August 5, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Tonight begins the last lap of the Referendum debate. With only 44 days to go before the vote many people have now settled on their Yes or No. According to the polls, a good proportion still remain to be convinced one way or the other.

So the debate at 8pm tonight between Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister and Alistair Darling, head of the UK Better Together campaign in the Royal Scottish Conservatoire in Glasgow may help make up minds.

Let’s hope it will be a true debate. With a balance of views being presented and questions from the selected audience of 350 being answered honestly. It would be a pity if it descended into the stairheid rammy of Nicola Sturgeon and Johann Lamont.

The setting and the format lend themselves to true discussion and open debate. STV’s political editor, Bernard Ponsonby will chair the session.

And before a word is spoken, the bookies are backing Salmond to ‘win’. But whether he does or doesn’t tonight. The critical factor is that both leaders tonight move more people to register to vote and persuade those who have a vote to use it.

First victim of helicopter crash, named

December 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The first of the eight victims of the helicopter which crashed into the Clutha Vaults pub, has been identified. He was Gary Arthur, aged 48 from the Paisley area. His family has been informed.

Throughout the night, emergency workers will continue to stabilise the site on Glasgow’s riverside, to make it safe for searches for bodies. Police sniffer dogs have already been deployed. Chief Constable Sir Stephen House said: ‘We are dealing with a very sensitive and complex operation.’  The remains of the helicopter have to be removed from the building to enable save searches of the remainder of the popular pub.

An estimated 120 people were in the building listening to the band Esperanza.  Police Scotland reported, mid afternoon on Saturday, that eight people were dead including the two police officers and the civilian pilot in the helicopter.  More than 30 people were taken to hospital after the incident late on Friday night and 14 of them were reported to be serious, mostly with head and chest injuries.

People anxious to find missing relatives who were believed to be in the pub that night  are asked to call the Police Scotland Casualty Bureau number – 0800 092 0410.

The Queen and UK Prime Minister David Cameron were among the first to offer their condolences. Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and later, his deputy, Nicola Sturgeon have both attended the site of the tragedy.

Prayers will be said in Churches of all denominations on Sunday. Special prayers were said at the nearby St Andrew’s Cathedral in Clyde Street at the Saturday Mass which was led by Archbishop  Tartaglia  who said: ‘I was distressed by the news. My heart goes out to all those who have been affected by this tragic accident.’

Priests from the Cathedral parish have been offering assistance during the search and rescue operations. One of  them, Monsignor Christopher McElroy, said: ‘We shall hold the deceased, the injured and those still engaged in the rescue and recovery at the Clutha in our thoughts and in our prayers.’


Maybe aye or maybe naw!

September 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

18 September 2013

The Yes, No and Not Yet Decided debates have one year to go before the people of Scotland have to make up their minds and cast a vote in the Referendum.

History will be made on 18 September 2014 when the people of Scotland have to answer the question: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’

In the interests of the 5000 unique visitors Google Analytical says visit this website each month, the  www.localnewsglasgow.co.uk    reporter has been to a Yes and a No campaign meeting.

To be strictly accurate, the No people operate under the official banner of ‘Better Together.’

And while both had the regular format of chairperson introducing four speakers, the mood and tenor of each occasion was very different.

Sounding positive and aspirational was a recent gathering in Maryhill Burgh Halls where Bob Doris, an SNP MSP, chaired for Yes Scotland with an audience of around 200. The line up was John Paul Tonner from the Labour for Independence group; Carolyn Leckie from the Women for Independence group; retired politician Dennis Canavan, Chair of the Yes Scotland campaign and Cat Boyd from the Trade Unions for Independence group.

At the Mitchell Library some days earlier, the ‘Better Together’ campaign fielded former Chancellor Alistair Darling along with Scottish Labour Party Leader Johann Lamont, Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie and Ruth Davidson Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. The audience of around 300 saw a professional, big screen video. It had a variety of Scottish people of varied age speaking in a variety of regional accents, all saying why they will vote ‘No’: because they believe the nations would be ‘Better Together.’

It was unfortunate for the speakers that they were seated directly in front of the screen on the stage. They would have had a very sore neck if they’d turned round and watched the show. But to the audience watching and listening, the speakers were clearly visible. Both Alistair Darling and Johann Lamont busied themselves with reading their notes during the screening while Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie made attempts to watch and listen.

Setting the tone for the speakers, Johann Lamont said she was delighted to be at the event. ‘I’m a proud Scot. I love Scotland and its people and dearly believe we will stay stronger in the United Kingdom.’ She said Scotland deserved better and was currently ‘on pause’ because Alex Salmond wouldn’t address the issues around the referendum. ‘I believe there is more that binds us than divides us. Alex Salmond believes he is a Tartan Messiah who, uniquely, speaks for Scotland. He does NOT!’ she emphasised. ‘This is not a fight between Scotland and England. It is a fight between Scotland and Salmond and Scotland is going to win.’ Speaking of the ‘shared vision’ within the UK rather than a political ‘shouting’ match, she concluded: ‘I enthusiastically embrace the opportunities to work in partnership to make Scotland a place that is better than the past.’

Lib Dem Scottish Leader Willie Rennie said that as part of the UK, Scotland had the ‘best of both worlds. It is up to us to keep it that way.’ He insisted that while the Scottish Nationalists were right about the success of the Scottish Parliament they were wrong to believe the only way to protect that was apart. ‘With Johann and Ruth we have achieved change in Scotland by coming together.’

Ruth Davidson, Scottish Conservative Leader said she was talking personally and reflected on her three years as a Territorial Army reserve. ‘I was so proud we stopped the slaughter in Kosova. Our armed forces are truly inseparable as is our NHS.’ She highlighted the job opportunities for young people and the value of exports to ‘our partners across the way.’ Control of health, Police and Parliament gave the ‘best of both worlds.’ She added: ‘Security with our armed forces and our NHS means we get the best of both worlds and stand up better together.’

Alistair Darling who is Chairman of the Better Together Campaign said plainly: ‘The stakes are high. Even if we win by only one vote we will have won.’ He urged his audience to help: ‘Point out the case for the UK. Our opportunities come through being a part of a larger country. That applies to jobs, health and education. We are part of a larger economy and of a UK we helped build. It has such a good influence in the world.’ He added: ‘I am a proud Scot and a proud Brit. I don’t see why I have to choose one or the other. I want to be both.’ As Chancellor of the Exchequer who handled the economic crisis when the banks collapsed, he said: ‘Panama uses the US dollar so their currency rate is set by a foreign government. They allow another country to decide how much they can spend and borrow. I used to run the Treasury. If you use a foreign treasury you have no democratic control of your finances. When the RBS ran out of money I asked them – how long can you last? – the answer was three hours. I was able to save the situation and stop that happening only because the UK had the strength behind it. An independent Scotland could never have done that.’

He said: Whether it is currency security or eavesdropping on the BBC – which Scotland would as a foreign country – we can’t walk away from that kind of co-operation. We have strength as the UK We are bigger, better and stronger together.’

Dorothy Kelly from Dunblane is a keen supporter of 'Better Together.'

Two members of the audience were united with the speakers. ‘I’m not political,’ said Dorothy Kelly from Dunblane, who recently retired as a secretary from Stirling University. ‘But I really believe in the UK together. Separation would cause problems. I’ll be voting ‘No’ to protect the union.’

Hamish McArthur is studying social science and politics at Stirling. He said: ‘I’ve got my own NO Campaign on facebook and will be voting No to Scottish independence.’ Originally from Hagshill, Glasgow, he said: ‘There is so much on line. There is a real public forum and a big lot of information. We’ve five or six students involved from all political parties. It’s good and gets everyone engaged.’

Hamish McArthur has set up a Facebook page to debate Better Together.

The member of the public who took most attention at the Maryhill and Springburn ‘Yes’ Campaign meeting in Maryhill Burgh Halls a few days later, was Julie Hyslop who runs the local food bank. She said: ‘The Food Bank is not there to do the job of the benefits agency. But it is clear that if we didn’t feed people they’d starve. It is a disgrace. Working class people have been misrepresented and abandoned. I hope for change.’

Chairman Bob Doris said: ‘The Referendum decision is not a party political one. It is too important to leave it to the politicians. If we leave it to them we’ll lose. The best way is to bring the discussion back to the community. That’s what it is all about.’

First speaker, Cat Boyd of Trade Unions for Independence, said: ‘I work in a low paid area and conditions are getting worse. The 1% cap on wages is effectively a wage cut. There is not a 7% wages hike. Instead, there is a constant attack on jobs, pay and pensions. The Westminster government refuses to negotiate.’ She said she was ‘gobsmacked’ to hear Ed Miliband proposed to cap winter fuel allowance. ‘That, along with the Falkirk Labour candidate scandal gives enough reason to vote YES!’

Coming from a strong trade union background she said trade unions were the largest democratic bodies around. They were fighting to stop the NHS from being decimated and challenging the Victorian style poverty of today. ‘Economic justice, equality and solidarity are core trade union values. ‘We’re in our fifth recession of recent times yet there is a record number of billionaires. Solidarity is collective power. We should be demanding that the anti-trade union laws in Scotland be abolished,’ said Cat to loud applause. She went on: ‘The British thirst for war in Ireland and Iraq is an attack on ordinary people. Let Scotland break away from that. It is so long since I had any cause to hope. Now 18 September 2014 opens the possibility for radical change for us.’

She was followed by John Paul Tonner, youth officer for Labour for Independence. A modern studies teacher he said people in Scotland should ask themselves the question: ‘What kind of society do I want to live in?’

‘Some think there is nothing wrong with the society we live in. But do you want to have 74% of the government being millionaires? Do you want the welfare state to be equated to a parasite? Do you want institutions to be sold off? I don’t.’

He said his heart sinks when he hears students and colleagues saying Scotland is too poor or too wee and daft a country to go it alone. ‘Is child poverty all we can hope for from a Parliament we didn’t vote for, hundreds of miles away?’ He added: ‘We are only one pen stroke away from being the change we want in the world. It will not be a tartan Utopia with whisky drinking, bagpipe playing people. It can be a 21st century nation we can be proud of and we can be part of its just dynamics.’

Castigating the ‘imposters’ who are the Labour Party today, he said to loud applause: We must reclaim the Labour Party. We, the people, are labour.’

He continued: ‘If we want equality, fairness and social justice we have got to reclaim labour from London. The YES campaign provides the needed social conscience and a positive alternative. We can make a difference by using our energy and getting involved to make things better. We can listen, inspire and have a society we are proud of – have a Labour party we can be proud of.’

Added Chairman Bob Doris: ‘Just as independence doesn’t belong to the SNP, so the labour movement does belong to the Labour Party.’

The top table at the Maryhill Yes Campaign night. (from left) John Paul Tonner, Carolyn Leckie, Bob Doris, Dennis Canavan, Cat Boyd

Former MSP Carolyn Leckie then took the floor to speak on behalf of Women for Independence, a feminist collective. ‘The majority of women are unlikely to be inspired by men in suits,’ she started. ‘The fact is that 52% of the population is female. We need to persuade women. But first we need to listen to women.’ She said she believed in a pluralistic, autonomous, inclusive society. ‘Opinion polls say more people will vote for independence if they believe it will make them £500 better off. But my family – along with thousands of others – has lost an awful lot more in the past five years.’

She said that people in crisis had to wait 15 days for a social work crisis grant and were referred to a website and a food bank for help. ‘This does not match our aspirations,’ she said. ‘There is no guaranteed destination. But we have to take a risk. What are the odds on Miliband becoming Prime Minister? We have to weigh up the risks and opportunities and take responsibility for our own decision.’

She likened it to the process of deciding to borrow money to buy a car. ‘We take a risk going for a loan. We take a risk buying a car. Every day we take risks. The NHS, privatisation of the Royal Mail and the Post Office are all at risk. Break the rules and some people are jailed for ten years yet the bankers get bonuses and rewards for defrauding the rest of us,’ she said angrily to a supportive audience. ‘The biggest risk of all is that we are governed by a Westminster government in whatever guise it might be.’

She went on: ‘We have a right to make an arse of it. It’s our right and our arse. The Referendum is the one and only chance for the people of Scotland to say what they want. We must take that risk. And it is only a wee risk. We are not risking life and limb as some people in other countries do. Simply, we must stand up and be counted and put a cross on a ballot paper.’ She reflected: ‘Think about looking back afterwards and knowing if we did, or did not do that one, simple thing.’

Concluding she said: ‘If everyone who thinks like I do, can go out and persuade one more person we’d have a landslide vote for Yes! Go out and do it!’

The final speaker was Dennis Canavan, Chair of the Vote Yes Campaign who outlined his ‘political journey to independence.’

‘ I didn’t always believe in the cause of independence,’ said the former Falkirk MP who served at Westminster for 26 years followed by 8 years as an independent MSP. ”I’ve been retired for six years and had time to reflect and think. I’ve come to the conclusion that Westminster is completely out of touch with the people of Scotland. The Scottish Parliament is not perfect but judging by its track record over 14 years it has been positively responsive, by and large, to the wishes, needs and aspirations of the people.’

Quoting the Bible in Scots he said: ‘By their deeds shall ye ken them.’ He went on to weigh government in the balance and said. ‘Students are far better off at a Scottish university than south of the border. I went to university in the 1960s when it was the best funded and supported education system of any in the world. Even Maggie Thatcher never abolished student grants. But I was appalled when Tony Blair abolished them and brought in tuition fees. The Labour cabinet of John Reid – Lord Reid now – Gordon Brown and David Blunkett had all been beneficiaries of free education. They had the chance to stop this. But I couldn’t believe it when they kicked away the ladder of opportunity.’

He went on: ‘Senior citizens have free personal care in Scotland. In England they pay for it. The Scottish Parliament fully implemented a fairer system of help including free prescriptions. Frankly, I’m appalled to hear the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party castigating these benefits. She calls them ‘something for nothing.’ Nye Bevin and Keir Hardie must be birlin’ in their graves. Is free education or free NHS care, ‘just a ‘sweetie’, as she puts it? These were the two great pillars of the founders of the Labour Party.’


Resistance to destitution grows

April 13, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

Some of the crowd who attended the rally

Resistance is growing to the fact that as many as 140 asylum seekers will be made destitute in Glasgow in the next few weeks.

This follows a change of provider of accommodation from Ypeople, a British based Christian charity, to Serco an international conglomerate providing essential services in more than 30 countries. In the UK it runs electronic tagging, video surveillance, nuclear weapons maintenance, several prisons and two immigration removal centres.

At a rally of around 200 people on Thursday 12 April 2012, at the foot of the Red Road flats which are home to many asylum seekers, speaker after speaker spoke out against the inhumanity of putting vulnerable people onto the streets.

Chair of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Glasgow, John Matthews, told the crowd: ‘In Europe in living memory Jews were first of all refused the right to work, then removed from their homes. I see Glasgow going that way more and more with the asylum seekers. Asylum is a right under the United Nations Convention so don’t be put off by this struggle.’ The NUJ is the first trades union to count journalists who are seeking asylum, as full members of the union and it is encouraging other trades unions to do the same.

Jim Main of UNISON said that Ypeople’s proposal to throw out asylum seekers from their accommodation was ‘outrageous.’ He went on: ‘We will fight this through every trades unions branch. This is a civil emergency and we must demonstrate to prevent this happening. We must show we are a Glasgow that cares. Everyone must ask questions of people in power.’

Speaking as a Justice and Peace campaigner for the Catholic church, Carol Clarke stated: ‘People must be given human dignity and that means a roof over their head.’

College lecturer, Barrie Levine, praised the Scottish Government for its ‘excellent support.’ Both First Minister Alex Salmond and his Deputy Nicola Sturgeon had sent apologies and messages of support to the rally organisers. Said Barrie: ‘That is excellent, but I want to see Alex Salmond make representation to the UK Government which controls UK Borders Agency (UKBA) and I want to see him fully support our protests and make sure civilised values are brought into play. The Big Society should be called the Sick Society. It is a scandal that people are being made destitute and put onto the street. Make no mistake, Serco has this £175 million contract. But the Ypeople’s Board should hang their heads in shame. There is no need to evict anyone right now.’

In her address to the crowd, SNP MSP, Sandra White, said: ‘we have proposed practical ways forward. The Ypeople have a window of opportunity as they do not need to evict anyone till November. We have asked the Scottish Parliament Secretary for External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, to make our views known at Westminster. We are asking for the people who cannot be returned to places like Iran, Iraq and Somali because of wars, to be granted refugee status.’

Afro-Caribbean centre organiser Graham Campbell said: ‘The Ypeople Board should not be allowed to do this. It is disgusting. We should all tell them that in writing. The Afro-Caribbean Centre charity is refusing to work with Ypeople till it withdraws the threat of making destitute asylum seekers, homeless. It is a UK government issue and we must demand it be stopped.’

In a passionate speech, Angela McCormick of the Stop the War Coalition, declared: ‘We are here today to show Serco, Ypeople, Glasgow City Council, and everyone else that we will stand with those who have fled oppression – usually war. The link between this Coalition and the asylum seekers is that many of them have fled from war zones, bombs, missiles and weapons of destruction. They have come here seeking sanctuary. But how do we treat them? They are made destitute, kept in poverty and now being forced out of their homes.’ She added: ‘I believe we are the sensible majority. We do not want this to happen. Remember the people who fuelled the wars which caused the asylum seekers to flee in the first instance are the very people who make money from selling the missles and weapons of war.’

Organised by the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees, master of ceremonies, Jock Morris commented: ‘We want to send a statement to the UK Government and the Scottish Government saying lound and clear – refugees and asylum seekers are WELCOME HERE.’ On a show of hands practically everyone in the crowd agreed with the statement.

‘We are now organising another, bigger rally at the STUC in Woodlands Road, on Tuesday 17 April 2012 to decide on the best way forward, together,’  said Margaret Wood of the Glasgow Campaign to Welcome Refugees. Everyone  concerned about this issue is invited.’

Currently around half a dozen destitute asylum seekers are given overnight accommodation each night in a safe, warm place, with an evening meal, a full breakfast and a takeaway lunch pack. But that number is expected to increase dramatically as soon as Ypeople start evicting asylum seekers.


SNP crowd to conference

March 10, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

SNP party leaders Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon point the way ahead in Glasgow.

But for the fire and safety regulations, it would have been standing room only on day one of the SNP’s conference in Glasgow. More than 2000 people attended and the overspill for key speeches from Leader Alex Salmond and Deputy Nicola Sturgeon were accommodated in four additional conference rooms at the SECC.

In the initial speech from Nicola Sturgeon, she recapped on the euphoria of the SNP win as it was played out last year at the count in the very same location. ‘That night will live long in our memory,’ said the politician. ‘It is a huge pleasure to be back here in the SECC.’

In a rallying call to members she said: ‘ These are exciting times. We are working to make Scotland a fair and progressive place. We want to make an election breakthrough and control Glasgow City Council. Labour is crumbling before our eyes. For the first time the SNP will have candidates in all 32 local government constituencies – including Orkney and Shetland. We need local councils to work hand in hand with the Scottish Government. We are ambitious. We want this country to be independent. But the future is in our own hands. We are masters of our own destiny. So let us work hard at persuading the people of Scotland to win the local elections in May and the referendum YES vote in 2014.’ She concluded: ‘Let’s get to work. Let’s get on with it!’

The two day party political conference will boost Glasgow’s revenue by an estimated £1million.

Two sides of the Springburn jobs market

March 9, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

The sharp disparity between jobs and joblessness was highlighted this week in Springburn. A government announcement on Wednesday said Remploy’s Springburn factory will close with the loss of 46 jobs of which 43 are held by people with disabilities.

On Friday, Scotland’s First Minister visited the nearby manufacturing base of Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft’s (RSBi) to pay tribute to its 240 award winning staff – of whom more than half have a disability.

The two establishments are within a five minute drive of each other.

On his visit, First Minister Alex Salmond said: ‘Jobs are this government’s top priority, and a major part of that is investing in workforce training and development.

The First Minister chatted with many of RSBi employees.

Employers, workers, union and communities working in partnership with government to promote workplace learning, benefits all of us – which is why it’s so important to recognise achievements like those of the STUC award winners at Royal Strathclyde Blindcraft Industries here in Darnick Street, Springburn.’

He went on: ‘Scottish Union Learning is supported financially by the Scottish Government and I’m proud of what our efforts are helping to achieve. But of course, the real credit lies with the staff here who work so hard to develop not only their own personal potential but the effectiveness of their teams. Each and every one of them has my very best wishes.’

RSBi is operated by City Building, Glasgow City Council’s arm’s-length construction firm.

City Building managing director John Foley said: ‘The First Minister’s visit today is recognition of the great job our staff are doing every day at RSBi, producing quality products for the public, private and third sectors. RSBi is a commercially successful organisation because we continue to adapt our product range to suit the evolving needs of our customers. That’s why we can employ 240 people. RSBi is not run as a charity but as a thriving social enterprise.’

Community Union – the largest trade union within RSBi – provides funding for a range of training courses via the Scottish Union Learning Fund, which is administered by the STUC.

Many RSBi staff have benefitted from training through the Fund, which has brought a direct economic benefit to individual employees and to the company as a whole.

Grahame Smith, STUC General Secretary, said: ‘The STUC Union Rep Awards highlight the invaluable contribution that trade union members make in the workplace.’

The First Minister’s visit was organised after Robert Mooney, a development officer at RSBi, was awarded the STUC One Workplace Equality Award by the First Minister in November 2011.

A registered blind person, Robert invited the First Minister to visit his workplace and witness the state-of-the-art manufacturing taking place at Springburn.

RSBi has had a presence in Glasgow for more than 200 years. The business has continued to evolve to meet the changing needs of the marketplace and currently specialises in manufacturing a wide range of products from office, domestic and educational furniture to timber kits for houses and schools and beds among many other items.

In Remploy’s factory in Edgefauld Road, the impact of the closure announcement was just sinking in. Established since 1976, it is one of the 36 out of 54 Remploy factories expected to be closed this year as not commercially viable. This is because of the Westminster Government’s decision to reduce current funding as part of a package of reforms ‘to maximise the number of disabled people supported into work.’  Of the 46 workers at Remploy in Springburn, 43 have disabilities. They manufacture steel wheelchairs. Government funding for the entire Remploy network is expected to be reduced during 2012/13 with the aim of completing changes by autumn 2013. Soon, Remploy will start discussions with trade unions and management forums to begin the formal consultation on the proposals.

After the announcement William Bain, Labour MP for Glasgow North East said: ‘This is devastating news. In my constituency there are almost 20 people chasing every vacancy. It is incredibly tough out there. There is a big enough shortage of jobs without placing strain and pressure on some of the most vulnerable members of the workforce. The way this has been sneaked out is unacceptable.’

In Glasgow last year, Employment Services found 534 jobs for disabled and disadvantaged people.



Souter in top gear at Business Club

March 7, 2012 by · 1 Comment 

Sir Brian Souter is thanked by Club President Remo Pisaneschi

Bus conductor Sir Brian Souter was just the ticket when he addressed members at Glasgow South Business Club on Thursday 23 February.

He said that Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) would lead the way out of the recession. ‘Never lose sight of the fact that SMEs create the jobs and the wealth.’

Dressed in flamboyant red shoes, the world entrepreneur – with 30,000 employees – said he enjoyed telling people he was a bus conductor when he and his sister set up a bus company in the 1980s. He is actually an astute, fully qualified accountant. In the course of his early training, he spotted the opportunity to provide a bus service between Glasgow and places such as Aberdeen and Inverness. From that experience grew the major bus company Stagecoach. He now operates Souter Investments, the family firm which recorded five major new investments in 2011 and whose personnel won top awards. With interests in Istanbul, Poland, 17 European cities and the UK, and with a minority shareholding in a new Latin American mobile virtual network under Virgin Mobile Latin America, he doesn’t seem to stop for breath.

But he admitted: ‘It was a relief on occasion to know I’d still got my home.’ He’d used his home as security and only when one deal came good unexpectedly because of a mistake in a property sale, was he able to breathe a sigh of relief.

He also said he’d learned from his mistakes. ‘We are all capable of making them,’ said Sir Brian to a full club turnout at an Ibrox stadium function suite.

On bus travel he contested: ‘Only when middle class people use the bus will that form of travel be de-stigmatised. But other things need to be in place too: the right public policies; priority lanes; buses running on time; and park and ride facilities.’

By making wi-fi available on his buses, Sir Brian’s companies had seen a high conversion rate of passengers from cars to bus. ‘But we’ve discovered a new problem – cars following our buses to avail themselves of our wi-fi!’

He shared with Club members and their guests his latest development: ‘Where a business is devoted to giving good customer service, the profits can be embarrassing large. So we now plan to put 45 sleeper coaches on the road – not the 25 that are currently available. This will change the business graph.’

In his summary he said that two things determine what happens in a company. ‘There are the mechanics of what is done, how that is controlled and audited. There there is the dynamic of ideas, passion, risk taking, vision, relationships, drive and gut feelings – all to do with people. You can have a good marriage of 25 years where the mechanics are fine but when you have a wife who can make you laugh still, you have the dynamics of a good relationship. Carry that through to business and you’ll have a really good business.’

Club President Remo Pisaneschi thanked Sir Brian for his illuminating talk and asked the first question: ‘Are you for or against Independence?

To which the reply was: ‘I’m a paid-up member of the SNP. I agree Alex Salmond is a great leader. He has vision. If you believe in democracy, if you believe in people making their own choices, then we can share Sterling, share the sovereign and share some services.’

The President went on to announce that First Minister Alex Salmond, had confirmed he’s address the next Club meeting on Tuesday 20 March. Members would have an evening buffet instead of a midday lunch. See the website for details as Members may take guests. www.glasgowsouthbusinessclub.co.uk



Campbell’s legacy lives on

November 5, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Hundreds of people packed into Falkirk Football Club’s Westfield Stadium on Friday November 4 to celebrate the life of Campbell Christie. The former General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress died, aged 74, on October 28 and was buried at a private service in Kirkcudbrightshire.

His family felt the stadium, where he’d spent many happy hours following his team and chairing the Club, was the appropriate place to hold the public tribute but warned everyone to wrap up well and be prepared to be exposed to the elements.

As it was, the day was dry and sunny and the body heat of the several hundred people who attended and the warmth of feeling for the late Campbell and for his family, helped keep everyone happy.

Current STUC General Secretary, Grahame Smith said that Campbell had taken over at the STUC in 1986 during ‘most challenging times’ for Scottish industry and workers.  ‘But he liked a challenge!’

Grahame paid tribute to his predecessor’s skills in negotiation and people management. ‘He was a master of the gentle art of persuasion,’ he said. One of Scotland’s most outstanding trade union and civic leaders, Campbell Christie led the Scottish TUC through the 1980s and 1990s. ‘He was never afraid of taking the difficult decision, even if he knew it might upset the others in the Labour movement. He always saw the bigger picture,’ said Grahame.

A message from First Minister Alex Salmond was read and said Campbell had been ‘unstinting in his public service right up to the end.’  The family expressed their thanks to Mr Salmond for his support during Campbell’s illness.

Among his many civic responsibilities, Campbell served on Boards as diverse as Forth Valley NHS Lothian,  Scottish Enterprise,  British Waterways, Age Concern Falkirk, Central Scotland Race Equality Council and the Scottish Premier League.  In Scotland, he was appointed to the Scottish Futures Forum through the Scottish Parliament and in Europe he was Vice President of the European Union Economic and Social Committee’s section for Cohesion and Economic affairs – among many other appointments. He was honoured by five universities and made CBE in the Queen’s 1997 Birthday Honours list.

Tributes were paid by his son Doug Christie, brother Leslie  and granddaughter Lindsey. And singers Dick Gaughan and MSP Cathy Peattie, also raised their voices, tunefully, to honour the man.

The stadium where the Celebration was held was opened when Campbell was Chairman of the Board of Falkirk Football Club, said present chairman, Martin Ritchie. ‘This is part of his legacy to the people of Falkirk and to the club he served so well.’

In closing, his friend Professor Andrew Scott positioned Campbell’s unique contribution in the history of Scotland. ‘He was an exceptional man who did exceptional things. All of Scotland will miss him,’ he said.

STUC ikon dies

October 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Campbell Christie who was General Secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress for 12 years till 1998, has died, aged 74, at Strathcarron Hospice in Stirlingshire.

Not only was he a champion of the trades union movement, he was a socialist who saw a wider picture and campaigned long and hard for a Scottish Parliament through the Scottish Constitutional Convention.

Said First Minister, Alex Salmond: ‘Scotland has lost a giant of the trade union movement and of public life.’

Current STUC General Secretary, Grahame Smith, said: Campbell was a tremendous ambassador for the trade union movement and for Scotland. He was one of Scotland’s most outstanding trade union and civic leaders and led people through the 1980s and 90s – some of the most challenging times for Scottish industry and Scottish workers – with tremendous skill and passion, gaining respect for himself and the STUC across the industrial and political spectrum.

‘He was never afraid of taking the difficult decision, even if he knew it might upset others in the Labour movement. He always saw the bigger picture.

‘Under Campbell’s stewardship the STUC rose above the exclusion of unions from the ‘corridors of power’ and forged relationships across Scottish society which galvanised opposition to the brutal policies of Thatcher and Major Governments. Those relationships remain in place today.’

Three times chairman of Falkirk Football Club, he was still a Director on his death on Friday 28 October. ‘He steered the Club through some of the greatest turmoil and greatest successes,’ says the Club’s website. A minute’s silence will be observed at the game on Saturday 29 October against Raith Rovers.


Overcladding survey agreed

October 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

A major survey will be carried out on Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) factored and owned properties to check how effective re-cladding and re-roofing work has been.

A recent high level meeting with Government officials, GHA and the Glasgow Home Owners and Tenants Campaign agreed that such a survey should be carried out.

There have been many complaints from tenants and home owners as evidenced by this website. Re-roofing and overcladding work, once completed, has led to problems of dampness in particular, claim many householders.

A GHA spokesman said: ‘Two independent surveys have been carried out already. The last, by the Building Research Establishment, concluded that dampness found in a very small number of homes was caused by heating and ventilation issues and NOT because of the overcladding work. However, we are co-operating fully with the Scottish Government on a further sample survey and will address any issues identified.’

On behalf of the Home Owners and Tenants Campaign, Sean Clerkin said: ‘This shows that persistence pays. We’ve been campaigning for a survey for more than two years. It is the best possible deal for Glasgow home owners and tenants.’

He commented that had Ian Gray not run away from the Campaign people who lobbied him in Central Station, they would not have gone to Alex Salmond during the election campaign. ‘The First Minister is to be praised. He’s kept his word. Not many politicians do. He said during the campaign when he met us that he would support a survey of the overcladding and re-roofing work if he should be re-elected. And he’s done exactly that.’



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