Chaos as SNP meeting is abandoned

Richard Lyle MSP
Richard Lyle MSP

The SNP is facing a crisis in Uddingston and Bellshill after angry clashes between warring members led to a meeting being abandoned.

Some members were said to have been left shaken by the level of verbal abuse dished out by some of those present, and it’s understood at least one complaint of threatening behaviour has been made to the police.

Party headquarters in Edinburgh refused to comment on the rowdy scenes, but a spokesman rebuked members for breaking SNP rules on donations to outside political organisations.

Uddingston and Bellshill branch has been hit recently by claims that it is being infiltrated by supporters of the far left Solidarity party.

These surfaced during a heated battle last month to secure the SNP nomination for Uddingston and Bellshill at next year’s Scottish Parliament election.

It was announced at last week’s monthly branch meeting in Bellshill Academy that branch convener Richard Lyle, already a Central Scotland list MSP, had beaten two rivals to win the nomination.

However, it’s understood that the mood of the meeting changed when a cash donation to the pro-independence group Hope over Fear was approved after a close vote.

From there, according to a source, things descended into chaos.

The source said: “It got out of hand to the extent that Mr Lyle had to abandon the meeting. For years he and others worked to keep the SNP alive in this area, but now there seems to be a complete lack of respect for him in some quarters.

“This level of antagonism and intimidating behaviour cannot go on. If it does we’ll have party HQ disbanding the branch or we’ll need stewards to keep order at meetings.

“People were shaken by what went on. In fact, had the meeting not been stopped we could have had someone physically assaulted.”

SNP party HQ refused to comment on the in-fighting.

Hope over Fear isn’t an official SNP group although its supporters include party members.

An SNP spokesman said: “We understand there was discussion over a proposal to fund a non-SNP event. Branches are not able to donate to other political groups so any such vote would be invalid.”

More on this story in the Belshill Speaker, on sale now.