Daylight Is The Best Disinfectant
A post from the blog archive which explains that daylight is definitely the best disinfectant when it comes to accounting for the way public money is spent.
In my experience the less open and transparent people are, the more likely they have something embarrassing to hide.
Daylight Is The Best Disinfectant (18/11/21)
So here's the issue - two Glasgow MSPs (Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf) have been asked a reasonable question about their use of public money to employ two SNP councillors who already have full-time, salaried jobs as senior elected members of Glasgow City Council.
But these two public servants (both long-serving ministers) refuse to answer, so what to do next?
One regular reader suggests raising the matter on the floor of the Scottish Parliament which is a good idea, but requires an MSP who's prepared to put down a written question for Scottish Ministers to answer.
So here's a list of activities which will help shine a light on what has been going on because as Lord Nolan once said apropos driving up standards in public life - 'daylight is the best disinfectant'. update
- Write to the leader of Glasgow City Council
- Write to the Chief Executive of Glasgow City Council
- Write to all elected members in Glasgow City Council
- Write to the party leaders in Glasgow City Council
- Write directly to the elected council members involved
- Write to Standards Commission for Scotland
- Write to all Scottish MSPs
- Write to the party leaders in the Scottish Parliament
- Write to the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body
- Write to the Accounts Commission for Scotland
Now that's a big list and a lot of work, but I'm happy to work my way through it in the weeks ahead - if others are willing to lend a hand by sharing my posts and raising the issue themselves in whatever ways they can.
SNP - Conspiracy of Silence? (November 10, 2021)
Is it reasonable to say there's a conspiracy of silence in the SNP over the way public money is being spent in Glasgow?
I think so because the MSPs and SNP councillors involved all know each other very well, they are friends and allies - and Humza Yousaf is not the only one battening the hatches down.
Nicola Sturgeon, the MSP for Glasgow Southside, is also refusing to answer my question about her use of public funds to employ an SNP councillor who already enjoys a full-time salaried job - courtesy of SNP led Glasgow City Council.
See my letter below sent by email to the MSP for Glasgow Southside on 30 September 2021.
Both Humza and Nicola (both Scottish Ministers of course) are refusing to answer my query even though it seems perfectly reasonable.
Because how can someone who is already paid a decent, full-time salary from the public purse (at Glasgow City Council) manage to obtain another publicly funded salary via the SNP and the Scottish Parliament?
Where should the appropriate checks and balances apply - at Glasgow City Council or in the offices of SNP MSPs or in both places?
The individuals involved are very experienced politicians, so they must be familiar with the 'Nolan principles' on standards in public life and their obligation to set a good example.
Now it could be that Humza and Nicola are hoping that this embarrassing situation will just fade away, if they just sit tight and refuse to answer any questions.
But there are ways of turning up the heat which readers of the blog can help with as well and if you have any suggestions, feel free to drop me a note to - email@example.com
More to follow tomorrow - so watch this space.
Conflict of Interest? (October 28, 2021)
I still haven't had a proper response to my letter to Humza Yousaf, the SNP MSP for Glasgow Pollok, which was sent by email on 30 September 2021 - see below:Dear Mr Yousaf
Public Money and SNP Politicians
I understand that a Glasgow councillor with a full-time role in Glasgow City Council is also employed in your Glasgow Pollok local constituency office.
I would be grateful if you can explain the nature of the councillor's employment in your office - including the time commitment involved and cost to the public purse?
Because it seems extraordinary that a public official is able to draw two public salaries at the same time, especially if one of the roles (eg council role) has already been classified as a full-time commitment and paid accordingly.
I realise, of course, that I am not one of your constituents, but nonetheless I hope you will respond to my enquiry because the issues involved are obviously of much wider public concern.
I look forward to your reply.
I think the issues raised in my letter were very reasonable because it doesn't sound fair or like good practice to be employing someone in your office (using public funds) who is already receiving a generous full-time salary courtesy of Glasgow City Council - via the taxpayer of course.
So maybe Humza can't provide a good answer, maybe the letter hasn't been passed on to him by his office staff - who knows?
But it's probably time to start raising the issue elsewhere to get to the bottom of what's been going on since the SNP won control of Glasgow City Council in 2017.
SNP - Gaming The System (September 27, 2021)
Mhairi Hunter and Jennifer Layden are both senior councillors in Glasgow whose roles are regarded as a full-time commitment because of their additional responsibilities over a backbench councillor who is paid at two-thirds of the full time rate.
The full-time rate can vary depending on the nature of the role and according to Glasgow's Register of Interests Jennifer is paid a salary of £35,000 while Mhairi receives £26,000 - around £15 and £20 an hour respectively.
Yet both SNP councillors have other paid jobs - Jennifer works in Humza Yousaf's office having previously enjoyed a similar role in Margaret Ferrier; while Mhairi has a role in none other than Nicola Sturgeon's office and a separate paid commitment as a member of Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board.
Now I have no problem with councillors being properly remunerated - I was a member of the independent (SLARC) committee which recommended a new salary structure for elected councillors in Scotland in 2006.
Yet the SLARC regime is now being abused because no one has been scrutinising the system since the former SNP finance minister, Derek Mackay - who resigned in disgrace of course, decided that independent oversight was no longer necessary and that the SLARC committee should be disbanded.
The upshot is that we have large sums of public money being used to pay Glasgow councillors decent salaries to perform a wide range of part-time and full-time jobs - yet these salaries are also being topped up by SNP MSPs and MPs by employing councillors in their offices.
In effect, the system is being 'gamed' when the public interest demands independent scrutiny, openness and transparency.
Glasgow - More Senior Councillor Salaries (May 06, 2021)
Cllr Mhairi Hunter is another senior councillor in Glasgow with a full-time role as Convener for Health and Social Care Integration for which she's entitled to a salary of @ £26,000 plus expenses.
The salary details are not explained in the Council's Register of Interests, but there are three additional entries declared under Remuneration as follows:
1) Part-time constituency assistant to Nicola Sturgeon MSP
2) Co-Chair Glasgow City Integration Joint Board
3) Board Member Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board
Now I don't know what Nicola Sturgeon's assistants are paid, nor do I know the salary details of the Co-Chair of Glasgow's Integration Joint Board, but the last time I looked Members of GGCHB received a salary of @ £10,000 a year.
I suspect these additional jobs, in this case, are likely to amount to an overall package worth around £50,000 a year, perhaps more.
On this evidence senior councillors in Glasgow are are pretty high earners and hold down more than one job even though their council salary is calculated on the basis of being a full-time commitment.
I'll be interested to see how other backbench and senior councillor salaries in Glasgow pan out, but since the SNP got rid of SLARC (the independent oversight committee on councillor salaries) no one is keeping a watchful eye on what is going on.
SNP, 'Double Dipping' and Public Money (14/04/21)
Anyway, the link between the justice secretary and Glasgow councillor Jennifer Layden is that she works as a part-time caseworker in Humza's constituency office, having done so previously for the SNP's Margaret Ferrier.
Here's what Jennifer Layden's entry in the Council's register of Interest says:
"Part time caseworker for Margaret Ferrier MP for Rutherglen and Hamilton West, January until October 2020"
Part-time caseworker at the office of Humza Yousaf MSP, December 2020