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Sunday, 21 September 2014

Dysfunction at Brent Council

Returning from the Indyref campaign, I find Brent Council's dysfunctional human resources department appears to be on public display, according to a number of posts by Martin Francis, of which this is the latest. 

The Council has unsuccessfully defended itself against a claim of constructive dismissal by one of its employees.  This has opened up a series of accusations and claims.  I do not know whether all those that have been placed in the public domain are true, although the suspicion that there is something seriously wrong with the way Brent Council is run is unavoidable.  Aside from the sheer number of such claims floating around, the fact that Brent Council has had an "interim" Chief Executive for almost two years, and is likely to have one for longer than that is an obvious danger signal.  During that period other authorities such as Barnet have successfully recruited to the Chief Executive post, so either Brent has acquired a reputation that no one wants to work there, or it suits someone not to recruit.

These difficulties all ultimately stem from the removal of the former Chief Executive in late 2012.  When I asked the Council Leader for an explanation of why the Chief Executive was being removed, at significant cost to the taxpayer, I was simply refused.  To the best of my knowledge no explanation has been given to anyone subsequently.

This kind of secrecy does not enhance the reputation of any organisation.


Friday, 19 September 2014

Disaster Averted

I am mightily relieved that the United Kingdom was not destroyed by the Indyref last night.  The campaign around the referendum will set off all kinds of consequences, not least because both yes and No votes meant totally different things to different people.

Local Welfare Assistance Reprieved for Now

Little reported in the shadow of the Indyref, the government has at least for now backed off from abolishing local welfare assistance.  It looks to me that this has been forced by the incredibly slapdash way in which they made the decision being subject to a likely judicial review rather than a genuine change of heart.  If so, it may be more of a breathing space than a long term victory.  Even the threat of cutting it tends to inhibit local authorities in promoting the schemes.  The resulting low take up can then be used for to argue for outright abolition by a government intent on making the poor pay the heaviest penalties. 

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Indyref Vote Today

The day of the vote on the Indyref is finally here.  I hope it and the result both occur without violence, although I am not optimistic.  Hopefully, Scotland will vote no, and we will never have such a festival of bitterness ever again.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Indyref Distractions

Amid all the sound and fury of the Scottish Indyref, it is worth pausing to think what a huge distraction it is from other major issues.  If there is a yes vote, it will plunge the whole UK into an entirely internalised debate on constitutional arrangements.  Indeed, at this stage even a No vote would, although for  shorter period.


Where does this leave us in terms of dealing with real, pressing issues such as climate change, the continuing economic problems of Europe, the security issues in the Ukraine, Middle East and elsewhere?


Was this really the best thing everyone culd have been doing right now?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Multiple Identities and the Indyref

I think one of the aspects of the Indyref that makes it so bitter, is the inability of the Yes Campaign to accept multiple identities.


The Yes campaigners seem gripped by an idea that you can have only one ethnic identity, that determines various of your other views.  I am tempted to call this a nineteenth century notion, since it really came into its own in the age of Romanticism when being (say) German was supposed to meld the kind of music you liked, your language, literature and even a mystic feeling for the soil.  People in the actual nineteenth century may well have had a more flexible approach of the kind explored at the Common Cause exhibition.


However, Yes campaigners often seem to resent opinions from anyone who doesn't live in Scotland (except their own celebrity supporters of course), including people from the rest of the UK _ despite the obvious effects of a yes vote on those areas.  I have also heard them express hostility to EU nationals within Scotland (who are entitled to vote) in terms worthy of any UKIP extremist.  Even native born Scots living in Scotland who want a No vote get told they are not "true" Scots. 


This is not the basis of a successful nation either inside or outside the Union.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Indyref Craziness

Still pre-occupied with the Indyref craziness.  Those south of the border who think that the Scots Yes campaigners are somehow progressive should try meeting them. 


I personally have witnessed yes campaigners being openly racist, and been told by voters that they feel intimidated.  The ugliness of the campaign against Nick Robinson for simply interviewing Salmond in a way he didn't like is also a sight to behold.  People who are so determined to bully and shout down their opponents are no democrats. 


One of the effects of this kind of thing is that it tends to get outside the control of those orchestrating it.  I suspect there are now elements that the Yes campaign itself can no longer stop.  I fear that Friday will see some violence either way.  if there is a No, as I expect, we may get frustrated Yes campaigners taking it out on people.  If there is a Yes, I suspect that there will be a Jim Sillars type "Day of reckoning".


A depressing prospect either way.


UPDATE


I think "alignment" is a difficult construct in the context of the Indyref.  I am told a number of No voters are previously SNP supporters, which sounds rather odd, and a few days ago I met some Yes campaigners who were very clear that they thought their campaign had nothing to do with Alex Salmond, which is an interesting view.  Whatever the result, it will be interesting to see how it pans out across Scotland.


Incidentally, UKIP don't seem to be aligned with anyone, as the No campaign said they couldn't join since they are not a Scots party, and in their own view the whole decision is irrelevant since the Yessers want to apply to join the EU.  Of course, if the Yessers got turned down for the EU, I presume that might please any UKIP supporters there are north of the border, whereas a No vote does ensure continuing EU membership.  Altogether a rather bizarre situation for everyone.