Scotland’s Labour Pains

On the day that newly elected Labour councillors in Aberdeen and in other parts of the country jumped ship to support the Tories, I met Andrew Bustard online. He’s the future of the revolution, but he’s still on the wrong side.


Thanks to my recent trip into the online political forum of Tremr I had the dubious pleasure yesterday of an encounter with Coatbridge’s almost pubescent Citizen Smith; social media content creator-cum-propagandist for Scottish Labour and door-thumping campaigner for Scottish Young Labour – the Labour Party’s answer to East Germany’s Freie Deutsche Jugend – Andrew Bustard. Some UKIP supporter had posted a piece blaming the SNP for Britain’s woes on account of it not having “bothered to work with the Conservative Party to reassure [sic] a better deal…”

“Damn right,” was my response, this obnoxious position being like a red rag to a bull. “Damn right the Scottish National Party hasn’t collaborated with the British occupation.” In the rest of the response I spelt out the fact that the SNP represented 95 per cent of Scotland’s seats at Westminster, and that the SNP was elected for two reasons; to secure independence and to resist the outrageous excesses of Tory British rule until the first objective has been achieved. At this my new kipper friend retired from the field, but – as if on cue – Coatbridge’s one-man Bolshevik revolution rushed in to her aid.

015

Who said Romanticism was dead?

“Terms like ‘occupation’ are really unhelpful,” he whines at a pitch that got the neighbour’s dog howling. I honestly don’t know any other word to describe the English army that helped convince the Edinburgh parliament to sign the Act of Union, the Wade roads and Hanoverian garrisons, the Highland genocides, and the imposition of nuclear weapons we don’t want. Sincerely, I don’t. It sounds like an occupation to me. Yet I was being schooled by a plooky-faced boy on how “Scotland wilfully participated in the occupation and oppression of countries like Ireland and India.”

It was only when he insisted “support for independence is collapsing” that I realised the pity. He was a product of a maths syllabus Labour introduced. But the pity was all the more because I realised he almost gets it. He clearly understood the criminality and injustice of British rule in Ireland and India, a policy very much continued by his beloved “vanguard of the working class [lol]” under Tony Blair – a man who lied in order to perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity in a US-led illegal invasion of Iraq. He also gets that Labour has only itself to blame. In an article he posted to the site four months ago, titled “Scottish Labour’s Devolution Death,” he wrote:

Devolution has lead [sic] to the absolute collapse of the Labour Party in Scotland, yet it is not devolution that is responsible for the collapse. The Scottish Labour Party must acknowledge they have sown the seeds of their own destruction within that devolved assembly.

You don’t say Sherlock?! Labour has not collapsed. The World Trade Centre buildings in New York collapsed. Scottish Labour has evaporated, or – as Marx in his Communist Manifesto put it, a text I thought Bustard would appreciate – “all that is solid melts into air.” What working class support it had had in 2012 has shifted en masse to the pro-independence camp. Its boot licking New Labour Blairites – a synonym for neo-Thatcherites if ever there was one – have become more honest and found the Tories. There is no Labour Party in Scotland. Whatever did exist of this proletarian party for the dictatorship of the masses, this fabled socialism, has voted with its feet, and Andrew Bustard knows as well as anyone else that those socialists didn’t go over to the Tories.

Offline, the day got even worse for our wee Lanarkshire Lech Wałęsa. Labour-style Solidarity was shown for what it really is up in Aberdeen. An entire compliment of Labour councillors – recently elected by well-meaning Labour supporters – defected from the Party to support the Conservative and Unionist Party. It is clearer now than it has ever been that the Labour unionist priority is class war on the side of London’s unionist British establishment élite. What oor Andrew is defending is the last and ultimate betrayal of his Labour movement gods. Keir Hardie, John Smith, and his “other Scottish giants” are all dead, and – today – it is fortunate for them that they are.

. Andrew Bustard @BustardAndrew

eurovision is imperialism

 


When this lad, what with his fairly average set of Highers, tells me that my words are “unhelpful” and when she spits out “nationalist” at me like its phlegm in his mouth, I’d laugh, but it’s too damned dire a situation we’re in for that. My nationalism is the socialism he barely comprehends; the want to protect workers, families, and the vulnerable from a system of greed over which we have absolutely no control at Westminster. It is the sharp edge of the struggle to protect his mother, sister, daughter, wife, and comrade from the repugnance of having to declare their victimhood to rape and sexual assault. It is the fight for decency and respect, for the want to have it thus: To each according to his need, and from each according to his ability. Only an independent nation, governed by ourselves – as the Edinburgh man James Connolly would have had it – can achieve this.

What’s most saddening about this encounter is that young men and women like Andrew, all over Scotland, are intelligent enough to work this out. They can see it. But something stops them. They have developed a fetish for a Second International vision of Labourism that – quite frankly – no longer exists. I get it; the red flags on his Twitter banner, the black berets, the closed fist salutes, and the unbridled possibility of revolutionary sex appeal. Man, I was that trooper. It’s gone Andrew. They don’t even show the reruns anymore. Socialism has only one Great Leap Forward to make in Scotland; it’s called “Sexy Socialism.”

 


Not Even Labour Supports Labour Anymore


You can follow Jason Michael at his twitter page @Jeggit or at his webpage The Random Public Journal
Jason Michael is a  Scottish journalist and blogger based in Dublin. Writing on politics and society. Columnist for iScot Magazine and author of the Random Public Journal.

‘My Day In The Council Chambers’

Today was a massive day. Today was of significant importance to myself because I had helped these councillors in all types of weather. Leafleting , canvassing and even had the occasional coffee and a bite to eat. I put my family commitments on hold. My Girlfriend and kids saw less of me each night. Today meant more to me than anything. Today at 2pm I attended the statutory meeting for the council to decide who would be leader, provost, deputy provost and most importantly, who would be in power. I felt nervous and anxious at the same time. Knowing that SNP had 11 councillors and labour 11 also. It was neck and neck. I worked out all the probabilities in my head the night before and when I sat in the car in the car park outside the council building. If we get a couple of the independents on our side and the Tories abstain. If we form the best case for a minority administration. If it goes down to a deck of cards and we get the ace in the pack. These were all hypothetical but they kept racing through my mind. My heart was pounding.
For the past few months I have become really close to the SNP group in North Ayrshire. They’re a lovely bunch of people. They share an amazing vision that will help everyone in our area. They set out to help others. These people more than me deserve to get a good result today. I was praying for them. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best outcome possible. When I read in the paper last week that Marie Burns – our leader of the group and Councillor in Irvine said that she reached out to Joe Cullinane (Labour Leader) to form a coalition.

Her proposal was simple, lets form administration together because that is what the people of North Ayrshire want. Now for me, that is one of a remarkable leader. Someone who despite their differences can put all of that aside to put the people first. When I first read it I was in my Dads. I shouted him over and told him to read it. You could see in his face as he read it that he was proud to have voted for her. He never knew Marie but I had spoken about her often. She’s wonderful, smart and very welcoming. This topped everything.

She was realistic enough to know that both parties had 11 each and she could quite easily of decided to form a minority administration. She chose to put the people first. I will always admire her for that. Unsurprisingly, Joe declined her offer. He refused to negotiate a coalition offer with SNP and try his hand at other negotiations. He would try and get the independents on board, that was a given. Negotiations went on all week and nobody really knew much else on the outside. I tried to ask a few questions here and there but didn’t want to pester anyone.
As I sat in my car outside the council building one and a half hours early. I went through everything in my head. I took the day off work for this and I was ready. I went inside and was the first person to be in the waiting area. I was greeted by the receptionist and was told I was “a little early”. So I decided to wait. Others started tricking in. A couple of labour members who were talking about tuition fees and how it was labours idea came in. A frequent narrative of theirs. I remained tight lipped and focused on the day ahead.

After half an hour Jim Tudhope and John Ferguson came in. I was relieved to see them as they were ‘one of us’. I stood and chatted to them for about ten more minutes when we saw Cllr Christina Larsen making her way into the chambers. This was it. It was finally here. The receptionist told us that we could now follow them in. We trickled in via a side door open to the public. The councillors were all seated in a curved seating pattern. They all had laptops and microphones. The chief executive of NAC Elma Murray took to the panel in front of them.

She announced who she was and asked the councillors if they would mind being filmed live on Facebook. They agreed that it was ok so they went on. A lady came round and handed us an agenda for today’s meeting. It was like a big book with lots of pages. Jim and I had a look through it while Elma was talking and introducing the councillors. The local press were over in the corner, taking notes and pressing play on their recorders. 11 labour councillors on the right of the room, 7 Tories in the middle, 4 independents just behind them and 11 SNP councillors on the left. If the Tories sat with labour it would be earmarked for a perfect political system of right vs left.
One of the first things on the agenda was nominating and voting for a provost and deputy provost. I had never seen this before so I was unsure about what it entailed. Everyone voted for the nominees and it was said that Cllr Ian Clarkson would be provost and Cllr Robert Barr would be deputy provost. The meeting went into a 5 minute recess so that the provost and his deputy could got for a picture and receive their chains. At this point in my mind I was trying to work out if a deal had been made. Pure speculation but my mind was running overtime. ‘So both of them are labour, does that mean we got in because we gave them provost roles’. Every hypothetical scenario was running through my mind.
Elma took to the microphone again and asked the question loud and clear. “Who do you vote for to me the leader and deputy leader of NAC?” The nominations were Cllr Marie Burns (SNP) and Deputy Cllr Alan Hill (SNP) or Cllr Joe Cullinane (Labour) and Deputy John Easdale (Labour). Elma asked for a vote of raising hands. The nominated leader and deputy leader with the most votes wins. She called out Marie and Alan first. All the SNP hands went up. That was 11 to them. I thought to myself at this stage that the Tories would abstain on both because they wouldn’t want to vote Labour in. Elma asked who votes for Joe and John. All of the Labour Councillors put their hands up so that made 11 also.

Then as I look over to the middle of the room I saw Cllr Angela Stephen, Cllr Scott Gallagher, Cllr Todd Ferguson and Cllr Timothy Billings raise their hands. Along with a former Tory councillor who is now an independent. It shouldn’t of shocked me, it shouldn’t of made me mad or upset. But it did. I shook my head in disdain. I had saw on the news just two hours before Kezia Dugdale saying she would suspend any Labour members going into coalition with the Tories. Now this was not the case. This was not a coalition between Labour and Tories. It may have well been though. This was a minority administration propped up by the Tories. It was deceiving, conniving and a massive faux pas from both of them.

It will come back to haunt them. I hope sooner rather than later. I turned to look at Jim and we both never said a word. We had a look of disbelief. It was now evident that Joe and his colleagues had infiltrated ranks with the Tories and they had put local issues aside to stop the SNP at every turn and to stop independence. A very transparent move but a move that sneakily got them to power. When the Chief executive confirmed that Joe Cullinane was now leader and that Labour had formed a minority administration by being propped up from the austerity ridden Tories. I looked over at him. He had a massive grin on his face. This man knows no bounds. He is an opportunistic, careerist. He will fling anyone under his municipal bus just to be the leader of the council. It doesn’t matter how he gets there or what route he has to take. As long as his career is first then the people of North Ayrshire will always come second.
As the meeting drew to a close. Elma was giving councillors opportunities to nominate for posts and duties. I saw Tory councillors reject nominations at every opportunity. It made me realise that they just didn’t care. They had no interest in today other than to stop SNP and effectively stop independence. But I have news for them. They won’t stop The SNP and they won’t stop independence. Because we don’t lie down to opportunistic careerists or part time councillors that just do enough to get by. We’re in this for the long run, we’re resilient in our vision for a fairer, more prosperous society for all. We will close the attainment gap for our kids.

We will shout from the rooftops that we will double childcare and oppose Tory cuts to our elderly and disabled. We got the most votes out of all the parties sitting in that chamber today. That is what keeps me going. We have amazing councillors in place to hold this Labour administration to account at every turn. We will keep going against the hatred towards us. We are SNP and this is our time!

featured image Red Raiph

You can follow David Patterson on twitter at @DavidPee29 or at his webpage davesworld

23 Days to Build an Anti-Tory Alliance and Save the Welfare State – vote SNP in Scotland and Labour in England

Now that we actually have the Labour manifesto, we can see a wide and unquestionable band of clear blue water between Labour and the Tories, but when it comes to social security there is nothing but the proverbial cigarette paper between Labour and the SNP.

However, Salmond’s suggestion that Labour has copied SNP policies is more rhetorical than serious. Both the SNP and Labour are essentially social democratic parties.

We do not, as a matter principle, support any one party, but have called for tactical votes for the SNP in both last General Election and this, as the best, indeed only, vehicle for advancing working class interests. Whilst the SNP Government is far from perfect, they have protected us in Scotland from some of the very worst excesses of the Tory Welfare cuts. They have already mitigated and promised to scrap the bedroom tax, mitigated housing benefit cuts for under 21s, and promised that the Scottish disability benefit that replaces PIP will take account of doctors’ reports of people’s needs and not depend on assessments carried out by private companies. They have promised that the training schemes that they will run will be voluntary and unsanctionable, and they have provided vital short-term help through the Scottish Welfare Fund. Only a small portion of the benefit system is being devolved, but the Scottish Government has promised that Scottish Social Security will have a completely different culture from the current punitive UK regime. At the same time, the SNP has consistently campaigned in parliament against sanctions and benefit cuts, including leading the campaign against the two children (rape clause) policy.

Of course there are some Labour plans that the SNP could do well to copy, especially a stronger focus on public ownership – but Labour’s continued commitment to Trident cannot be hidden behind the novelty of a Labour manifesto with some left-leaning policies.

bairns not bombs

And then there’s Independence, where the manifesto writers appear to have handed the pen to Kezia Dugdale’s Scottish Labour Party. Perhaps this is their return for backing a manifesto that is considerably further to the left than the Scottish leadership and most of the Scottish party is comfortable with. But since when did Unionism become the touchstone of Labour policy, and how can they justify not only campaigning actively against Independence, but even opposing letting us decide our own fate in a second referendum?

Blair McDougall

The Labour manifesto, despite its Trident-sized problems, has caused a flurry of interest among the Scottish left, but when it comes to choosing who to vote for, that shouldn’t cause us any problems. The only way that manifesto has a hope of becoming UK policy is by maximising the anti-Tory vote.

Here in Scotland, especially if polls are correct about former Labour voters moving over to the Tories, any significant shift of votes from the SNP to Labour risks letting in Tory MPs. If you want to avoid letting the Tories in by the back door, you should vote SNP.  If the seemingly impossible occurs, and Labour support rallies and grows in England and Wales, the very possibility of a minority labour government might be jeopardised by voting for Scottish Labour. And, despite Labour’s pre-election protestations, we can be sure that if SNP support was needed for a minority Labour government, it would not be turned away. This would pave the way to negotiations for a second Independence referendum; and the process of any future separation would be more constructive. For such a development to occur, the zombie Scottish Labour Party, with their bitter Britnat stance, has to be seen to die conclusively and make room for new beginnings. They have fallen far, but they must be seen to fall even further on June 8th if we are to see any chance of a radical reformed Scottish Labour Party that can provide a socialist, pro-Indy force, and can, again, seek to represent Scottish working-class interests.

You can follow the Scottish Unemployed Workers Network on facebook and on there webpage click here

 

Back to the good old days…..

Whoever leaked Labours Manifesto probably did them a huge favour, this is what happens when you throw a boomerang, it tends to come back and hit you in the face!

As expected the Tories have been quick to jump on it with the PM saying they will take us back to the 60s and 70s. Well Prime Minister some of us who remember the good old days would rather be there than where you are taking us.

Jeremy Corbyn is obliged to take Brexit forward if he became PM but at least he would seek a ‘soft’ Brexit and would not be so confrontational.

The parameters for Brexit have been laid out as per the rules, if the PM can’t or doesn’t understand those rules she is about to find out the hard way.  This is not about being bullied by the other member states it’s about rules……rules we signed up to. Rules that were made to protect all remaining states.  All this is Britains fault…..we are the ones walking away from the family, in this case we are the ‘separatists’.

Jeremy’s plans have been well accepted and could change the outcome of this Election if and it’s a big iff, he can get the numbers right.  Labours heart is always in the right place but all to often the sums don’t add up.

Oh for the good old days!

featured image Jeremy Corbyn

You can follow Joan McDowall on twitter at @JoanFlitcroft and at her webpage Joan Flitcroft

What’s Auto/Biography (and history and society) Got To Do With It? | TURN LEFT and Make June the End of May

In his hugely influential, and still relevant, book – The Sociological Imagination (published in 1959) – the America Sociologist Charles Wright Mills argued: ‘neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both’.  So Mills was interested in the interconnection between (auto)biography, time (history) and place (society). He encouraged sociologists to look at the familiar and to see it afresh; to rethink the ‘things we take for granted’; ‘the things that everybody knows’. Part of this included a focus on the relationship between ‘personal problems’ and ‘public and political issues’ in that what is often presented as a personal responsibility or ‘failing’ is in fact of public and political concern. Just one example from Mills’ analysis:

[C]onsider unemployment. When, in a city of 100,000, only one man (sic*) is unemployed, that is his personal trouble and for its relief we properly look to the character of the man, his skills, and his immediate opportunities. But when in a nation of 50 million employees, 15 million men are unemployed … the correct statement of the problem and the range of possible solutions require us to consider the economic and political institutions of the society, and not merely the personal situation and character of a scatter of individuals. (* forgive the sexist language Mills was writing 58 years ago).

For unemployment we might substitute homelessness, poverty, mental distress and so on. . . . Mills was clear that sociologists had a political responsibility to understand the social world and to try to make it better. In recent years, some within the discipline have attempted to work with Mills’ ideas and vision through a further focus on the relationship between autobiography and biography (Auto/Biography) to further explore people’s life experience. Through research and critical autobiographical reflection this work highlights the relationship between the self (as in I, myself) and the other (those close to us and others less so) whilst at the same time thinking about the auto/biographical with reference to (history) and place (society). The academic (and political) equivalent then of ‘no (wo)man is an island’.

On Saturday the 29th April 2017 Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech that made me reflect on Mills’ writing and on my own auto/biographical sociological imagination. Amongst other things the Leader of the Opposition spoke of his own history within politics and the history of British politics more generally and of past and present inequalities and injustices. Near the beginning of his speech he said (NB this speech in red throughout):

… something hangs in the air. It typically goes unspoken.

It’s the unheard story of why so many of us are scaling back our hopes and dreams in favour of just getting by.

It’s the reason why this country is unable to unleash its potential.

Because as families, communities – entire regions – we are all being held back….

Being held back means we can’t provide the life that we want for ourselves and those closest to us.

And it hurts. It makes people angry and worst of all resigned to the idea that nothing can be done about it. We end up blaming ourselves or each other.

This is life in modern Conservative Britain.

Making reference to his own motivation and history is unusual for Corbyn. As he said: And now for a sentence I’ve yet to utter in my political life. Enough about you, what about me’. Adding:

In the 34-years since I became a MP, I have been attacked for what I believe in. But it has not changed my core values – and sadly many of the problems we faced then are still with us.

In 1983, I stood up in Parliament for the first time and used my maiden speech to condemn deeply damaging cuts in public services and the NHS.

It’s a tragedy that I could make a very similar speech today and it would once again hold true… .

I appreciate Corbyn’s concern to focus on policies and plans but I know I was not the only one (see below for an example) to welcome this inclusion of the personal for it helps to make sense of his vision and puts the record straight with regard to at least a couple of myths. Corbyn who has, and continues to be, the brunt of so much criticism and personal abuse it’s a wonder to many how he manages to stay standing, let alone continue to work tirelessly for others, spoke of the need to challenge leadership. He referred to his willingness to being criticised, when the case is reasoned. Lack of challenge, he suggested, can lead to poor decision making and to arrogance. Thus:

Barely nine months into Theresa May’s premiership, there are clear warning signs that she and her closest advisers are slipping into that presidential bunker mentality.

Which is supported by the increasing evidence that Theresa May (and other members of the Conservative Party) are avoiding, as much as possible, any real engagement with voters:

‘She won’t take part in TV debates and she won’t talk to voters,’ Corbyn said. ‘Refusing to debate Labour in this election isn’t a sign of strength, it’s a sign of weakness. What is she afraid of? Voters deserve to know what political parties are offering.  In response a Conservative source said:  ‘The MP has visited cities, large and small and today she visited a rural community‘… ‘She has been in the three nations of Great Britain since the start of the campaign. In contrast Corbyn today ventured all of two miles from his own house to give a speech about himself. ‘https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/29/theresa-may-campaign-event-in-scottish-forest-prompts-new-claims-she-is-hiding

(See also a short piece I wrote earlier today for more evidence of May’s reluctance to meet the public: http://arwenackcerebrals.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/elections-taking-it-personally-prequel.html). I feel sure I’m not the only one surprised this spokesperson didn’t choke on their words: given Corbyn’s historical focus on ‘we’, ‘us’ and ‘you’; the current focus by him and his team on policy in trips also across England, Scotland and Wales, not to mention that each and every speech and interview which May speaks is dominated with references to ‘me’, ‘my’ and ‘I’  In response to the, I would suggest, uncritical self-promotion by May, Corbyn responds thus:

Whereas insecure leaders want to feel stronger by asking you to give them more power.

I recognise strong leadership as equipping you with more power….

We are a party that wants to bring together people and ideas, and harness the thirst for real and lasting change. Watch the speech – It’s Time to Step Up For Britain – in full here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Cr8CVkdMs

SO as Jeremy Corbyn says: Step up. Register to vote. Claim your future. https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

There has been much positive response to Corbyn’s speech on Saturday. Many were moved and inspired by it. This is an extract from Jeff Goulding’s Blog:

In an epic journey from Trade Union organiser to Labour Councillor and from the backbenches of Parliament to leader of a movement of more than half a million people and growing. Today he finds himself in a position he didn’t ask for and few, himself included, thought he could ever secure.

His rise to prominence and passionate defence of the weak and the disadvantaged has seen him vilified and abused, both personally and politically. In all that he has never wavered not even for a moment. His principles and values remain as strong today as they were forty years ago. Is this not the definition of strong and stable leadership? . . . .

As I write this I am conscious that it is laden with emotion. I have deleted and then retyped sentences, striving to be more analytical, objective and unbiased. But why should I be. I have tears in my eyes as I pen this, precisely because I am moved by the vision set out today by Jeremy Corbyn for the country and for the style of leadership he offers us.

Two years ago today, the humble man from Islington’s epic journey took an unexpected turn. Like all hero’s journey’s there has been adventure and intrigue along the way. He has stumbled, but never fallen and he has always had his eyes fixed squarely on the goal of a more just and equal society.https://jeffgoulding.com/2017/04/29/forged-in-the-fire-of-protest-a-prime-minister-for-the-many/

Hear, Hear.

As a brief reminder of some of the differences between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in terms of their own beliefs and their concerns for others within society take a look at this list of their voting behaviour (see @LabourEoin for this and more such information).

On Sunday 30th April in answer to Andrew Marr’s (BBC1) the Prime Minister had to be reminded that 3 million people are due to be hit by in-work benefit cuts after she insisted that ‘work is the best route out of poverty’. Then in response to Marr’s:  ‘We have nurses going to foodbanks that must be wrong’ May gave, this already  infamous answer: ‘There are many complex reasons why people go to foodbanks.’  A detailed account of the scale of food insecurity is available here: http://taxpayersagainstpoverty.org.uk/news/food-bank-britain-amid
The Prime Minister attempts to persuade us that the 2017 General Election is all about Brexit. IT IS NOT. And indeed in terms of this issue, as in all others, another five years of the Tories is a frightening prospect. If reports of a recent meeting between Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker is anything to go by:
For more detail read this: https://www.forbes.com/sites/francescoppola/2017/04/30/the-uk-government-is-completely-deluded-about-brexit/#50a64a84f046  OR watch this analysis of just how unsafe we are with Theresa May as PM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3i529NnS0MI (Professor Michael Dougan, Liverpool University).  To end, just a few more examples of Corbyn and Labour versus May and the Tories; historically and to date:  ‘Jeremy Corbyn has been on the right side of history for 30 years. That’s real leadership’ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/16/jeremy-corbyn-leadership-david-cameron-libya-labour ‘Labour proffer up our only chance to end the ‘rigged economy”  http://www.thelondoneconomic.com/tle-pick/labour-proffer-chance-end-rigged-economy/01/05/  ‘Theresa May is ahead of Trump in undermining the refugee system’ https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/30/us-travel-ban-may-is-ahead-of-trump-in-undermining-refugee-protection-system ‘Don’t worry about Brexit – worry about the Great Repeal Bill that comes after it’ http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/brexit-great-repeal-bill-eu-rights-and-protections-bill-you-should-be-worried-a7705286.html And what of my own life experience? I don’t intend to write much about my own experience in this Blog entry although I have previously and will again. But, just to say I don’t consider myself to be part of a cult. Neither do I think that I am deluded or stupid or any of the other things I and similar others have been called in recent months. What I do passionately believe, with reference to my own life experience to date –  as a sometime carer and as someone who has needed professional (as patient) and personal (as daughter, wife, friend) care from others, as a student, a teacher, a researcher, a volunteer, a women and a citizen  – is that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour is our best hope, our only hope of a decent future for all.  As Chris Williamson who is standing for Labour in Derby North in the General Election (after losing his seat in Parliament by 41 votes in 2015 to a Conservative) wrote today:  This is a high stakes campaign. It is literally life or death. Not in terms of the careers of   politicians but in terms of our country’s public services, our most vulnerable citizens and in terms of Britain’s foreign policy and our shameful legacy of vain and dubious wars.

 You can follow Gayle on twitter at @GayleLetherby or at her webpage Arwenack Creatives | Gayle Letherby’s Blog  

Kim Jong-May LOCKS Journalists In Room & REFUSES Permission To Film Her During Latest “Campaign” Visit

The PM headed to Cornwall today to continue her general election “campaign” — as has now become standard procedure: May all but refused to answer any questions from journalists — this time, however, her team went one better — locking reporters in a room away from the PM during the visit, and refusing them permission to film her.

The monicker Kim Jong-May has recently been coined precisely because of May and her campaign’s insanely tight management of campaign events — mirroring that of dictatorships in which the media isn’t allowed to ever question, and in this case, even film the great and supreme leader.

This is an exceptionally sad state of affairs: we now live in a country in which the PM openly refuses to be filmed taking questions from journalists, and locks reporters away behind closed doors to stop them from reporting on her — shocking.

The reason that May is so averse to talking to the media should be obvious by now to anybody. Her team is smart enough to know that she’s intensely unlikeable, unable to answer any questions, and relies heavily on her 3 catchphrases: “strong and stable” now becoming a complete and utter joke even among Tory supporters and right-wing journos.

The way that May is treating the media is starting to piss a lot of them off — they are expected to blindly tout the Tory lines and spout endless praise of May, without getting anything in return — May is simply expecting them to act at foot-servants to her coronation — this kind of attitude doesn’t sit well even with a lot of the establishment media, and may well lead to some kind of backlash against her and her team.

Local news outlet Cornwall Live reported on May’s visit to the area today on her campaign trail.

The reporters noted the insane level of control that May’s team insisted on during the event, saying that they had been locked in a room and banned from filming the PM.

Cornwall Live reported that they had been banned from showing the PM arriving for her visit to a local industrial estate.

May’s team then locked the journalists in a room while May was doing stage-managed photo-ops on the other side of the door.

Cornwall Live said that the insane level of secrecy involved in the visit was unlike anything they had seen before:

Having covered several high-profile politicians’ and royal visits over the years, the level of media control here is far and above anything I’ve seen before. We’re not even allowed to show you her visiting the building.

Cornwall Live said that May’s team would only allow them to ask two questions and that May wouldn’t allow them to film the answer — they were given a maximum of 3 minutes to quiz the PM.

They asked her about the funding crisis in the area with public services, such as health, social care, and education — May answered using her using robotic slogans about “strong” and “stable” leadership.

Cornwall Live says:

With the county’s health and social care system heading towards a £264million deficit and the county’s head teachers warning they are facing millions being axed from their budgets, Prime Minister Theresa May was asked to find more money for Cornwall.

We even used the magic word…”please.”

Mrs May said there had been huge levels of spending in those sectors, but said Cornwall Council was also in a position to raise money for social care.

They also report that May dodged their question about Brexit, and gave her standard responses:

we stand at a crucuial moment” and that we must “get the right deal in Britain.

And, of course, no “response” from May would be complete without adding the pre-requisite:

That is about strong and stable leadership.

While the Cornwall Live reporters were locked away, May was being filmed by her tightly controlled team, and presumably cherry-picked journalists from MSM outlets — those who are allowed to report on our supreme leader the right way — ie: one in which May risks fucking up the least — a task which Laura K proves herself to be more than adept at every single day for the BBC.

 

 

Even if you are an avid Tory supporter, this stuff should worry you — why the hell is May so reluctant to ever be questioned by reporters? Well, as we saw a few days ago, when Andrew Marr decided to give journalism a go and actually gave the supreme leader a bit of a grilling — May doesn’t exactly handle questions well, does she?

As much as Corbyn clearly hates the media — a relationship that is more than mutual — it is hard to imagine his team banning journos from filming during one of his campaign visits — a campaign visit which his team has orchestrated in the first place.

It is common for the local press to have a hard time getting politicians to answer questions when they visit — but I’ve never heard of this level of media control being exerted by a political campaign team.

A local journalist from Essex illustrates the situation perfectly: here he goes to interview Jeremy Corbyn during one of his rallies in Harlow. Far from locking the reporter in a room — the rally was conducted in an open field that anybody could attend — and, of course, Corbyn fielded the reporter’s question….

May attitude kind of says it all about her and her campaign — far from being strong and stable she is terrified of any form of scrutiny — perhaps that’s why she keeps repeating her “strong and stable” slogan like a lobotomised oak table — it is herself that she is speaking to, rather than anybody else.

May it seems has to keep telling herself that she is “strong and stable’ I guess she thinks if he says it enough times, it’ll start to be true — of course, it never will be, and it has become a national joke.

So, in a strange way, the slogan PERFECTLY sums up the Tories — a national fucking joke.

WATCH: May Fails on Marr’s recent interview.

Featured image by Red Raiph
You can follow Chris Turnbull on twitter at @EnemyOfTheState or at his webpage Enemy of the state

 

 

Wales voting Tory is almost like the end of humanity!

Channel 4 seem to be peddling a story as well now as the BBC that opinion polls are putting the Tories ahead of Labour in Wales for the first time since about 1859. We’ll soon find out for real I suppose but even the thought of it is making me physically sick. Why? What might be provoking my fellow Welshmen to be contemplating such a hideous action?

Of course it’s all Jeremy Corbyn fault according to his enemies and to those who blame Jeremy for all the problems of the world. Labour was doing so well in Wales that he’s come along with his hard left stances and Welsh people just don’t buy socialism like this. What utter rubbish. EVEN if you did think this WHY does it necessarily follow you would vote for a Party Aneurin Bevin called “lower than vermin?”

Let’s first deal with the myth that it’s all Corbyns fault. Labour just about has a majority in the Senedd due to Dafydd Ellis Thomas. Labour should be flying in Wales after 7 years of Tory misrule. But Welsh Labour has been stagnant and bereft of ideas for some time. It’s stuck in a mentality that Welsh people will always vote Labour and taken the Welsh people for granted. People in Wales have become more disenchanted than vote for anyone. Plaid should have picked up the mantle and much as I like Leanne Wood, they haven’t made the progress they ought to have done. Basically Labours misfortune in Wales pre-date Corbyns election as national Labour leader.

So let’s now discuss why any sane Welshman would vote Tory. I think you need a PhD in logic to work this one out but I will try. “Mrs May is a strong leader” I hear done say on tv. String? She’s already had more change of mind than toucan remember and she failed to stand up to Trump on her visit to the racist bigot. She has resorted to threatening her EU partners and has poodle like followed American imperial ambitions around the globe. She voted for disability cuts and supported the austere government cut backs to the NHS and education. If that’s strong then I’m a Dutchman.

There is NO LOGIC for most Welsh people to vote Tory. They have not changed nor reinvented themselves. They are the same old Tories. They support tax cuts for the wealthy. They allow big companies to pay little or no tax and they bungled into a referendum that need not have been held just to appease their rabid right wingers. They have destroyed the industrial base in Wales and helped Wales become one of the poorest parts of the Eu. They don’t deserve to be a party in Wales let alone vote for them. Welsh people do do do are either rich, deluded, forgetting their history or all three. I am ashamed as it is that Wales voted Brexit but to contemplate Wales voting Tory would be a kick in the teeth for all those Welsh people who have stood up to the vile philosophy that this party espouses. It’s Corbyn tho is advocating policies to rescue Wales from the abyss and how people think the Tories are doing a good job doesn’t say much for our education system….think on pobol Cymru!

You can follow Leighton on twitter at @leightonkib63  and at his webpage LEIGHTONSIMPLYRED

featured image Welsh Dragon

Inverclyde – A Labour Party Fiefdom – 50+ Years of Misrule – The Good People Of the Region Are Entitled to Good Governance- Seize the Day in May – Vote SNP

September 2000; Inverclyde – Death of Inverclyde Clyde Under the Labour Party

Inverclyde Council is officially Scotland’s poorest performing local authority. The Council, formerly a part of Strathclyde Region was created by a local government reorganisation.

Its first year’s accounts required 2500 adjustments resulting in a net asset reduction of £49 million, not a lot if you say it quickly, and only taxpayers’ money, not like real money.

Council officers could be forgiven a bit of confusion, after all, Inverclyde had been created by the Tories, who detested Strathclyde, which they also set up, and the reorganisation was to set right all the problems of the past. But not enough resources were allocated.

All very clever ploys by the Tories hoping to regain lost votes didn’t work, but the taxpayers footed the bill for the failure of their trickery. None the less, Inverclyde under Labour had four years to put things right (or should it be left?)

But, true to type they submitted late and poorly prepared accounts, which took some time to correct resulting in a much delayed audit that revealed a failure to achieve statutory targets. Fourteen months passed before the council met revised targets. A very bad year one.

 

6-Clune-Park-Street-005-

 

 

 

 

August 2003; People in the West of Scotland live much shorter lives

People living in Glasgow & the West of Scotland have the lowest life expectancy in the UK. The average lifespan of men in the city is more than a decade shorter than in North Dorset, which tops the list for longevity. Health officials blame poverty for the city’s bad record.

Figures relate to life expectancy at birth in 1999-2001:

North Dorset – 80.0
Glasgow – 68.7
Inverclyde – 70.3
West Dunbartonshire – 70.8
Renfrewshire – 71.7
Dundee – 71.8
North Lanarkshire – 71.8
Western Isles – 72.3

The life expectancy for women living in Glasgow & the West of Scotland is not that much better than the men. Scottish council areas accounted for six of the 10 areas with the lowest life expectancy for for women.

West Somerset – 83.5
Glasgow – 76.2
Manchester – 76.5
East Ayrshire – 76.7
West Dunbartonshire – 77.2
Inverclyde – 77.2
North Lanarkshire – 77.5
Renfrewshire – 77.7

The statistics are a national scandal They show that after six full years in power in Westminster and four years in the Scottish Parliament, Labour has completely failed to tackle the underlying problems of poverty and deprivation which lead to low life expectancy. Under Labour, the life expectancy gap between the top and bottom is widening. In reply a spokesman for the Labour party, Scottish Executive said there was “no short-term fix”. (news.bbc.co.uk)

 

inverclyde-byelection-007

 

 

 

 

June 2005; Council urged to tackle failings

The Accounts Commission completed a two year study (2003-2005) of the financial performance of local councils in Scotland to assess whether councils were meeting their legal duty to improve services.

Subsequent findings concluded that the report was the most critical to date and identified management problems tracing back to 1996 following another bout of local government reorganisation which had created extensive and fundamental weaknesses in leadership and direction.

Primarily focused on elected members of councils. Senior management in Inverclyde was singled out for adverse comment that it was continuing to prevent the region from improving.

The Accounts Commission said Inverclyde Council required “urgent remedial action” to address weaknesses in its leadership and direction.

Senior managers were ordered to seek outside help to solve the Region’s problems. Then Inverclyde Council leader, Alan Blair said management had drawn up a recovery plan. (bbc.co.uk)

 

 

 

 

 

July 2007: Letter from Former Girls And Boys Abused of Quarrier Homes (FBGA) to Mr John Mundell, Chief Executive of Inverclyde Council

Mr Mundell. Further to my conversation with your office today. I am writing as the representative of Former Boys and Girls Abused in Quarriers Homes.

We are writing to ask why you as council leader of Inverclyde Council and the Inverclyde Council have failed in its duties to undertake any type of Enquiry into Quarriers Homes past abuse.

As the Quarriers organisation comes under your sphere of control and regulation. McBearty, Porteous, Wilson, Nicholson, Wallace, Climbie, Drummond, all ex-employees of the care home have all been recently convicted in the Scottish Courts of abusing children in-care either sexually or physically.

In addition a sibling (Gilmore) of a former ex-employee. No other care establishment in the UK has had as many ex-employees convicted of abusing children in its care.
Quarriers Charity are Scotland’s 3rd largest charity today and continue to care for vulnerable adults and children as such it is important that it is fit for purpose going forward and only a full Independent Inquiry will ensure that.

An independent Inquiry will also fully establish the facts and understand the causes and failures in the past care system of Quarriers Homes while ensuring that the current Charity’s organisation has robust care and protection systems in place today to prevent and minimise a repeat of the past.

There have been recent Independent Inquiries into past issues of abuse committed on children in-care by other Councils in Scotland such as Edinburgh and Fife 2002.

An Independent Inquiry or SWSI into Quarriers Homes residential abuses would enable a full understanding of all the abuse issues pertaining to the care home and its residents & ensure the following:

i. Would be able to consider what lessons could be learned from children in-care and any further changes that appear to be needed to minimise the risk to children and vulnerable adults in care in the future.

ii. To review the action of the former organisations senior management and others during the period when children were in the care of the care home.

iii. To identify what action was taken when children at the time reported abuse or made any complaints.

iv. An Independent Inquiry should review the internal Social work audit of measures to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse in care are sufficient and robust enough and advise whether appropriate and effective safe guards are in place and to make recommendations as to future practice where appropriate.

It is unacceptable that Inverclyde Council and you personally have not initiated any such Independent Inquiry to date. We would like you to consider seriously our request for such an Independent Inquiry for the reasons outlined in our letter. There are many more compelling reasons why such an Inquiry should be undertaken with immediate effect. Signed; David Whelan.

Comment
There are numerous links exposing the scandal of the abuse of children in care in Quarrier homes. This is the most enlightening one. http://aangirfan.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/child-abuse-suspected.html

 

Clune Park flats.

Clune Park

 

 

 

 

November 2008; Anger at Council’s Incompetence Failing to Apply for Health Funding

Stuart McMillan MSP, (SNP West of Scotland) reacted angrily to the news that Inverclyde Council had failed to apply for Government funding, allocated to local authorities for tackling health inequalities.

On the back of these reports Mr McMillan has tabled Freedom of Information questions to Inverclyde Council to get to the bottom of this debacle.

He said; “I have today submitted a Freedom of Information request to get to the bottom of this in order to determine whether or not we have witnessed a cover-up as well as a cock up from the Council.

I am extremely angered that Inverclyde Council did not apply for the funding made available by the Scottish Government to tackle health inequalities.

This display of incompetence might have meant that the people of Inverclyde would miss out in their share of vital funding which should have been used to tackle problems such as deprivation and substance abuse.

Thankfully, the Scottish Government have agreed to meet representatives from Inverclyde Council to discuss the matter and hopefully to consider their late submission. The Council must hang their heads in shame on this matter.

I am certain many constituents in Inverclyde will share my anger that Inverclyde Council has shown a lack of leadership over this situation which could prevent much needed support being brought to Inverclyde.”

 

 

 

 

 

May 2009; Council Goes Ahead with New Approach to Delivering Excellence in Services

Inverclyde Council has taken the important first step along the road to radically reorganising how it delivers services to its customers to offer excellence at best value for money.

The Future Operating Model reflects a root and branch shift for Inverclyde as it strives to operate more efficiently while giving customers the highest quality services where and when they need it.

Chief Executive John Mundell said: “This is not about our staff doing a bad job. On the contrary they do an incredible job but should be given the freedom to do even more. This is about enabling employees, giving them new skills and a better working environment. “This is all about our customers.

We have spent the past couple of years looking at how we operate as a business and it is clear we can and must change to maximise our resources into front line services and at the same time radically improving our customer service.”

Research identified areas where the Council could improve its operational effectiveness and efficiency at a corporate and service level. Key issues included:

i. Too many points of contact

ii. Too many premises

iii. Too many computer systems

iv. Customer has a different experience with each service and within services
The review was carried out in consultation with staff from a wide range of Council services through participation in workshops and focused discussion groups. Trade unions were also consulted. Research was also carried out through the experience of business transformation projects throughout the UK public sector, local authorities and other organisations.

The new Customer Contact Centre will be located on the ground floor of the Municipal Buildings in Clyde Square. The existing Contact Centre in Wallace Place will be modernised to meet the requirements as it the plan is phased in. The process should be completed by late 2012.

Inverclyde Council Leader Councillor Stephen McCabe said: “We would be failing our communities if we did not act now. Inverclyde’s needs are at the heart of the Future Operating Model. We are determined that our customers get the first class services they deserve from an organisation that is in tune with what they need.”

The six phrase project is funded through £1 million from Council reserves with any additional costs funded by savings created. It is anticipated that savings will cover the cost of loan charges, improving Council buildings, and further investment in frontline services.

Councillor McCabe added: “This really is a case of Spend to Save and is so much more than a shiny new call centre. This is a fundamental change in the way we deliver our services to the customer in a manner that will benefit the Council and the community in the long term.

This is a 10 year model and we expect it to deliver on our fundamental promise to provide excellence to our customers at value for money.” (inverclyde.gov.uk/news/2009/may/)

 

inverclyde8

 

 

 

 

May 2009; Inverclyde Council’s corporate director of education and social care, Ian Fraser, suspended

Inverclyde Council’s corporate director of education and social care, Ian Fraser, has been suspended by the authority’s chief executive, John Mundell pending an investigation into “a number of management and operational matters”.

The dramatic move followed a decision by the council’s education appeals committee to reverse a decision by the education directorate to refuse a place at Gourock High to a P7 pupil who lived in its catchment.

A council source suggested that the committee’s decision on the parental appeal had been the “final straw”, and not the main reason for Mr Fraser’s suspension.

However, other sources suggest the disciplinary action follows his alleged failure to communicate with the chief executive that the case was effectively a “ticking bomb”.

In Fraser’s defence, it is being pointed that this was a policy he inherited when he moved to the council from East Renfrewshire. As a result of Gourock High’s pending merger with Greenock Academy, the education department – with the backing of the council – had set a limit of 100 places for the S1 intake in August.

However, faced with 101 applications the council held a ballot to select which pupil would attend Greenock Academy. Kirstin Airlie, a pupil at Moorfoot Primary, lost.

The cap had been put at 100 pupils for S1, based on five classes of 20 for practical subjects: the council has now agreed to create another class.

A spokesman for the council said the 101 applications had included an unexpected 12 requests from St Ninian’s Primary – pupils who would normally have gone to St Columba’s High, which is being decanted to another building next year as part of the council’s school modernisation programme.

Education sources suggest Fraser and the council’s chief executive, Mundell, have been engaged in a “power struggle” – not so much over budgets per se but over management style and decision-making.

Some of Fraser’s decisions, such as moving the school holidays, have been controversial with parents. However, the education community regards him as a highly-effective, focused manager, albeit no shrinking violet. (tes.co.uk)

 

 

 

 

 

May 2009; Suspended education chief retires

Inverclyde council has granted early retirement to its £100,000 a year education chief after lifting a suspension against him.

The council took action against Ian Fraser two weeks ago as part of an investigation into “management and operational matters”. Now the local authority has announced the 59-year-old year is to retire in August – 10 months early.

He will not receive redundancy or an enhanced package but has not been disciplined. Inverclyde council said it was investigating several issues but Mr Fraser was not the focus.

He was recruited two years ago from the high performing education authority, East Renfrewshire. The council said his suspension, a fortnight ago, was not a direct result of the controversial decision to deny a girl a place at Gourock High School after drawing her name from a ballot.

The girl’s appeal against the decision was upheld by the council, as were the appeals of three other pupils who were denied placing requests at the school. The council has apologised to the families of the four pupils involved for any distress that had been caused.

An independent consultant has also been appointed by lnverclyde to conduct a review and prepare a report on the policies and procedures for school admissions and placing requests and their operational implementation.

John Mundell, chief executive of Inverclyde Council, said: “Inverclyde Council has historically had an excellent track record of high performing education and social care services and Ian contributed to the further development of these services over the last two and half years.” (news.bbc.co.uk)

 

 

 

 

 

August 2009; Council blamed for ‘serious mismanagement

Inverclyde promises changes following a hard-hitting inquiry and report into handling of school admissions.

An independent review of Inverclyde Council’s school placing requests policy found four different versions in circulation, with contradictory information contained in each document.

The council’s criteria for granting placing requests appeared to vary from one year to the next, and the admissions process lacked consistency and transparency.

Mr Mundell promised to take immediate action to create a more coherent policy on admissions and parental placing requests after a special meeting of the education and lifelong learning committee considered the report by Maggi Allan, former education director of South Lanarkshire.

Mr Mundell described the report’s findings as “obviously extremely disappointing”, as they had identified a number of serious management and operational issues in the education department.

Ian Fraser, Inverclyde’s former corporate director of education and social care, was suspended and subsequently took early retirement and has since taken up employment with the Scottish Centre for Studies in School Administration (SCSSA), which specialises in leadership and management training.

Ms Allan’s report, which was commissioned in May and cost £35,500, makes a series of recommendations – including the need to reduce the physical capacity of the council’s secondary schools .

This means, in effect, that some classrooms will be turned over to alternative uses, such as community learning and development or teachers’ continuing professional development, so that parents cannot argue that there is space for their children over and above the capping level set by the council.

The council had sought to reduce the S1 intakes for Gourock High and Greenock Academy, pending their merger in 2011 when they become Clydeview High.

Education officials tried to manage the intake by limiting placing requests to the existing two schools, but this was overruled in court.

A sheriff decided that, as Greenock Academy had admitted 160 pupils in 2007, it still had the capacity to admit the same number in 2008, rather than capping its intake at 80.

Ms Allan criticised the directorate for failing to appreciate and act upon the strategic impact of the sheriff’s decision.

The situation was further exacerbated when it was found there were 101 pupils in Gourock High’s catchment, but only 100 places available for 2009-10.

Parents then received a letter informing them that a ballot had taken place to determine which pupil would not be granted entry to Gourock High this month. Thirteen other families, whose placing requests had been rejected, also appealed successfully to the council’s education appeals committee.

Inverclyde also operated its admissions policy for secondary schools purely according to address, rather than simply giving priority to pupils in the associated primaries. That is expected to change, as a result of the review. (tes.co.uk)

 

Mundell.jpg.gallery

Mundell CEO

 

 

 

August 2010; Labour MSP refuses to apologise for ‘Riggi death slur’

Labour MSP Duncan McNeil has refused to apologise for remarks he made following the tragic deaths of the three Riggi children.

The Labour MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde had used the deaths in order to attack SNP politician Keith Brown by suggesting that ministerial inaction over home-schooling had left the children vulnerable.

The bodies of the three children were discovered by firemen who were investigating a gas explosion at the block of flats where they lived, the children had all suffered stab wounds.

Their mother, Theresa Riggi, was found seriously injured after jumping or falling from a second-floor balcony of the building in Edinburgh and has since been charged with their murder.

McNeil, the MSP for Greenock and Inverclyde, implied that home-schooling had left the children in danger and had accused the SNP’s Keith Brown of complacency.

Mr McNeil had questioned whether the home-schooling of the Riggi children may have led to delays in the authorities picking up on the danger they were in.

The Labour MSPs remarks provoked a furious reaction from the Scottish government who accused him of trying to make political capital out of the tragedy.
It also led to home-schooling organisation ‘Schoolhouse’ issuing a statement demanding an apology from the Labour MSP and labelling his remarks deplorable, and an attempt to peddle vile personal prejudice in order to score cheap political points and tantamount to ‘grave-robbing’.

However in a statement McNeil refused to apologise for the remarks suggesting that loopholes in the law could be exploited by some people that would lead to child welfare being compromised. More here; (newsnetscotland.scot)

 

McCabe.jpg.gallery

McCabe Council leader

 

 

 

September 2011; Inverclyde result was a draw. It’ll take more than an Irn-Bru re-branding to turn it round.

Ed Miliband may be relieved at last week’s by-election result in Inverclyde, but for Labour in Scotland, it was no better than a draw.

Labour held the seat with almost the same share as the late David Cairns in what was a good general election result for Labour locally and in Scotland.

That’s the good bit. The SNP almost doubled their vote, appearing to clean up on former Lib Dem voters and winning voters from all other parties.

Enough to say with justification that they’re still riding as high as in the May Holyrood elections.

Hence the importance of the review of the Scottish party led by leading Westminster Blairite Jim Murphy and MSP Sarah Boyack.

Scottish Labour, whose dominance was almost unchallenged for decades, has the fight of its life ahead of it. Full article here; (leftfutures.org/2011/07/)

 

 

 

 

March 2012; Inverclyde Council suspends four senior bosses because a scheme set up to save cash ended up costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Paul Wallace, Corporate Director of Organisational Improvement and Resources at Inverclyde Council, has been suspended by Chief Executive John Mundell along with John Arthur, Head of Safer and Inclusive Communities, Gordon McLoughlin, Head of Customer Service and Business Transformation and head of IT project management Arun Menon.

The four are understood to have been involved with establishing a money-saving drive known as the Future Operating Model, which was unveiled in February 2009, with the aim of helping the council hit an over-all savings target of £6.43 million in three years.

Instead the scheme cost the council £650,000 in fees to consultants Price Waterhouse Cooper, and delivered only £250,000 in savings, far short of the expected £2m target.

The scheme included a raft of efficiency measures and also the establishment of a new council customer contact centre in the Municipal Buildings in Greenock, which opened in October 2009.

But one senior council source said there had been doubts about the need for the new centre. The source said: “Social housing is no longer dealt with by the council, leisure’s not dealt with by the council, what’s this customer service centre for?
They’ve cut away a huge chunk of what a customer service centre is used for.

They’ve even detached the letting of halls to Inverclyde Leisure. In the short term, the expected budget cuts, almost promised savings, have not come to pass, with the result of a black hole in the budget.

The Future Operating Model involves ‘modernisation’. No-one’s prepared to challenge what’s meant by that, but in effect it means more technology, the aspiration to cut staff.

It’s been a budgetary mistake but I don’t think the spend has to be binned. However, the main justification for it was ‘efficiency’ and that has not been successful.”
Lib/Dem Councillor Alan Blair, a former leader of Inverclyde Council said: “It’s a very concerning situation. “It plainly means money is going to have to be found to fill a black hole.

That may well have to come from services important to the public. I think the administration should have been giving much more thought to important projects than recently they have been doing.”

In July 2010, a report by a collection of public watchdogs, including Audit Scotland, warned that the then Labour-run council needed to ensure that the Future Operating Model was going to deliver its projected savings.

The ‘Shared Risk Assessment’ Report’ on Inverclyde Council was co-compiled by the Social Work Inspection Agency, the Scottish Housing Regulator, the Care Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education and Audit Scotland.

It said: “The council has progressed to phase two of their Modernisation and Efficiency Programme which includes designing, building and implementing the council’s Future Operating Model (FOM).

The FOM is based on improvement to both corporate and service level efficiency opportunities through modernisation of current working practices.

The development of a new customer service centre which allows customers to access a range of council services in a single location is expected to deliver significant improvements to customers over the next two years.

The council need to ensure that the FOM delivers the projected efficiency savings and the intended improvements.”

That warning was in stark contrast to the words of Inverclyde Council Leader, Stephen McCabe who launched the plan in May 2009 saying: “This really is a case of spend to save and is so much more than a shiny new call centre.

This is a fundamental change in the way we deliver our services to the customer.

This is a 10-year model and we expect it to deliver on our fundamental promise to provide excellence to our customers at value for money.”

A spokesman for Inverclyde Council said: “Following a review of the council’s operating model, four officers have been suspended, as a precautionary measure, pending further investigation.

Whilst this investigation is being carried out it would be inappropriate to comment on the circumstances of the individuals involved.”

 

 

 

 

January 2011; PwC consultancy goes sour at Inverclyde

Based on the latest published figures, the FOM project spectacularly failed to do so. In spite of effectively producing an operational loss on this scheme, PwC won a further £300,000 consultancy contract that was not put out to tender, plus another later commission for a contract that did go out to tender. (accountingweb.co.uk/)

 

 

 

 

January 2011; Inverclyde Project Update

It is now accepted that the major service delivery and value for money project for which they were responsible, the Future Operating Model (FOM), has failed.

It had been intended to produce £1.9 million of savings. In fact all it has made is a loss.

It paid PricewaterhouseCoopers consultants £650,000 and has delivered savings totalling only £250,000.

The FMO project has now been binned and questions are being asked about the supervisory role of the CEO, John Mundell.

He went on sick leave last month (December? Hmmm) and is said to have begun looking at the performance of the FMO project when he came back.

In his defence, it is being said that he asked for a progress report back in October 2010.

That is proving something of a boomerang ploy, raising further questions as to why, if he had queries about FOM’s operations in October, he did not press his request and did not engage with the matter again for some considerable time.

There also appear to be issues around the probity of the council’s relationship with Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

The consultants are alleged to have been given an open contract for £300,000 by the suspended officers.

All of this adds to the pressure for radical reform of local government. (forargyll.com/2011/01)

 

 

 

 

August 2011; Top council official sacked over saving scheme fiasco

One of Scotland’s leading local government officials has been sacked and several others given final warnings for their role in the collapse of a money-saving scheme.

But cash-strapped Inverclyde Council is continuing to face criticism for taking seven months to complete its probe, during which time it paid out almost £200,000 to the four suspended officers.

The role of the chief executive John Mundell in the saga has also been criticised.

Paul Wallace, the authority’s £100,000-a-year-plus corporate director, was the only member under investigation to be fired for his role in the fiasco, which saw more than £650,000 paid to consultants and savings of barely £250,000 delivered.

The Herald can also reveal Mr Wallace has taken Inverclyde Council to the Court of Session over how it has handled the investigation.

It is understood his case will focus on claims of a lack of transparency in the probe and that chief executive John Mundell’s role in it breached any sense of natural justice.

Two other heads of service, John Arthur and Gordon McLoughlin, both on annual salaries of around £80,000, are on final warnings.

The fourth, Arun Menon, admitted culpability several weeks ago and has also been issued with a final warning.

The decision to sack Mr Wallace comes amid mounting speculation that the former leader of the council at the time the FOM fiasco came to light is to return to the post.

Labour’s Stephen McCabe quit several months ago citing family reasons, but he has been touted to return to the leader’s chair later this month after his successor, Iain McKenzie, was elected to Westminster at the Inverclyde by-election in June.

Last night, senior insiders said the investigation may have cost taxpayers double the amount paid to the four suspended officers as the probe took place and could approach the £500,000 mark.

They also said that despite the outcome there would still be questions about Mr Mundell’s role. (heraldscotland.com/news/home-news)
Comment; Hold on a min, these incompetents were employed by then Council Leader Mr McCabe, he quit because of this screw-up (but before the report that cost the taxpayer many hundreds of thousands (approx £700,000) had been published.)

McKenzie, (formally in McCabes job) lands a higher paid post as an MP at Westminster. McCabe decides to come out of retirement to take up his old job as Council Leader.

If correct the matter needs to be investigated, a professionally qualified person should be appointed not Mr Mccabe is clearly not fit for post.

 

 

 

 

December 2011; A Special meeting of Inverclyde Council is to be held as part of an inquiry into a failed money-saving scheme.

Councillors are to discuss the Future Operating Model – a project which was designed to save the council cash but ended up costing money – a year after problems came to light.

Four council officials – including a corporate director – were suspended in January this year amid an investigation into the scheme. All have since returned to work, with the last of the employee appeals following the disciplinary action concluded this week.

One senior councillor says that elected members and members of the public should now be told which costs have been associated with the saga.

Lib Dem Alan Blair yesterday told a meeting of Inverclyde Council: “The Lib Dem group are very concerned abut this being dealt with transparently. “We have to get a history of the Future Operating Model, what went wrong and what it has cost the taxpayer. It’s a year since this blew up and that’s too long.”

Council leader Stephen McCabe said the project would be debated in full as soon as a report on it is completed. He said, “The chief executive has given a commitment to the council to report back at the first opportunity.

The chief executive has called a full council meeting to give a detailed report and to allow members the opportunity to question him.” More on Councillor McCabe; http://subrosa-blonde.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/west-of-scotlands-political-world.html

Council chief executive Mundell also gave an assurance that the meeting will be held in public, following a briefing for elected members.

He said: “Full details will be with members and we will try to optimise what will be heard in public.” http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/uploadedFiles/Decision081-2012.pdf

Councillor McCabe defends his record; http://councillorstephenmccabe.blogspot.co.uk/2011/10/setting-record-straight.html

 

inverclyde7

 

 

 

18. July 2013; ‘fails’ on jobs and investment targets

A publicly funded urban regeneration firm may face an overhaul over shortcomings in meeting targets on inward investment and job creation.

Riverside Inverclyde was set up in 2006 to create thousands of new jobs and homes and lever in private investment.

A mid-term review shows it has only achieved a small fraction of these targets for its £59m of public funding.

One of its partners, Inverclyde Council, is now proposing changes to the firm’s management structure. Riverside Inverclyde – key facts;
Aims and objectives of Riverside Inverclyde:

i. Launched in 2006 operating for 10 years

ii. Regenerate economically depressed parts of Inverclyde

iii. Create 2,600 jobs

iv. Build 2,285 homes

v. Attract £300m in private investment

vi. Secure £93m in public money

c. Achievements at 2014?

i. £59m of public money ploughed in so far

ii. 191 jobs created

iii. 121 new homes

iv. £3.6m of private investment secured

v. Development of Riverside Business Park:

vi. Enhancements to James Watt Dock

vii. Improvements to parts of Greenock and Port Glasgow town centres

A mid-term performance review was carried out on behalf of the council and Scottish Enterprise by external consultants.

The subsequent report found that Riverside Inverclyde had received about £59m of public funding so far but it had fallen well short in its original targets.

The report credits Riverside Inverclyde with the creation of just 191 jobs and 121 new homes.

It also shows that £3.6m of private investment has been levered in – just over 1% of the original 10-year target.

The report also highlighted some achievements by Riverside Inverclyde, such as the development of Riverside Business Park, enhancements to James Watt Dock and improvements to parts of Greenock and Port Glasgow town centres.

Inverclyde Council, a major financier of Riverside Inverclyde, is now proposing an overhaul of its operations.

If agreed, the board of the regeneration firm would be retained but discussions would take place on its future composition.

The management structure of the firm would also be reviewed and closer monitoring and reviews of it operations would be put in place.

The Council also proposed that both bodies develop a two-year regeneration plan and key economic staff work more closely together.

Inverclyde’s environment and regeneration convener, Councillor Michael McCormick, said: “This mid-term review gives all of the partners a chance to take stock and see what’s working well and what areas we need to change. “It’s clear that in some areas Riverside Inverclyde has worked well and also that we’ve faced some tough economic conditions. “We now wish to focus on delivering a single regeneration and economic development operating plan geared towards the opportunities and financial picture we face today. That way we can make sure that we work together to maximise the impact of our work.”

A spokesman for Scottish Enterprise said: “We remain committed to working with regeneration companies, including Riverside Inverclyde, to create economic opportunities in communities across Scotland.” (bbc.co.uk/news)

 

inverclyde8

 

 

 

July 2013; Agency paid £10m for land that is worth less than nothing

Riverside Inverclyde, the regeneration agency heavily criticised over its misuse of public cash spent in excess of £10 million on land it later emerged was worth less than nothing.

Riverside Inverclyde has so far spent almost £13m on its scheme at the waterfront in Greenock, the vast majority of which was the cost of buying James Watt Dock.

But the report into the seven years of progress of the agency found not only did Riverside Inverclyde pay real estate firm Peel Holdings over the odds for the land but the scale of the contamination on the site left it with a value of minus £6m.

It also claims many of those consulted as part of the review felt the agency lacked rigour in its dealings with Peel. Meanwhile, it has emerged Riverside Inverclyde will appear before the Scottish Parliament’s local government and regeneration committee after the summer recess.

Although the meeting had been scheduled long before it was revealed Riverside Inverclyde had dramatically failed to meet key targets on jobs, homes and investment despite being awarded £60m in public cash, sources insist the findings of the Midterm Review are likely to dominate.

The review of the arm’s-length Riverside Inverclyde found it had met only 7% of its 2600 job targets since 2006, working out at a cost per job cost per job of £321,000.

It built just 5% of the 2285 new homes promised, while also securing just 1% of the private sector investment targeted.

Two leading officials, chief executive Bill Nicol and implementation manager Garry Williamson, have either left or are due to leave.

Mr Nicol and Riverside Inverclyde’s chairman, journalist and commentator Alf Young, have been consulted on the findings of the Deloitte review.

The report found a survey of the James Watt Dock had been carried out across April and May of this year to check on contamination levels of the site, earmarked as the centrepiece of the regeneration of the upper Clyde, complete with prestigious flats and moorings for boats.

It found the extent of the decontamination and “abnormals” works “would indicate significant liabilities in terms of costs as the site is developed and requires an assessment of Riverside Inverclyde’s continuing involvement”.

The report also claimed “the net value of the site was a negative land value, not +£10million” as valued in 2008, adding a leading estate agent “identified no profits would be expected in the development proposal and, in the light of the information provided, indicate a residual negative value of -£5,998,035”.

It then proposed “putting the project on hold until such time as an agreed exit strategy can be developed”. Elsewhere it recommended it is “important to develop an effective partnership with Peel Holdings, allowing some progress to be made on some sites” but adds some feel Riverside Inverclyde could be more robust in its dealings with Peel to achieve better regeneration outcomes”.

Riverside Inverclyde have not returned calls to comment on the reports, while Mr Young said he could not discuss the review as it had not been before the agency’s board.

But one former board member took to social media platform twitter to discuss his four years with Riverside Inverclyde. Chris Osborne, a former SNP councillor, said officials from Inverclyde Council, which together with Scottish Enterprise is behind the body, had expressed concerns about the agency’s progress as far back as 2010.

He said councillors and local authority officers had noted the body “was slow to downsize staff wise when Government funds were reduced” and there were “rumours of tensions over bonuses and pay awards to the chief executive”.

Mr Osborne added: “By and large RI has done much good. More physical regeneration than actual job creation which is obviously disappointing. It must be remembered there was the most severe recession throughout most of it’s existence.

Lots of regeneration projects have suffered because of that. However, the number of jobs created most definitely is a scandal.” (heraldscotland.com/news/home-news)

 

 

 

 

January 2014; Councillors in Inverclyde to get a two per cent pay rise despite a continuing squeeze on local authority budgets.

The basic pay for all of Scotland’s councillors will go up in March 2014 by one per cent from the current £16,234 to £16,560, backdated to 1 April last year — in line with what has been awarded to staff and offered to teachers.

This will be followed by a further one per cent rise for councillors in April.

The Scottish Government said the move followed representations from councils’ umbrella body Cosla (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities).

Explaining the rise, a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Following representation from Councillors and Cosla, ministers took the decision to end the period of pay restraint and have awarded what they consider is a fair award in the current financial climate.”

The rises were defended today by Inverclyde’s Depute Provost David Wilson, who is Scotland’s representative on the National Association of Councillors. He said: “I will defend these rises until I’m blue in the face.

Councillors work extremely hard and their pay is poor compared with that given to list MSPs. I’ve never really understood what list MSPs actually do, but Councillors certainly deserve their pay rise.”

Mr Wilson also criticised the current level of responsibility payment given to council leaders, describing it as ‘a scandal’.

Inverclyde Council leader Stephen McCabe receives an overall total of £27,058, but Mr Wilson said: The leader is responsible for an enormous budget. It is a big responsibility for very little reward.”

News of the rise in pay, for councillors follows hot on the heels of plans to increase the amounts paid to politicians at Holyrood and Westminster.

The salary of MSPs has been linked to that of MPs since 2002, with politicians at the Scottish Parliament paid 87.5 per cent of an MP’s wage — meaning an MSP’s salary is currently £58,097 a year.

Now proposals are in place to scrap that connection and instead bring MSP rises into line with the public sector.

Meanwhile, MPs could get an 11 per cent increase of £7,600, taking their pay up to £74,000. Inverclyde MP Iain McKenzie has previously said he would refuse such a large rise.

 

 

 

 

September 2013; Town Hall Rich List-Clydebank
If I was an Inverclyde voter at local elections, I would be making my views quite clear about the disgusting siphoning of public funds towards a select group of individuals.

Is it acceptable for rates-payers money to be allocated away from public services to feather their nests? Surely not?

Chief Executive of Inverclyde council: £141,752
Corporate Dir. of Regeneration & Environment: £122,078
Corporate Dir. of Education & Communities: £122,078
Corporate Dir. of Community Care & Health Partnership: £122,078
Corporate Director of Organisational Improvement & Performance: £120,767
Head of Legal and Democratic Services: £107,513
Adding: “on costs” and associated expenses the total financial commitment to 6 individuals is around £1 million. (rongattway.blog.co.uk/2013/09/28/)

 

inverclyde4

 

 

 

November 2013: Hole Lot Of Bother — Council Way Behind On Pothole Repairs

Only one-in-10 high-risk potholes was made safe or repaired within the target time of seven days in Inverclyde during a six-month period this year, officials have admitted.

And just 14 per cent of less serious potholes were dealt with within the target time of 28 days during a 12-month period, according to an Inverclyde Council report.

Severe wet weather damaging the area’s roads is blamed for the problem and roads bosses are carrying out a review of the situation.

An extra £50,000 is being diverted to reduce backlogs.

The council aims to repair or make high-risk potholes safe within a week of them being identified but between April and September this year that happened for only 12 per cent of such potholes.

In the financial year 2012/3 a level of 26 per cent was achieved. The council’s target for 2013/14 is 80 per cent.

Less serious potholes should be sorted within four weeks of identification, according to council guidelines.

Between April and September this year that response was made in 46 per cent of cases but for the financial year 2012/13, the figure was only 14 per cent. (inverclydenow.com/today)

 

inverclyde0

 

 

 

October 2011; Riverside Inverclyde to build a Gourock Bypass

Riverside Inverclyde, with the support of Inverclyde Council, is to build a one-way bypass around Kempock Street.

Residents of of Gourock are concerned their views are not being taken into account.

Many are of the view that the development is a sticking plaster attempting to solve a more fundamental issue of an ever-increasing volume of traffic.

How creating two fairly busy roads out of one very busy one, creating an island of shops in the middle and alienating the waterfront can be seen as a good thing is beyond belief.

Reduction of traffic the flow has never featured in the options list.

Neither has any thought been given to how else £2.5million (although other reports suggest much much higher) could be spent within Gourock — one would be forgiven for thinking a by-pass was the only way to spend money! It will merely create longer journey times for east-bound traffic and make accessing the north side of Kempock Street more hazardous, as you are forced to cross a main trunk road. (inverclydenow)

 

inverclyde2

 

 

 

 

January 2014; Labour Councillor under fire after laughing at censorship of Yes campaign in local schools

A Labour Councillor caused anger after appearing to mock local people angered at the news the council was censoring the official “Yes” campaign in local schools despite allowing pupils to view the pro-Union rival site.

Councillor Stephen McCabe has come under fire after he treated the situation as a joke and suggested it would not be resolved until after the independence referendum.

The episode began when Caitlin Brannigan, a student at a local School, tweeted a picture showing that “Yes” Scotland’s site was blocked under content filtering from the Schools internal network but no such block was in place for Better Together.

On hearing this another tweeter Scott Gillan decided to raise the issue with the local Councillor. He tweeted: “How long will it take to resolve “Yes” Scotland page being blocked in our schools Councillor ?”

Inverclyde council leader McCabe responded by tweeting “7 months I’m told Lol”. In a later tweet Mr McCabe described people who had challenged him, “conspiracy theorists”.

However, the Labour Councillor’s response has caused outrage amongst users of social media who have accused the official of treating the matter as a joke and of condoning censorship.

The story provoked controversy in Inverclyde with the local newspaper, reporting that the Labour Councillor is at the centre of a “political storm”.

Speaking to the newspaper, Shona McQuarrie – who leads the “Yes” Inverclyde campaign – said: “This is inexcusable. Mr McCabe was asked a perfectly legitimate question and he chose to make a joke of a very serious matter. There’s been no hint of an apology for his flippancy, or a proper explanation as to what has actually been going on here. It would be different if both websites were blocked. We need to know why the Yes Scotland site was inaccessible, why it was so, and for how long.”
Mrs McQuarrie added: “This is a huge issue. Where is the consideration for what parents think? Pupils are not learning anything about the referendum in local schools if they are only being provided with one side of the debate. It is profoundly undemocratic and I have been told that loads of parents have been complaining.”

Newsnet Scotland spoke to one parent whose children attend local schools in the area. She said: “I wasn’t aware of this until I read the ‘Tully’ [Greenock Telegraph]. It isn’t fair to ban one side but let pupils read the other one. They should either ban both websites or allow both websites.” On the flippant response of the council leader, she said: “He should just fix it and say sorry.”

A spokesman for the local authority told the Greenock Telegraph: “Our IT service have sorted out the small glitch which appears to have caused this. There is absolutely no question of any site being deliberately blocked.” The spokesman added: “The first line of the council’s content filtering system is based on website categories.

The “Yes” Scotland website was categorised under ‘society and culture’, which is blocked by default for pupils in schools.

No-one at the council or school was involved in deciding the category of the website, which meant that it was not accessible.

As soon as we were alerted to this situation yesterday morning the site was unblocked by applying more detailed filtering rules, to ensure it could be accessed.” However the issue is unlikely to die down with some questioning why the pro-independence site had been placed in a category that was blocked.

In another twist, the Labour Councillor has now backtracked on an earlier announcement he would quit twitter over the issue. Last night McCabe told users of the social media platform, “I regret to announce the immediate closure of my account. I can no longer take the constant abuse from Cybernats and fellow travellers.”

However within hours, the Labour Councillor had reactivated his account and tweeted: “Following an overnight barrage from the Cybernats (when do these people sleep?) I’ve decided to resume tweeting with A manufactured “political storm. Didn’t someone think to call me?” (newsnetscotland.scot/index.php/scottish-politics)

 

imaes

 

 

 

March 2014; Drug seizures up by 2,000 per cent in Inverclyde

Police in Inverclyde have recorded a 2,000% increase in drug seizures in just a year.

A massive 34 kilos of cannabis resin — with a potential value of around £150,000 — was taken off local streets last year.

The figure compares with 1.7 kilos of the drug being confiscated during 2012.

Other hauls landed by police during 2013 include nearly 13,000 illicit tablets, plus Class A narcotics crack cocaine, ecstasy and heroin.

Nearly 40 kilos of illegal substances were obtained by officers during stop searches and other drugs busts across the district.

Some of the most significant swoops of 2013 saw 12,929 diazepam and other pills being confiscated, as well as the large amount of cannabis resin.

Separate recoveries of 83 cannabis plants, worth more than £30,000, were also made, as well as smaller amounts of MDMA, ecstasy, black market methadone and temazepam.

Inspector Clare McGuckien said that drugs operations within Inverclyde are a ‘top priority’ for her. She said: “My officers will continue to target this blight on our communities and the misery it causes, which has been highlighted recently in the press.

These drugs are dangerous, there is no quality control in their manufacture.” She added: “I would encourage any member of the public who knows of any illegal activity regarding the sale or supply of controlled or unclassified drugs to contact the police.”

The figures were obtained by the Telegraph under Freedom of Information laws from Police Scotland.The data covers the period 1 January until 30 November 2013.
Quantities of so-called ‘date rape’ drug Rohypnol and herbal cannabis were also seized by police during the year.

Police have recorded a number of successes in recent months as they step up the war against dealers.

Class A substances worth an estimated £700,000 were recovered in February last year during a high profile swoop at Larkfield Industrial Estate.

The figures follow on from significant seizures during 2011, when drugs worth around £530,000 were recovered.

This included a huge haul of heroin with a street value of around £325,000 after a police swoop at a flat in Greenock town centre and the discovery of a cannabis factory in Port Glasgow’s Robert Street. (greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news)

 

child-in-poverty11

 

 

 

March 2014; 1,000 Inverclyde children living in severe hardship

Pat Burke, of Children in Poverty in Inverclyde, has vowed to do more to help them after his organisation was awarded official charity status.

The group was set up last October and since then, thanks to the local community, has helped provide new clothes for up to 80 youngsters.

The charity now hopes to expand its work by offering day trips to Millport and holidays to a lodge in Dunoon, plus arranging events like Christmas parties and pantomime visits. Pat says the latest research into poverty in Inverclyde shows just how much need there is for his group.

Recent figures show that 1,000 children in the area, 11 per cent, are suffering severe poverty, while the take up for school meals in Inverclyde stands at 28 per cent, significantly higher than the national average of 20 per cent.

Pat said: “It is evident that certain children in Inverclyde are in desperate need. The stigma of poverty has a real and lasting effect, and especially on the physical and emotional development of children.

Our organisation believes that through our main activities, children from families affected by poverty will be given opportunities to participate fully in educational, sporting and social activities in our community.

Children from poor families will, as a consequence of our organisation’s activities, feel valued and be empowered to participate — on an equal footing — with their more affluent peers, in all opportunities available to Inverclyde’s children.”

Pat says his group has been asked to provide all sorts of clothing, from anoraks and underwear to bedclothes, since it was set up. They have also encountered families who have been left destitute after fleeing their homes with only what they were standing in, through domestic violence.

The group recently secured cash from the council to help carry out its work but securing charitable status will mean they are able to do even more.

Pat said: “The recent Inverclyde Council grant award of £2,000 received earlier this month will assist us, but now having registered charity status it opens the way for us to make applications to the large external funders whose potential funding would make a real difference in that we will assist greater numbers.”

He also pledged to continue with fundraising and was swift to praise the community’s generosity. Pat added: “When it comes to supporting deserving causes, the people of Inverclyde have no equal. They won’t let us down.” (http://www.greenocktelegraph.co.uk/news)

 

children-and-poverty-007

 

 

 

 

August 2014; Why are politicians among the few occupations that cannot be sacked for incompetence?

I make no bones about it: most of the politicians based in Inverclyde are either incompetent or corrupt.

There are, of course, exceptions. I know several personally on both sides of the independence referendum who are extremely hard-working, competent and genuine – but Inverclyde Council has a sordid recent history.

In the last decade alone, the Council has been brought to task by Audit Scotland for its gross incompetence, poor leadership, and generally considered the worst local authority in Scotland.

But while improvements have been made, there are still significant barriers to overcome.

The full article, excellent in it’s content and heavily influenced in it’s approach by a wealth of local knowledge is to found here: (wildernessofpeace.wordpress.com/2014/08/29)

 

 

 

 

 

March 2014; This is Greenock – A Video Record of progress
The State of Greenock: Webisode 1 – A Creative Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qr_qUGut4Jk
The State of Greenock: Webisode 2 – A Greener Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE03v7u2zJ4
The State of Greenock: Webisode 3 – A Healthier Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnTRNECn4o4
The State of Greenock: Webisode 4 – A Wealthier Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=739J0ezCZis
The State of Greenock: Webisode 5 – A Smarter Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Drx3XvNMCmY
The State of Greenock: Webisode 6 – A Better Greenock https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGsh_X0jN0I

 

IMG_6380

 

 

 

June 2016: Outrage as fat cat council boss pockets £40k after just 15 Months in the job

Boss at one of Scotland’s most cash-strapped councils pocketed a £40,000 pay-off after just 15 months in a £105,000-a-year job which she chose to resign from. Patricia Cassidy got the remarkable compensation payment from Inverclyde Council, which is facing budget cuts of up to £40million in the next three years.

And just six months later Mrs Cassidy was back on the public sector gravy train in a highly coveted £100,000-a-year Scottish NHS job fifty miles away.

Politicians and campaigners hit out at the pay-off and called for more transparency about high-level public sector pay.

Mrs Cassidy was appointed corporate director of education, communities and organisational development at Greenock based Inverclyde in March 2014. (express.co.uk)

 

2786CB7600000578-3076121-image-a-71_1431303592174

 

You can follow Calton Jock at his webpage CaltonJock

SNAP GENERAL ELECTION — Our Chance To Takedown The Tories, End Austerity & Slay The Neo-Liberal Beast

Yesterday’s (18th April) announcement by prime minister Theresa May that there will be a snap general election (GE) to be held on June 8th may have come as a surprise – but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that in just 6 weeks time we could have a completely new government – one that for the first time in over 30 years would actually give us the opportunity to kill austerity and stop neo-liberal beast. The Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has reacted enthusiastically saying that he welcomes the challenge and looks forward to the upcoming contest.

Just the fact that this election is the first in my lifetime that actually seems to offer some difference in terms of policy with regards to the two major parties, is itself, significant. We are currently witnessing the death of the centrist politics orthodoxy that has held for so long in western politics — people all over are sick of the centrist system, one in which there are no real choices: for so many years we have not had the choice to vote against the banks, against the privatisation of the NHS, against the dismantling of the welfare state, against huge corporations, against war, against poverty, against everything that as a population we have become sick of: in short against the establishment itself.

This hatred of the centrist status quo has recently expressed itself in various forms across the west: from Brexit to Sander’s and Trump in the US to the unexpected rise of the socialist candidate in the upcoming French elections, we are seeing the (supposedly) unpredictable destruction of centrist politics — it may not seem like it right now, but this state of affairs is the new normal — and may well lead to the election of Corbyn as PM. This seems unthinkable — a glance at any of the polls tells you that it is — yet given the crumbling of the establishment — a crumbling which the political elites themselves fail to acknowledge the existence of  — we should all seriously start to think about the “unthinkable.”

For once the unthinkable isn’t a bad thing, it actually offers some hope and optimism for the future.

May’s Ambush: Her Victory Is Not Certain — Her Endless Lying & Tory Brutality Is

May’s announcement has been described as “shrewd” and “clever’ and “calculated” perhaps in some ways this is true, but in many ways this is just classic Theresa May, continuing her long and proud record of being a bare-faced liar.

Of course, it wasn’t so long ago that May totally ruled out calling a snap general election — then she announced one yesterday.  Furthermore, it will have to be conducted in the space of fewer than two months. The GE falls just after the council elections, meaning that many of the smaller parties will have their resources completely depleted.

This isn’t so much a “shrewd” and “clever” move as the equivalent of being hit with a plank of wood on the back of the head by your opponent after the ref has called time out during a boxing match, and you’re on your way back to the ring corner.

May has demonstrated that she’s just an out and out liar on so many occasions, that it doesn’t bear paying attention to anymore — that’s just what she does — her hubris being what it is, means that she has no problem starting her “campaign” after recently lying about the fact she wouldn’t call a snap GE in the first place.

Furthermore, we have the fact that the Tories are currently being investigated for election fraud from the last GE in 2015 — you couldn’t make this up, could you? — it is a farce that shows just how little the Tories care about anything other than winning and subjecting us all like medieval serfs to their unquestionable rule.

Furthermore, May — in the grand tradition of her predecessor Cameron is also refusing to take part in TV debates — the Tories sure hate debating don’t they? All of this would seem to indicate that they show nothing other than complete disdain and contempt for the electorate — but that could never be the case, could it? Afterall it’s not like the Tories act as if they have some divine right to rule over us, is it?

We are told endlessly — and this is evidenced by consistent polling — that May is a boundlessly popular politician when compared to her competition: Corbyn. It seems then that her victory is assured.

Corbyn is not just fighting against the Tories, he is also fighting against the majority of the establishment, including the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) many of whom clearly hate him, and have made it clear that they will do anything to stop Corbyn. The mainstream media itself — almost uniformly from left to right has also decided that Corbyn needs to go. It seems then that all these forces are going to combine to finally deal the final blow to Corbyn — this illustrates just how hard the fight will be. The deck could literally not be more loaded in favor of the Tories — hence May’s smug self-assured hubris.

Yet, I don’t think May should feel quite so self-assured about her victory, and nor should the establishment such as the mainstream media. By treating her victory as if it is a certainty she is making a huge mistake, and failing to learn from the recent lesson that led to Hillary Clinton losing the US GE. People are not in the mood for being dictated to by self-assured, arrogant and smug political elites at the moment — and polling is not always a reliable predictor of how this will be translated at the ballot box.

The establishment made exactly the same mistake with Brexit, treating it is as if the remain vote was a certainty. It was on this very blog that I predicted that leave would win — on the basis of the fact they were spending more money, and putting more effort into it — well, we all know how both of those events turned out….

The POLLS Spell Doom For Corbyn & Labour — Do They?

A closer look at the polls reveals that the actual gap between Labour and the Conservatives is around 10 points, with many people being undecided voters, and many saying they wouldn’t vote — so that’s quite a lot of people who could go either way.

 

This is important because that gap can be closed, combine this with the unpredictability of the current climate and May’s victory is far from certain. During the US election, Clinton had a lead of up to 15 points — the day that the US went to the polls the Huffington Post famously declared that Clinton had a 98% chance of winning — a done deal — well, apparently the electorate had different ideas.

But then we get to the crux of the matter — the source of May’s confidence and hubris — according to the polls she tramples Corbyn in terms of who would make the best PM. May is, of course, still riding her honeymoon period, which is likely why she called the GE when she did.

 

 

It’s hard to know how to interpret this finding — beyond the honeymoon period, and the fact that Corbyn’s message just doesn’t get out there.

The truth is, unfortunately, the general public doesn’t spend hours writing and researching the ins and outs of politics — mainly because they don’t have the time — they rely on the mainstream media to inform them — and so as a result, much of what I report, and other similar sites do — simply isn’t part of common knowledge.

None the less though, I really do wonder: who are these avid Theresa May fans? I’ve never heard anybody say they like her — I suspect though it’s more about going with what you know, as opposed to Corbyn who is seen as a risk, or the unknown. Whatever the reason, that’s how it is according to the polls, so treat it for what it is. The lesson: clearly more work needs to be done.

As we move into the key policy areas we can see that Labour has some chance of gaining ground in this election — we can see that Labour are more trusted than the Tories with the NHS — we all know about the crisis in the NHS at the moment. This crisis is so widespread that it is also hitting middle England (the Tory heartland) with the closure of hospitals, increasing mortality rates linked to austerity, and the fact that the medical profession itself is now taking on the Tories.

 

Junior Drs going on strike, an uproar from the profession over the pay freeze inflicted on them by the Tories and a plethora of other ways which the Tories are currently being fought by the medical profession. Nurses using food banks and forced to take out payday loans — the removal of the nursing bursary, all of these things have an impact on the way that people view the Tories: the NHS really is the hot topic of the day — the crisis will clearly not be solved by the Tories who clearly want to privatise our healthcare system — and the British people know that the Tories cannot be trusted with the NHS.

We can also see that Labour is more trusted when it comes to housing – again the ongoing housing crisis affects so many people that this could also translate into support for Corbyn’s Labour. The housing crisis, of course, affects not just those who are homeless (homelessness levels are now the same as they were during Victorian times thanks to the Tories). The housing crisis also hits middle England as their children are also unable to move out and buy their own homes.

 

The polling also shows that Labour follows the Tories closely when it comes to another key area: education.

This is a testament to the power of the propaganda system above the achievement and record of the Tories on each of those issues. And the fact that Labour — under Corbyn too – has failed to, for instance, make it clear that Labour did not cause the current financial crisis by overspending — this is a real problem.

The fact that this narrative doesn’t even make sense should mean that the left would find it easy to kill — unfortunately, things are never that simple: nobody is even claiming that government spending caused the financial crisis except the Tories — everybody else acknowledges it was the banks, hence why they had to be bailed out by the taxpayer (a decision undertaken by Labour, but it’s hard to imagine a Conservative government making a different decision) to the tune of billions of pounds, thus adding to government debt — not the narrative that the Tories have been getting away with peddling for so long now.

This was, of course, and still, continues to be used as a way to justify austerity/ spending cuts. Austerity is by now a completely discredited form of economics, even the IMF agrees, as does the mainstream economic profession. Not only this, but we can see it doesn’t work right in front of our eyes: government debt has increased by billions and billions since austerity started — by 2020 it is estimated that the Tories will have racked up more government debt than every Labour government combined. Wages have fallen since 2008 — after a brief “recovery” they again fell in real terms again, this is due to austerity. We rank just above Greece in terms of wage growth since the 2008 financial crisis — this barely mentioned fact should’ve been headline news — of course, it wasn’t — instead, the mainstream media prefers to blame inflation, rather than austerity.

Public sector pay freezes which have been on-going and will continue as long as the Tories are in have had the effect that everybody sane said they would — they not only mean that public sector workers get poorer, as they cannot even keep up with inflation which is at very low levels — the pay-freezes also have a knock-on effect on the private sector, which is now rife with low insecure pay, and so-called self-employment.

Companies like Deliveroo and Uber lead this economy — what is now defined as employment can literally mean anything. Any number of hours, doing anything, anywhere with absolutely no guarantee of an income, or work, and prospects of saving for the future, or putting down a deposit for a house — this is the effect of all of the Tories austerity policies. This is why the so-called impressive employment figures that the Tories keep boasting about essentially mean nothing — what is employment defined as? Take a look and it all makes sense.

May and Hammond’s plan to cut corporation tax to 17% by 2020 (the lowest in the G20) is actually not as bad as her original suggestion of cutting it to 15% — a rate so low that even business leaders warned against it.

Away from the fairy tale rhetoric about this creating jobs, and making Britain a leader in competition or whatever rhetorical nonsense the Tories are spouting about this – the truth is this does nothing to help the economy or increase useful and productive investment.

Corporations — motivated solely by profit — sit on the extra profits they gain rather than re-investing it  — this sh*t should be obvious, and yet for some reason, people still buy into it.  There is a reason that corporate profits are at all time high, government debt is increasing, and social spending is decreasing — and this certainly isn’t helped by austerity and corporate tax cuts.

This is the reality of austerity: I can only assume the reason people think the Tories are good for the economy is because they either don’t know the reality, don’t want to know it, or are part of the 1% themselves.

The facts don’t lie, this isn’t about Labour or the Tories, they are simply the facts of the matter.

Whilst offering these tax cuts to billionaires and corporations the Tories then transfer the cost onto everybody else — through indirect, and direct taxes. They simply shift the tax burden away from those who have all the money and put it onto everybody else – again including middle England.

Law and order —  another area where the Tories are supposedly trusted more than Labour — in reality, this just doesn’t make sense. The prison system is crumbling with both staff and inmates suffering — the recent prison riots being a testament to this. The use of fraudulent companies like G4S (one of the biggest welfare leeches in the country) making the situation all the worse. Of course, as well as this the police have also been at the end of the austerity knife — causing fears about the safety of the public and, of course, the police themselves.

I don’t know how they get away with this — all I can say is how often does the mainstream media ever question the Tories on the record on any of this?  They report the problems (sort of) but fail to ever link it to the political choices made by this government. If they did then perhaps we would see a change in attitudes — Corbyn needs to amplify this message, this reality as we all should — not just to defeat the Tories, but because people deserve to know that they are taken for a MUG by this government.

The impact of austerity is felt much wider than people realise. The narrative is that it’s just about benefits, and a little bit of necessary pain here and there: the reality is very different — unless you’re at the very top of the income scale austerity will have negatively affected you, someone you know, your community, etc. If you’re the top it will still have impacted you — positively.

If you’re a GP who hasn’t had a real pay rise since the Tories came into power — just think about why that is — if your children can’t afford to buy a house and are living with you — think about why this happening — just think about it.

Corbyn’s Victories — Ignored & Dismissed By The Establishment

Contrary to the mainstream narrative Labour has performed quite well under Corbyn — including securing and increasing the Labour vote share in many areas.

Business Insider pointed out the fact that The Tories lost more seats than Labour during the last local elections, with Labour making significant vote gains.

Labour also — very surprisingly — won seats in the City of London local election — the City of London voting for Labour — really?

And then we have the by-election results — which show — aside from the Copeland loss — that Labour has not only held onto but gained support.

Mixed Picture — Let’s Take It To The Tories

All in all, then this election is nowhere as clear cut as it first appears — it is in this spirit that we must make the most of the chance to get rid of the Tories before 2020 — a whole 3 years earlier than expected!

The Tories have decimated our country — millions more living in poverty — nearly a million more children living in poverty due to the Tories — children returning back to school after the holidays suffering from malnutrition — the return of diseases not seen since the victorian age — the humiliating rise and use of food banks — the thousands who have died as result of the DWP — the 100’s (probably more) who have killed themselves because of so-called welfare reform. Schools which are being defunded and run into the ground — parents now expected to pay for their child’s education — teacher’s threatening to go on strike over SATS tests — hospitals being closed — hospitals without enough trollies — pay frozen for all eternity — decreasing living standards with no end in sight — a banking sector which runs this country and decides government policy, leaving the rest of us to rot.

Our own chancellor personally benefitted from his own budget because of his business interests. These people literally take the p*ss out of us — is this not the kind of thing we associate with corrupt third world dictatorships? Election fraud, cutting business tax to benefit your own business, handouts to billionaire and the top 1% — we should feel such a deep shame that these people are anywhere near power, let alone in power.

The list is endless of atrocities is endless.

Is this what you want from your country?

Given this web of evil and chaos weaved and created by the Tories you would think that voting for an alternative would be a no-brainer — yet still May’s hubris shines through, supported as she is by the majority of the establishment who will be happy to sacrifice the rest of us — just to make sure they kill of Corbyn once and for all.

We are told without real reason that Corbyn is unelectable — this is a testament to an establishment mindset that has decided that political elites who proceed over the decimation of our own country are inherently electable — and those who challenge it and fight for the people are not.

Optimism —  Snap Election Is Bringing The Left Together

One of the optimistic developments springing forth from May’s announcement is that Labour supporters are being brought together as opposed to fighting among themselves about whether or not Corbyn should be the leader — this is one of the best aspects of the snap GE – a chance to settle the ongoing infighting (for now).

The PLP itself, of course, will not unite behind Corbyn, and neither — in all likelihood — with the so-called left establishment media — such as the Guardian — who may make some limp wristed arguments as to why people should support Corbyn at the polls — no doubt they will be centred mainly around the fact that if he wins they can get rid of him shortly afterwards, or something like that — who knows.

In a way then the GE is quite welcome  — sink or swim time — most in the establishment expect Corbyn’s Labour to sink and are willing, gleefully for it to happen. Those who actually have some sort of moral fiber need to realize that if Corbyn sinks he takes down the future of the NHS with him (at least for the short term) and the myriad of other consequences this will have that will damage our country — including Brexit — who’s Brexit would they rather have? May’s or Corbyn’s?

The Death Of The Center — The Future Fight Against Austerity & Neo-Liberalism

Whether or not Corbyn wins the fundamental nature of centrist politics is falling apart — that doesn’t stop just if Corbyn loses the next general election. Everywhere we look we see the same thing happening. This makes the current political climate unpredictable, not just now, but well into the future.

The future is in reality in the hands not of the baby boomers, or the gray vote much relied on by the Tories to win — but in the hands of the young: those of us who have grown up entirely under the neo-liberal system, those who want something more than this eternal misery.

We are also the ones leading the fightback against the neo-liberal assault — from Sander’s supporters in the US, to Corbyn’s here: it is no accident that these old school new deal style socialists gain the support of the young: it’s the first time in our lives that anybody has actually challenged the neo-liberal orthodoxy.

Therefore it follows that eventually, our generation will take over, and therefore we have the greatest chance of actually ending this nightmare. Whether it be through Corbyn, or means yet to be realized.

For now though, let’s all focus on the fight ahead — focus on the issues that are tearing this country apart, and make it clear that we want more than the scraps and torment the Tories give us year after year.

The sad thing is we’ve been conditioned into believing there is no alternative — this isn’t true, nor was it ever, and now is the chance to demonstrate that.

In the words of the hip-hop wisdom dropping group the Roots “it’s now or never”.

Let’s choose now.

WATCH — Corbyn pummels May over her refusal to take part in TV debates, and her consistent track record of bare faced lying.

featured image polling
You can follow Chris Turnbull on twitter at @EnemyOfTheState or at his webpage Enemy of the state