SNP - Double Dipping and Defending the Indefensible

Scary Mommy

Back in 2011 John Swinney did the right thing when Glasgow City Council was 'gaming the system' over councillors' pay.

A decade later the SNP is defending the indefensible by turning a blind eye to the practice of local SNP councillors having second or even third jobs with local MSPs and MPs - cosy arrangements which, thanks to the SNP, now lack any independent oversight or regulation.     

Here's a reminder from the blog archive of what's been going on in this well organised 'racket'.


SNP - Defending the Indefensible (January 11, 2022)

I have received a reply to my letters to the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, about the SNP 'gaming the system' on councillors pay. 

As expected, John's response (via a civil servant) ignores the elephant in the room and says that MSPs are employers and entitled to employ whomsoever they wish.  

Now this is politically dishonest because back in 2011, as SNP finance minister, John Swinney took a very different approach to councillors in Glasgow 'double dipping' and being paid for two public sector jobs at the same time.

No rules were broken in the great MPs expenses scandal at Westminster in 2008, but it became obvious to everyone that the system was broken and was being abused by people who ought to have known better.

The same is happening over councillors' pay in Scotland and the examples on the blog speak for themselves.

It's a no-brainer that senior councillors in full-time, salaried positions should not be employed in additional paid work when the SNP (or any other party) is acting as 'master and servant' when it comes to doling out public money. 

Put plainly, the SNP council leader in Clackmannanshire (on a salary of £30,000) should not be acting as the Office Manager of the local SNP MSP, Keith Brown, the SNP's Justice Minister.

Nor should two senior Glasgow councillors (both earning around £37,000) have had cosy jobs with local SNP MSPs, Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf - Scotland's First Minister and Health Minister respectively.

I can see why John Swinney would baulk at doing the right thing when fellow cabinet ministers are involved, but that's what the Nolan principles are about - doing the right thing not what is politically convenient.

I will be writing a detailed reply to John Swinney in the days ahead and will share what I have to say on the blog.  

DLGC : Local Government and Analytical Services Division

Mark Irvine

Our Reference: 202100259997 3 December 2021

Dear Mr Irvine,

Thank you for your emails of 15 November and 30 November to the Deputy First Minister, John Swinney MSP, regarding your concerns about councillors having second jobs working for Glasgow MSPs. I have been asked to respond.

MSPs are employers in their own right and are responsible for the recruitment of their own staff. The examples you have cited in Glasgow and Clackmannanshire are permitted under current rules of recruitment and there is nothing in those rules which prevents councillors, including those in receipt of Special Responsibility Allowances, from having second jobs.

However, it is important to note that councillors are required to declare any remunerated employment in their ‘Register of Interests’. Further information on this can be found in the Councillors’ Code of Conduct. In the event that you believe a councillor has failed to disclose this employment then you should raise a complaint with the Ethical Standards Commissioner (ESC), who investigate complaints about the behaviour of MSPs and councillors. Further information is available on the ESC website.

In terms of councillors’ salaries, the Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004 (Remuneration) Regulations 2007 set out the framework for paying a salary to councillors. Since May 2017, the pay of councillors has been linked to the pay of Scottish public sector workers. This information is published annually by the Office of National Statistics in the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE). This was done in response to a request by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities for the creation of an objective mechanism to determine councillors’ remuneration.

I hope this reply is helpful. 

Yours sincerely

Tony Romain

LGAS : Local Government Policy and Relationships Unit 

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