Archive for March, 2010

Iain Dale – an apology

Thursday 18 March 2010

In my post below, I referred to Nick Griffin’s Total Politics interview with Iain Dale. Unfortunately I hadn’t noticed that the press release I was quoting from was embargoed until midnight today, and I broke the embargo by blogging about it.

It’s a total accident, but a totally stupid one. As a lowly and little-read blogger I’ve got much more to lose than gain by such lapses. But more to the point, it was a breach of trust and journalistic practice, accidental or otherwise. So to Iain I say sorry, and I’ll make sure it never happens again. I am now quite embarrassed.

Incidentally, the interview did sound fascinating, and now the embargo’s off (and it’s on newsstands on Saturday) I encourage people to go and read it.

Apologies to all concerned.


Nick Griffin on immigration

Wednesday 17 March 2010

In Total Politics magazine, out on Saturday, BNP leader Nick Griffin is asked by Iain Dale to name something positive about immigration. He volunteers: “A wide range of curries is a plus. But there again, I’ve got the recipes”.

Remind you of anything?

Royal Mail’s great transparency over their new agreement

Wednesday 10 March 2010

Just to be clear, this means no official line on how many jobs will go, whether deliveries will take longer or whether people will lose out after delivery payments are abolished…
From: rene.lavanchy

Subject: Modernisation agreement – questions

Date: 9 March 2010 11:41:37 GMT


|        Subject: Modernisation agreement – questions


Dear xxxx,

Further to my call, here are questions on the modernisation agreement with

the CWU:

1) Regarding ‘Job Security/Managing The Change’ (p8) Although you want to

avoid compulsory redundancies, do you have an idea of how many people Royal

Mail will employ after modernisation is complete? If not, why not?

2) Regarding delivery spans (p23). Does this mean delivery spans will no

longer be restricted to 3.5 hours?

3) Does reducing the length of the working week increase the number of job

losses resulting from this agreement?

4) D2D payments are being phased out and replaced by a weekly flat rate of

£20.60 (p60). Can you confirm this means a pay cut for everyone who

currently delivers more than 1,233 items a week? If not, can you clarify?

5) Regarding full-time vs part-time mix (p8) does this mean an increase or

decrease in the proportion of part-time staff, compared to the current


6) Regarding travel expenses (p11) will they eventually fall for staff who

claim over £1250 a year?

My deadline is Wednesday afternoon but if I could hear back before (at

least as to whether your are able to respond) that would be very helpful.

Many thanks




Subject: Re: Modernisation agreement – questions

Date: 10 March 2010 10:26:14 GMT

To: rene.lavanchy

Hi Rene,

I can confirm that I am unable to give further information outside of that

provided by our news release and the information in the agreement.



Royal Mail Group

PCS on strike – but will it work?

Monday 8 March 2010

Today’s strike action by the Public and Commercial Services Union over cuts to redundancy pay involves “up to” 270,000 people across the country, as the BBC notes. But it may be a lot less, if the mood music I’m hearing is anything to go by.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka carefully defended his union’s actions on the Today programme this morning, drawing a line between Whitehall’s well-paid Sir Humphreys and his members, most of whom earn less than the median UK wage of about £21,000 and many of whom earn less than £15,000.

But those members are themselves unsure as to whether they should resist what some see as an unstoppable agenda of public spending cuts, no matter who gets into power. 64 per cent of voting PCS members chose to strike, on a turnout of just 31 per cent.

One militant yes-voter told me: “I don’t feel I can strike on such a lukewarm mandate. I do think there is a growing acceptance on worsening terms and conditions. I think a lot would rather have slightly less if they get laid off rather than face a greater chance of getting laid off”.

They added that they couldn’t afford to lose two days’ pay, and, because the cuts are targeted to hit the higher earners harder, they wouldn’t lose out too badly personally anyway.

If this sort of view is widespread, its bad news for the PCS for two reasons:

1) This was to be their big ticket dispute with government this year, and support is already flagging, judging by the turnout if nothing else.

2) It suggests that the trade union argument for public investment instead of cuts hasn’t won over the PCS membership, never mind the electorate. If civil servants don’t want to protect their terms and conditions, who else will?

Meanwhile, Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell has written to civil servants in no uncertain terms: