Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Mark Who? (18/01/14)

I managed to find the old Unison Press Release which my former chums in the union issued in response to my resignation from the Scottish Labour Party back in 1999 - and here's what it had to say.


UNISON'S leading officials have relaxed the following statement in response to Mark Irvine's resignation from the Labour Party.

Matt Smith, UNISON Scottish Secretary, said,

"Almost half of UNISON's members in Scotland pay a political levy to Labour.

"A number of UNISON members are standing as Labour candidates.

"UNISON and the Labour Party share common values and the common aim of high quality public services in Scotland. Where there are issues to be discussed we will work together in constructive debate."

John Lambie, UNISON Head of Health in Scotland, said, 

"Frankly, I'm surprised to hear that Mark Irvine is or ever has been a member of the Labour Party.

"Labour is delivering huge increases in spending for Scotland's public services.  

"And if we focus on health, my territory, I am very encouraged at the developments which have taken place and are continuing under the guidance of Sam Galbraith."


For further information please contact George McGregor on 0131 557 3096 to 0976 754420  

Now George, John and Matt were all members of the Labour Party, of course, but isn't it remarkable that my employer felt the need to issue a press release in response to my decision - a personal decision - to resign my membership of the Labour Party.

You could be forgiven for thinking that Labour Party membership at a senior level in the union was really regarded as compulsory even though it was not a condition of employment - since such a requirement would have been discriminatory and unlawful.

Even more remarkable was the fact that my old colleague John Lambie seems to forget that we had been attending the same trade union and Labour conferences together over the previous 10 years - before going on to pour praise on 'guidance' from the then Labour health minister in Scotland, Sam Galbraith.    

Things have all changed since 1999 of course - John is dead, Matt has retired and George is off working in London somewhere, but I have them all to thank for helping me make up my mind - that it was time to move on from Unison.

Paul Who? (24 November 2013)

I had a great laugh at the following spoof by Hugo Rifkind which appeared in the Times the other day - on the life and times of the Reverend Paul Flowers - now that he is not the flavour of the month and is keeping his head down, so to speak.

I have re-titled my post with the heading Paul Who? - because I remember the behaviour of people when I resigned from the Labour Party many years ago.

Some of my former friends and colleagues in the trade union movement disappeared like 'snow off a dyke' as they say - pretending that they didn't know me or that I had been a Labour supporter for the previous 10 years.

I'm sure one of my former Unison colleagues put out a press release along the lines of Mark Who? - which is why I find the bit about Ed Balls and the Labour leadership so hilariously funny.  

I must see if I can find a copy of that old press release - now that would be even funnier.

My Week: Paul Flowers*

Paul Flowers: Banker?

Paul Flowers: Banker?PA

By Hugo Rifkind


I am in hiding. Only my closest friends know where I am. One comes round and just looks at me.

“I don’t know what to say to you,” he sighs. “I can’t quite believe it.”

I hang my head.

“I thought I knew who you were,” he says. “It’s like you’ve been living a double life.”

I agree that it must look that way.

“I mean,” he says, “for God’s sake, Paul! We have the same friends. You’ve been to my house. We’ve even been on holiday together. And all this time none of us ever even suspected . . .”

“I know,” say, “I know.”

“. . . that you were a banker,” he says.


The doorbell rings, quite early. I don’t answer. If it’s not the press it’ll be the milkman, and I owe him money. I’ve slightly lost track of how much, but it’s either £4 or £44 billion. Either way, I don’t have it to hand.

Sitting in my front room, with the curtains drawn, I call Ed Balls.

“Do I know you?” he says.

“Ed!” I say. “It’s me! Paul! From the Co-op Bank!”

“Never heard of it,” says Ed.

But it’s one of Britain’s largest financial institutions, I say. Part of the Co-operative Movement, for which you’ve been an MP for the past eight years.

“Never heard of that, either,” says Ed.

“But we gave you loads of money!” I say. “It’s just not plausible that you didn’t realise!”

“Did you realise?” he says.

“Fair point,” I say.


Len Wardle, the Co-op’s overall chairman, has resigned over his links to me. We meet, incognito, in a Manchester coffee shop.

“Coffee?” I say. “Or would you prefer a cocktail of crystal meth, cocaine and ketamine?”

Len says just a coffee, thanks. Then he sighs. We had such plans, he says. All turned to dust. Perhaps our only legacy will be Smile, online.

“I don’t think anybody is smiling about what I’ve been doing online,” I say.