The Devo Files: Jim Sheridan (Paisley and Renfrewshire North)

JimSheridan

Far to the east of Inverclyde, beyond the dark waters of the Auchendores and the hooded mysteries of Craigmarloch, lie the lands beyond the sunrise that is… Renfrewshire!

Jim Sheridan is quite a shock to me. I may have been disappointed in Katy Clark. I may still greatly dislike Douglas Alexander. But Jim Sheridan? I’m astounded the man is still running. Strike that: I’m astounded he’s still in the party. No, strike that again: I’m astounded the man isn’t in prison.

Voting Record

MP since: 7th June 2001
Attendance record as of 15th March 2014: 79.1% (2977 votes out of 3763)
Rebellions against party policy as of 15th March 2014: 1.2% (35 votes out of 2977)

That 79.1% might seem impressive compared to some of his New Labour colleagues (the highest attendance of a New Labour MP in the current parliament is 85.1%), but it’s a bit deceptive: his actual attendance over three parliamentary terms is 87.2% for 2001-2005 (1086 of 1246),  89.0% for 2005-2010 (1146 of 1288), and 60.6% for 2010-2015 (745 of 1229). Why the massive drop of almost 30 percentage points in attendance? Well, we’ll get to that.

Devolution Record

Public Whip record: 33.9%
Did not vote on a second reading of the Scotland Bill 2012
Voted for requiring Scottish ministers to order officers to start counting within four hours of polls closing
Voted against devolving regulation of air weapons
Voted against keeping insolvency powers with the Scottish parliament
Voted against keeping responsibility for regulating health officials with the Scottish Parliament
Did not vote on devolving tax quarrying and mining
Voted against code of conduct for Scottish ministers in relation to the treasury
Did not vote on devolving the Scottish elements of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Voted for devolving responsibility for railways that start and finish in Scotland
Voted against devolving elements of the Crown Estate and accountability of the Crown Estate
Voted against devolving timescales, time zones, and British Summer Time
Voted for devolving food content and labeling
Voted against allowing the Scottish government to tax companies’ profits
Did not vote on devolving the regulation of shale gas to Scotland

Mr Sheridan voted to devolve powers to Scotland on 3 policies, voted against devolving powers to Scotland on 7 policies, and didn’t turn up to vote on 4 policies. Even after the referendum and the promise of “Devo Max,” “Home Rule,” and whatnot, Mr Sheridan didn’t even bother to vote on the hot topic of fracking regulation. Now, you could understand why New Labour MPs wouldn’t really be that bothered about the Scotland Act, and felt comfortable in voting not to devolve most powers. But after the referendum? After The Vow? After poll upon poll predicting a wipeout?

2013-2014 Expenses

Office Costs: £22,747.82
Staffing: £121,428.66
Travel: £21,257.33
Accommodation: £20,100.00
Additional Salary Received: £11,974.27 (Panel of Chairs)
Connected party: Joanne Riley, daughter, Parliamentary Assistant  (at least £25,000.00)
Grand Total: £222,508.08

In addition, Mr Sheridan got into some hot water when some of his choices of parliamentary expenditure from 2005 to 2008 were revealed in 2009:

But The Daily Telegraph can reveal details of how Mr Sheridan, the MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, benefited from the second homes allowance that Mr Martin vigorously defended.

Mr Sheridan previously rented a flat in London’s Dolphin Square, designating the property as his second home, and reclaiming the rent of about £3,400 every quarter.

Here’s a list of the one-offs, just so you can tell exactly how much money UK taxpayers gave to luxuriate Mr Sheridan’s second home:

£991.95 for a memory foam mattress & ivory leather bed
£500 for furniture & household accessories
£699 for a three-seater sofa
£829 for a two-seater sofa bed
£219 for a coffee table
£199 for a lamp table
£359 for a wardrobe
£299 for a chest of drawers
£159 for a bedside cabinet
£109 for a mirror
£1,200 to have ceilings, walls and woodwork painted
£1,280 for a new shower
£595 for new blinds
£699.99 42-inch for a plasma television
£219.99 for a four-year warranty for said television

Excluding the £3,400 quarterly rent of his Dolphin Square second home and the £924 mortgage interest of his other second home, that amounts to £8,358.93.

Finally, if the name Dolphin Square sounds familiar to you (TRIGGER WARNING for anyone with a sense of human decency) this is probably why.

Let’s All Go To The Lobby

May 16th 2009 UNITE National March for Jobs Demo Birmingham

Mr Sheridan got himself into quite a bit of a kerfuffle in 2013:

A leaked union document last week disclosed that Mr Hart had drawn up plans to ensure that the Union’s favoured candidates were successful in 40 other constituencies across the country. According to parliamentary records, he was given a security pass for Parliament on the sponsorship of the Labour MP, Jim Sheridan.

Mr Sheridan is the chair of the Unite Parliamentary Group, which the union says consists of about 100 Labour MPs. Unite provides the group with briefings on the impact of legislation passing through the Commons on union members.

A Unite document produced shortly after the last election highlighted the union’s “strong level of influence” on Labour MPs and peers, as well as the Shadow Cabinet.

Mr Hart is in the process of handing back his pass because he is leaving the union to take up another role at a think-tank, according to a spokesman for Unite. Mr Parrott and the other two Unite pass-holders have already handed back their passes, the spokesman said.

Jim Sheridan is chair of the Unite group of MPs and as such we will give him support in running that group,” the Unite spokesman said. “It is all completely open and above board.”

Mr Sheridan and Unite have both denied claims they plotted to unseat Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary and a leading Blairite MP. The Unite leader Len McCluskey has criticised Mr Alexander in the past.
The Telegraph, 8th July 2013

This is no different from a Conservative party donor being awarded a parliamentary pass by a Tory MP: it is nothing short of scandalous, and it is astounding that Mr Sheridan still has a job. Perhaps this is a reason why he has never bothered to vote on any of the five motions for a register of lobbyists, as well as why he voted to exempt ministers from the Freedom of Information Act.

The fact that none of this is technically illegal shows you just how rotten and crooked Westminster is.

Britain’s National Sport

Remember the 2012 Olympics? Well, hard to forget.

Well, Jim Sheridan played a crucial part in the decision to field a Great Britain Football Team. This decision was a cause of concern according to several sources, including Alex Salmond, the SFA, & Stuart McMillan MSP, who said:

“Labour may say it is OK to have a single UK team but the people who should really be listened to are the SFA (Scottish Football Association) and the Tartan Army. This is not a guarantee that the independence of the SFA and the other three national associations in the UK will not be threatened by a single UK football Olympic team. It is not in the gift of officials but all members of Fifa who could take away the SFA’s independence.”

Mr Sheridan seemed completely unconcerned:

“I have always been supportive of moves to allow our best youngsters to represent Team GB in London. Nothing could be more thrilling than seeing a UK Olympic win on home soil in 2012 – and that’s what I am rooting for. The best young Scottish footballers should have the chance to compete in the London Olympics, without threatening our historic national squad. If Mr Salmond continues to try and deny our youngsters that chance, he is putting ideology before football.”

Evidently the best young Scottish footballers could only have a chance to compete in the London Olympics as part of Team GB, while letting them compete in a Scottish team would somehow deny them that chance. How does that work?

Quotes

Sheridan

In early 2008, after a series of inflammatory pieces in the local press, an Ayrshire Labour MP Brian Donohoe raised a debate in parliament to discuss the “problem” and put pressure on the Minister to give local authorities more powers to move people on who are perceived as a nuisance. This was backed by other Labour M.P.s including Renfrewshire MP Jim Sheridan, and left unchallenged by their colleagues. The racist language used in Parliament would be familiar to readers of the Daily Express and other tabloids which frequently stir up anti-Gypsy feeling.
Frontline, July 2009. Brian Donohoe was excoriated for his comments: would Mr Sheridan change his tune?

“Everyone has rights and is entitled to live their life in whatever manner they choose, however, we all live in one society I have seen first-hand the negative impact that Gypsy travellers can have on local communities and businesses. I have witnessed in my own constituency when the Gypsy travellers have come to Erskine and Inchinnan that the mess and damage they cause is left to be cleaned up by the Council, or other Government agencies such as Renfrewshire Enterprise. Our rights come with responsibilities and I do not believe it is right for Gypsy travellers to shirk these responsibilities and leave other sections of society to deal with their mess.
– Mr Sheridan’s submission to the Equal Opportunities Committee, July 2012

“MPs who have already used their allowance to pay staff will either be out of pocket or have to sack or reduce other members of staff. The system IPSA has brought in, for me it’s just cumbersome, it seems as if it’s vindictive and it discriminates against those of us who don’t have healthy bank balances.”
– Mr Sheridan obviously misses being able to buy £700 plasma TVs with abandon

“Do you agree with me that it is one of the nauseating things that some of the people who are donating money to the SNP from abroad are actually living abroad to avoid paying tax? They want to tell us in Scotland how to live when we pay our taxes here and they are not paying their taxes where they are living, including Sean Connery.”
– Mr Sheridan speaking to Ian Davidson in January 2013, who is presumably equally as nauseated with Ian Taylor and C.J. Samson, both of whom contributed significant sums to Better Together despite living outside Scotland

“What concerns me is there are parasitical elements within the press who abuse their position in here in terms of hiding behind their pens and calling people names. That is the so-called brave people. I don’t understand why they are allowed to come into this place and behave in the way that they do. This proposal is not going to stop them from behaving the way they behave, but hopefully it will bring some kind of decency to them.
– Mr Sheridan’s proposals to regulate the press are awe-inspiring in their hypocritical irony, and one wonders where that places him as a regular in the Paisley Daily Express

Yes, that is Jim Sheridan appealing to the Conservative Prime Minister to encourage businesses to browbeat their employees into voting No.

Post-Referendum

Mr Sheridan was one of a number of New Labour MPs – and the only other Scot, alongside Katy Clark – who called for a massive shift in party direction:

1 An alternative to the continuation of austerity and spending cuts till 2019-20
2 Returning rail franchises when expired to public ownership rather than subjecting them to competition
3 The need for the restoration of collective bargaining and employment rights as a check against excessive corporate power

There are 256 New Labour MPs currently in parliament.

15 signed this letter.

15 MPs out of 256 is 5.86%.

That’s how many New Labour MPs support an alternative to austerity, public rail ownership and employment rights enough to sign a letter. 1 in 20.

I’m glad Keir Hardie isn’t alive to see what his party has become.

Can It Be Done?

Gavin Newlands has lived in Renfrewshire since he was a wean, and is as fed up as the rest of the SNP with Jim Sheridan’s antics. And New Labour, for that matter…

SCOTTISH Labour MPs are demanding that one of their colleagues should be barred from standing for the party again after he decided to take a three-week holiday abroad instead of campaigning during the Holyrood election.

The Scotsman has been told that Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP Jim Sheridan told colleagues that the result was “in the bag”.

He added he would not be needed to help in campaigning during the election, which instead led to the SNP winning a historic majority.
The Scotsman, May 2011. Evidently those MPs felt keeping as many of their seats as possible was more important, even if it meant such a disgrace being allowed to run again

This is the contempt for which Jim Sheridan holds his constituents: he just assumed that Paisley was “in the bag” for the Scottish Parliament. And why not? Paisley was red for decades. The polls showed a strong New Labour lead: surely the SNP minority government of 2007 was simply an aberration, quickly rectified as the people came home to Scotland’s Party? Well, they didn’t. Paisley went gold. The SNP gained a majority. And New Labour have been cascading ever since.

It wasn’t always this way. Paisley and North Renfrewshire was comfortably New Labour for its fifteen-year existence; its predecessor West Renfrewshire – of which Mr Sheridan was the final member – was red since 1964. So how can we judge Mr Sheridan’s chances?

General Election 2001: Renfrewshire West
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour James Sheridan 15,720 46.9 +0.4
SNP Ms. Carol Puthucheary 7,145 21.3 −5.2
Conservative David John Sharpe 5,522 16.5 −2.1
Liberal Democrat Miss Clare Alison Hamblen 4,185 12.5 +4.8
Scottish Socialist Ms. Arlene Nunnery 925 2.8 N/A
Majority 8,575 25.6
Turnout 33,497 63.3 −12.7
Labour hold Swing
General Election 2005: Paisley and Renfrewshire North
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Jim Sheridan 18,697 45.7% -6.6
SNP Bill Wilson 7,696 18.8% -3.9
Liberal Democrat Lewis Hutton 7,464 18.3% +10.7
Conservative Philip Lardner 5,566 13.6% -0.1
Scottish Socialist Angela McGregor 646 1.6% -1.7
Socialist Labour Katharine McGavigan 444 1.1% +1.1
UKIP John Pearson 372 0.9% +0.9
Majority 11,001 26.9%
Turnout 40,885 64.8% +3.6
Labour hold Swing -1.3
General Election 2010: Paisley and Renfrewshire North[5]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Jim Sheridan 23,613 54.03 +8.33
SNP Mags MacLaren 8,333 19.07 +0.27
Conservative Alistair Campbell 6,381 14.60 +1.00
Liberal Democrat Ruaraidh Dobson 4,597 10.52 -7.78
Independent Gary Pearson 550 1.26
Scottish Socialist Chris Rollo 233 0.53 -1.07
Majority 15,280 34.96%
Turnout 43,707 68.6
Labour hold Swing 4.3

Mr Sheridan’s vote count and majority have both climbed, but he suffered a drop in percentage in 2005:

15,720 (46.9%, +0.4) in 2001; 8,575 majority (25.6%)
18,697 (45.7%, -6.6) in 2005; 11,001 majority (26.9%)
23,613 (54%, +8.3) in 2010; 15,280 majority (35%)

While the SNP candidates’ vote count has climbed, their vote share dipped, and their point gain only rose in 2010:

7,145 (21.3%, -5.2) in 2001 (Carol Puthucheary)
7,696 (18.8%, -3.9) in 2005 (Bill Wilson)
8,333 (19.1%, +0.3) in 2010 (Mags MacLaren)

All for an MP that even his own party wanted disbarred from contesting this election in 2011. Not even New Labour want Jim Sheridan back in.

Enough is enough.

Contact

You can contact Mr Sheridan via his website, Twitter, or Facebook.

Or, you can contact Gavin Newlands via his website, Twitter, or Facebook. His fundraiser is here.

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3 thoughts on “The Devo Files: Jim Sheridan (Paisley and Renfrewshire North)

  1. […] Jim Sheridan, Paisley & Renfrewshire North […]

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  3. […] Russell Brown, Michael Connarty, Jimmy Hood, Eric Joyce, Jim McGovern, John Robertson, Lindsay Roy, Jim Sheridan, Jim Murphy, and Gordon Brown were all absent. Yes, that’s right: neither the newly elected […]

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