Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Facebook and Bogus Complaints



Here's a selection of my blog posts which were caught up in the bogus complaint to Facebook.  

Thanks again to all the readers who sent messages of support! 

 


Glasgow's Equal Pay Oak Tree



Glasgow's equal pay claimants - along with their many supporters, families and friends - are invited to an event this Sunday on International Women's Day. 

Date - Sunday 8 March 2020

Time - 11.30 am

Venue - People's Palace (east side) 

The event is being organised to mark the planting of a new Equal Pay Oak Tree and in memory of the hundreds of Glasgow claimants who passed away waiting for their equal pay claims to be settled.

All welcome.

 


Feck Off, February! (2)



The UK Met Office has just released figures confirming that February 2020 was the wettest February on record.

Who knew?

 


Feck Off, February!



The month of February has been terrible weather-wise, worse than any month I can remember - wind and rain, followed by more wind and rain, now sleet and snow are taking their turn to make people's lives miserable. 

I may have to move abroad if this keeps up much longer - meanwhile a mature tree in Barrowland Park has just blown over.

 


Glasgow - Higher Taxes, Fewer Services (2)



One of Glasgow's Home Care workers shares the human cost of gritting the roads but not the pavements - when the icy weather sets in.

Hi Mark

I was told you wanted to hear from Glasgow council workers who have fallen during the recent spell of awful weather. 

Last week I fell on a pavement making my way to cross the road to my car to go to work due to black ice and pavement had not been gritted.

I have broken my left ankle and  have a cast on from toe to knee which has to stay on for 6 weeks. I was given crutches to mobilise with hopping technique which I can’t do because I suffer from hip bursitis. 

I have had to hire a wheelchair to mobilise around the house and have been given an 8 week sick note.

Thanks 

J

Anyone council employee who suffers and injury on their way to work should report the incident to their trade union.

But it also goes to show that council services are getting worse while the Council Tax keeps going up.

 


Glasgow - Higher Taxes, Fewer Services (21/02/20)



The BBC reports that Glasgow's citizens face a big rise in their council tax bills with yet another inflation busting increase on top of the 3% hike we witnessed in 2019/20.

The background to this year's budget setting exercise is that the Scottish Government had £795.2 million to spend on its priorities in 2019/20 - while Scottish councils, collectively, had   £404.8 million less to spend on delivering local services. 

See post below dated 17 February 2020 - 'Holyrood Holds the Purse Strings'. 

Something is definitely wrong somewhere because the end result is that Glasgow's council taxpayers are paying far higher taxes for fewer and poorer local services.

 


https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-51566055

Glasgow and Edinburgh council tax bills to increase by nearly 5%


Image copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionScotland's 32 councils run a range of services from schools to refuse collection

Scotland's two biggest councils have voted to increase domestic rates by nearly 5%.

In Glasgow, the SNP-administration set the rise at 4.64% while Edinburgh's SNP-Labour coalition agreed 4.79%.

Councils across Scotland have the power to raise council tax by up to 4.8% this year.

In the coming weeks, the country's 32 local authorities will be agreeing their budgets ahead of the new financial year on 1 April.

Glasgow's budget was passed after an amendment from the Scottish Greens was accepted. It included the following proposals:

  • The closure of its Blairvadach Outdoor Resource Centre in Argyll and Bute
  • The introduction of bulky uplift charges
  • An additional £1m for cleansing but a reduction in street sweeping services 
  • Under-utilised bowling greens across the city to be turned into allotments
City treasurer councillor Allan Gow said: "I regret the increase in council tax but I believe that there is no other option. It will hopefully mitigate some of the impact on our poorest people in Glasgow.

"We have sought to protect our most vulnerable people in our community. We will continue the holiday fund and universal free school meals to all children from P1 to P4."

Also agreed was a new £10m climate emergency action fund, ahead of Glasgow hosting the COP26 climate change summitlater this year, and work to identify a further £20m to invest in nature, green networks and food growing opportunities. 

GMB Scotland organiser Rhea Wolfson said the council was not providing adequate funding to tackle Glasgow's "waste crisis".

She added: "These proposals suggest we have a council that can't even keep the city clean yet thinks it can save the planet."

Image copyright - CITY OF EDINBURGH COUNCIL Image caption - Edinburgh has found money for a major redevelopment at Granton

Edinburgh 'key priorities'


In the capital, councillors were faced with the need to save £87m over the next three years.

The local authority said it would use the money from the council tax rise to invest in "key priorities" such as new schools.

The three-year City of Edinburgh council budget includes pledging £196m towards a redevelopment project on former industrial land at Grantonwhich will have 3,500 new homes, a school, medical centre, cycling and walking routes and sustainable transport hubs.

Elsewhere, other significant changes which have been approved include:


  • An extra £9.1m to address rising school rolls 
  • £123m towards improving roads and pavements 
  • Cuts to nursery teacher numbers and a review of senior management roles
  • A reduction in the council's contribution to community policing
Council leader Adam McVey said: "We've agreed a bold budget which protects the most vulnerable in society and guarantees a fairer quality of life for future generations. 

"It prioritises those council services which work to help those who are most in need of our support - protecting our young people, our communities and our planet in the process."

Part of this story was provided by local democracy reporter Catherine Hunter.


Holyrood Holds the Purse Strings (17/02/20)



The Times reports that the Scottish Government had an extra £795.2 million a year to spend on its annual 2019/20 budget whereas Scottish local government had a whopping £404.8 million less to spend on its own priorities.

In 2020/21 Scottish councils will receive a cash boost of £495 million, but according to COSLA because the Scottish Government 'ring-fences' and directs where £590 million of the Scottish local government budget has to be spent - this represents an actual reduction of £95 million in local council budgets.

As far as the fight for equal pay is concerned, Glasgow is now in the position of accepting the responsibility for putting everything right all on its own which is a political choice.

Alternatively, Scotland's largest council can show some leadership by calling on the Scottish Government to accept its share of what the Accounts Commission (Scotland's public spending watchdog) described as "a decade long failure of leadership of leadership by local and central government".

To govern is to choose, as they say, so let's hope that Glasgow makes the right choice. 

 


https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/council-funds-fall-despite-holyrood-cash-x2fvw77v9

Council funds fall despite Holyrood cash


Scotland’s local authorities have to fund services in their areas - TIMES PHOTOGRAPHER JAMES GLOSSOP

By Craig Paton - The Times

Funding for councils has dropped in the past seven years despite the Scottish government receiving more cash from Westminster, according to an analysis.

The Scottish Parliament Information Centre [Spice] has published its assessment of the draft Scottish Budget that was announced last week.

According to Spice, real terms funding for local authorities has dropped by £404.8 million — about 3.8 per cent — since 2013/14, sitting at £10.38 billion during 2019/20. During the same period, funding sent to the Scottish government by Westminster increased in real terms by £795.2 million, a rise of 2.6 per cent to £31.9 billion.

The figures have been adjusted to match 2019/20 levels of inflation.

Despite the drop in overall funding in previous years, Spice said there had been a 3 per cent real terms increase in funding for 2020/21 when compared to 2019/20, the equivalent of £303.2 million. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has said the increase — £495 million in cash terms — does not factor in ring-fenced Scottish government commitments of £590 million, meaning an actual drop of £95 million.


Leadership and Glasgow's Fight for Equal Pay (14/02/20)



The big question going forward in Glasgow's fight for equal pay is - should the city be left to itself to pick up the bill or should Glaswegians expect significant help from the Scottish Government?

Now in the previous settlement round the Council made a political decision to meet the costs itself - instead of lobbying hard and campaigning for the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government to get involved.

Which is very odd if you ask me, since Scotland's public spending watchdog (the Accounts Commission) made it perfectly clear in 2017 that the scandal of unequal pay in Scotland's council was the result of "a decade long failure of leadership by both local and central government".

So why should the Scottish Parliament and/or Scottish Government be allowed to wash their hands of the whole affair?

After all public money has been found for the Calmac 'Ferry Fiasco' (£200 million or so) or, for example, to pay Scotland's schoolteachers an extra 3% on top of the annual 'cost of living' increase offered to other Scottish council workers (£100 million plus every year).

In my experience, fairness rarely determines 'Who gets what and why?' when it comes to public spending in Scotland - if it did, we would never have got ourselves into this mess over equal pay in the first place.

More often than not the answer to 'Who gets what and why?' comes down to the political choices made by the politicians holding the purse strings.

The politics of Glasgow at the moment mean that we have an SNP led council which is reluctant to rock the boat over equal pay with an SNP Scottish Government which has been in power since 2007.

But if you ask me, this is neither here nor there - as I can't be the only person to think that an SNP led council in Glasgow would have no trouble in rocking the boat over equal pay, if Labour or any other party were leading the Scottish Government in Edinburgh.   

So, for me, it all comes down to doing the right thing going forward as the fight for equal pay in Glasgow enters its next,  critical phase in 2020/21.

To paraphrase the Accounts Commission, Scotland's lowest paid council workers have indeed been treated as second class citizens for years and it's time face up to the all too obvious lack of leadership involved - from both local and national politicians.  

  

Glasgow - Decade Long Failure Of Leadership (12/02/20)



In September 2017 Scotland's public spending watchdog (the Accounts Commission) concluded after a special investigation that a 'decade long failure of leadership by local and central government' was responsible for the debacle over equal pay. 
Throughout those 10 long years Labour controlled Glasgow City Council and the SNP ran the Scottish Government.

And as regular readers know, I have been a fierce critic of Labour in the past, just as I've pointed out that the new SNP administration were wrong to try and overturn the decision that the Council's WPBR pay arrangements were 'unfit for purpose'. 

In December 2017 Glasgow City Council launched an appeal in the Court of Session which was also rejected unanimously by Scotland's highest civil court - finally paving the way for a negotiated settlement of GCC's outstanding equal pay claims with all party support.

So I think it's fair to say there are equal pay 'skeletons' in every political party's closet which brings me back to the business of 'leadership' at both local and national level.

The next phase of the fight for equal pay in Glasgow will focus on the period from April 2018 to April 2021 when the Council's 'unfit for purpose' WPBR pay arrangements are due to be replaced with a new, non-discriminatory job evaluation (JE) scheme.

As well as the potential higher cost of Glasgow's new pay arrangements going forward from April 2021 the Council faces a liability for employees working under the old WPBR regime from April 2018.

The big question is whether Glasgow City Council should pick up the bill on its own or whether the City should be entitled to expect some significant help from the Scottish Government.

I know what I think, but what do others have to say on the subject? - drop me a note, in confidence of course, to:

markirvine@compuserve.com 

 
 

'Get Behind Glasgow in 2020'


I've been thinking long and hard about the need for a big, popular campaign in 2020 aimed at restoring national pay bargaining for Scotland's local government workers.

Why is such a campaign needed?

Because Scotland's lowest paid council workers - carers, cleaners, catering staff, clerical workers, classroom assistants etc - have been treated as second class citizens for the past 20 years.

The fight for equal pay in Scotland's councils

In 1999 low paid council workers, in predominantly female jobs, were promised a new deal and new 'Single Status' pay arrangements based on the principle of 'equal pay for work of equal value'.

What happened next?

Council employers reneged on their promises and in 2017 Scotland's public spending watchdog, the Accounts Commission, issued a damning report which concluded that this landmark pay deal  represented a decade of failure on the part of of both central and local government.

By contrast Scotland's school teachers received their own landmark McCrone pay deal in 2000 which was fully funded to the tune of £800 million a year - or £16.8 billion by 2020.

Why focus on Glasgow?

Glasgow City Council's 'new' Single Status pay arrangements in 2007 were condemned as 'unfit for purpose by the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, in 2017 after a long, costly battle in and out of the courts.

Scotland's largest council is now replacing its discriminatory WPBR pay arrangements in 2021 with a new Scottish Joint Council (Gauge) job evaluation (JE) scheme which was developed with public funds and recommended for use by all Scottish councils in 1999.

Glasgow's trade unions are fully involved in this process and are calling for the new pay arrangements in Glasgow to become a role model and set a new standard for all 32 Scottish councils.

Why is national leadership and national bargaining so important? 

Because it protects workers rights and prevents exploitation:
  • School teachers in Glasgow are paid the same as school teachers in Grangemouth and Galashiels.
  • MSPs in Glasgow are paid the same as MSPs in Grangemouth and Galashiels
  • MPs in Glasgow are paid the same as MPs in Grangemouth and Galashiels
  • Elected councillors in Glasgow are paid the same as elected councillors in Grangemouth and Galashiels  
So why should low paid council workers in Scotland - carers, cleaners, catering staff, clerical workers, classroom assistants - be treated any differently?

Get Behind Glasgow in 2020!

A high profile, public campaign to restore national bargaining needs to be led by the trade unions, but there is good reason to put this demand at the heart of  the ongoing campaign to deliver 'equal pay for work of equal value' in Glasgow - and in all Scottish councils.


 


Equal Pay - 'Decade Long Failure' (07/09/17)



The Herald's Tom Gordon reports on a special investigation by the Accounts Commission which concludes that a 'decade long failure of leadership by local and central government' is responsible for the continuing debacle over equal pay. 

Glasgow City Council, Scotland's largest, has been fighting a desperate battle against equal pay for the past ten years and its pay arrangements are still shrouded in secrecy - as opposed to being 'open, honest and transparent'.

The Court of Session recently judged Glasgow's revised pay arrangements and its in-house job evaluation scheme (JES), introduced in 2007 to be 'unfit for purpose' - as a result the number of equal pay claims in Glasgow is growing by the day.

If Scotland's largest council can't or won't get its act together, maybe the solution in Glasgow is to send in the Accounts Commission to uncover what has really been going on for the past 10 years.

  

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15519420.Watchdog_report_exposes_litany_of_failures_behind___1bn_equal_pay_bill/

Watchdog report exposes litany of failures behind £1bn equal pay bill


By Tom Gordon - Scottish Political Editor, The Herald

Glasgow City Chambers

A DECADE long failure of leadership by central and local government has left taxpayers with a bill of more than £1billion for equal pay claims from female council staff, it has emerged.

In a damning study of politicians stalling and ducking responsibilities, the Accounts Commission said around £750m had been spent settling pay claims since 2004.

However a further 27,000 claims are still live, including a recent one from more than 6000 workers in Glasgow which could cost the city £500m, pushing the final bill far higher.

The watchdog blamed “a lack of collective national leadership to overcome challenges and address equal pay issues in a timely way”, with ministers failing to give councils extra funds to help stave off challenges, and authorities in denial about the scale of the problem.

Male-dominated trade unions protecting the higher wages of male workers, often through spurious bonuses, were also a factor.

In order to fix pay anomalies a UK-wide deal, the Single Status Agreement, was established in 1999 to unify pay structures.

Councils were given until 2004 to carry out job evaluations so that women in roles such as caring, cleaning and catering were no longer paid less than men doing equivalent work such as gardening, gravedigging or bin collection.

However only one council met the deadline, and it was not until 2010 that all of Scotland’s councils had single status in place.

Without funds from central government to harmonise pay scales properly, councils failed to make the issue a priority and skimped on deals, sometimes adding to the discrimination by allowing bad practices to continue in order to avoid industrial action.

They also paid 50,000 women £232m in compromise deals to give up claims to back pay.

There were “often of a relatively low value” compared to what they were due.

Partly because many offers were inadequate, and partly because no-win no-fee lawyers became involved, around 70,500 equal pay claims were lodged against councils after 2004.

Of these around 27,000 are outstanding, and new claims are still being brought.

Highlighting the painfully slow progress, the report said: “Thousands of claims currently in the system in Scotland have been live for over a decade.”

The watchdog also complained it had faced “considerable difficulty” due to a lack of good quality data relating to the implementation of equal pay.

It recommended that councils ensure all pay arrangements are fair and transparent.

Commission member Pauline Weetman said: "Equal pay is an incredibly important issue and a legal duty for Scotland's councils to eliminate decades of inequality. However, implementation of equal pay has been a substantial challenge for local government."

The council umbrella body Cosla said it welcomed the report’s recognition that councils had faced “complex judicial processes and huge costs” as they tried to deliver equal pay.

“Councils have endeavoured to settle all legitimate claims as quickly as possible,” it said.

Equal pay campaigner Mark Irvine, who has helped many female workers bring claims against council bosses, said the issue remained a “national disgrace”.

He said: “The report hits the nail on the head. There was an agreement to end discrimination in 1999 and that it’s still happening in 2017 is a terrible indictment of Cosla. Major councils ganged up to prevent low-paid women getting what they were promised 20 years ago.”

The public sector union Unison said the report’s findings were “shocking”.

Scotland regional manager Peter Hunter said: “This study demonstrates the cost of delay and dereliction of duty. If this report compels those remaining councils to resolve outstanding claims... the Accounts Commission will have played a vital role.”

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie added: “This is a complex process but far too many people, mainly women in low paid jobs, are waiting far too long for the money they are due.

"The Scottish Government needs to work with councils to seek a speedier solution.”

“It is time for this legacy of inequality to be resolved.”

Poor Show, Glasgow! (18/02/20)


I wrote to the elected councillors in my Glasgow Calton ward about the dangerous underfoot conditions en route to Parkhead last Thursday evening. 

Two of the four councillors (Robert Connelly and Greg Hepburn) responded promptly and positively - and here's what they had to say on the subject.

Two others (Jennifer Layden and Cecilia O'Lone) did even not bother to get back to me which is quite shocking if you ask me, since taking up issues on behalf of local constituents is part and parcel of a councillor's role - for which they are paid, of course.

Yet I'll  bet they'll be all talk about the importance of 'local democracy' and the role of elected councillors when the next set of council elections comes round in May 2022.


Dear Calton Councillors 

Poor Show, Glasgow! 

Thursday 13 February 2020

I made my way to Parkhead on Thursday evening, along with thousands of other football fans, in what were very dangerous underfoot conditions due to the public footpaths en route being iced over in many places.

I would be grateful to know what you think of the situation and if you could enquire into why steps were not taken by the Council to make things safer on the night in question?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards



Mark Irvine


Councillor Robert Connelly

Dear Mark Irvine,

Thank you for your e-mail about this issue.

Recently I have been on a site visit with officers in Parkhead This visit included discussions on the general cleansing issues with our public footpaths in the area, as well as fly-tipping issues and many other issues that haven’t been dealt with effectively in the area in the past. I believe that the site visit could be the start of finding solutions to some of the problems we face.

The point you raise about icy footpaths is important. I do agree that more has to been done to make our footpaths safer during these harsh weather conditions that Glasgow is facing at the moment. I have contacted council officers to ask what had been done, if anything, prior to the football match at Celtic Park and what resources the council have for gritting our footpaths, with the same importance as our roads.

I will get back to you with further information when I receive it from officers.

Best Wishes,

Councillor Connelly 


Councillor Greg Hepburn

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your email.

It does surprise me that gritting before a major sporting event wouldn't take place. I know that during snow or hail gritting follows a priority route system (schools, hospitals etc,) but it would strike me as sensible to target events as well. I will query this if it is not already the case.

Yours,


Cllr Hepburn 


 


Poor Show, Glasgow! 2 (14/02/20)



Lots of readers have been in touch to say how much they agree with my blog post (Poor Show, Glasgow!) about the dangerous state of the pavements in Glasgow city centre on Thursday evening.

Now it's good to hear there are so many like-minded people around, but on a practical level the bigger question is what to do about it and how to make sure the same thing does not happen again.

On a practical level if you know of anyone who was injured as a result of the terrible underfoot conditions, I would urge them to seek professional advice.

Because the authorities were on notice about the weather conditions and also knew that tens of thousands of football fans would be making their way, on foot, to Celtic Park on Thursday evening - yet took no steps I could see to address the situation.

For my part I am going to ask my local councillors what they have to say and, hopefully, get some answers out of Glasgow City Council.


 


Poor Show, Glasgow! (13/02/20)



I was at Parkhead last night for the Celtic v Hearts game, but the dodgiest part of the evening was getting to and from the stadium since the pavements were all iced over and extremely perilous underfoot.

I almost 'hit the deck' myself on several occasions and witnessed several people do just that including one chap who was saved from a nasty bang on the back his head because he was wearing a backpack.

Now these freezing weather conditions were forecast in advance and the surrounding roads had all been gritted - so far too good.

Yet the public footpaths in the east end of Glasgow received no attention even though tens thousands of football fans were expected to attend the big match on foot.

I can only imagine what conditions were like for the many council staff such as Home Carers who were out pounding the streets last night looking after their clients - no doubt lots of others were affected as well.

I would be interested to know if there's been a big 'spike' in Glaswegians reporting falls and injuries as a result of the dangerous conditions, I suspect this must be the case without knowing who would collect this kind of statistic.

In any event, last night was a very poor show indeed from the Bürgermeisters at Glasgow City Council who deserve 'nul points' for their efforts, in my opinion.




 



Trump - Can’t Have It Both Ways!



Donald Trump loves to take credit when America's stock market rises.

But whenever shares nosedive, as they have in spectacular fashion this week, suddenly Trump dodges responsibility,  blames his political opponents and insists this has nothing to do with him.
   

Glasgow - Stranger Things



Much more to follow soon on the strange omission of Frances Stojilkovic and Glasgow's fight for equal pay -  from the Evening Times 'Scotswoman of the Year Award 2018'.

In the meantime, here's what readers of the blog site thought about the paper's remarkable own goal. 

  

SOTY 2018 - Own Goal by Evening Times (28/02/19)


Here are two more very pointed comments about the Evening Times failure to include Glasgow's Frances Stojilkovic on its shortlist for Scotswoman of the Year 2018.

Really disappointing we all know how many women, the hardest working women in this city, nominated Frances

J

‘Is it that they are too working class to be a proper feminist rights story, and too female to be a proper workers rights story’...?

C

I couldn't agree more and I have to say I think it's a terrible own goal by the newspaper.

I'm sure that the thousands Glasgow City Council workers who have been fighting for their rights to equal pay for the past 12 years will be deeply unimpressed.

  

SOTY 2018 - Readers Comments (27/02/19)



I'm sure Frances S won't be losing any sleep at not reaching the shortlist for Scotswoman of the Year 2018, but the more you think about it the more outrageous it is that such an outstanding local candidate from Glasgow wasn't deemed worthy of consideration.

A bit of a joke and a terrible own goal by the newspaper if you ask me and I'm pleased to say that lots of people on Facebook seem to agree!


Just read the list of finalists for Scotswoman of The Year and unfortunately our wee Frances is not on it. Frances will forever be our Scotswoman of The Year for all her hard work
J

Read the list I only recognise one name. our Frances Stojilkovic should be there!!!!

B


After what they done to carers the weekend before the strike, I wouldn’t give them headspace

M

Shame on them

P

How is she not on it.....pure fix lol x

Z

Ask GCC

G

Aww that's shocking.xx

P

Might’ve known that the Evening Times wouldn’t let her reach the final ! After all Susan writes for the paper ! 

E

Strange as plenty people voted for her

K
Still a winner hen xx

L

She is defo our winner !!!!

A

Aw never mind guys im still honoured that you all voted for me xx

Frances


Frances your our woman of the year xx

L

You are "thee woman " to all of us . & u have no competition whatsoever ..true heroine who went above and beyond ..so well done to u


Lets put it this way Francis your name will pop up in History because of the major part you played with the equal pay issue.
SO you don't need woman of the year.....

C


Frances will always be our no 1

R

Very surprised and disappointed xx

J

Must be because its political! there's no way all our votes didn't count!!!


B

You are our winner

E

Stupid phone lol

E

You'll always be remembered and our no.1 woman of any year, we owe you so muchxxx


D

Surprised but You’ll still go down in history

H

It would be good to see the vote counts.
Fix.
Lol.

X


L

As that's so sad, but Francis will always be remembered as the lady that lead the fight. One in a million 👏👏💖

D

The Evening Times can stick there newspaper where the sun don't shine 

S

U have won with us Frances xx

R

Should win hands down,you're our hero.x

R

So sorry Frances you deserve a bloody medal for the work you have done but never mind we appreciate everything you have done for us although i have been away two years your a hero in our eyes you will get your reward someday i hope soon thanks Frances from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done you must be so proud of yourself thank you so much xx
B

  

0 out of 10



A donation of £200,000 to the Continuity Corbyn candidate (Rebecca Long-Bailey) in the Labour leadership election, seems like an extraordinary waste of ordinary union members' money.

I mean just what is all this money spent on - and how does the union justify a further £15,000 donation as a 'benefit in kind' which is presumably the result of releasing Unite staff from their normal duties to work on the Long-Bailey campaign?

Definitely 'nul points' if you ask me - and nowhere near the 10 out of 10 Rebecca awarded the outgoing Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. 

 

https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/labour-party/news/110144/rebecca-long-bailey-reveals-£200000-unite?

Rebecca Long-Bailey reveals £200,000 Unite donation as she urges rivals to name backers
By Matt Honeycombe-Foster - Politics Home

Rebecca Long-Bailey’s campaign to become Labour leader has been boosted by more than £200,000 of donations from Unite, new figures show.


Ms Long-Bailey’s campaign called on rival candidates to “do the same” and reveal their donors - Credit: PA

Data published by the Shadow Business Secretary’s team shows that the major trade union coughed up £100,000 on 10 February, and a further £100,000 just ten days later on February 21.

In addition, the union has also provided staffing worth £15,000 as a donation in kind.

Keir Starmer says Alastair Campbell should be let back into Labour after expulsion


Tony Blair and Labour grandees back Ian Murray in bid to become deputy leader


Labour must unite or face generation out of power, warns Starmer


The figures, which reveal all donations over £1,500, also show that Ms Long-Bailey has been buoyed by more than £100,000-worth of staffing and expenses from the left-wing campaign group Momentum.

Meanwhile, the CWU union has handed over £35,000 to Ms Loing-Bailey's campaign, plus staffing support worth more than £17,000.

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett, a supporter of Ms Long-Bailey’s push to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, called on Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy's campaigns to also open their books.

He said: "It is welcome that Rebecca Long-Bailey has been transparent with the party membership about where her campaign’s funding is coming from.

"In the same week as ballots are being sent out, other candidates should do the same, as a matter of urgency, so voters in the leadership election can make an informed decision."

By law, each campaign is required to report donations of £1,500 or more to the Electoral Commission, which publishes quarterly figures on the amounts handed over to political parties.

Unite gave Labour £3m towards its unsuccessful general election campaign last year.

Its general secretary, Len McCluskey, is also a close ally of Mr Corbyn, who has not said who he is backing in the leadership race.

10 out of 10! (16/01/20)



Brian Wilson doesn't pull any punches in this hard hitting column for The Times in which he ponders Labour's future if 'Continuity Corbyn' candidates are elected to lead the party in 2020. 

Head to tell which way things will go at the stage, but a few quid on the 'cat and dog home' looks like a good bet.

  

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/scotland/labour-is-finished-if-the-nightmare-ticket-prevails-3tjv5mgkh

Labour is finished if the nightmare ticket prevails

By Brian Wilson - The Times


‘Ten out of ten!” With that tribute to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Rebecca Long Bailey’s campaign should be doomed at birth but won’t be so long as the forces who gave us Corbyn and Ed Miliband stand behind her.

This is make or break time. If another leadership from the Ten-out-of-ten Tendency emerges then Labour is finished as a prospective party of government. One early manifestation would be slaughter in the 2021 Holyrood elections. With a different outcome, there could be a fighting chance of recovery.

Ms Long Bailey’s first cliché-ridden pitch to the selectorate neglected to mention Scotland in spite of the fact it was the first “red wall” to crumble under the weight of the unelectable. Down from 40 MPs in 2010 to one and Ms Long Bailey’s comrades-in-arms tried to deselect even him.

In her second foray Ms Long Bailey remembered Scotland only to denounce Better Together as being “too close to the establishment”. The fact it was the only poll in which Labour has been on the winning side for a decade was irrelevant; indeed proof of perfidy. Far better to fight on a “true socialist platform” and lose. Ten out ten for that.

I always tried to give Corbyn the benefit of the doubt because he never expected nor, I suspect, wanted to be leader. He was an accident of history, washed up from the Miliband debacle. Satire is not dead when Ed is leading an inquiry into what went wrong, unless he is prepared to start in 2010.

This time is different. Ms Long Bailey is an anointed successor, personally blessed by John McDonnell. Instead of departing in shame, the architects of the December 12 massacre are organising a succession in their own image. Ten out of ten for brass neck.

Mr McDonnell also backs Richard Burgon as deputy leader. Here is a man who should never be let in the same room as a microphone. He is, however, a sworn upholder of the ten-out-of-ten faith so sectarian politics demand his elevation.

It remains to be seen whether mainstream Labour members will count for much. But a last stand should be attempted. If the nightmare ticket prevails, it would be more socially useful to give our 52 quid a year to a cat and dog home than to a party which will have been the author of its own destruction.


The King Is Dead - Long Live The Queen!(08/01/20)



Rebecca Long-Bailey has joined the race to become the new Labour leader and is apparently part of a continuity Corbyn 'dream ticket' along with Richard Burgon who is standing for election as deputy leader.

In setting out her election stall Rebecca gave Jeremy Corbyn  '10 out of 10' for his leadership despite the fact that Jeremy generated the worst performance ratings of any leader in Labour's history.

Doubling down on her theme that the voters, rather than the party leadership were wrong, Rebecca added:

“I don’t just agree with the policies, I’ve spent the last four years writing them."

Now I don't know what's happened to Denis Healey's famous old maxim 'When you're in a hole, stop digging!', but Boris Johnson and the Conservatives must be rubbing their hands with glee.

Meanwhile Sadiq Khan the Labour Mayor of London says that voters 'got it right' in deciding to give Corbyn the thumbs down. 

Good for him - well said!



  

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/sadiq-khan-voters-right-to-shun-jeremy-corbyn-3fmm5lsqd

Sadiq Khan interview: voters right to shun Jeremy Corbyn


By Rosamund Urwin - The Sunday Times

Khan with Luna on Tooting CommonRAY WELLS

Sadiq Khan admits that he believes voters “got it right” on December 12. “Hand on heart, did we deserve to win the general election?” the Labour mayor of London asks. “Probably not, so the British public got it right.”

Khan, who is standing for re-election on May 7, calls the result “catastrophic”. He is at pains to reject Jeremy Corbyn’s claim Labour “won” the argument, stating baldly: “We lost the argument.”

I meet Khan and his labrador Luna on Tooting Common, south London. As Labour’s most popular serving politician, according to YouGov, his life is a stream of selfie requests: “Only twice have I said no. Once when I was rushing to catch a plane, the other when I was at A&E with a family member.”

In the 2016 mayoral election, Khan won the largest personal mandate of any politician in UK history, and will be courted by all the leadership candidates. He will not reveal who he backs until later in the campaign, but friends expect him to support Sir Keir Starmer.

Khan, 49, does not want a “coronation”, but says there is one attribute the new leader must have: “I want a winner. The candidates need to persuade us members that they have the best analysis of why we lost, and to set out the path to victory.”

He rejects the idea that the next leader must be female. “It should be the best person for the job,” he says. “You shouldn’t be excluded because you’re a man, but I do find it disappointing that the Labour Party hasn’t had a woman leader.”

Starmer’s other problem is that his seat, Holborn and St Pancras, is in London. The capital has become a byword for privilege in Labour.

“The prime minister is a Londoner who went to Eton,” Khan bats back. “The idea you can’t win an election because you’re a London MP is nonsense. And London is a tale of two cities: you’ve got areas with Michelin-starred restaurants and a proliferation of food banks.”

Khan was not consulted on holding a general election by the Labour leadership.

“Many of us thought it was a foolish thing to do, [as] it was an election chosen by Johnson to suit himself,” he says. “If your opponent thinks it is a good idea, why would you want to agree to it?”

He believes those advising Corbyn were “hoist with their own petard”: “They thought that the 2017 result was an aberration, that we should have won, and with one final heave, we would win in 2019,” he says. “Now we have at least five years of a Boris Johnson, hard-Brexit government. Those who were responsible for that decision need to put their hands up.”

Should Corbyn have accepted more of the blame? “What Jeremy and those around him should have the humility to recognise is [they] let Corbyn be Corbyn, and we got pasted,” he says.

Khan believes Labour needs deeper change than at the top. “It’s not just about changing the lead singer, it’s the whole band,” he says. “The music was wrong.”

He reels off reasons Labour lost. “I probably knocked on more doors than any candidate, and people didn’t have confidence in the party and our values,” he says. “They thought we were making promises just to win votes. And they thought we were a racist party because of our failure to tackle anti-semitism.”

It is the last part that pains Khan most. A Muslim, his first act as mayor was to attend a Holocaust memorial.

“We’re Labour, a party that’s about anti-racism,” he says. “For the leadership not to understand the impact of us being seen to condone anti-semitism is heartbreaking. We’ve demonstrated a breathtaking lack of emotional intelligence — or humanity.”

He has Jewish friends who did not vote for Labour because they felt it was racist. “And you know what? If a dog barks, and a duck quacks . . .” He tails off and does not finish the analogy, but adds: “It’s a disqualification to be Labour leader if you don’t understand it and don’t have a clear plan to address it.”

Does that mean throwing people out? “You’ve got to. If someone takes us to court, so be it. The ease with which Alastair Campbell was chucked out for talking about voting for another party, and yet you have anti-semites still in, beggars belief.”

He is tired of the “what-aboutery” deployed to defend Labour. “Sure, the Tories may be Islamophobic,” he says. “That doesn’t concern me. The standards I expect from Labour are higher than other parties.”

He points to the case of the former Labour mayor, Ken Livingstone. “He said things that were clearly anti-semitic,” Khan says. “He remained a Labour member for two years until he quit. He wasn’t kicked out.”

Unless anti-semitism and racism are dealt with at their roots, they become “normalised”, he adds. “It is toxic. I met decent people who said, ‘It’s a bit smelly, this anti-semitism stuff,’ and they didn’t vote for us.”

The other problem on the doorstep was Labour’s muddled position on Brexit. “People who voted remain didn’t think we were authentically remain, and people who voted leave didn’t think we were credibly leave. It was the worst of both worlds.”

He believes Johnson has misled voters. “People think it will all be signed, sealed and delivered on January 31,” he says. “But then we have 11 months to sort out a deal with the EU, or else we fall off a cliff edge. All those problems in Operation Yellowhammer could still happen at the end of the year. That’s not gone away, it’s been put on pause.”

Khan opposed Brexit but sees it as an opportunity for greater devolution to the regions, including London. He would like more powers over education, business rates and house-building.

“There’s no point in taking back control if it means Brussels will go to Whitehall — Brussels should go to City Hall and town halls around the country,” he says. “I don’t argue for London to get more resources, what I argue is for us to be in charge of the resources we have.”

Khan took over from Johnson at City Hall in 2016. “Boris had checked out two years before,” he claims. “He got to cut the ribbons to the projects begun by Ken Livingstone, but there were no ribbons for me to cut. There were messes to clear up, and projects to begin.”

Victory in May is expected to come easily for Khan. YouGov has him 27 points ahead of the Tory candidate, Shaun Bailey. His worry is voter complacency.

Khan frets that Labour is on a losing streak. “Elections can be habit-forming: you can be habitual winners or habitual losers,” he says. “And I want us to win.”

Singing Your Heart Out!



My mother suffered from Alzheimer's Disease before she passed away and my mum loved to sing while she cooked or baked and went about the household chores.

So these videos of Teddy Mac, The Songaminute Man, singing his heart out are a real joy to watch - it's like watching someone who's gone, lost to his family, suddenly coming back to life.



 

Braga and Bragging Rights



So Glasgow Rangers completed a remarkable victory over SC Braga in Portugal last night - a result that looked  like 'mission impossible' sixty minutes into the home tie at Ibrox last week.

If Glasgow Celtic win their tie tonight against Danish side FC Copenhagen (the score after the first leg is 1 -1), Scotland stands to gain a second Champions League qualifying place - as well as Scotland's domestic champions entering the competition at a later stage. 

All to play for, as they say.

 

Braga and the Celts (26/02/20)



Glasgow Rangers are playing SC Braga from Portugal this evening in the second leg of a finely balanced Europa Cup tie.

Rangers won the first leg in Glasgow 3-2 having staged a remarkable fightback after going 0-2 down at home.

Braga were the better team for long spells of the match at Ibrox, but came roaring back into the game with three goals in the space of just 15 minutes.  

So the scene is set for an exciting clash later tonight and I'm sure plenty of Rangers fans will be in the stadium to cheer their favourites on. 

Braga, by the way, is in the north of Portugal just 55 kilometres from Porto, so it's less than the distance from Glasgow to Edinburgh.

I understand the city was founded in 300 BC, by the Celts no less, which I'm sure will raise a wry smile with the Rangers players and fans alike.



 

Simply Stunning - Porto (18/10/19)


If Carlsberg made railway stations, they'd probably look like São Bento station in Porto - the second largest city in Portugal which sits on the estuary of the River Duoro.

São Bento station was built between 1900 and 1916, but you would never guess that the beautiful blue tile panels adorning its walls are over 100 years old.   

The large panels of azulejo (tin-glazed ceramic) tiles were designed by Jorge Colaç and the murals depict  great moments in Portugal's history along with other more rural scenes. 


São Bento is on a much smaller scale that Grand Central Station in New York, but if you ask me it gives the Big Apple a good run for its money.
















 

All American Asshole



Donald Trump Junior has been granted a permit to hunt grizzly bears in Alaska.

No doubt Trump thinks that it is manly or brave to kill these wild creatures from a very safe distance, a long way away,  using the latest high powered weapons.

So it's no contest, really - more like shooting fish in a barrel, if you ask me.

Sounds like as big an asshole as his dad.




 


Reverse Midas Touch



The SNP seems to have developed a reverse Midas touch in recent months, the latest example being an extraordinary row over a drag queen visiting a primary school in Renfrewshire along with the local Paisley MP, Mhairi Black.

I have to say I struggle to see the education value of such a visit and the story took a further incredible twist as photos of the visit and the children appeared on the drag queen's Instagram page.

The photos have now been removed, but not before one mum complained: "I'm not allowed to go to school and take any videos or photos, so why is he?"

Renfrewshire Council, the SNP's communications chief and the Scottish Government's education secretary John Swinney have all now apologised over the handling of the visit, but the local MP Mhairi Black seems intent on throwing more fuel on the fire by accusing local parents of being 'homophobic'.

The world's gone a bit mad, if you ask me.

  

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/18259369.snp-spindoctor-stumbles-primary-school-drag-queen-row/

SNP spindoctor stumbles into primary school drag queen row

By Tom Gordon - The Herald
Flowjob (left) and Murray Foote (right)

THE SNP’s new head spindoctor has blundered into the row over one of the party’s MPs visiting a primary school with a drag queen called Flowjob.

Former Daily Record editor Murray Foote admitted a late-night tweet he sent about the issue had failed to reflect “legitimate parental concerns”.

Mr Foote, the SNP’s head of communications and research at Holyrood, had been reacting to the furore row over Flowjob and Paisley MP Mhairi Black visiting a local school last week.

READ MORE: Council apologises after FlowJob drag act invited to speak at primary school

The pair visit Glencoats Primary as part of LGBTQ history month, with Flowjob reading children a story in drag after being introduced as “Flow”.

Who would have thought I would of got so much abuse for reading wains a story book 🥴


It later emerged that Flowjob’s social media profile contained sexually explicit material and Renfrewshire Council apologised for the “concern this has caused”.

Ms Black defended the visit as a “great day” and accused critics of homophobia.

You just know that the people pretending to be livid that a drag queen read a book in a school in my mentions rn are also the people who run out to buy their kids the latest Grand Theft Auto on release day. Your homophobia is transparent.


She tweeted: “You just know that the people pretending to be livid that a drag queen read a book in a school are also the people who run out to buy their kids the latest Grand Theft Auto on release day. 'Your homophobia is transparent.'

At 10.22pm last night, Mr Foote entered the row, comparing it to a visit to the panto.



He wrote: “I could be wrong but do thousands of parents not voluntarily take their primary age kids along to see drag acts in pantomime every Christmas?”

Nine hours later, after a wave of online criticism, Mr Foote issued a clarification.

He wrote: “In hindsight, this tweet lacked the necessary qualification around some of the legitimate parental concerns about social media posts.

“I was attempting to make too broad a point.”


I could be wrong but do thousands of parents not voluntarily take their primary age kids along to see drag acts in pantomime every Christmas?
In hindsight this tweet lacked the necessary qualification around some of the legitimate parental concerns about social media posts. I was attempting to make too broad a point.


Edinburgh Tory councillor John McLellan, a fellow former newspaper editor, replied; “Aye, the spin doctoring lark takes a bit of getting used to, eh Murray?”

Mr Foote, 53, masterminded the infamous pro-Union “Vow” on the eve of the 2014 referendum, putting it on the Record’s front page after a shock poll put Yes ahead.

He announced he was a supporter of independence in 2018.

A spokesperson for Renfrewshire Council said: "The school pupils at Glencoats Primary are currently organising a series of activities and events to mark LGBT history month.

"In discussion with pupils in their Rainbow club, one of their requests was to invite people from the LGBT community to hear about their own experiences growing up and they wanted to invite a drag queen to talk to this group to hear about their own personal experience.

"Learning about values including equalities and diversity has an important role in the school curriculum.

"All school visits are arranged and managed with the wellbeing of pupils first and foremost however it is clear in this case, the social media content associated with the speaker's stage persona is not appropriate for the children and had we been aware of this, the visit would not have been arranged.

"We are sorry for the concern this has caused and are investigating."

Glasgow Councillors



The Daily Record reports that several elected councillors in Glasgow have finally paid their outstanding council tax debts some of which went all the way back to 1999. 

What puzzles me is how these individuals were selected to stand as candidates in the first place.

Yet since 2017 this group of councillors have been involved in dealing with sensitive financial issues including the settlement of Glasgow's equal pay claims. 

So I very much doubt that they'll get any sympathy from the Glasgow claimants.  

 


https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/glasgow-councillors-forced-pay-back-21542554

Glasgow councillors chased for £30k unpaid council tax by bailiffs

All have now paid the money owed but the local authority has not revealed details of whose arrears sanctioned a visit from the warrant officers.

By Paul Rodger - Daily Record

Anne McTaggart has settled her £1459 debt (Image: PA)

Bailiffs have been called in eight times to collect unpaid council tax from Glasgow City Council’s own elected representatives.

The money owed by the unnamed councillors totalled more than £30,000 since 2017.

Another politician was in arrears but paid up before debt collectors were sent round last year, it was revealed through freedom of information laws.

All have now paid the money owed but the SNP-run local authority has not revealed details of whose arrears sanctioned a visit from the warrant officers.

The total figure was £30,792.06. 

The council said that since the local elections in 2017, there have been “eight separate occasions when a councillor’s council tax arrears had been forwarded to the debt management partners for collection”.

Yesterday, for the first time since the 2017 elections, all of the city’s councillors can take part in the budget vote.

Previously, a number of councillors had been unable to take part in the debate, as under Section 112 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, elected members cannot vote on a budget if they are two or more months in arrears.

Labour councillor for Calton, Cecilia O’Lone, owed a staggering £17,520.80 when she was first elected in 2017. She says the bill has been settled.

The largest amount owed by a SNP councillor was £7128, a debt incurred by Elspeth Kerr.

Colleagues Elaine McSporran paid off £2353 owed while Anne McTaggart settled her £1459 debt.

Glasgow City Council said: “It is important that everyone that can pay, does pay.”



Glasgow - Councillors' Salaries (19/02/20)



A number of readers have been in touch, in response to yesterday's post (below), to ask what elected councillors in Glasgow are paid.

Now the answer to this question is that it depends on the job they do because the Council Leader, for example, is paid much more than a 'backbench' councillor. 

The annual salary of a backbench councillor is set nationally and currently stands at £17,470 a year - more than many of Glasgow's equal pay claimants are paid, of course.

Not just that because the £17,470 salary was set as a part-time (two thirds) salary and so scaling this up to full-time would put a backbench councillor's salary at £26,205 - more than just about every equal pay claimant in Glasgow that I can recall.

Here's what Glasgow City Council's register of interests says about my local Calton councillor, Cllr Cecilia O'Lone.

Remuneration
1) The Gladiator Programme 16 hours self employed 
2) Elected member, Glasgow City Council - £16,927

The Gladiator Programme is based in Easterhouse and aims to encourage local children to develop an active interest in exercise of all kinds.

As far as I know the programme is publicly funded, but Cllr O'Lone only registers that she is paid by the programme (on a self-employed basis) not what she actually earns in addition to her councillor salary of £17,470.

Sharp-eyed readers will note that Cllr O'Lone's councillor salary is declared as £16,927 which is wrong - the 2019/20 rate is definitely £17,470.

According to the Evening Times in May 2018 Cllr O'Lone had an outstanding council tax debt of £12,440 dating back to 1999.

The same newspaper article also noted that outstanding council tax debt was not restricted to Labour councillors only - with the SNP's Elaine McSporran and Elspeth Kerr both owing in excess of £12,000 when they were elected to public office.


 


Poor Show, Glasgow! 3 (18/02/20)



I wrote to the elected councillors in my Glasgow Calton ward about the dangerous underfoot conditions en route to Parkhead last Thursday evening. 

Two of the four councillors (Robert Connelly and Greg Hepburn) responded promptly and positively - and here's what they had to say on the subject.

Two others (Jennifer Layden and Cecilia O'Lone) did even not bother to get back to me which is quite shocking if you ask me, since taking up issues on behalf of local constituents is part and parcel of a councillor's role - for which they are paid, of course.

Yet I'll  bet they'll be all talk about the importance of 'local democracy' and the role of elected councillors when the next set of council elections comes round in May 2022.


Dear Calton Councillors 

Poor Show, Glasgow! 

Thursday 13 February 2020

I made my way to Parkhead on Thursday evening, along with thousands of other football fans, in what were very dangerous underfoot conditions due to the public footpaths en route being iced over in many places.

I would be grateful to know what you think of the situation and if you could enquire into why steps were not taken by the Council to make things safer on the night in question?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards



Mark Irvine


Councillor Robert Connelly

Dear Mark Irvine,

Thank you for your e-mail about this issue.

Recently I have been on a site visit with officers in Parkhead This visit included discussions on the general cleansing issues with our public footpaths in the area, as well as fly-tipping issues and many other issues that haven’t been dealt with effectively in the area in the past. I believe that the site visit could be the start of finding solutions to some of the problems we face.

The point you raise about icy footpaths is important. I do agree that more has to been done to make our footpaths safer during these harsh weather conditions that Glasgow is facing at the moment. I have contacted council officers to ask what had been done, if anything, prior to the football match at Celtic Park and what resources the council have for gritting our footpaths, with the same importance as our roads.

I will get back to you with further information when I receive it from officers.

Best Wishes,

Councillor Connelly 


Councillor Greg Hepburn

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your email.

It does surprise me that gritting before a major sporting event wouldn't take place. I know that during snow or hail gritting follows a priority route system (schools, hospitals etc,) but it would strike me as sensible to target events as well. I will query this if it is not already the case.

Yours,


Cllr Hepburn 


 


Poor Show, Glasgow! 2 (14/02/20)



Lots of readers have been in touch to say how much they agree with my blog post (Poor Show, Glasgow!) about the dangerous state of the pavements in Glasgow city centre on Thursday evening.

Now it's good to hear there are so many like-minded people around, but on a practical level the bigger question is what to do about it and how to make sure the same thing does not happen again.

On a practical level if you know of anyone who was injured as a result of the terrible underfoot conditions, I would urge them to seek professional advice.

Because the authorities were on notice about the weather conditions and also knew that tens of thousands of football fans would be making their way, on foot, to Celtic Park on Thursday evening - yet took no steps I could see to address the situation.

For my part I am going to ask my local councillors what they have to say and, hopefully, get some answers out of Glasgow City Council.


 


Poor Show, Glasgow! (13/02/20)



I was at Parkhead last night for the Celtic v Hearts game, but the dodgiest part of the evening was getting to and from the stadium since the pavements were all iced over and extremely perilous underfoot.

I almost 'hit the deck' myself on several occasions and witnessed several people do just that including one chap who was saved from a nasty bang on the back his head because he was wearing a backpack.

Now these freezing weather conditions were forecast in advance and the surrounding roads had all been gritted - so far too good.

Yet the public footpaths in the east end of Glasgow received no attention even though tens thousands of football fans were expected to attend the big match on foot.

I can only imagine what conditions were like for the many council staff such as Home Carers who were out pounding the streets last night looking after their clients - no doubt lots of others were affected as well.

I would be interested to know if there's been a big 'spike' in Glaswegians reporting falls and injuries as a result of the dangerous conditions, I suspect this must be the case without knowing who would collect this kind of statistic.

In any event, last night was a very poor show indeed from the Bürgermeisters at Glasgow City Council who deserve 'nul points' for their efforts, in my opinion.




 


Altered Images



I was at Glasgow's Òran Mor on Saturday night to see Altered Images and the band's original lead singer Clare Grogan was in fine form.

Altered Images are an all-female band these days, but Clare paid a nice tribute to the "four boys from Holyrood who asked a girl from Notre Dame to join them" - back in the day.

  


Trump - Altered Images (05/09/19)



Donald Trump stands accused of altering a Government weather map with a 'sharpie' pen to bolster his bogus claim that the state of Alabama was about to be hit by Hurricane Dorian.

You can see quite clearly the white 'bubble' showing the path of the hurricane and its predicted landfall in Florida - to which some doofus (i.e. Donald) has added an additional black line to encompass the bottom right hand corner of Alabama.

The world's only 'unstable hurricane expert' has form in this area, of course, and this attempt to doctor an official government weather map can only make Trump look even more ridiculous, if you ask me.

  


Unstable Hurricane Expert ((03/09/19)



Here's a short video from the world's only unstable hurricane expert - the increasingly unhinged Donald Trump.

  

Sharknado Trump - Bombs Away! (02/09/19)



Donald Trump has to be the dumbest president in America's history, but the scientific community is fighting back against his unhinged suggestion about dropping nuclear bombs on hurricanes. 




   

Who Are You Calling Unskilled?



Janice Turner is incensed at the country's care workers being described as 'unskilled'.

And if you ask me, the Times columnist is spot on when she says that caring is regarded as low-grade because it's the kind of work that women used to do for free.

Well those days are over, I'm glad to say, and it makes a nonsense of the Scottish Government decision to award a lower cost of living pay increase to carers and other council workers. 

The truth is that carers have been treated as second class citizens for years - and they have every right to be angry. 

 


https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/comment/how-dare-they-call-care-workers-unskilled-b83mzbch9


How dare they call care workers unskilled

It’s a disgrace that empathetic, selfless staff who give our loved ones a dignified end could earn more on the tills at Aldi


By Janice Turner - The Times

The carers at my mother’s nursing home did a course on dying this week. They learnt not just how to nurse a fading old person, about pain relief and legal protocols, but delicate matters I’d never considered: if a family is fractured, siblings not speaking, how do you choreograph visits, who do you give bad news to first?

I say “learnt” but the Pams, Sharons and Lynnes who attend my mum already have PhDs in death. They know, as their residents know, it’s the last stop on the line. To make the journey comfortable, let alone convince passengers to forget their destination, is a remarkable feat of patience, emotional vigilance, of repeating yourself ever louder, getting calories inside someone who won’t eat, retaining an old man’s dignity while you give him a bath.

If my mum slips down in the bed I can’t pull her back up without hurting her. I call the carers and they come, one each side. They fluff pillows then disappear into a darkened room where another old lady is motionless, her family gathering. Among all the tears and shit and fear, while looking mortality square on, they dispense jokes and tea.

It is absurd that the government categorises me, sitting on my backside writing this, as “skilled” and the (mainly) women who will gently guide my mother — most of our mothers — towards her maker as “unskilled”. This is not, as some have said, an administrative glitch in the new immigration rules which conflates low-paid with low-skilled. The truth is that if we regarded caring as skilful we wouldn’t pay less for it than working a till at Aldi.

Forget that the care industry demands training in nutrition, physical handling of patients, safeguarding, continence and, with disabled adults, managing complex apparatus like tracheostomy and gastrostomy tubes or ventilators, duties which when performed in hospitals are deemed high-skill tasks. The truth is that caring is seen as low-grade because it is work women used to do for free: a natural expression of our feminine empathy and selflessness. Indeed I’m asked, inevitably by men, why I don’t abandon my career to nurse my mum (as if I would have a clue).

“Wages for housework” was seen as an extreme 1970s feminist demand, yet it materialised as paid care work. Then, when women’s work choices expanded, we started getting degrees and entering male professions, employers simply sought other cheaper women to take their place. Care agencies went on mass recruiting drives in the Philippines in search of biddable women who’d toil uncomplainingly for long hours, far from their own families.

After the government’s immigration plans were announced, the Lib Dem’s former leader in the European parliament, Caroline Voaden, tweeted in entitled despair: “Who’ll wash the hospital bedpans? Who’ll clean our offices at night? Who’ll feed, bathe and care for our most vulnerable?” She sounded like the dowager countess in Downton Abbey bemoaning that these days “you can’t get the staff”. How will we cope without cheap EU migrants doing dirty work for less than most native workers would bear?

The government says that, perversely, it is Labour upholding the globalised free market using a limitless pool of cheap labour to suppress wages, while the Conservatives are simply allowing the market to “level up”. After Brexit, agencies will be compelled to pay more for British carers. Isn’t that a good thing? Well perhaps, if there weren’t already 122,000 vacancies in a sector with a huge staff churn.

Who wouldn’t like British care workers to be better paid? Perhaps more importantly it is reassuring for our parents, in their confusion and dotage, to be surrounded by people who share their background, accent, references and sense of humour, which for my mum means northern ladies who know how to toast a tea-cake. Women like her daughter, only nicer. That is not to diminish the dedication of the Magdas and Kajas who’ve cared for her too. But the notion that care should be outsourced to citizens of poorer economies because we hold it in low esteem does not seem a progressive plan.

Besides, care homes will find it hard to pass on extra wage costs to customers. They might squeeze a bit more out of richer residents with pensions and assets. But these “self payers” are already subsidising residents without capital, for whom local authorities foot their bills. With their budgets cut, councils pay homes what amounts to staff costs far below the minimum wage. For homes to offer better salaries the government must drastically increase council funding for social care. Otherwise chains of nursing homes will tumble, with responsibility for frail elderly landing once more on the NHS — or us.

No wonder it is seen as a downbeat job when care homes are never in the news except for an abuse scandal. Doctors and nurses receive public thanks and kudos for treating cancer patients or performing breakthrough operations. But care’s unglamorous quotidian business remains invisible. Except to those who have seen what carers do and, since we are living longer, that ultimately will be most of us. So, as with Teach First or the “We Are the NHS, We Are Nurses” recruitment campaigns, the government should raise its profile.

Tell human stories about the young man who quells an aggressive dementia patient by dancing her round the room; the home help who although ill and overworked still visits my mum unpaid; the many who cradle and console, break bad news, know when to withdraw and when to administer a hug; those who hold our parents’ hands at the last because we didn’t get there in time. The very opposite of unskilled.


Glasgow - Decade Long Failure Of Leadership (12/02/20)




In September 2017 Scotland's public spending watchdog (the Accounts Commission) concluded after a special investigation that a 'decade long failure of leadership by local and central government' was responsible for the debacle over equal pay. 

Throughout those 10 long years Labour controlled Glasgow City Council and the SNP ran the Scottish Government.

And as regular readers know, I have been a fierce critic of Labour in the past, just as I've pointed out that the new SNP administration were wrong to try and overturn the decision that the Council's WPBR pay arrangements were 'unfit for purpose'.  

In December 2017 Glasgow City Council launched an appeal in the Court of Session which was also rejected unanimously by Scotland's highest civil court - finally paving the way for a negotiated settlement of GCC's outstanding equal pay claims with all party support. 

So I think it's fair to say there are equal pay 'skeletons' in every political party's closet which brings me back to the business of 'leadership' at both local and national level.

The next phase of the fight for equal pay in Glasgow will focus on the period from April 2018 to April 2021 when the Council's 'unfit for purpose' WPBR pay arrangements are due to be replaced with a new, non-discriminatory job evaluation (JE) scheme.

As well as the potential higher cost of Glasgow's new pay arrangements going forward from April 2021 the Council faces a liability for employees working under the old WPBR regime from April 2018.

The big question is whether Glasgow City Council should pick up the bill on its own or whether the City should be entitled to expect some significant help from the Scottish Government.

I know what I think, but what do others have to say on the subject? - drop me a note, in confidence of course, to:

markirvine@compuserve.com 


  

'Get Behind Glasgow in 2020'


I've been thinking long and hard about the need for a big, popular campaign in 2020 aimed at restoring national pay bargaining for Scotland's local government workers.

Why is such a campaign needed?

Because Scotland's lowest paid council workers - carers, cleaners, catering staff, clerical workers, classroom assistants etc - have been treated as second class citizens for the past 20 years.

The fight for equal pay in Scotland's councils

In 1999 low paid council workers, in predominantly female jobs, were promised a new deal and new 'Single Status' pay arrangements based on the principle of 'equal pay for work of equal value'.

What happened next?

Council employers reneged on their promises and in 2017 Scotland's public spending watchdog, the Accounts Commission, issued a damning report which concluded that this landmark pay deal  represented a decade of failure on the part of of both central and local government.

By contrast Scotland's school teachers received their own landmark McCrone pay deal in 2000 which was fully funded to the tune of £800 million a year - or £16.8 billion by 2020.

Why focus on Glasgow?

Glasgow City Council's 'new' Single Status pay arrangements in 2007 were condemned as 'unfit for purpose by the Court of Session, Scotland's highest civil court, in 2017 after a long, costly battle in and out of the courts.

Scotland's largest council is now replacing its discriminatory WPBR pay arrangements in 2021 with a new Scottish Joint Council (Gauge) job evaluation (JE) scheme which was developed with public funds and recommended for use by all Scottish councils in 1999.

Glasgow's trade unions are fully involved in this process and are calling for the new pay arrangements in Glasgow to become a role model and set a new standard for all 32 Scottish councils.

Why is national leadership and national bargaining so important? 

Because it protects workers rights and prevents exploitation:
  • School teachers in Glasgow are paid the same as school teachers in Grangemouth and Galashiels.
  • MSPs in Glasgow are paid the same as MSPs in Grangemouth and Galashiels
  • MPs in Glasgow are paid the same as MPs in Grangemouth and Galashiels
  • Elected councillors in Glasgow are paid the same as elected councillors in Grangemouth and Galashiels  
So why should low paid council workers in Scotland - carers, cleaners, catering staff, clerical workers, classroom assistants - be treated any differently?

Get Behind Glasgow in 2020!

A high profile, public campaign to restore national bargaining needs to be led by the trade unions, but there is good reason to put this demand at the heart of  the ongoing campaign to deliver 'equal pay for work of equal value' in Glasgow - and in all Scottish councils.


 


Equal Pay - 'Decade Long Failure' (07/09/17)



The Herald's Tom Gordon reports on a special investigation by the Accounts Commission which concludes that a 'decade long failure of leadership by local and central government' is responsible for the continuing debacle over equal pay. 

Glasgow City Council, Scotland's largest, has been fighting a desperate battle against equal pay for the past ten years and its pay arrangements are still shrouded in secrecy - as opposed to being 'open, honest and transparent'.

The Court of Session recently judged Glasgow's revised pay arrangements and its in-house job evaluation scheme (JES), introduced in 2007 to be 'unfit for purpose' - as a result the number of equal pay claims in Glasgow is growing by the day.

If Scotland's largest council can't or won't get its act together, maybe the solution in Glasgow is to send in the Accounts Commission to uncover what has really been going on for the past 10 years.

  

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/15519420.Watchdog_report_exposes_litany_of_failures_behind___1bn_equal_pay_bill/

Watchdog report exposes litany of failures behind £1bn equal pay bill


By Tom Gordon - Scottish Political Editor, The Herald

Glasgow City Chambers

A DECADE long failure of leadership by central and local government has left taxpayers with a bill of more than £1billion for equal pay claims from female council staff, it has emerged.

In a damning study of politicians stalling and ducking responsibilities, the Accounts Commission said around £750m had been spent settling pay claims since 2004.

However a further 27,000 claims are still live, including a recent one from more than 6000 workers in Glasgow which could cost the city £500m, pushing the final bill far higher.

The watchdog blamed “a lack of collective national leadership to overcome challenges and address equal pay issues in a timely way”, with ministers failing to give councils extra funds to help stave off challenges, and authorities in denial about the scale of the problem.

Male-dominated trade unions protecting the higher wages of male workers, often through spurious bonuses, were also a factor.

In order to fix pay anomalies a UK-wide deal, the Single Status Agreement, was established in 1999 to unify pay structures.

Councils were given until 2004 to carry out job evaluations so that women in roles such as caring, cleaning and catering were no longer paid less than men doing equivalent work such as gardening, gravedigging or bin collection.

However only one council met the deadline, and it was not until 2010 that all of Scotland’s councils had single status in place.

Without funds from central government to harmonise pay scales properly, councils failed to make the issue a priority and skimped on deals, sometimes adding to the discrimination by allowing bad practices to continue in order to avoid industrial action.

They also paid 50,000 women £232m in compromise deals to give up claims to back pay.

There were “often of a relatively low value” compared to what they were due.

Partly because many offers were inadequate, and partly because no-win no-fee lawyers became involved, around 70,500 equal pay claims were lodged against councils after 2004.

Of these around 27,000 are outstanding, and new claims are still being brought.

Highlighting the painfully slow progress, the report said: “Thousands of claims currently in the system in Scotland have been live for over a decade.”

The watchdog also complained it had faced “considerable difficulty” due to a lack of good quality data relating to the implementation of equal pay.

It recommended that councils ensure all pay arrangements are fair and transparent.

Commission member Pauline Weetman said: "Equal pay is an incredibly important issue and a legal duty for Scotland's councils to eliminate decades of inequality. However, implementation of equal pay has been a substantial challenge for local government."

The council umbrella body Cosla said it welcomed the report’s recognition that councils had faced “complex judicial processes and huge costs” as they tried to deliver equal pay.

“Councils have endeavoured to settle all legitimate claims as quickly as possible,” it said.

Equal pay campaigner Mark Irvine, who has helped many female workers bring claims against council bosses, said the issue remained a “national disgrace”.

He said: “The report hits the nail on the head. There was an agreement to end discrimination in 1999 and that it’s still happening in 2017 is a terrible indictment of Cosla. Major councils ganged up to prevent low-paid women getting what they were promised 20 years ago.”

The public sector union Unison said the report’s findings were “shocking”.

Scotland regional manager Peter Hunter said: “This study demonstrates the cost of delay and dereliction of duty. If this report compels those remaining councils to resolve outstanding claims... the Accounts Commission will have played a vital role.”

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie added: “This is a complex process but far too many people, mainly women in low paid jobs, are waiting far too long for the money they are due.

"The Scottish Government needs to work with councils to seek a speedier solution.”

“It is time for this legacy of inequality to be resolved.”