Aberdeen (Correspondent John Taylor): Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers (SACL) bid to win the Aberdeen South constituency received another huge boost last night when the party overcame the odds to score a decisive victory in the first hustings of the campaign. None of the 100 + people in attendance at Peterculter Parish Church left the event in any doubt that the Hollie Greig scandal is the biggest election story – not just in Aberdeen South but throughout the UK.
Robert Green was unable to attend for obvious reasons yet the establishment still took extreme measures to try to prevent the SACL voice being heard. They clearly now realise that Robert Green is not a “one man band” and that Hollie’s Army represents an incredible force.
The first publicity about the hustings was released by the BBC around 2330 on Thursday 22nd April – twenty hours before it was due to take place. Clearly the mainstream parties all knew about the event a long time before this and the intention was that the audience would consist solely of their own supporters. They clearly underestimated the strength, determination and brainpower of Hollies Army.
SACL first heard about this event, quite by accident, at 1130 on Friday morning. Yet within 8 hours we had managed to mobilise Hollie’s Army and had 12 of our supporters in the audience in the church hall in the prosperous suburb of Peterculter.
SACL’ s Regional Co-ordinator, John Taylor, arrived at the church hall at 1915 and asked to speak to the event organiser. John explained the reasons why Robert was unable to attend in person and asked that, in the interests of democracy, SACL Chief Election Strategist, Adam Tindall, be allowed equal billing with the other candidates
The organiser was clearly flummoxed by this and tried to fob us off by saying that the debate would be on “Westminster Issues”. We asked if he would ask the other participants if they would object to the SACL being given equal billing. (The other participants were the sitting Labour MP, Anne Begg, plus the parliamentary candidates from Conservatives, LibDems and SNP, and a representative of the Green Party).
The organiser went away and returned to confirm that the other participants had unanimously agreed that SACL should not be given equal billing. We insisted that, at the very minimum, the presence of an official SACL representative should be announced and that he be allowed to state our manifesto.
The debate began with the main participants being allowed 60 seconds each to introduce themselves. The attendance of the SACL representative was announced although Adam was not given the opportunity to speak at this stage. Some members of the audience appeared to find the SACL party name amusing.
The so-called “debate” duly commenced. Some members of Hollie’s Army reported that they felt physically sick as a result of having to listen to the hypocritical hogwash of the mainstream politicians and their placemen in the audience.
During a debate on Afghanistan, John Taylor asked Anne Begg for her views on the suitability of 70 year old Dr Ian Oliver to hold the position of Head of Justice and Security in Helmand province. Dr Oliver was Chief Constable of Grampian Police between 1990 and 1998 before resigning in disgrace. Miss Begg claimed to be unaware that Dr Oliver now held this position and would not comment on his suitability or otherwise. A subsequent google search for “Anne Begg” and “Afghanistan” produced over 1,000 results.
An hour or so into the debate SACL gained the impression that we may not be given the chance to speak. Adam Tindall grabbed the microphone and told the audience that the candidates had denied SACL equal billing and that we had been promised that we would be allowed to read out or manifesto. The organiser, somewhat sheepishly, said that we would get our chance to do this at the end of the debate.
When the main debate ended Adam was given the microphone and he delivered a barnstorming speech which electrified the audience. He clearly stated the allegations made by Hollie Greig, our concerns over the death of Roy Greig and the establishment’s efforts to cover the story up. The reason why Robert Green was unable to attend in was clearly explained and the audience were invited to “Google Hollie Greig”.
One did not need to be an expert in body language, to realise that the candidates, particularly Anne Begg and the SNP candidate, were extremely uncomfortable at this turn of events. Unfortunately for them, there was worse to come.
Adam passed the microphone to “Mr Scotland”, star of the Paul Drockton Show, who relayed his own personal experiences of institutionalised child abuse and injustice in Aberdeen. He then went on to explain to the audience how unhelpful Anne Begg had been over the course of many meetings. By this stage, Miss Begg was looking decidedly queasy and she attempted to stammer out some response. The organiser came to her rescue by suggesting that Miss Begg and “Mr Scotland” continue their discussion after the meeting had ended.
The debate closed with the main participants being allowed a couple of minutes each to make closing comments. There was frequent spontaneous heckling in response to their hypocrisy and refusal to discuss the big issues.
As the hall emptied, Hollie’s Army split into two battalions. One battalion stationed themselves at the exit and politely handed out leaflets to those leaving. No-one refused a leaflet and by the end of the evening more than a hundred had been handed out, not only at the meeting but at various pubs and takeaways in Peterculter.
The second battalion took it upon themselves to peacefully engage in some “direct democracy” with the would-be MP’s who by this stage were squirming like pigs heading for the slaughterhouse. The Conservative and Green representatives made a sharp exit and were quickly followed by the ashen faced SNP candidate, Mark McDonald , who blurted out an obviously pre-prepared statement “The SNP will not be making any comment on this matter”.
The wheelchair-bound Anne Begg claimed that she had no recollection of ever meeting “Mr Scotland”. Strangely her helper remembered him well. Miss Begg was heckled as she made her exit.
The LibDem candidate, John Sleigh, has high hopes of winning the seat and performed impressively in the controlled environment of the debate. However when faced with the peaceful questioning of Hollie’s Army he gave a good impression of a rabbit caught in car headlights.. When an SACL leaflet was handed to him he recoiled as if fearing that he would be contaminated with bubonic plague if he touched this A5 sheet. He was captured on video stating that he was “too busy” to look into Hollie’s case before being hustled away.
All-in-all a quite extraordinary night which continues the unstoppable momentum hurtling Robert Green towards Westminster.
Listen to Stuart Usher, Anne Greig and Robert Green Interviews with Paul Drockton HERE