Mar 212020

Three former Torry community councillors have lodged a complaint against Depute Lord Provost Jennifer Stewart with The Commission for Ethical Standards in Public Life. By Suzanne Kelly (one of the three).

The Commission for Ethical Standards in Public Life received a complaint from Bee Kerr, Renee Slater and Suzanne Kelly against Councillor Jennifer Stewart.
They have asked the Commission to investigate, and if appropriate, censure or suspend Jennifer Stewart on account of her behaviour following Councillor Alan Donnelly’s sexual assault of a person at a civic function.

Councillor Donnelly, who has represented Torry and Ferryhill in the past, was placed on the sex offenders register by the Aberdeen Sheriff Court. The court found him guilty of sexually assaulting a waiter.

The offence occurred while Donnelly was at a civic function in his capacity as councillor.

Donnelly tried to deny events; the court said he should be ashamed. He refused to step down despite his criminal act being a clear violation of the Code of Conduct for councillors.

Renee Slater launched a petition demanding Donnelly resign, which was signed by over 700 people.

The Standards Commissioner’s office announced his suspension one day after he voted on a crucial budget during a stormy council session, to the benefit of the council’s majority group. If he doesn’t resign, he will face a public trial.

Prior to this vote, Cllr Stewart took to radio and commented that the sexual assault didn’t sound serious.

She said:

“I would wonder if it was an attack. To me an attack is a much more physical and aggressive thing, but sentence has been passed.”

Her remarks infuriated many including councillors, residents and people connected to victim support groups.

The signatories to the complaint and experts they spoke to feel it is hard enough to cope as a victim of an assault; it is harder still to report it.  Getting to trial is stressful, and many trials end with no conviction.

It is arguably harder for a man to be a victim of sexual assault given some societal attitudes. Elected officials should not use their office to question the judgment of the courts and to add to the burden of the victim, who has had to endure the harmful insult by way of the Depute Lord Provost suggesting the assault was not serious.

It is quite probable, the complainers feel, that future sex assault victims who are aware of Stewart’s widely-reported remarks may be reluctant to come forward fearing she may weigh in to judge them too.

Undoubtedly, her comments on the assault would not have been published had she not been the Depute Lord Provost. She has not responded to a request for comment.

In press coverage almost immediately following her remarks, she accused both the SNP and Liberal Democrats of contributing to her confessed mental health problems through bullying and intimidation.

She named no names; the Liberal Democrats denied any such wrongdoing, and the SNP wished her recovery.

The complainants know the Ethics Commissioner will look into her remarks, which, as they stand, smear the entire opposition with serious accusations of breaking the Code of Conduct – accusations they cannot counter as they are not levelled at any one person or persons.

The Evening Express have been asked to explain how they verified her later claims of mental health problems caused by the SNP and Liberal Democrats; 5 days on, we still await their response

Anyone who wishes to add their name to the complaint or lodge a complaint against a councillor can contact the Commission here:

Sep 172010

Voice’s Dave Watt describes how the government’s budget cuts put women and children first.

A little known fact about Steig Larsson’s celebrated novel ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ was that the original Swedish title was ‘The Man Who Hated Women’ (Män Som Hatar Kvinnor) and while I don’t think the ConDem coalition has any particular hatred for women, they are certainly going to be beating on them pretty badly with a disproportionate burden of the budget cuts.

A gender audit of the Budget, commissioned by MP Yvette Cooper found that of the £8bn net revenue to be raised by financial year 2014-15, nearly £6bn will be from women, in contrast with just over £2bn from men.

Responding to the study’s findings, Ms Cooper said: “I cannot recall any budget that has ever had such a severe attack on women in the history of the welfare state. Cameron and Clegg …..simply don’t get that things like the child tax credit help millions of women manage to balance work and family life.”

perhaps the ConDems simply saw them as an easy, pliable target that wouldn’t be out protesting in the streets.

The cuts have also drastically reduced support for children more savagely than anything else so far with billions of pounds being cut from child benefit, child tax credits, maternity support and child trust funds.

Amongst the reports’s key findings are:

Of £8.1bn net personal tax increases/ benefit cuts, an estimated £5.8bn (72 per cent) is being paid by women and £2.2bn (28 per cent) is being paid by men.

• Support for children is being cut by £2.4bn – including cuts in Sure Start maternity grant, health in pregnancy grant, child benefit and tax credits. The majority of this support is paid to women. A further £560m cut from the Child Trust Fund is not included in the gender audit.

• Even excluding support for children, women still pay £3.6bn (66 per cent) compared to men paying £1.9bn (34 per cent). This is because women are more heavily affected by things like housing benefit cuts and the switch to CPI uprating of the additional state pension and public sector pensions.

Women have, in general, have traditionally tended to be more politically conservative than men (and indeed the Nazi vote before 1933 was largely female) and perhaps the ConDems simply saw them as an easy, pliable target that wouldn’t be out protesting in the streets. Whatever the rationale, any women who voted for the Conservatives or the Lib-Dems last May are going to find themselves being very poorly rewarded for putting their cross in either of those two little boxes.

Obviously, the cuts will hardly affect the ultra rich (Baroness Warsi won’t be taking up that early morning office cleaning job just yet) but her poorer sisters: the working mothers, the single parents and the other women who can just about make ends meet at present are going to suffer very badly and very unfairly from these economic cuts.

Jul 302010

By Dave Watt.

Fat Dave Visits the Colonies.

Hello oiks.

In the spirit of my Big Society, I thought I’d bring a little sunshine into your drab, tiny proletarian lives by writing you a few lines. After all, it can’t be much fun working down coal mines and up chimneys with only the prospect of racing pigeons, whippet-breeding and drinking gin at the weekend to look forward to. “What would I want to read about after a hard evening shovelling coal into the bath,” I thought to myself, so I decided to tell you all about me.

After all, what could be more encouraging for a poor person than to see how someone with the right attitude can get on just through sheer hard work and application? Continue reading »

Jul 232010

By Ross Cunningham.

There has been much controversy aired recently about benefits and those claiming them. With a new coalition government in place, they hurriedly arranged an emergency budget to set about slashing the £150bn deficit in public finances. One of the higher-spending areas is benefits. In 2009-10, it is estimated that £3.1bn was overpaid in benefits due to error and fraud. Conversely, estimates show that £1.3bn was underpaid due to error and fraud. You would be inclined to believe that the second statistic is of less concern as is the perception that overpayment has been made to people who neither need nor deserve it. But how is it decided who is worthy of benefits and who is not? Who makes these decisions and who else is involved?

Continue reading »