I should, I suppose, firstly declare my credentials.
I joined the SNP in 2004 or 2005 – during the period of the Labour/Liberal “Executive”. As I was living outwith Scotland at the time, I was not active in the SNP. From the time I joined the SNP until the time I became active, I divided my time between my homes in the English Home Counties and in Ireland.
In 2007, when the SNP won the historic minority administration, I was living in England. I can put my hand on my heart and state with absolute certainty that my membership of the SNP in England was not treated any differently from a member based in Scotland.
In January 2010, I moved to Scotland. I immediately became active in the SNP. I was made very welcome in what was at the time was the Govan Branch. I worked very hard in the British parliament's “general election” for the SNP against Labour's thug, Ian Davidson, and, despite a heavy defeat, was pleased to have worked against Labour's ethos of arrogance and violence against women.
The next year saw the General Election, in which the SNP won a victory which was nearly impossible. The Nationalist party won seat after seat, throwing Labour out of its heartlands, and reducing them to a rump party. Whilst they remained the official Opposition, they had nary a single Constituency north of Dumbarton. The Liberal Democrats were decimated, failing to win even one mainland Constituency. Of the minor parties, infighting between the ultra-left saw them fail to win a seat, the Greens picked up a couple of List seats, and the Tories grabbed 15 or so seats.
I worked terribly hard in that election, and the count at the SECC, as Labour seat after Labour seat went yellow, ranks as one of the best nights of my life. Scotland, after more than three centuries, finally had a pro-Scottish Government.
In the months after the election victory, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the SNP. Despite the protestations of my community, the Government, which for the first time enjoyed absolute power, introduced legislation which many of my peers and friends considered to be anti-Catholic.
I believed their legislation to be anti-Catholic, and, as a result, I submitted my resignation to Peter Murrell, the Party's Chief Executive. My decision to leave the SNP resonated, my resignation was refused, and a delegation from Pollok SNP dispatched to bring me back.
After some discussion, I agreed to withdraw my resignation on the basis that the struggle for independence was more important than the administration of the nation. I do not regret this decision, and nor do I believe that my conclusion was or is incorrect.
And I want to place on the record, now that I am not a member of the SNP, that I was not simply posturing because I was an SNP member. I genuinely believe that what has become known as the Sectarianism Bill was the right thing to do. However, I don't think it was done from the right motives.
Subsequently, I spent a great deal of time in discussion with members of my community, with friends and peers, defending the legislation. I was still not comfortable with the intent of the legislation, even whilst I was content with the content.
Having withdrawn my resignation, news came through that the Organiser of the SNP's Govan Branch had moved out of the country and would have to relinquish his post. At a meeting of the Govan Branch, I was elected Organiser.
At this juncture, I should point out that the Govan Branch of the SNP is not the Govan Constituency. Therefore, there are two correct statements: “Tommy Ball was the Organiser of Govan SNP”, and “Tommy Ball was not Organiser of Govan SNP”. Depending on which Govan – Constituency or Branch – one is discussing, both are true.
As part of the Govan Branch, I met Nicola Sturgeon many times at social events, and indeed, the Health Secretary came out to campaign in our Constituency on several occasions. On one memorable occasion, she turned up with the famous actor, Elaine C Smith, and assisted an elderly gentlemen who fell over at Govan subway. Ms Sturgeon and I met on many occasions, and, as she is talented at public relations, greeted me by name. I recall, on one particular occasion at a barbecue in Dumbreck, she was buttonholed by a local member who I will refer to only as “Joe R” on the issue of the position of Catholics in Scotland – a cause close to my own heart, and one for which I will continue to work for, regardless of pressure from within or without the SNP.
First Minister Alex Salmond and I, at a fund-raiser for Nicola Sturgeon
I did not work closely with Minister Sturgeon, as she was standing in Southside and had many acolytes and hangers-on, and instead, devoted my time to Pollok – my home constituency and one which, despite being against Labour's deputy leader Johann Lamont, was woefully under-worked. As a general rule, we had the Candidate, a top-class Election Agent, a wonderful Organiser, and several activists. That was pretty much it. Our wonderful result in that constituency was despite the SNP's party machine, not because of it. One of those activists was a man who was unwelcome in his own area, of which more later.
On attending the SNP conference in Inverness, I was told by a senior Catholic SNP politician that the Government had “made an absolute cunt of this, and [we] have wrecked any chance of the Catholic community voting Yes”. The senior figure, who is a candidate in the upcoming Council elections, then pointed out that there was not a single West of Scotland Catholic in the Government.
The Conference was a great success. There was an air of victory around the Eden Court, but also an air of anticipation. I met a couple of MPs, enjoyed karaoke, played snooker with the leader of the SNP's sister party in Belgium (who was entirely ignored by the SNP leadership), and enjoyed various speeches. I asked a question of Angus Robertson at a fringe event, and had overall, a jolly good time.
It transpires that Robertson is a man who, despite being nominally in charge of the referendum campaign, is one who is utterly obsessed with the British Army and her associated armed forces. If I was a betting man, I would be having a quid on Robertson positioning himself as Defence Minister in an independent Scotland. He is a man whom it is not difficult to imagine massaging himself gently as a troop of soldiers comes into view.
The tone of the Conference was one of celebration, and also warning, that in months to come, we must work to win the Council elections.
As the Council elections approached, there became a thorny issue of how many candidates were to be fielded. It was decided that in both my constituency wards, Govan and Greater Pollok, there were to be three each. We gambled on maximising the public revulsion towards Labour and winning three out of three seats in both.
Therefore, it was necessary to hold elections in both. Pollok's election was the most noteworthy. You will remember that earlier, I mentioned a man who was unwelcome in his own area, having caused division and discord. Much to our discomfort, he sought election in Pollok.
At the selection meeting, the chap in question – who I shall refer to as Jorg Herr - made rather a fool of himself. He is a notorious racist, operating a blog in which he refers, perjoratively, to “Muslim MSPs” and “corrupt foreigners”. Whilst he is despised by his peers, our activists took the decision to allow him to work with us in the General Election. He made a spectacle of himself on many occasions, arguing with voters and so on, and being generally cringeworthy.
As the vote arrived, it became clear that Jorg was seriously mentally ill, and suffering from paranoid delusions. He declared that if anyone didn't vote for him, it was for the sole reason that they were being “controlled”. He turned up to the selection meeting telling everyone how he would not work with the SNP, but instead had shared many of his wonderful “ideas” with Labour councillors.
In a surprising development, Jorg got only a single, sympathy, vote, and was utterly humiliated. Subsequently, he refused to accept the result, and declared that there had been an SNP smear campaign against him. The Bacofoil hat was firmly wedged onto the head – and from then on in, he was implacably opposed to everyone in Pollok SNP, to the extent that he began to slander them in his blog.
Following his utter humiliation, Mr Herr then took to messaging SNP members on the Twitter, asking them to stop following them because he didn't “want to be monitored by the Scottish National Party”. Presumably, the “block” facility hadn't occurred to the poor man. Either that, or he was a barely-compos-mentis attention seeker. Furthermore, he continued telling the lie that the only reason he wasn't elected was a smear campaign. As my dear old granny said, he is a man to be pitied – utterly pitied – not scolded.
Regardless, Mr Herr was not selected – not even nearly selected – and his humiliation and abasement was complete. He decided to seek revenge.
Following the recent deaths of six British Army soldiers in Afghanistan, I questioned whether their deaths would receive the same attention as the 34,000 civilian deaths there. Unsurprisingly, I was immediately attacked by the drooling tabloid readers, defending “our Heroes”.
I asked exactly why I should treat a British Army death with any more reverence than an Afghan death. I did not – do not – believe that a British life is worth more than an Afghan life. I then mentioned that the British Army are little better than the Taleban, referring to the murder of children by the British Army, and specifically to the bayoneting of a ten year old child by a British soldier.
I believe recent events by NATO soldiers in Afghanistan – the massacre of much of a village by a US soldier in a holocaust eerily reminiscent of My Lai or similar British crimes in Derry or Kenya – show my opinion to be true.
Mr Herr then saw his opportunity for his revenge against me (no, me either...), contacting every media outlet his Bacofoil-wrapped head could think of. The result of this was a series of totally warped stories in the pro-British media, claiming I had attacked the dead British soldiers.
In one downmarket tabloid, Mr Herr was quoted. One can imagine him, sitting alone, in his grotty, one-bedroom flat, never graced by the scent of a woman, chuckling with glee at the greatest moment of a pathetic life built on the hatred of “the Muslims” and “corrupt foreigners”.
I should point out that the only mention I made of the half dozen dead British soldiers was to ask whether they would receive the same media attention as the tens of thousands of Afghan dead. I made no direct mention of them after that.
I referred to the British Army as “child killers”. I am sure that the people of Cyprus, Ireland, Iraq, South Africa, India, Aden and many, many other lands will agree with me.
The day after the article attacking me appeared in the pro-British organ, the Daily Record, I received a post on my Facebook page. It said, simply: “we love you cos you speak the truth”.
That means more to me than any attack by the pro-British media, by faux outrage from the illiterate, by death threats from the English Defence League and those, like Jim Murphy, who benefited from Apartheid, by Bacofoil nonsense by mentally-ill rejects who are bitter about being treated with contempt, and by those who believe the British Army can do no wrong.
I was also told, by one of the functional illiterates who infest Twitter, that I'm a “lefty, Muslim-loving, anti-British twat”. Well, what can I say. Guilty on all counts, my Lord.
If I am attacked by Labour – the party which made Oswald Moseley a government minister – and their fellow-travellers in the BNP; the Daily Mail; the English Defence League; Angus Robertson, and the Daily Record, then I think I'm doing something right.
The British Army has done and is doing wicked things. I make no apology for saying that. And I stand by everything I said last week.
If the price of being a member of the Scottish National Party is to abrogate my principles and support the British Army, then that's too high a price for me to pay. I resigned - I was not expelled - from the SNP, and do so willingly. There is no place in Scotland for the British Army's thuggery, nor is there a place for their Weapons of Mass Destruction.
I ask the British: leave Scotland alone and in peace, and leave the world alone and in peace. You have done too much harm to remain.