Showing posts from August, 2011

Labour-Led South Lanarkshire

The day after tomorrow is the big day - I can hardly wait. South Lanarkshire has until Friday - 2 September 2011 - to comply with a decision of the Scottish Information Commissioner, Kevin Dunion. What will this increasingly ridiculous council do? Comply with the carefully reasoned decision of the Scottish Information Commssioner - or waste even more time and taxpayers money by appealing (yet again) to the Court of Session. If the latter, I'm going to have to contact the Scottish Labour leader - Iain Gray - again. Regular readers will know that Iain Gray is keen that public bodies - inclduing the Scottish government - comply with decisions of the Scottish Information Commissioner.  So clearly Iain Gray will not want Labour-led South Lanarkshire Council - making a fool of Scottish Labour's principled stance. Let's hope that South Lanarkshire Council makes the right choice - and stops bringing freedom of information into disrepute. CENSORED in South Lanarkshi

One Helluva Apology

The Scottish government has saved Edinburgh City Council from complete disaster - even though the much-derided 'trams project' - has made monkeys out of the taxpayer. Last week Labour and Tory councillors joined forces to stop the trams in their tracks at Haymarket - with the new 'service' racking up losses of £4 million a year - and passengers having to complete the journey into the city centre - under their own steam. Some advert for Scotland. But thankfully the Scottish government has stepped in to save these idiots from themselves - and end the pretence that any of them actually know what they are doing. Local democracy, my arse - more like the Keystone Cops taking over the transport network. Now the irony is that the SNP government never wanted to spend £500 million of public money - on Edinburgh's trams in the first place. But Labour and Lib Dem MSPs ganged up in the Scottish Parliament and voted the scheme through - leaving the SNP minority govern

Wasting Public Money

The idiot Hearts fan who attacked Celtic manager - Neil Lennon - during a televised football match back in May - continues to waste the time of the police and the courts - and everyone else caught up in this ugly incident. John Wilson (26) is charged with attacking Lennon - and the charge is 'aggravated' because Wilson is said to have shouted sectarian abuse at Lennon at the time. Yesterday an independent witness - Peter Croy (61) - the operations director for G4 Security  gave evidence that Wilson shouted - 'Lennon, ya Fenian bastard', as Wilson was being restrained on the ground. Wilson does not deny the attack - which to Scotland's shame was witnessed around the world - but denies the aggravated element of his crime. Now the evidence of Peter Croy - as an independent witness - must have been available to Wilson and his lawyer - before the trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court got underway. Yet the defendant - John Wilson - is still allowed to waste everyone&

Mickey Mouse Degrees

As I read the Sunday Times at the weekend - I thought that old petrolhead Jeremy Clarkson's at it again - ranting on about something or other having sniffed too many petrol fumes. Jeremy was in top gear as he laid into the standard of education and Mickey Mouse degrees - at English universities. He claimed that courses in 'Dance with Waste Management' and 'Third World Development with Pop Music' - were available as bona fide degrees - in real universities. No, I said to myself - he's gone stark raving bonkers this time - but the truth is old JC is bang on the money - as a quick visit to the internet confirms. Because a degree in 'Dance with Waste Management' is actually available - at Northampton University. So too is a degree in 'Dance with Equine Studies' would you believe - though where that fascinating subject is taught - I have no idea I am glad to say. Quite how these ridiculous topics get public funding is beyond me - even more

Trade Union Fat Cats

The annual TUC conference takes place next month and some people - me for one - will be waiting with baited breath - to hear what the brothers have to say about the 'fat cat' behaviour of Unite and its recently departed general secretary - Derek Simpson. Meantime the Private Eye has performed a service in keeping this issue in the public spotlight - while the TUC, Unite and all the other unions - try desperately to brush the whole affair under the carpet. Here's what the Eye has to say. TUC News - Pay daze "Ker-ching! Derek Simpson, former joint general secretary of Unite, hit the headlines when he topped the trades union rich list by pocketing a farewell package worth £519,659. Alas, uncomradely elements in Britain's biggest union are questioning whether the £361,347 "severance" element of the package was properly paid. If not, they say, shouldn't he be obliged to give it back? Simpson's severance payment was supposedly authorised a

Talk of the Steamie

I completely forgot that yesterday was a bank holiday and that - far from returning to work - lots of people might have been enjoying a well-deserved long weekend. So I am re-publishing Sunday's 'Talk of the Steamie' post. Which has certainly stirred things up a bit - if the e-mails I've received already are anything to go by. Talk of the Steamie (Sunday) I kept my mobile phone on all day yesterday - but no word from the mysterious reader who contacted me last week. Not to worry - maybe they don't look at the blog site over the weekend. But other readers can help - by spreading the word and making sure this is the 'talk of the steamie' in South Lanarkshire - as folks go back to work on Monday morning. So I'll keep putting these little reminders up - until I hear something which will be soon - I'm sure. Because complete confidence and discretion is assured. Calling South Lanarkshire (Saturday) A reader from South Lanarkshire sent m

A Hopeful Carer

A reader from South Lanarkshire has sent me an e-mail - the contents of which are reproduced below. I have to say it's always nice to hear from those at the sharp end of the fight for equal pay - because that's what this is all about. The lowest paid workers in the land - who have been betrayed by the very people - who were supposed to be looking after their interests. If you have something to say - or want to get something off your chest - drop me a note at: As a general rule I don't publish people's names and personal details - for obvious reasons. But so long as readers' comments are reasonably polite - though colourful language is perfectly acceptable - I am happy to post them on the blog site. So don't delay - if you have some thoughts to share or something you want to say - get writing today. "Dear Mark I was very pleased to read the publication today in the Hamilton Advertiser about the ongoing equal pay disp


India has a regular stream of visitors to the blog site - which I find quite surprising. India is a vast country - a place I have yet to visit and apart from its wonderful cuisine - India is a land I know little about. Along with most other Scots I love Indian food - though the irony is that most 'Indian' restaurants in Scotland are actually owned and run by people who hail originally from Pakistan. The cuisine of northern India is very different to people's diet in the south of the country - which is largely vegetarian - or in Kerala where fish and seafood recipes are 'king'. But whether the cooking is vegetarian or involves meat or fish - there's nothing quite like a good curry - and so many Scots agree that it's become our other national dish. I can cook good curries too - something I learned when I worked in London many years ago - and lived close to Southall which has an abundance of wonderful shops, cafes and restaurants. London - in West E

Red Letter Day

Today is a 'red letter' day for the blog site. The reason being that today I have just published post number 2,000 - which is no mean feat though I say so myself - given all the competing demands on my time. When I started out I had no idea where all this would lead. I still don't in the sense that the blog site is no longer just about equal pay. Regular readers will have noticed - long ago - that I write about a wide range of issues these days. But while the focus of the blog site has changed and expanded - standing up for the little 'guy' remains its true purpose - against the hypocrites and bullies who wield undue influence over many aspects of public life. How long it will all last I can't say with any certainty - but for so long as I think I can make a difference - I will keep the blog site going. Occasionally people ask me why I don't have a comments section - for people to add their own views. The answer is simple - I don't have th

Deputy Dawg

John Prescott - that old sea-dog and former deputy leader of the Labour party - has been at it again. Putting his foot in it - or mouth in it - as is his wont on a regular basis. Private Eye has again exposed just what an old phoney JP is - with his frequent blatherings on TV and Twitter . Here's a piece from the latest edition of the magazine. "Baron Prescott of Kingston-upon-Hull in the county of East Yorkshire was, as ever, quick to jump on a Twitter bandwagon , appending the scathing - #whereisthegovernment - hashtag to his 'tweets' about the Eurozone crisis. He also took to Andrew Marr's sofa after the first night of the riots to announce that he had been in charge "every August for ten years, I had the tsumami (sic), I had the 7/11" (he was presumably referring to the Asian tsunami, which took place in December 2004, and either the terror attacks on New York in September 2011, or London in July 2005). "I had one minister phone me up

And Now The News

Sometimes I wonder how the television and radio manage to churn out such pap and nonsense - without someone somewhere standing up and saying: 'I refuse to read this rubbish - it's a complete insult to the viewers' and listeners' intelligence!" Take today for example. I heard a 'news' story this morning on the radio in which someone was calling for the Lockerbie bomber - Al Megrahi - to be extradited - presumably to America. But how could this happen? Because Al Megrahi was already jailed for his crime and given a life sentence by a Scottish court sitting in The Hague - but was then  subsequently released by the Scottish government on compassionate grounds. A decision that was of course fully supported by the UK (Labour) government at the time - though that didn't stop Labour in Scotland behaving hypocritically when the decision was announced - and trying to exploit the situation for their own ends. So what is this latest nonsense all about

Running a Whelk Stall

Renewed calls are being made today for the Scottish Government to take over the Edinburgh 'trams project' - from the bams who are 'running' things just now. I wrote about this back in June and supported the suggestion - even though it amounts to a 'poisoned chalice' for Alex Salmond and his SNP government.  But the truth is that elected politicians and senior officials in Edinburgh - have shown the world that they couldn't even run a whelk stall - if they were given one for free. So the First Minister should put party politics aside - even though the SNP opposed the crazy idea from the outset - and rescue the good people of Edinburgh from those currently masquerading as our capital city's 'civic leaders'.   Now this has some implications for local democracy - which COSLA keeps banging on about - the notion that local decisions are always better decisions. Well tell that to people in Edinburgh because the 'trams project' provide

Edinburgh - Male Claimants

A regular reader from Edinburgh has been in touch - a male claimant, a school janitor - who wants to know why it's taking so long to settle his outstanding equal pay claim. Well the truth is that Edinburgh City Council is the problem - it's been dragging its feet and refusing to settle these claims for years - on behalf of male workers - non-bonus earning workers such as school janitors and social work drivers. Apparently the city council has been far too busy digging up Edinburgh's streets and wasting hundreds of millions of pounds - on its ridiculous trams project. Meanwhile these male claimants - and other groups of former APT&C workers - have still to get their equal pay claims settled. A big test case was heard earlier this year at the Court of Session on behalf of the former APT&C claimants - but the written decision has yet to be released. So sit tight and fingers crossed. Efforts have been redoubled to knock some sense into the council - over the

Snogging Golden Retrievers

Mad Ozzy Osbourne - of Black Sabbath fame - has another career which may not be familiar to regular readers of the blog site. Ozzy also writes a regular column for the Sunday Times magazine - with the catchy title: 'Ask Dr Ozzy'. But comes with the following health warning: Ozzy Osbourne is not a qualified medical professional. Caution is advised. Yes, by all means proceed with care but Ozzy has been through the 'university of life' - which counts for a thing or two in my book - and besides his column is often hilariously funny. Witness the following question and answer from this week's magazine. Q. I'm a happily married father-of-two, but after a long session in the pub the other day, my assistant tried to snog me. That would have been awkward enough if my assistant weren't also a man (10 years my junior). Should I fire him? Anonymous, Stoke A. Depends how drunk you both were. During one of my old drinking sessions, I could have snogged a g

Talk of the Steamie

I kept my mobile phone on all day yesterday - but no word from the mysterious reader who contacted me last week. Not to worry - maybe they don't look at the blog site over the weekend. But other readers can help - by spreading the word and making sure this is the 'talk of the steamie' in South Lanarkshire - as folks go back to work on Monday morning. So I'll keep putting these little reminders up - until I hear something which will be soon - I'm sure. Because complete confidence and discretion is assured. Calling South Lanarkshire A reader from South Lanarkshire sent me some very interesting information through the post the other day - in a brown paper envelope - which somehow added a sense of mystery and excitement - I have to admit. Now the information contained in this little 'parcel' is intriguing - and potentially explosive - but I would like to discuss a couple things with the person who kindly went to a lot of time and trouble to get it

Private Eye

Private Eye - as you'd expect - has had a field day in the wake of the London riots. Making fun of the great and good is the Eye's stock in trade - but some of them deserve to be made to look ridiculous - not least that old phoney 'Lord John Prescott of Hull'. Here's an extract from a article which 'spoofs' the reaction of prominent public figures - to all the violence and looting.                              What They Said Prominent Figures Give Their Verdict On The Riots That Have Shocked Britain  John Prescott There can be no excuse for this behaviour and no justificating of what happened but the blame for the riotising and lootifying has to be put squarely at the feet of the Tory government who don't give a damn about the working classes because they all went to private public schools and swan around in big houses playing croquet and having affairs with their secretaries dressing up in ermine robes and giving themselves titles forgetting

Successful Scots

Earlier this year I published two posts about Jackie Kay's book - 'Red Dust Road'. A few months later and Jackie's memoir has been voted 'Scottish Book of the Year' - which is richly deserved and comes as no surprise - to me at least. I hope I played a small part in Jackie's success - by singing its praises on the blog site. But if you haven't read the book as yet - you must do so. Because it will warm your heart - make you laugh like a drain - and bring tears to your eyes. Red Dust Road (26 May 2011) I've just finished reading Red Dust Road - the life story so far of Jackie Kay - one of Scotland's best known poets. Jackie has an interesting 'hinterland', as they say - adopted soon after she was born by John and Helen Kay, lifelong socialists from Glasgow. Jackie's birth mother was a young Scottish woman from Nairn and her birth father was a young Nigerian student - whom she met briefly while he was studying in Aberde

Facing Up To Discrimination

Here's an article I wrote more than tenyears ago for Business am - a new Scottish newspaper at the time which sadly lasted only a few years - before biting the dust. I wrote for Business am on a regular basis - soon after I turned my back on a twenty-year trade union career - and long before equal pay came back into my life with a vengeance. I was reminded of the Business am article while reading the apology of Lothian and Borders Police to the family of Simon San - who was killed in a racially motivated attack in Edinburgh in August 2010. Simon San was a Chinese man who was set upon by a gang of street thugs - for no reason other than they took pleasure in teasing and tormenting him - because of his ethnic origin. Lothian and Borders Police have now apologised for not treating the incident as a racist attack at the time - but the San family believe they have been denied justice. Because their son's attackers were not charged - with an aggravated, racially motivat

Calling South Lanarkshire

A reader from South Lanarkshire sent me some very interesting information through the post the other day - i n a brown paper envelope - which somehow added a sense of mystery and excitement - I have to admit. Now the information contained in this little 'parcel' is intriguing - and potentially explosive - but I would like to discuss a couple things with the person who kindly went to a lot of time and trouble to get it to me. Completely confidentially - of course. I am only too well aware of how careful people are about speaking out these days - because sa dly there are forces out there who would like to punish potential whistleblowers - just for standing up and  telling the truth.  So the supplier of this information can be assured of complete discretion at all times - the need to remain anonymous is well understood - and absolutely guaranteed. But I would appreciate a word to check on one or two things - and I can be contacted in either one of the following two ways


The blog site had its first visitors from Hungary the other day - a central European country I know a little about - from working in Slovakia its next door neighbour to the north. In fact there are so many ethnic Hungarians living and working in Slovakia - that they have formed their own political party (whose name escapes me) - which has representation in the Slovakian Parliament in Bratislava. It's a bit like Scots in England having their own party - and representation - at Westminster. If I remember correctly the Hungarian People's Party (or whatever it's called) actually forms part of Slovakia's coalition government - which is elected by proportional representation (otherwise  minorities wouldn't get a look-in of course) - and has done for years. The capital of Hungary is Budapest which sits in the banks of the Danube River - but what many people don't know is that Budapest is actually two separate cities - historically speaking at least. Centuries

Labour's Lost Mojo

Good Morning Scotland (GMS) - aka the Derek Bateman show - is always makes for a lively and stimulating start to the weekend - for those interested in politics and current affairs. Today one of the main topics was the contest to succeed Iain Gray as leader of the Scottish Labour party - following its catastrophic defeat earlier this year in the Scottish Parliament elections. But the damning verdict of one of the GMS guest commentators - Angus McLeod of The Times newspaper - is that there's no one sufficiently talented amongst the current crop of Labour MSPs - to make a real fist of challenging Alex Salmond and the SNP. In other words whatever talent Labour's got - could not fight its way out of a wet paper bag. Which I think sums up the present position perfectly - because Labour still doesn't understand why it went down to such a terrible defeat - and why it lost the trust of the Scottish people. Equal pay is an obvious example - where Labour-controlled councils,

"Bitter Equal Pay Battle"

Here's a good article on the ongoing fight for equal pay in South Lanarkshire - which appears in this week's edition of the Hamilton Advertiser. The piece might well be published in other local papers - which are part of the same newspaper group. Readers will note that the Hamiton Advertiser is asking its readers what they think of the 'equal pay battle' in South Lanarkshire - either via the telephone (01698 283200) or by e-mailing the paper at: So this is a great opportunity to let a local newspaper know what people in South Lanarkshire really think - about the way in which council and the trade unions have behaved over equal pay. To my mind the Labour-led council and the Labour-supporting unions have been far too close to each other - in each other's pockets effectively - and the people who have lost out are the lowest paid council workers - mainly women of course. If readers contacting the newspaper are worried about using

Censorship in Scotland

South Lanarkshire Council has until next Friday to comply with an important FOI decision - on equal pay - from the Scottish Information Commissioner. The censors in South Lanarkshire are behaving in exactly the same way - as the House of Commons behaved over MPs' expenses - hiding the truth because it is both inconvenient and embarrassing to the powers that be. So here's the pocket history of this whole affair - from which you will glean one thing at least - Labour-led South Lanarkshire Council has something to hide.   "Censorship in South Lanarkshire" "Here's a previous post from 17 May 2011 - which explains the background to the ongoing row about censorship in South Lanarkshire Council. The Scottish Information Commissioner upheld my appeal (see post dated 14 July) - and has ordered South Lanarkshire Council to disclose the information previously withheld - by no later than 2 September 2011. But you can see for yourself just how long this Labour