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Showing posts with label Scottish Labour Party Conference 2010. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scottish Labour Party Conference 2010. Show all posts

Friday, 1 April 2011

Rotten boroughs - Glasgow City Council

Private Eye runs a feature called rotten boroughs. Quite how Glasgow City Council has escaped its notice of late is puzzling. Or maybe I missed it.

This Labour-controlled council has gone through scandal after scandal in the last couple of years, of which I need only mention Purcell, the ALEOs, the PTA, the Ccommonwealth Games clearances and the Jaconelli outrage.

A quivering, noxious, sticky web of questionable relationships and behaviour that embraced drug dealers, media, gangsters, PR firms, property developers, etc. has been regularly probed by those media channels who were not themselves enmeshed in it in one way or another, but to little avail.

Are there honest men and women in Glasgow City Council and the Glasgow Labour Party? Of course there are, and in significant numbers. But they are either impotent or timid - or downright afraid, with honourable exceptions.

I despaired of Glasgow Labour a long, long time ago but retained a blind loyalty to the Party until Iraq and all that followed. That kind of blind loyalty was challenged by what can now be seen as the false dawn of the Glasgow East by-election, when for a brief moment the voters of Glasgow East took the blinkers off and rejected the party that had crushed the heart and soul out of them, only to revert to the reflex Labour vote at the 2010 general election.

The Glasgow North East (Springburn) by-election was the most obvious example of this kind of voting-against-reality syndrome, when, following the ignominious resignation the the Speaker of the House of Commons - their MP Michael Martin - and the unfolding criminal behaviour of Labour MPs and Lords, they returned yet another Labour MP to Westminster.

Labour, especially Glasgow Labour, has systematically betrayed the interests of trades unions, their main party funders. To be more accurate, they have betrayed the interests of trade union members, but advanced the interests and political ambitions of  some trades union officials, who have never doubted where their unswerving loyalty lay - not to their members, but to the Labour Party machine that was going advance their ambitions.

Today, we have the latest manifestation of this in a Herald story, headlined Council chief under fire for perks as staff lose their jobs.

Even the unions found this a bitter pill to swallow - although swallow it they will as the Glasgow Tammany Hall persuaders and patronage promisers do their rounds. But the acceptance of lavish hospitality from the successful bidders for lucrative council contracts and sub-contracts that the unions claim are at the expense of in-house council workers, by the man at the eye of the storm, Robert Booth, head of GCC’s roads, parks and environmental health , will not easily be explained away by full-time union officials to their members.

Glasgow City Council’s feeble explanations for this are too laughable to repeat here. Even Eddie Izzard, an English comedian who chose to make a celebrity intervention in the Springburn by-election might find difficulty with them.

But this latest debacle, which will be speedily ended by George Square if they can get away with it, is only the tip of a big iceberg floating unstoppably towards the golden brown marble staircases of the City Chambers, and may even cause some of those on the lower decks of this Titanic to stop singing Rule Brittannia and voting for the Unionist Nuclear WMD Labour Party in Scotland.

Who knows, even the trades union officials may be roused from their torpor and actually act in the interests of their members.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Scottish Labour and Defence–follow the money

Some correspondents have taken me to task by private email for alleged hyperbole in the following extract from my blog The speech that Iain Gray should have delivered at Oban to the party faithful, a fictional version by me of what I felt Iain Gray should have said at Oban.

Public spending in this country prior to the global financial collapse was not just out of control under our stewardship, it was totally corrupted by large scale rip-offs on expenses by Labour MPs and ministers under the protection of their shop steward, Michael Martin, now the noble Lord Martin of Something or Other, and by a combination of incompetence on defence procurement at the MOD, and obscenely fat profits for armament companies, which contributed significantly to the fortunes of former members of our government who were also directors of such armament companies, or consultants to them. Meanwhile, our brave soldiers died because of equipment failures.

That there was - and is - incompetence on defence procurement at the MOD is not a proposition that anyone seriously questions, after a barrage of documentaries and exposés. That defence companies and armaments manufacturers profited from this is undeniable – poor procurement practices always benefit certain suppliers.

That former members of the Labour Government profited from directorships and consultancies that they held because of their experience of defence matters while in government can hardly be seriously questioned.

I do not suggest corruption or illegal activities in such relationships – the really sad thing is that it is all completely legal, above board and open to public scrutiny.

A single example will suffice to demonstrate this – Adam Ingram, Labour politician, former Member of Parliament (he stood down at the May 2010 general election) and the longest serving Defence Minister in British history – 2001 -2007. A former trade union official and computer analyst, he entered politics in East Kilbride District Council in the 1980s.

A few facts of interest about Adam Ingram, derived from the excellent They Work for You site - link -

How Adam Ingram voted on key issues since 2001:

Voted strongly for introducing student top-up fees.

Voted moderately against laws to stop climate change.

Voted strongly for introducing ID cards.

Voted very strongly for replacing Trident.

Voted very strongly for Labour's anti-terrorism laws.

Voted moderately for a stricter asylum system.

Voted moderately for allowing ministers to intervene in inquests.

Voted very strongly for the Iraq war.

Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war.

Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence (11 Jun 2001 to 28 Jun 2007)

Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (5 May 1997 to 11 Jun 2001)

Register of Members’ Interests

Remunerated directorships -

Non-executive Chairman of SignPoint Secure Ltd. emergency communications. (£45,001-£50,000)

(My note – a Freedom of Information Request to the MOD in 2008 on the MOD, contracts and Adam Ingram

08-09-2008-071953-008 06/10/2008

Copy of RFI 20-05-2008-094922-004

(Details of any communication and/or meetings between MOD/Adam Ingram and Signpoint Secure Ltd and details of any contracts between the MOD and Signpoint Secure Ltd made in the last two years.

The purpose and outcome of this FOI request is unknown to me at this time.)

Adam Ingram Advisory Limited, set up May 2008, to undertake consultancy work, to which is payable income from the following:

Non-executive Chairman of Argus Scotland Ltd; design and construction services in the urban environment. (£20,001-£25,000). Payments to be made on an annual basis.

Director, International School for Security and Explosives Education (ISSEE) (non-executive). Address: 3 Wesley Gate, Queens Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 4AP. Attend meetings and offer advice. (£10,001-£15,000).

Received payment of £1,150 (including VAT). Hours: 3hrs. (Registered 31 August 2009)

Consultant to Argus Libya UK LLP; design and construction services in the urban environment. (£20,001-£25,000). Payments to be made on an annual basis.

Consultant to Argus (Scotland) Ltd, Ravenstone House, 4 Ravenstone Drive, Glasgow, G46 6AL. Attend meetings and offer advice.

Received payment of £2,300. Hours: 5hrs. (Registered 31 August 2009)

Consultant to Electronic Data Systems Ltd (EDS); provision of IT services to public and private sector clients in the UK. (£50,001-£55,000)

5. Gifts, benefits and hospitality (UK)

28 June 2009, visit to Biggin Hill Air Show as guest of BSkyB. Overnight stay, dinner and entry to the show for my wife and I. (Registered 30 June 2009)

6. Overseas visits

23-26 February 2009, to Bahrain, to participate in Bahrain Security Forum as speaker. Return flight, business class, and three nights accommodation in Bahrain funded by RUSI and the Kingdom of Bahrain. (Registered 3 March 2009)

Register last updated: 12 Apr 2010. More about the Register

March 2010 – The Telegraph

A story that broke under the Lobbygate scandal, around the time Adam Ingram decided to stand down as an MP. Telegraph link

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The speech that Iain Gray should have delivered at Oban to the party faithful.

NOTE: Iain Gray didn’t say this – but he should have …

The speech to Scottish Conference that Iain Gray MSP, Leader of Labour in the Scottish Parliament should have made.

Thank you, conference …

You know conference, we meet this week in troubled times, troubled mainly because of what New Labour did over thirteen wasted years.   But it is in troubled times that Labour people turn their face to the wall and put their bums oot the windae – not an easy feat, even for me, conference.

For 13 years, Labour councillors, MSPs and MPs across Scotland were the only protection working people had at UK level against the assault on their living standards, their services and their very future – and they failed them, monumentally and disgracefully. (Only the SNP were able to limit the damage, but I’ll swiftly move on past that inconvenient point …)
.

Labour values, Labour principles and Labour people the only bulwark against the Tories and their fellow travellers - and the bulwark collapsed as New Labour turned into Tories Lite under Blair, Brown, Mandelson and Campbell, with Scottish Labour acting out the role of supine cheerleaders.

So where stands Scotland now? Well, I looked at map, and it seems to be wee country somewhere north of England, in fact, I think I live in it …

The global financial crash - for which the Labour Government were woefully unprepared - left our country with huge debts to pay. The collapse of our two biggest Scottish banks shook our confidence and required a rescue package that has almost bankrupted the nation. The Labour government held our economy together with the kind of panic stricken action that only Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling were capable of, demonstrating that confidence of Labour supporters in them was woefully misplaced. They hung a millstone of debt round the nations neck, and ensured that only the poor and vulnerable would pay it off, and the likes of Tony Blair and his wife, who had become extremely rich (estimated fortune £60m) and who got the hell out in good time before the bubble burst, would escape unscathed.

We are past masters at the rewriting of history, and we deliberately sabotaged the chances of a Rainbow Coalition because we were terrified to clear up our own mess.

Public spending in this country prior to the global financial collapse was not just out of control under our stewardship, it was totally corrupted by large scale rip-offs on expenses by Labour MPs and ministers under the protection of their shop steward, Michael Martin, now the noble Lord Martin of Something or Other, and by a combination of incompetence on defence procurement at the MOD, and obscenely fat profits for armament companies, which contributed significantly to the fortunes of former members of our government who were also directors of such armament companies, or consultants to them. Meanwhile, our brave soldiers died because of equipment failures.

That misspending was a necessity to ensure substantial private wealth for those who had toed the party line, and to support the wars, invasions and general mayhem launched by our greatest electoral vote winner and richest former Labourite, Tony Blair. Our public finances were unsustainable, and our spending had little relevance to the needs and priorities of the people – well, the poor people, anyway. Inflation was low and so was unemployment as we waited to jump ship before a bow wave sank the economy. You’d think by the way they are acting now that the Conservatives and the Liberals had counselled us against spending, but of course they didn’t, because they were up to their necks in it at every turn – they knew a good thing when they saw it!

Yes, the bailout of our banks has left us with a deficit that has to be paid down over time, but hey, we’re safe –and rich – on the side lines for the moment, having had a collective lobotomy to forget what we did to the people and the Labour Party.

There is always a space for progress. There is always room for fairness. A time for justice. A moment for peace. The place for equality. But we never found any of them. Our values had vanished like snaw aff a dyke in the toughest of times, through war and depression that we caused with our bosom friend, George W. Bush - our movement has destroyed the lives of millions, impoverished even more, and destroyed hope for the dispossessed and made the weak even weaker.

A Tory government in Westminster putting hundreds of thousands on the dole and cutting the dole when they get there. Putting up rents and cutting housing benefit.  Punishing the poor and caring nothing for our communities, continuing the work that we started, and compounding our folly while in office.

Look at RAF Kinloss – where is that again, Conference? Up north somewhere? The heart ripped out of a whole county at a stroke, but a county safely distanced from Westminster - so we can safely ignore it.  And now they threaten to come back for more with Lossiemouth under threat. 

These are not strategic decisions.  These are doctrinaire cuts, of the kind we would have made, being devoid of any concept of the defence of Scotland except WMDs.

Next Sunday I will join the rally in Lossiemouth to save that base, incognito, wearing a mask and protective clothing in case the good people up there understand what Labour did to them. I will take your message of solidarity and support to those people fighting for their community, and do my best to duck when the rotten apples come at me.

But Conference,  Labour created the Scottish Parliament in the hope that it would defuse the fight for independence and cover up the theft of Scottish Oil by Westminster – we sure as hell didn’t create it for times like these.

There are tough decisions ahead. Our budget has been cut faster and deeper than is safe or necessary. But we must deal with the consequences of that. And we will have to be honest with the people of Scotland, which won’t be easy, because we never have been before. No false prospectus of ever more lavish spending proposals – there’s nae money left, as our outgoing guy jokingly told his successor.

If elected in May there will be decisions we do not wish to make, like telling the truth, or doing things for the people of Scotland instead of ourselves. But we will stoop to the challenge, with our vacuum of values and principles at the heart of every decision.

We cannot avoid the consequences of the collapse of our Scottish banks, although we’ve done our level best to try, by sabotaging the Rainbow Coalition. We cannot avoid the consequences of these Tory cuts. But we can protect ourselves – the Labour apparatchiks, that is and we shall convince the trades unions who bankroll us, and who put us in government that we are on their side, against the massive weight of evidence to the contrary.

But under no circumstance must we show the people of Scotland that there is another way, a better way. We can set a new standard for blaming everything on everybody else, and douse the final glimmerings of light to those who are losing hope. Labour will, with luck, stagger onto the Holyrood bridge and further impoverish the lives of the people of Scotland, something we have done for generations.

First Scotland and then the United Kingdom, when Ed Miliband is elected Prime Minister.


So where stands Scottish Labour now?

In good shape.  In good heart.  In good spirits.  Taking comfort from a general election where one million Scots put their trust in Labour, against all common sense, because of a combination of blind loyalty to a failed party and hatred of the Tories.  Buoyed by a leadership election in which Labour temporarily and expediently acknowledged its worse sin – Iraq - we found a leader who inspired this conference yesterday. We would have been just as happy with his Big Brother David, or even our beloved Tony, but that’s another story, conference …

And ready. Ready conference for an election to come.  Doors we will knock. Leaflets we will deliver.  Arguments we will make.  Lies we will tell. Wool we will pull over eyes. Syntax we will mangle … An election we can win if the Scottish people don’t wake up suddenly. Promises of patronage we will dispense. Residual principles we will dump.

I say this to you not to boast.  Not to brag. I have little to boast or brag about, frankly – but I will bluster.   I leave political analysis, economic competence and common humanity to those to whom it comes more naturally, such as the SNP.

And remember, above all, I love Scotland too much to support it in its fight for the one thing that could transform the lives of the people of Scotland and make our nation great again – full fiscal autonomy, followed in time by full independence. I know which side my bread is buttered on, and who supplies it. I didnae come up the Thames oan a bike, comrade capitalists.