNP and Yes Scotland as evidence of Labour division over the referendum, was set up a year ago, ostensibly by disaffected past and present Labour party members.
It was recently accused of being an SNP proxy, after pictures emerged of SNP councillors in Midlothian holding an LFI banner, and an SNP councillor from East Lothian was snapped manning an LFI street stall.

One of the Midlothian councillors, Owen Thompson (pictured left above), was an organiser of Sunday's event.
Grogan, a part-time wrestler nicknamed The Natural, subsequently admitted that only 40% of the group’s 80 or so members had ever been in the Labour party, and the rest were unaligned.
Yes Scotland, the SNP-dominated campaign for independence, also confirmed it paidthe £245 cost of hiring a venue for the first LFI conference last year.

The pro-Union Better Together campaign said Grogan’s turn before SNP councillors would fuel suspicions that LFI was little more than an SNP-inspired charade.
A spokesman said: “The Nationalists continue to treat the people of Scotland like idiots, trying to convince us that the Labour for Indy group is a legitimate organisation.
“It is not.  It is a Yes Scotland-funded SNP front.
“It is little wonder that people aren’t buying what Alex Salmond's independence campaign is selling.”

The Association of Nationalist Councillors is one of a handful of “affiliated organisations” within the SNP, and all SNP councillors are automatically members.
Sunday’s meeting was also addressed by Natalie McGarry of the Women for Independence group, and by Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland.

An LFI spokesman said Grogan had attended with others to work "across traditional political boundaries" for the good of the people
"Allan told the audience an independent Scottish government needs an effective opposition, and in 2016 he was confident the SNP will provide that to a real Scottish Labour government."

An SNP spokesman said: “LFI were one of a number of pro-independence groups  addressing the SNP Councillors’ Conference this weekend, discussing how all those in favour of a Yes vote can work together to achieve this next year.
 “This is obviously not unique to the Yes campaign – Alistair Darling did of course address the Tory Conference last year.”

Grogan did not respond to calls or email.

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