Frank McAveety and ‘Dirty Dancing’ among Labour’s Glasgow deadwood

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By Dave Taylor

As a former English teacher, Frank McAveety should have been aware of this quotation from John Dryden “Be nice to people on your way up because you might meet ’em on your way down.”

When McAveety first cut the hours of one of his constituency staff and then sacked him because “he was not fulfilling the duties expected of him”, he might have felt that Cllr Andy Muir was dispensable.

By Dave Taylor

As a former English teacher, Frank McAveety should have been aware of this quotation from John Dryden “Be nice to people on your way up because you might meet ’em on your way down.”

When McAveety first cut the hours of one of his constituency staff and then sacked him because “he was not fulfilling the duties expected of him”, he might have felt that Cllr Andy Muir was dispensable.

In fact he did, because McAveety was then allegedly part of the Labour cabal that decided that Andy Muir was also useless as a councillor and had him deselected (leaving an opening for the same downward travelling Frank McAveety to stand for Glasgow Council next May).

Employers are not always transparent in their reasons for dismissal of their employees, and there is an alternative reason for cutting McAveety’s staff.

The MSP Expenses Scheme gives an allowance for Members’ Support Allowances split into two categories – Office Cost Provision and Staff Cost Provision.

Most MSPs reasonably transfer money from office cost to staff.  It has always been unusual to transfer money the other way round.  However McAveety was one of the rare examples of an MSP cutting his staffing costs, to fund his office costs – including his mobile surgery (the infamous “McAveety’s bus”).

Mr Muir may either have been disgruntled, or found a core of moral fibre not previously apparent.  Whichever, Muir has just gone off to Strathclyde Police to allege that information in his possession, relating to Mr McAveety’s allowance claims as an MSP, suggests that the claims may have not been as pure as snow.

At least Muir was fulfilling an election pledge.  Back in 2008 his campaign literature said “Andy Muir will work hard to direct our share of extra police where local people feel they are needed”.

Strathclyde Police are probably very well aware that disgruntled employees will be bearing grudges, but can also give very useful information on activities that need investigation.  Since Muir is a member of the Strathclyde Police Authority, and sits on the Complaints and Professional Standards Committee, his complaint could hardly be summarily dismissed.

Newsnet Scotland has an interest in this story too, because on 8 March this year, we published an article on “McAveety’s bus”.

Unlike Mr Muir, we have never alleged that McAveety did anything illegal.

We noted that his response to our suggestion that his use of public monies had been inappropriate was to say that “the costs have been approved by the Parliamentary authorities and are within the overall cost envelope for office costs.”

The implication, of course, in that statement is claims have been subjected to forensic enquiry before approval. This is wholly misleading. The job of the staff at the SPCB is to ensure that there is an appropriate invoice for the claim and that it fits in with the appropriate head of expenditure, and that there is sufficient balance left to meet the claim.

The total responsibility is on the MSP to certify that the claim is appropriate in terms of “value for money “ and “efficiency and effectiveness” in line with para 1.1.2 of the Members’ Expenses Scheme.

Although Mr McAveety suggested that there were “significant inaccuracies” in our report, he failed to respond to our request that he specify these so that they could be corrected prior to publication.

Should the polis come knocking on his door, he will be required to give answers to them.

The Dirty Dancing?

If the above isn’t enough, then consider the fact that Andy Muir and Labour colleague Euan McLeod, topped up their salaries by appearing as extras in the BBC drama Lip Service, described as “sex, lies and true love among a group of twenty-something lesbians in Glasgow”.

At the time, a Labour colleague said: “Neither of these guys are what you would call natural movers and the idea of them dancing in a nightclub during the day, take after take, is just hilarious.”