My name is Dan Peña! Let me re-introduce myself: you may recall that I wrote to you in January 2022 setting out my vision for a better Angus (Make Angus Great Again) and a better Scotland.
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I have been telling whoever would listen, about one million, on my websites, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Tiktok, Linkedin, Twitter, etc, that the current party system in Scotland is broken and has failed to deliver across the board.
And this is the primary reason I initiated an exploratory committee to enter Scottish politics in Angus! There needs to be far more forensic challenging of the majority party – regardless of who they are.
As of now there is virtually little to no accountability! As I have said, as an Independent, I will put the interests and opinions of those who would elect me to the fore. I would not to be bound by party doctrine that stifles original thought and lacks the agility to react to the here and now.
Since I obtained my UK passport in 2021 I have been especially critical of the leadership of the SNP but few, if any, listened. I said countless times, in public and on social media, the Sturgeon government had very few members in it that deserved your political support. Being a schoolteacher, shopkeeper or merely being interested in politics does not make you qualified to lead your community or country.
What needs to be done?
These are all honourable endeavours and help the country exist. But only a few members of the SNP have any experience in building or running a business that is responsible to millions. And modern Scottish politics, in its infancy since 1997, needed experience on the ground in finance and management – which recent events clearly indicate they lacked! I will be frank with you: I am a world-renowned successful businessman.
I have lived in Angus, Scotland, since 1984, and have over 50 years of experience building teams and producing results, in the billions! I have successfully assisted entities as diverse as the 25th largest company in the world, and provided critical business support to many aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders. What change is needed?
We have endured 16 years of SNP in charge – you will note that I have avoided the word “leadership”. The recent debacle (and that is far too polite a word to use) is a wake-up call for the whole nation. I will not pre-judge the ongoing investigation, but there is already enough detail in the public domain to make it clear, beyond any doubt, that SNP finances are in a mess, and they have, at best, misrepresented the size of their membership, amongst many other critical items. The election of Humza Yousaf as the “continuity” leader of the SNP is a clear indication that we can expect more of the same in terms of policy and achievement.
The fact, as of this writing, that the new first minister has refused to take appropriate disciplinary action speaks volumes of his lack of leadership!
The one positive is that any thoughts or dreams for Scottish independence appear to be dashed – or certainly lack popular support. We need to focus on the here and now.
My concern vis-à-vis world affairs, and more specifically Scottish commerce and politics, is significantly different than the average person reading, or listening to, my opinions! As a former USA army officer, entering voluntarily as a private, at the height of the Vietnam conflict and leaving as an officer – being ordained by an act of the US congress – an officer and a gentleman, I am seriously concerned!
I served with NATO on the old iron curtain in the late 60’s and have achieved success at the highest levels around the world. I have met five US presidents, two prime ministers, the Secretary General of NATO, five secretaries of state, five British royals, partnered with governments (USA, UK, Israeli, Mexican, Kuwait, Yemen, Japan, Peru, Columbia, and The Vatican), worked with three of the top five sovereign funds (Norway, China, and Kuwait), and was appointed Order of Saint John, as Serving Brother, by Queen Elizabeth II. Hence, I can speak with an authority that doesn’t exist in the current SNP! All the above aside – I have lived in Angus, Scotland since September 1984. I have seen what has happened or, more importantly, what has not happened!
A need for change
There has been much talk lately of the “Sturgeon legacy”. Let’s look at that in more detail. And let’s not overlook the Yousaf contribution to that “legacy”. He is, after all, the new leader and has held Ministerial and Cabinet positions under both Salmond and Sturgeon, since 2012. He is very much part of that “legacy”. He campaigned on precisely that message during the leadership battle. So, let’s drill down a bit more on the “legacy” – and this list is not exhaustive.
It does though give a clear picture of where we are. And, for those of you who have been following my podcasts and social media comments: “I TOLD YOU SO!” There was no doubt in my military, or civilian, mind that trouble was on the horizon! I said, unabashedly on countless occasions, do not heed me at your own peril! Yet no one was interested! Yes, a few Scottish newspapers took minor interest, which I am grateful for – but their articles were watered down, perhaps in fear of offending and being politically correct! What a joke!
I have predicted that the current fiasco in Scottish politics, is only the very tip of the iceberg. Just as an astute, financially trained, pundit who was the only man on earth to have predicted negative oil prices in the beginning of our Covid experience in 2020 – I am predicting the SNP fiasco to get much worse!
But as a 50 plus year financial professional, having done business with governments, the largest financial institutions and accountancy firms, at best, words like incompetence come to mind! Only God knows how really screwed up the SNP is today! How often does the CEO of a political party, Peter Murrell, SNP CEO, loan unannounced, over £100,000? Or, buy a £110,000 motor van left in the driveway of his mum for more than two years unused.
This begs the question – who really knew how bad things were internally? And how deep does the incompetence run?
• Health – over 750,000 Scots on NHS waiting lists.
• Funding / Deals – £2.5 billion of Covid recovery money seemingly unaccounted for. Plus, Scotland is expected to lose an estimated £60 billion through mishandling of the much criticised ScotWind deal. And the much publicized, seemingly unaccounted for £600,000 of party money that was crowdfunded from independence supporters.
• Drug deaths – more than doubled since 2014. Highest rate in Europe.
• Ferries – cost now at £338 million. 3.5x over budget. Further delays expected. With huge negative impact on island communities.
• Education – failure to close educational attainment gap. Fewer schools than in 2014. More than 1000 schools not inspected for 10 years. Over 1700 schools still contain asbestos.
• Gender Recognition Reform Bill – led by SNP it allows 16-year-olds to change gender.
• Sentencing guidelines, introduced in 2022, allowed a convicted rapist of a child to avoid a custodial sentence because, he was under 25. What about justice for the victim?
• Independence – Civil servants tied up and and court case costs. • Scottish census – many millions over budget.
• Police – over 600 fewer on our streets, lowest since 2013, and over 100 police stations have closed their doors.
• Roads – A9 and A96 dualling projects delayed. Roads in disrepair and SNP ministers have been accused of covering up botched engineering on the Queensferry Crossing, after it emerged transport mandarins knew of faults before it was opened to the public.
• Ministerial expenses – chauffeur driven limo trips, 286 journeys in one month, October 2021 – £1.3 million spent in a year (2019): £3,685 a day – and £370,300 more than when the SNP took office in 2010. SNP ministers undermining their green credentials by taking nearly 300 chauffeur-driven limousine journeys in a single month, while advising the Scottish public to leave their cars at home. Ministers, had taken, on average almost ten car journeys a day in October last year.
Almost a third of the trips were between their homes and their government workplaces. The above is a selection of a much longer list of failing to deliver and broken manifesto commitments.
What are the next steps?
Now please indulge me and let’s look at my manifesto commitments, since January 2022: As promised, I said I was going to have focus groups. On January 12, exactly three months since I was sworn in on October 12 as a UK citizen, I had my first focus group with about 20 attendees. I had my second focus group meeting, which is currently online uncut on my political website, at Guthrie Town Hall that lasted about an hour with about 50 participants.
At both these focus groups, these were the main topics brought up: • Make the high streets look as pristine as before • Pensioners to be better taken care of • Veterans to be better taken care of • Making migration work for both sides • Alleviate drug problem • Less DOLE and free money to those that can still work, as there is a general bad feeling towards government for allowing people to make so much that they do not need to work or that they are purposely being unemployed to gain benefits.
In addition, as promised, I met with: • Politicos • CEO/President of Chambers of Commerce • Lord Lieutenant of Angus • Aides and confidantes to two former Prime Ministers • Six interviews with Scottish newspapers • Major TV network in reference to a documentary on Scottish politics I emailed and called my two local MPs for a meeting.
Both refused to meet (using Covid as an excuse) and one of them said he would not be part of any political endeavour of mine, though he held his surgery, in Guthrie Hall – 500 meters from my home! Then I podcast challenged both to a debate! Ultimately I challenged them and the First minister to a joint debate.
I am still waiting for a response! Recent events have shown that the SNP is incapable of managing their own party’s affairs (finance, membership, auditors) to such an extent that criminal investigations are ongoing – and would appear to have been underway – since July 2021.
They cannot manage themselves in an accountable way and we know from their “legacy” that their running of the country leaves much to be desired. It really is time for a change. If it were not government, but business and there were shareholders/directors, it would be time to totally clean the house!
I am not suggesting it will be easy, or even readily accepted, despite the SNP’s obvious ineptness. But each great journey, begins with a first, often bold, step! So please forgive me for the “Braveheart” cliché – freedom! Not freedom from England – but freedom from the SNP’s lack of leadership and its non-existent plan to make Scotland great again.
What is the plan for the future?
What Scotland needs now is the freedom to have our elected representatives do what you elected them to do – without compromise, or deceit!
After being so badly represented by individuals you voted in and considering how your choices have worked out so far – will you consider a different initiative that represented you honestly, with no secrecy and full disclosure, even when it hurts? We in Scotland, often criticise down south for their old boy network! Well, I don’t need to tell you – our Scottish equivalent is alive and well, as evidenced by the recent SNP shambolic fiasco! When the next election comes – think carefully about who you are really voting for! Do they really have the requisite experience to get us out of the quagmire we are currently in? Have they built teams and achieved goals in a timely fashion and on budget?
And I mean for all parties – not merely the SNP, who are currently under scrutiny! And, if I should put my name and track record forward – please listen to the message before you think of shooting the messenger! And remember, I ask for no money! I am not affiliated with any existing party!
And, I have my own team of financial and people professionals that have one extremely important thing in common – we are indebted to no one! Hence, no back room deals to pacify anybody! As my 50-plus year military and worldwide business track record indicate – I always do exactly what I say! And yes, I am controversial! You can still be a proud and loyal Scot without supporting independence.
Ask yourself honestly – how has the current arrangement worked out so far?
You deserve better. Your family deserves better. Your community deserves better. My grandchildren, who will own Guthrie Castle someday, deserves better! Scotland deserves better. Let’s make a start!