Prominent Yes backer turns on '˜iron handed' SNP
The financier Peter de Vink, who worked with the SNP as an independent councillor, has claimed the party is dominated by the “iron grip” of the Scottish Government.
His claims are outlined in an “End of Term Report” newsletter to be circulated in the run-up to the May local elections, which will see him stand down as a Midlothian councillor.
In the newsletter, de Vink is highly critical of the way the SNP has run Midlothian council and condemns SNP councillors for being in thrall to the party leadership.
In 2014 de Vink was one of the best-known business people who signed a pro-independence letter during the 2014 referendum campaign. He also arranged for an enormous Yes sign to be displayed on a hill in his Midlothian estate.
He is friendly with Alex Salmond and was praised in the former First Minister’s referendum diaries.
He worked with the Midlothian SNP group for more than four years until a disagreement over council tax and the party’s no compulsory redundancy policy for local authorities.
In his report, de Vink said: “Our SNP/independent coalition made some headway but I had not reckoned on the centralising iron hand of the Scottish Government who attempted to control everything we undertook. I was shocked by the extent that the SNP-led council favoured Midlothian staff while axing services for its citizens.”
De Vink, who has argued against rushing into a second referendum, accused his SNP former colleagues of focusing on independence at the expense of the community.
“We are well-served by our officials, but what can they do when the level of discussion quickly descends into petty point-scoring of perceived political advantage. All they could talk about was when we needed another independence referendum, having promised the last time that it was for a generation and not knowing what Brexit really means,” his report card said.
He said SNP councillors were “too feart of retribution from SNP headquarters” to challenge party orthodoxy and criticised their lack of financial acumen and leadership skills.
“I admit that I got disillusioned. Having to deal with eight fellow coalition councillors who fought each other like ferrets in a sack was no joy. Unfortunately nobody who was elected wanted to change anything. How could anyone remain in such a coalition? Just to be clear, this administration leaves behind a £20 million debt which has a poor prospect of being collected, as well as having raided the council’s reserves and cut services drastically. This really is some epitaph.”
A SNP spokesman said: “Cllr de Vink left the administration in Midlothian after proposing compulsory redundancies for council staff, in breach of the council policy he had agreed to after the 2012 election. It’s unfortunate that after leaving the administration Cllr de Vink has repeatedly resorted to personal insults of his former colleagues.
“The SNP is proud of its record in Midlothian council and will work hard to once again earn the public’s trust in the coming elections.”