Showing posts from April, 2011

Union Strike Ballots

A Conservative MP at Westminster is calling for the reform of trade union strike ballots - so that  a Yes vote is only deemed to be valid if it has the support of the majority of union members. In other words a majority of 75% based on a turnout of only 20% of members - would no longer have the protection of the law. The MP concerned - Dominic Raab - is proposing that the new rules would apply to the emergency services and transport workers      London Mayor - Boris Johnson - has previously suggested that a 40% hurdle should be used. Interestingly 40% was the figure demanded by Labour MPs - for the referendum on Scottish devolution back in 1979. Regular disruption to the London transport network appears to be fuelling the debate - but I would hazard a guess that it will gain a lot of public support. Trade union leaders can take the view that a majority is a majority - and that politicians are often not elected on a 50% turnout of the electorate. True, but the reality is t

Sentencing Policy

If there's one thing about the criminal justice system that makes me see red - it's the sentences handed down to violent sex offenders. Yesterday I read about another terrible tale in which a 40 year old man received a six year prison sentence - for kidknapping and sexually assaulting a 14 year-old school girl. The man involved was a father of three - and admitted a previous abduction and  assault. And that's my point - violent sex offenders are incapable of rehabilitation - in my humble opinion. Letting violent sex offenders back onto the streets after a few years in jail - simply results in more victims down the line. Take Peter Tobin - now exposed as a serial killer and finally in prison for life - had a catalogue of offences for violent sex crimes - before he progressed to snatching and murdering young women off the streets. I'd wager a small bet that if men were the victims of such horrible crimes down the years - there would have been a change in sente

Think Really Hard

The Scotsman reports today that an overwhelming majority of Scots - 75% - support the SNPs' flagship policy of freezing the council tax. Now you can see why Labour suddenly changed its spots and backed the SNP policy - after spending most of the past four years of arguing the exact opposite. Not everyone agrees - mind you. Senior figures in some Labour-led councils are unhappy - which is why COSLA has been speaking out recently - although to little avail it has to be said. The public appear unconvinced that local councils will look after their interests - which is a worrying development for local democracy and local decision-making. But 'facts are chiels that winna ding' - as they say - with only 19% of Scots (less than 1 in 5) voicing any kind of opposition to the council tax freeze. Local government likes to think of itself as being closer to local people than either MSPs or MPs - as a champion of local democracy and Scotland's local communities. But the

Confronting the Bams

Many years ago I was in the company of Hugh Wyper - a leading figure in the TGWU union - and a man who knew a thing or two about dealing with unruly hecklers. A contemporary of Michael McGahey - the Scottish miners' leader and fellow member of the Communist Party - Hugh was a leading exponent of 'confronting the bams'. But only if he was treated rudely or with a lack of respect. A policy now officially endorsed by Gary Tank Commander - for the Scottish election campaign - see post dated 25 April 2011: 'Confront the Bams'. Anyway I was in Hugh Wyper's company at some trade union march and demonstration in Edinburgh. At the end of which he was approached - in a less than friendly fashion, as I recall - by a group of people from the Socialist Workers Party - some of whom claimed to be members of the TGWU. Apparently they were on strike - a much more common occurrence in those days. But they demanded to know when their leader - one Hugh Wyper - was goi

Top Ups Turned Off

The Herald reports today that outgoing finance secretary - John Swinney - has finally lost patience with Glasgow City Council - over controversial 'top up' salary payments to some of its local councillors - which cost council tax payers £260,000 a year. Here's an extract of the article written by Gerry Braiden:   "Finance Secretary John Swinney has confirmed he will use legislation to end the controversial system of payments to Glasgow councillors sitting on the boards of hived-off bodies if the SNP is re-elected next month. Mr Swinney said secondary legislation would be used to bring the appointments and payments into line with the Local Governance (Scotland) Act, warning that as the city council’s Labour administration has failed to act on recommendations to scrap the Aleo (arm’s-length external organisations) payments a new SNP government would “take what action is necessary”. The Herald reported yesterday how Glasgow’s system of “patronage” payments for cou

Glasgow in the Spotlight

Glasgow City Council is in the headlines again - over controversial 'top up' salaries paid to some of its local councilllors - see post dated 2 April 2011: 'Glasgow City Council'. THe Herald newspaper has another twist to the story today - as a new call is made to end these payments - which have been widely criticised. Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson promised to crack down on the payments - which can earn councillors an extra £20,000 a year - on top of their existing salaries. Glasgow  has been told by an independent watchdog - the Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee (SLARC) - to axe the system. The Herald article says that Finance Secretary John Swinney has intimated that - if re-elected at Holyrood - the SNP will move quickly to abolish Glasgow’s controversial system. Good for him Yesterday, the head of SLARC again called on the council to address the practice “before it gets any worse”. Chairman Ian Livingstone said: “These e

Poachers and Gamekeepers

News that BBC TV presenter Andrew Marr has been protecting his privacy with the use of a celebrity-style 'super injunction' - comes as a bit of a revelation. In a poacher turned gamekeeper sort of way. Because as a journalist turned TV presenter Andrew Marr must have broken lots of stories about the private lives of politicians - shaming and embarrassing the people involved. So why should he be treated any differently? I think this has come about because Andrew Marr has probably got too much money - and too much time on his hands. Which is kind of what I said back in March - about the Loadsamoney culture at the BBC.    Loadsamoney! (1 March 2011) "I'm reading The Finkler Question at the moment - a book by Howard Jacobson which won the Man Booker Prize in 2010. Too early to say what I think overall - but at the start of the book there's an interesting comment on the BBC - which Howard Jacobson (a broadcaster as well as a writer) has been involved wit

Turf Wars

Whether intentionally or not - COSLA seems to be making a good job of wrecking the Labour party's Scottish election campaign. The latest spanner to be thrown into the works - is over Labour's plans to create a national care service by merging social care - which is provided by local councils - into Scotland's NHS. Now there are arguments for and against such a move - but COSLA's doom laden predictions about the likely cost involved - does the Labour party no favours. Because it puts local Labour councils at loggerheads with Scottish Labour leaders - and Labour MSPs. Not the most edifying of sights when it comes to a sensible policy debate. Especially as COSLA have pulled a £300 million price tag out of the air - as the cost of moving towards a new national care service. Seems to me this is just another 'turf war' on the part of COSLA - which is trying to defend its own territory and the traditional role of local councils. Instead of engaging in a p

Knives Are Out

The knives are welll and truly out in the 'knife crime' party - as Scottish Labour MPs turn on their leaders before the Holyrood election campaign is even over. No less than three Scottish Labour MPs were happy to give damning 'off the record' comments to the Sunday Times yesterday - about performance of their party leader, Iain Gray.  Here's what one of the anonymous Labour MPs said: "Iain doesn't deserve to take all of the blame because the problem goes wider than that, but it's not hard to conclude from what we've seen that he's not fit for purpose as a leader." Now these Labour MPs are obviously entitled to their opinions - but to speak anonymously and off the record - is a terrible act of treachery and betrayal. What do they hope to achieve? A party where leading figures feel free to behave so disloyally - needs to take a long hard look at itself. But in the short-run the voters are hardly likely to be impressed.

Confront the Bams

Gary Tank Commander got top marks from me again yesterday - for his latest reflections on the Scottish election campaign. Here's a flavour of what he had to say: "There wis a report last week by the Glasgow University think-tank. Right, um sorry but whit is a think-tank? Ah ken whit a tank is, and ah ken whit thinking is, and ah dae think in my tank, but ah dinny then call it "ma think-tank".That's like me callin' anything I thiunk in, the think thing, like - "the think-bath", or "the think-walk tae the shops"......exactly: stupid. They should just call it Some Folk at Glasgow Uni said......." "But according tae the polls, Alex (Salmond) is just aboot pokin' ahead of his arch sandwich-shop hiding rival Iain Gray. Did you hear aboot that? Weeks ago Iain wiz hangin' aboot Central Station in Glasgow when some radges confronted him aboot spendin' cuts - he wisnae happy 'n' done a bolt tae a Subway tae hide  be

Making Things Worse

I heard Michael Kelly on the radio earlier today. Having a rant about Alex Salmond and the SNP making things worse allegedly - over the hate-filled sectarian behaviour that often accompanies Old Firm football matches. I wondered why this man would make such a foolish and unhelpful statement. But then I remembered - as well as being ready with a quote kind on anything to do with Celtic - Michael Kelly is from the old school of Labour politics.  A former Lord Provost of Glasgow City Council - Kelly takes himself too seriously, I think - just like his Labour colleague from Edinburgh - Lord George Foulkes. Clamping down hard on this vile sectarian behaviour is long overdue - because Scotland has turned a blind eye to it for far too long. To my mind the people who makes things worse are peope who make partisan political comments - like Michael Kelly. Because Strathclyde Police set this particular ball rolling after the disgraceful scenes at the Old Firm 'Game of Shame'

Moonlighting MPs

As if he didn't have enough on his plate looking after the interests of the good people of Fife - Gordon Brown has accepted another 'roving role' at the World Economic Forum (WEF) which hold its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Gordon apparently has his sights set on a paid role at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - worth £270,000 a year. But in the meantime he will have to put up with his day job as a Westminster MP - where the pay and rations are not nearly so good. Now I'm all in favour of people being supported by public money to retrain and find new work - though they normally have to be unemployed to qualify for this kind of financial assistance. In this case the tax payer is forking out £65,738 a year in salary costs alone - for someone who is essentially operating as a part-time MP. At a time when every public pound is under such scrutiny - shouldn't Gordon do the decent thing and either commit himself to being a full-time MP - or just re

The Dogs of War

Labour appear to have unleashed a terrifying, new secret weapon in their Scottish election campaign - Lord George Foulkes. Responding to his party's poor showing in the polls - Lord George tells Scotland in Sunday today what has been going wrong - in his sage opinion: "Iain Gray has been too much of a gentleman. He has been playing by the Marquess of Queensberry rules, but Salmond has been hitting him below the belt again and again." Now I'd like to say something erudite about Lord George's views on the election campaign - but I don't understand what he's talking about. His words make sense on their own - individually - but joined together in the same sentence they come out as political gobbeldegook. So we will all have to wait until the noble Lord spouts forth some more - because this is a man  of undoubted talent. So talented that he can hold down two jobs - that of a full-time MSP - in addition to his duties in the House of Lords. "Cr

Image Conscious

The papers report today that Labour leader - Ed Miliband - is to have a minor operation on his troublesome sinuses. Nothing to do with his 'nasally' voice - say Ed's minders - it's to help him stop snoring and sleep better at night. No doubt Ed's soon to be wife - Justine - will breathe a huge sigh of relief. But it does make you wonder why people put up with things quite happily - for many years - but feel the pressure to conform once they're in the public eye. I quite like Ed Miliband's nasal drone - and I admired the fact that the felt no need to get married to his long-term partner Justine - or have his name on his son's birth certificate. Until he became Labour leader of course - then things had to change. Just like Margaret Thatcher who had her teeth capped - and voice coaching lessons to 'lower' her rather  strident voice. Maybe it will make a difference - who knows - but it just goes to show how image conscious many politici

I'm Afraid Not

A piece of string goes into a pub and asks the bartender for a cold beer. The bartender replies, grumpily: "We don't serve beer to pieces of string". So the piece of string wanders off, feeling thirsty and rejected, when he bumps into another piece of string. "Where are you heading?", asks the first piece of string. "I'm off to the pub to get myself a cold beer", says the second piece of string. "You're wasting your time, they won't serve you", says the first piece of string. "Oh they'll serve me alright", says the second piece of string - who starts tying himself into all kinds of contortions and then rubs his behind furiously on the ground. The second piece of string then goes into the pub and asks for a cold beer. The bartender answers menacingly: "Aren't you a piece of string?" "No", says the piece of string. "I'm a frayed knot."    

Action 4 Equality Scotland

A reader from Edinburgh has been in touch - about transferring her equal pay claim to Acion 4 Equality Scotland from one of the trade unions. The reader says she is fed up at the lack of information - and the lack of any real enthusiasm from the unions when it comes to equal pay. Can I transfer my claim to Action 4 Equality Scotland ?- the reader wishes to know. Well the answer is Yes - that's easily done - all you need to do is to send me your details - full name, job title, employer, home address and post code. By dropping me a note at - Or you can simply ring the Action 4 Equality Scotland office in Edinburgh - 0131 652 7360. Either way it's a bit of a skoosh.      

Drowning Not Waving

Today's papers are full of stories about Labour's desperate attempt to re-launch its Scottish election campaign. Where there's life there's hope - as they say - but even though it's Easter weekend I can't see Scottish Labour coming back from the dead. The Labour party has no clear message for the voters - beyond we hate the Tories - which is hardly likely to deliver electoral success. The lesson of history is that parties that broaden their appeal  are the ones that win election victories. Labour has withdrawn into its comfort zone - which is where its Scottish leader has failed. When Margaret Thatcher fought her way to government in 1979 - she picked a fight with Labour on its own turf - 'Labour isn't working', council house sales and trade union power.   When Labour finally came out of the doldrums under Tony Blair in 1997 - New Labour promised a new approach and a new deal - 'Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime', '

Holy Willie's Prayer

Here are the words to Holy Wilie's Prayer - written by Robert Burns in 1785. Holy Willie was a religious hypocrite - who preached one thing then did another - quick to see wrongdoing in other people's behaviour - but never his own. A modern parallel in 21st century Scotland are trade union bosses - who preach to the rest of us about equal opportunities - and equality at the workplace. Yet the trade union don't reflect the diverse views or make up of their ordinary grassroots members - whom they claim to serve. As everyone knows, the trade unions in Scotland are slavishly pro-Labour - they discriminate in favour of their own 'chosen race' - by acting as Labour-only 'closed shops' when it comes to recruiting people to senior leadership positions. Scotland will be a better place when the trade unions recruit good people - at every level - who reflect the mixed views and different outlooks of the wider membership. Not just the small band of activists

A bit of a skoosh

Kenneth Clarke is justice secretary in the Westminster coalition government - a staunch Tory and former minister in Margaret Thatcher's government. But that doesn't make him a bad person or a bad politician - not in my book anyway. Not least because he appears to be drawing on his life experience and a degree of common sense - in dealing with the prisons service in the rest of the UK. Clarke is planning to publish a bill next month aimed at reducing the number of criminals being sent to prison - and curbing re-offending. Clarke says it is pointless to continue with a policy that simply warehouses thousands of offenders - without tyring to turn them away from a life of crime. Prison - says Clarke - should be reserved for serious offences and crimes of violence, but it's not the place to be dealing with people who have drug and alcohol problems. Sounds to me like Clarke is a supporter of one of New Labour's better slogans - 'Tough on crime, tough on the ca

Spending Public Money

I received my postal ballot voting pack today - for the elections to the Scottish Parliament and the referendum on AV. Trouble is that the the voting slip for the Scottish Parliament elections - was not included in the pack. And on checking with Glasgow City Council - which is responsible for sending the packs out - the Scottish Parliament voting slip is being sent out tomorrow - in a separate mailing. Now why the council should be sending out two separate mail shots when only one would do - is a mystery. The person at the other end of the phone could not explain the reason. Is it just madness, a job creation exercise - or yet another example of a council spending public money - as if there was no tomorrow? Who knows, but if I find out - I'll let you know.

Scotland Will Be Free

Tom Nairn - the historian - once said: 'Scotland will be free when the last minister is strangled by the last copy of the Sunday Post.' Now I don't know many ministers and I don't often read the Sunday Post too often - but I think I know what Tom Nairn was on about. Scotland has been held back by the 'Holy Willies' in our midst for far too  long - the two-faced hypocrites scorned so effectively by Robert Burns in his famous poem - Holy Willie's Prayer.   But who are the Holy Willies of today - who preach one thing then do another?  My nomination goes to the trade union bosses who slavishly support the Labour party in Scotland - when it's perfectly clear that the majority of union members don't support the Labour party. Ordinary union members are just like everyone else - they support the SNP, Lib Dems, Green Party and Conservatives - as well as the smaller socialist parties and independent figures like Margo MacDonald.  Yet the trade un

The Best Medicine

Laughter is the best medicine - so they say. And if you are in need of a good laugh - and a good night out - I can thoroughly recommend The Stand comedy club. Now The Stand has two venues at the moment - one in Edinburgh and another in Glasgow - with a third apparently opening in Newcastle later this year. I've been to both and had a great time - but if you're at all shy or can't take a good slagging - then my only advice is not to sit too near the front.  The Glasgow Comedy Festival has just ended - and the Edinburgh Festival is on the horizon - but The Stand has has shows on throughout the year. Check out the different venues at -

Private Eye

The latest edition of Private Eye has a great story about the hypocrisy of people who attacked Nick Clegg - for his recent speech on using family connections to gain an 'unfair' advantage in the jobs market. "WHAT A CHEEK!" roared the front page of the Daily Mail as it castigated Nick Clegg for criticisng 'unfair, informal internships' as a barrier to social mobility. "It emerged that his millionaire father had secured him the internship that launched his career and a titled family friend helped him get his first proper job, " the paper sneered. A reminder: Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, got into journalism by working as a messenger boy on the Sunday Express during his school holidays and then bagged a traineeship on the daily title during his year off before university. How dod he get such lucky breaks? Well his father Peter just happened to be the showbusiness editor....... Meanwhile the Guardian's Comment is Free site was hostin

Empty Slogans

I've just read an election leaflet from my local Labour party candidate - and it doesn't half send out a dismal message.  'Only Labour can defend public services from Tory cuts' - screams the headline. Despite the fact that this is an election to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood - not a general election to the  Westminster Parliament which took place last year - in May 2010.  No wonder the Scottish Labour campaign seems to be falling apart - its central message is dire, dispiriting and negative - in effect calling for support on the basis that Labour hates the Tories, presumably better than anyone else. Now this is childish nonsense - Labour-led South Lanarkshire Council, for example, was perfectly happy to rely on Conservative councillor votes - to put the present administration into power in 2007. What happened to Labour's implacable 'anti-Tory' stance then?  'Tory cuts' is an empty, meaningless and confusing slogan. Because Labour

Newsnet Scotland

Newsnet Scotland has published my recent thoughts on COSLA and the council tax freeze - see post dated 18 April 2011: 'The Mouse That Roared'. The Newsnet Scotland site has lots of interesting articles on all kinds of subjects - including a comprehensive coverage of the Scottish election campaign. Have a look and see for for yourself at -

Edinburgh Male Claimants

Contrary to what was said in my recent post about male claimants - a dispute has arisen with Edinburgh City Council about the claims submitted by male janitors. The council is now taking the view that these posts are not covered by the recent settlement - because in the council's eyes they are classified as former APT&C posts - not former Manual Worker posts. Now this is a moot and very contentious point - because for many years Edinburgh's  janitors were very clearly classified as former Manual Worker posts. At the moment the council is digging its heels in - but discussions are continuing in the hope of finding a resolution. If the issue is not resolved - then the janitors claims will be joined to the Court of Session hearing which is due to take place from 14 to 17 June 2011.

Moonlighting MPs

Gordon Brown (GB) - former PM and sometime MP for Fife - is apparently being touted for a job as Managing Director (MD) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Nice job - if you can get it - since it comes with a salary of £270,000 a year - though it's not clear if you can accept the post and still hold on to your day job as an MP. But if I were GB, I wouldn't be getting my hopes up - because he has to be nominated for the job by his successor - David Cameron (DC)- which seems a tad unlikely. And DC has repotedly said that GB is not the "most appropriate person" to lead the IMF - because he would not admit the UK had a "debt problem". DC apparently the BBC Radio 4 Today programme : "I haven't spent a huge amount of time thinking about this but it does seem to me that, if you have someone who didn't think we had a debt problem in the UK when we self-evidently do have a debt problem, then they might not be the most appropriate person t

Facing the Music

Former Rangers player - Billy Dodds - wrote a searingly honest article in the Sunday Herald at the weekend. Without pulling any punches - he told the Rangers 'fans' behind the sectarian singing at football games - that if they really care about the club - their behaviour has to stop and 'stop now'. Good for him. Because that's exactly what these people need to hear from their football heroes - past and present. Too many people associated with Rangers FC want to make excuses for this vile behaviour - by trying to divert attention away from the real issue by saying that the club is being singled out. But the death threats revealed today against the Celtic manager - Neil Lennon - put this issue in its proper context. Public displays of hatred by football fans fuel intolerance and encourage violence - and that is simply not acceptable in this day and age. So as the headline in Billy Dodds article said - 'Rangers fans must face the music'. 

South Lanarkshire

South Lanarkshire Council is up to its old tricks again. Here's a copy of a recent FOI Review Request - which I've had to submit because the council has refused to provide the information requested - first time of asking. Despite the fact that the Scottish Information Commissioner has already decided - in relation to a previous case - that the information requested does not constitute 'personal data'. Now this issue is right on the doorstep - and in the faces - of South Lanarkshire MSPs and MPs - and some of the Labour politicians have been very vocal recently in criticising the Scottish government over FOI. Yet - so far at least - none of these Labour MSPs and MPs have been very interested in the behaviour of their own local council - when it comes to FOI and equal pay. So if you get the chance to put the politicians on the spot - during the Scottish election campaign - then seize the opportunity with both hands! And let me know what your MSP or MP has to s

Short Shrift in Edinburgh

A number of readers from Edinburgh have been in touch - asking why the outstanding male claims have been settled - but not the 'equal value' claims from former council workers on former APT&C grades. The kind of jobs involved are social care workers - catering managers, previously known as cooks-in-charge - and so on. Well the answer is that the delay is down to Edinburgh City Council's intransigence   - because this ability of former APT&C workers to bring an equal pay claims was demonstrated long ago. An Employment Tribunal in Edinburgh in the summer of 2008 decided that former APT&C workers - were able to compare their earnings against the much higher earnings of traditional male groups - such as male refuse workers and gardeners. In fact the Employment Judge described Edinburgh City Council - as trying to defend the 'indefensible'. But the council decided to waste even more public money by appealing that decision - to the Employment Appeal

Think of a Number - Any Number

The Labour party's mad claim that 'knife crime' costs the NHS £500 million every year - continues to unravel. The madness was started by Scottish Labour's justice spokesperson - Richard Baker - but has since embroiled party leader - Iain Gray - and his 'de facto' deputy - Andy Kerr. In Andy Kerr's case things have spiralled even further out of control - with a local election leaflet claiming that the NHS spent £3 billion a year - on treating knife crime victims in Scottish hospitals. Now £3 billion is getting on for 10% of the Scottish Parliament's total annual budget - which illustrates just how crazy this whole business is - and Kerr's team has since been forced to withdraw the figure. But the contagion continues as party leader - Iain Gray - sought to defend the £500 million a year claim in a Newsnight Scotland interview last night. Today's newspapers bring more bad news as one of the original sources of the £500 million claim - step

Windy Rhetoric

Today's newspaper reports suggest that some teachers in Scotland - may actually be living on a different planet to the rest of us. As Glasgow prepares to host the annual conference of the NASUWT this weekend - the Scotsman reports that the union is calling for teacher workloads to be reduced - because their jobs are so stressful. The NASUWT says that without more support - there will be increasing stress, mental health issues and absenteeism. NASUWT general secretary - Chris Keates - is quoted as saying "Teachers' pay and conditions are being singled out in a deliberate, calculated and vicious way to balance the books of the Scottish Government." How's that for hyperbole?  Here's something I wrote about the McCrone Agreement several years ago - the reality is that teachers are much better off than most other Scottish council workers - none of whom enjoy the luxury of a 39-week working year. "Windy Rhetoric and McCrone" "Union leade

Newsnight for Laughs

I don't normally watch Newsnight Scotland for laughs. But last night I nearly fell off my chair listening to Labour's justice spokesperson - Richard Baker - trying to defend his claim that 'knife crime' costs the NHS in Scotland £500 million every year. Now 'knife crime' is a serious business, but making ridiculously exaggerated claims about its impact and cost - doesn't help anyone decide how to tackle the problem. A chap from Straight Statistics - Nigel Hawkes, I think was his name - was interviewed before the Labour spokesperson. Nigel proceeded to drive a coach and horses - followed by a double decker bus - through the claim that £500 million was an accurate cost to Scotland's NHS. Nonsense said the straight talker from Straight Statistics, couldn't possibly - not even in your wildest dreams - be any more than £10 million a year.  Still a lot of money - but 50 times less than the wild claims being bandied around by Labour's Richar

'Play it Again Salm'

So the Scottish Sun has come out in support of Alex Salmond for First Minister - which is not a great surprise the way the election campaign is going. But you've got to hand it the the sub-editors - 'Play it again Salm' is a clever strapline - one that brings a smile to your face - even if you're not a fan of Alex Salmond, the SNP or the Scottish Sun. The best headline ever in the Scottish Sun - which I sadly failed to get a copy of at the time - was the one dreamt up by some wag after Inverness Caledonian Thistle beat the mighty Glasgow Celtic - in a Scottish Cup match, if I remember correctly. The strapline used by the sub-editor on that occasion has gone down in newspaper history: 'SupercaleygoballisticCelticareatrocious'. Mary Poppins - eat your heart out!   

More Union Cock-Ups

A number of readers from Midlothian have been in touch - because their trade union apparently failed to register their equal pay claims with the Employment Tribunal. The members involved have been told that their claims are now time barred - and cannot  proceed any further - which came as a great shock after all this time. So far, the union has failed to accept any responsibility - and the members are now considering legal action against the union to recover their financial loss. Now you would have thought that a big trade union - with huge resources - would just put its hands up in a situation like this - and agree to compensate its low paid members who can ill afford to be out of pocket. But no - not so far at least. Even though whatever has gone wrong is down to the union and not the members - who are simply fighting for their right to equal pay.  

Setback in Glasgow

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has issued a written decision in the Glasgow 'Compromise Agreement' case. Unfortunately the decision has gone in favour of the employer - which means that  the EAT agree with the original Employment Tribunal decision - that the 2005 Compromise Agreements remain valid. The decicion is a big disappointment and affects only those people who signed a Compromise Agreement with the council - before raising an equal pay claim.  There are 42 days within which to consider any appeal - and an assessment will now take place on whether there are sufficient legal grounds to appeal further. As regular readers know, council workers who signed these Compromise Agreements played no part in selecting the lawyers involved - since they were all hand picked by Glasgow City Council. Nor did the lawyers involved give any practical advice on the content of the Compromise Agreements - or on the real value of these claims - which is why people are so angry.

Say YES to AV

The best advert for saying YES to AV in the May referendum - is to cast your mind back to how things were under 'first past the post' (FPTP). For example, before Scottish councils were elected under a single transferable vote (STV) form of proportional representation - Glasgow relied upon FPTP to elect local councillors. In 2003 the Labour party had 71 councillors out of 79 - almost a clean sweep - or 90% of the total number of seats - but based on only 47% of the popular vote. Nowadays that's changed out of sight because of a fairer voting system - other parties are now represented in significant numbers - which broadly reflects their share of the popular vote. And that's how it should be - because 'first past the post' means that seats are won on a minority share of the vote - often as low as 35%. Which is why AV is an improvement on the present system - because the winner has to get more than 50% of the votes.  The old system favours the establis

The Mouse That Roared

COSLA - it seems - has finally found its voice with a belated intervention in the Scottish election campaign. But is it a case of too little too late - because COSLA has been losing credibility for years - see post dated 16 April 2011: 'COSLA isn't working anymore'. The Convention's chief executive - Rory Mair - has spoken out with a 'plague on all your houses' blast at Scotland's main political parties. COSLA says their election manifestos are - 'unambitious, largely irrelevant and financially unsound'. And in a nice 'Rolf Harris' touch Rory Mair received the backing of no less an authority than own his brother - Colin Mair - who happens to the the chief executive of the Improvement Service - another publicly funded body which supports the work of Scottish local government. Now all of this is fine and dandy - but lashing out at the last minute and in all directions - is not going to win COSLA any friends - or influence the policy d

More Kind Words

Another regular reader from Edinburgh has been in touch - regarding settlement of the long-standing male claims. "Well done to you and your team, Mark". SR. Brief and to the point - but none the worse for that. The advice to Action 4 Equality Scotland clients is to sit tight - the settlement process is underway - and there's no need for you to do anything. More news will follow.

The Wrong Kind of Jobs

'What do we want - more jobs! When do we want them - now! Er, except when it's the wrong kind of jobs apparently - according to Scotland's teaching unions, anyway. Following in the footsteps of other public in institutions which have blamed - the 'wrong kind of snow' and  'leaves on the track' - as an excuse for travel chaos - the Scottish TUC will presumably hear more this week from the teaching unions about the 'wrong kind of jobs'. See post dated 15 April 2011: 'Inward Looking and Conservative'. Scottish Labour have come up with a policy designed to tackle poor literacy and numeracy levels - and the 13,000 schoolchildren who leave primary school every year - unable to read and write properly. Yet the proposal to create another 1,000 teaching jobs to tackle the problem - hasn't won favour with the Scotland's teaching unions - because it will upset the sensitivities of experienced teachers, apparently. Now this seems more