Category Archives: Sanjay Samani

Why I cannot find humour in Trump’s victory

By Sanjay Samani

Trump Nazi Salue

I can understand why a lot of people want to use humour to deal with Trump’s win. It helps us to rationalise something that feels incomprehensible to any liberal. And yet I find the humour profoundly uncomfortable and cannot bring myself to see the funny side.

As with Brexit, racist abuse is already on the rise in the US, along with homophobia, Islamaphobia and sexism. There have already been violent attacks both here in the UK and in the US. These attitudes towards others is becoming normalised in our society.

People angry at being left behind have been told for decades that it is fault of “the other”, with no evidence to back up this easy explanation. They now feel emboldened to openly voice and enact their misogyny, homophobia, racism, hatred & bigotry.

Nigel Farage feels free to call Barack Obama a loathsome “creature”, and to suggest that Donald Trump “should schmooze May but not touch her”.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamaphobia is now regularly voiced in public, radio and TV without being challenged. They are claimed to be legitimate grievances and dressed up as religious freedoms, concerns about immigration and support for family values. There is nothing legitimate about these attacks because they are baseless.

Many have been left behind in this recession, but they have been left behind by white, wealthy, middle aged, heterosexual men. Men like David Cameron, Tony Blair and George Osborn. White, wealthy, middle aged, heterosexual men like Donald Trump and Nigel Farage.

So I’m in no mood for humour. I am now an angry black man. I am now an angry feminist. I have a right to be angry. Hugely angry. I am in no mood to reconcile, be patient or unite with sexist, racist, homophobic bigots like Farage, Trump, Le Pen and their ignorant followers.

I have nothing in common with them, I find no humour in their ascendancy and am profoundly angry at the deceit, lies and self interest that led to their rise.

From:: Sanjay Samani

The SNP have centralised the life out of Tayside

By Sanjay Samani

The Scottish Lib Dems have published a report showing the impact on SNP centralisation on Scotland.

You can read the full report here: The SNP have centralised the life out of Scotland.

The impact just for Tayside has been:

What has been lost:

  • Perth & Kinross Council, Dundee City Council and Angus Council stripped of financial responsibility.
  • Tayside Police abolished and their Dundee HQ scrapped.
  • Police public counters closed in Auchterarder, Blairgowrie, Brechin, Carnoustie, Crieff, Kinross, Longhaugh, Maryfield and Montrose.
  • Arbroath Sheriff Court closed.
  • Tayside Fire and Rescue Service abolished and their Dundee HQ scrapped.
  • Local Tayside Enterprise company board disbanded and now controlled centrally.
  • NHS capital funding decisions for up to 22 local hospitals now made in Edinburgh.
  • Angus College and Dundee College merged, losing local links.

What has been given:

  • Policing with centrally imposed stop and search targets up 236% in Perth & Kinross, 325% in Angus and 102% in Dundee even though the police admit there is “no robust evidence” it works.
  • Armed police routinely patrolling even the smallest towns and villages.
  • Local health services which miss important treatment time targets for children and young people suffering from mental ill-health.

From:: Sanjay Samani

First hustings at D&A College in Arbroath a great success

By Sanjay Samani

Sanjay visiting D&A College

I was delighted to be invited to the first General Election hustings hosted by Dundee & Angus College’s Arbroath Campus. The hustings, organised by students took place on Wednesday at the Keptie Street Campus. Sanjay took the opportunity to meet with students at the college on the Introduction to Construction course.

It was an excellent first hustings for the election campaign, with great chairing by Student President, Marc Winsland. It was also a real pleasure to meet students taking the Introduction to Construction course.

Questions focussed on the job opportunities for young people, the impact of welfare changes, the lack of affordable housing and low pay. In addition there was a frank discussion about Further Education funding.

During the debate, I discussed the Lib Dem’s record in Government, delivering on our front page manifesto pledges from the 2010 election. We discussed the 1 million jobs created by the coalition along with 2 million apprenticeships. To tackle low pay, can point to the record increase in the minimum wage announced yesterday.

Lib Dems promised a £700 tax cut every year for workers, in today’s budget we announced that we have over-delivered, with a £900 tax cut every year from next April. I also pointed to our record on house building across the rest of the UK, with 190,000 additional affordable homes built.

I expressed disappointment that the Lib Dems have not been able to do more in blocking the Tories’ idealogical attacks on the Welfare and Benefits. I highlighted the need for the two main parties to end their rhetoric of treating those on benefits as being burdens on our society. Only then can we change the target culture in Job Centres that is leading to deeply unfair sanctions.

On Further Education funding, it was clear to everyone in the room that SNP could not lay the blame for massive cuts in College places and bursary funding on Westminster. The SNP Government have prioritised Universities at the expense of Colleges funding.

Colleges provide keys skills that Angus students need to get the jobs being created across the whole government. Skills that our local businesses desperately need to thrive. They form a crucial part of the economy and education for Angus and Scotland.

That is why the Scottish Lib Dems have placed guaranteed education funding from nursery to College on the front page of our manifesto. As with the front page of the 2010 manifesto, the Lib Dems can be relied on to deliver on our headline commitments.

From:: Sanjay Samani

Angus Council sickness figures highlight need for cross party action on Mental Health

By Sanjay Samani

I was very saddened to read in The Courier on 9th March that 1/4 of Angus Council Staff and Angus Teachers who are off sick are suffering with stress. Many of them will not be met with the understanding and sympathy they deserve as Mental Health is poorly understood and there is such a stigma attached to it.

Having been off work with stress myself last year, my heart goes out to all of them and hope that they are able to receive the support and treatment they desperately need. Personally, I was fortunate that I was getting support from the magnificent Maggie’s Centre in Dundee and they have helped considerably in my recovery.

The figures published highlight the need to treat Mental Health on an equal footing with physical health. As the Lib Dem candidate for Angus in the upcoming election, I was delighted to see my party put Mental Health front and centre by adding it as one of our top five priorities on the front page of our manifesto.

However this is an issue that should cross all party political lines as Mental Health effects so many people across Angus and the rest of the country.

I have therefore written to my fellow candidates to politely request that we all agree on a simple set of commitments, if we are elected at the forthcoming election:

  • Challenge the stigma around Mental Health so that anyone effected by it feels able to come forward and seek support and treatment as early as possible.
  • Treat Mental Health on an equal footing with physical health, with maximum waiting time targets and additional funding for treatment.
  • Provide education at schools so that young people are better equipped to understand mental illness should they be effected by it.

If we can dramatically improve Mental Health treatment we can help sufferers to recover more quickly and, as a secondary benefit, help to improve Angus Council’s sickness rates.

From:: Sanjay Samani

SNP Cllr Bill Duff excuses attacks on BBC’s Nick Robinson

By Sanjay Samani

Twitter Conversation

Montrose SNP Cllr Bill Duff has excused CyberNat attacks on the BBC’s Nick Robinson following his diagnosis with cancer. His tweet suggested that as he had met people wishing ill of Alex Salmond, that celebrating’s Nick Robinson’s cancer diagnosis was therefore acceptable

Replying to a comment I made on Twitter about ugly nationalism, Twitter user @TheQuietNo tweeted, “Burning Smith Report, saying Murphy stole from the Clutha fund, laughing at Nick Robinson getting cancer, etc. etc. #SNPout”. In response, Angus SNP Cllr Bill Duff tweeted, “Met plenty of people who wished Alex S ill . What’s your point?”

@TheQuietNo @ssamani Met plenty of people who wished Alex S ill . What’s your point?

— Bill Duff (@BillNorAngus) March 2, 2015

Cllr Duff had previously received criticism for a tweet during the referendum campaign in which he described No Voters as “second class Scots”.

To excuse horrible CyberNats attacks on Nick Robinson is disgraceful. Bill Duff should withdraw his tweet and condemn the attacks on Nick Robinson. Given the “second class Scots” saga, I seriously doubt that he will.

Having watched my mother, father and mother-in-law all lose their battles with cancer, and seeing my wife go through the hell of chemotherapy, I would not wish cancer on anybody. The disgusting comments by CyberNats about Nick Robinson are a new low in the nastiness of the independence debate.

I am on record condemning any abuse by both supporters of keeping Scotland part of the UK and by those supporting Independence. I would expect the same from any elected SNP representative and that includes Bill Duff.

Montrose Lib Dem Cllr David May commented,

Like Sanjay Samani I have had many friends and relations who have lost their battles against cancer and Cllr Duff should withdraw his tweet as there is no excuse for such abuse, from whatever source it comes.

From:: Sanjay Samani

Petition launched to stop sale of Legal Highs in Angus

By Sanjay Samani

Montrose Legal High Shop after break in

Angus Liberal Democrats have launched a petition calling on the sale of so called Legal Highs to end immediately. Following the news that the Montrose Evape-o-lution shop has been broken into for a second time, concerns have been raised that dangerous drugs are finding their way onto our streets.

The petition calls on the owners of the shops in Montrose, Arbroath and across Tayside to stop selling Novel Psychoactive Substances with immediate effect.

The petition can be found online by clicking here. If you want to share the address of the petition, Citi is http://bit.ly/StopLegalHighs

There is no legitimate use of these products, which is why the UK Government has indicated that they will be banned in future. The owners should stop exploiting the vulnerable and stop selling them immediately.

With the Montrose shop is getting broken into repeatedly, these dangerous drugs are finding their way onto the streets and may lead to serious health issues for people living in Angus.

Lib Dem Montrose Cllr David May said,

“The shop was broken into twice today and this is at least the third time of being broken into. There is no doubt many of their products have been stolen. There are some very serious questions about security in the shop if the so called legal highs products can be removed so easily.”

“This is especially worrying as it is clear that the products so many of these types of shops sell are not safe and have led to deaths as well as real long term health problems for so many people.”

From:: Sanjay Samani

Cancer Stresses Me Out

By Sanjay Samani

Maggie's Centre Dundee

The following post was originally posted on Lib Dem Voice on Thursday 5th February which was Time To Talk day, a day encouraging everyone to talk about their personal experiences with Mental Health issues. The Lib Dems have been running a long running campaign to break the stigma around Mental Health and several Lib Dems chose to share their experiences on the day.

The original post can be found on Lib Dem Voice by clicking here.

This is my personal experience with Mental Health.

Cancer Stresses Me Out

Maggie’s Centre Dundee

Over the last 15 years, my wife and I have supported family members through 10 rounds of cancer. My mother had ovarian cancer, with relapses and recurrences 4 times over 8 years before it took her. My father had lung cancer twice before it took him. My mother-in-law had pancreatic cancer and passed away in under a year. A month before she passed away, her boyfriend started complaining of headaches and weeks afterwards was diagnosed with a brain tumor and passed away within 6 months. My wife’s grandfather was treated for a stomach tumor and is now doing really well, celebrating his 85th birthday tomorrow.

And 18 months ago, my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, but fortunately has had an amazing response to the wonder drug Herceptin and has been given the all clear and is steadily getting back to full strength.

During those 15 years, my wife and I have attended at least 15 family funerals, including two pets, losing family to dementia, heart attacks and suicide as well as cancer. When our 14 year old cat had to be put to sleep last year, inevitably she had a tumor as well.

We also had two failed IVF’s, 2 house purchases fall through, lost touch with friends, fell in and out with family and had a host of other stresses.

Not surprisingly with all that going on, I ended up bottling my emotions to cope with year after year of additional heartache. That ended up bubbling over, with an incredibly short temper, fatigue and finding it hard to concentrate and get things done.

I started having counseling at the fantastic Maggie’s Centre in Dundee, which provides a range of support to those going through cancer and their family and friends.

During those sessions, I slowly unbottled all those emotions, coming to terms with the grief of losing my parents, having lost touch with close friends, arguments with family, the failure of my software business and the various other side effects of having so many family members suffer from cancer.

There came a point last year when all the stress had built up so much, I had just bought a new car, and I scraped the side of it entering a car park. I had a complete meltdown, and could not stop crying for ages.

My wife drove to where I was and helped me get back on my feet. I collected my things from work and headed home.

The next day I was signed off work with stress. The recovery has been slow since then, a roller coaster of exhaustion and struggling to get out of bed, uncontrolled crying, and short temper. I have found it incredibly tiring and stressful to be around people that I do not know well. I feel incredibly guilty that at times I do not have the energy or patience to play with my two wonderful children. A cancer scare for another family member plunged me back into my most stressful state and letting out the bottled up emotions has sometimes plunged me into despair.

Meanwhile, my wife has had to pick up the pieces around me, not knowing from one day to the next whether I’ll have energy to get things done, or down in the dumps, or short tempered and irritable.

Thanks to the counseling at Maggie’s, the Stress Management course they offer and their Creative Writing sessions, I am steadily getting back on my feet.

I’ve been advised to do more exercise to get my endorphins going, but that can be challenging, with negative thoughts flooding through my head, so canvassing and delivering for the Lib Dems has been excellent, as you don’t have time to think as you go from door to door.

I had seen a lot of fellow Liberal Democrats focus on Mental Health as their main campaign. It was never something that I particularly understood until I’ve experienced it directly myself. I have found it incredibly emotional to see my party make it such a huge priority of it, whilst I was going through it myself.

I can admit myself to wondering why colleagues were being signed off with stress when I thought they had nothing to be stressed about. Try going through my cancer hell, I used to think!! I now fully appreciate how overwhelming mental health issues are.

I sometimes wonder whether it is helpful calling it Mental illness, rather than just illness, as it creates the impression that it is just in the mind, and that simply will power, positive thinking and a change of attitude can resolve it. Knowing that mental health issues are a combination of physiological and sometimes uncontrollable mental impacts makes a profound difference to how we approach tackling them.

Maggie’s has been a revelation and for me, I feel that it has saved my life and that I would not have go through it without the services they offer. I believe that they should act as a model for best practice mental health provision in the future. Dedicated, nurturing, sympathetic buildings, away from hospitals and their clinical coldness provide a much better space to provide the appropriate treatments.

The counseling they provide is open ended, available for as long as is needed. I cannot stress enough how important this is.

At our Journaling session today, we happened to share and discuss our personal experiences with the mental health impacts of cancer. I pointed out that it was Time To Talk day and came home and decided to write this as my journal entry for the day.

From:: Sanjay Samani

New video starkly highlights need for Laurencekirk Flyover

By Sanjay Samani

We are repeating our calls on the SNP Government to build a flyover at Laurencekirk after a new video emerged showing a bus completely blocking the southbound fast lane on the A90 at the notorious junction, forcing drivers to come to a complete stop.

Seeing the video this evening on Facebook was unbelievable. Those of us who have backed Jill Fotheringham’s campaign for a flyover for many years know all too well how dangerous the junction is. But this video shows so clearly that there is a massive safety issue, it is a relief that no-one was hurt.

The SNP Government needs to immediately announce that a flyover will be built, without waiting on the results of the recent consultation, or we may well see a major accident at the junction.

However I do not believe the SNP Government want to be seen to back down, so it is vital that everyone who uses the junction makes their voices heard and give their feedback on the consultation by calling for a flyover.

Montrose Lib Dem Cllr David May said,

“That is one of the most terrifying pictures I have seen and what is truly startling is having it on video as well. This demonstrates the need for a flyover so much more clearly than we could ever do, even with thousands of signatures on Jill’s two petitions, hundreds of photos and 10 years of campaigning.”

“It puts the danger of the junction so starkly that it is plain to see for everyone. Thankfully there was no major accident arising from this.”

From:: Sanjay Samani

Busier Sheriff Court in Angus Closed by SNP #SNPFail

By Sanjay Samani

Figures revealed yesterday have shown that the SNP Government chose to close the busier of the Sheriff’s Courts in Angus. This was despite there being over £100 million unspent in the last year for Justice and the Procurator Fiscal Service.

Angus Lib Dems strongly objected to the closure of Arbroath Sheriff Court and the figures reveal that the court was heavily used. Forcing witnesses and victims to travel long distances will undermine the effectiveness of the justice system in Angus.

SNP representatives for Angus, Mike Weir MP, Nigel Don MSP and Graeme Day MSP seem to have little or no influence on their SNP colleagues making decisions centrally in Holyrood.

It is now clear that closing yet another service in Angus was a big mistake by the SNP.

Click here for the full article in The Courier which gives the following figures:

Between April 2012 to the end of March last year, prisoner journeys to Arbroath totalled 2,568, compared to Forfar’s 991.

Dundee received 5,262 prisoner movements in 2012/13, 5,284 in 2013/14 and 3,588 between April and November last year.

In the same periods, other sheriff courts received the following number of individual prisoner transport journeys:

  • Arbroath (closed in May) — 1,163, 1,405, 255
  • Forfar — 504, 487, 928

From:: Sanjay Samani

BP Jobs cut wake up call for Independence Supporters

By Sanjay Samani

Today’s announcement by BP that they will be cutting jobs in North East Scotland as a result of falling oil prices is a real blow for the local economy.

The news is a wake up call to supporters of independence who based their economic plans on Oil.

Oil prices are out of the hands of the Scottish and UK governments and is far too unstable to rely on for a major part of a country’s economy.

Falling oil prices are seen as a net positive for the overall UK economy that can weather the impact. It is however a massive blow for North East Scotland that the SNP Government has underfunded for many years. It puts a massive hole in the SNP’s plans for independence and shows that Scottish voters were right to reject their inflated promises.

North East Scotland needs to transition quickly to renewable energy where with on shore and off shore wind we have substantial resources and the price is far more stable and predictable. Oil and Gas will be a major per of the local economy for years to come but this news shows that the future is renewables and that we should invest now before we are forced to by shrinking oil reserves and volatile prices.

From:: Sanjay Samani