Inherent corruption


by Peter Thomson

On the spur of the moment my wife and I sped our way from the South West to the metropolis of Glasgow to meet with relatives who were waiting for a flight back to Bristol and had an afternoon to kill.  We were sitting downstairs in the excellent basement restaurant at the Kelvingrove Museum watching the showers come and go, when discussion turned to what we were all up to.

My brother-in-law is a high powered corporate turn around expert and currently he is giving a hand to a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) specialising in listed building restoration where my sister-in-law works as a project manager.  Having been in business consultancy myself conversation came round to the comparison of business cultures and since both of us are ex-services the inevitable comparison between civilian and military work ethic came into play.

The point that brought this up was my brother-in-law describing how much money was expended a month in replacing ‘lost’ or damaged tools worth some £30,000 a year in an SME which is at present turning over £800,000 a year.  He then explained how workers were inflating their hours so that a job that had been assessed to take two days routinely took five, again a cost to the SME and another nail in its fiscal coffin.  It was clear to me, as it was to my brother-in-law, that there is something very sick at the heart of this SME, so I asked him what was he going to do to turn it around.

It appeared that the SME was in difficulty because the owner used its cash flow in the same way as we may have used credit cards or a petty cash box.  Some months they would suddenly draw down £5,000 and other months £2,000.  This random raiding would occasionally leave the workforce unpaid for a week or so until a client paid up.  Additionally the owner would do friends ‘favours’ by taking on sons to give them some work, even though they had none of the high skills required for listed building renovation.  The work these lads carried out would always need redone at further cost to the company, and increasing resentment from the skilled workforce.  All these insidious gripes amongst the skilled workforce created a work culture where it was OK to fiddle the boss by extending working hours and permanently ‘borrowing’ equipment as the boss was ‘at it’ as well.  The workforce did this even though they know it will inevitably mean the company going bust and them out of a job.

In the Royal Navy equipment does not go adrift as any piece of equipment you use goes on your personal ‘slop chit’.  If it is lost or misused you have to pay for it.  Encompassing this is a sense of corporate responsibility where the actions of one person are the responsibility of all.  There is a clear understanding that everyone is dependent on every one else.  Failure to carry this through may often mean serious consequences for all and not just the individual.  There is a high level of self-policing amongst all members of an effective regiment, squadron or ship and a rejection of the idea that it is OK to permanently borrow stuff, especially from your own unit, or to misuse shared resources on the quiet.

This morning I looked again at the Newsnet headline giving further evidence of Glasgow Labour’s misuse of council resources for their own gain, and reconsidered what is wrong in that organisation and just how it is just like the failing SME my brother in law is looking to turn around.

Take any one of Glasgow Council’s so called arm’s length organisations (ALEOs).  The Scottish Local Authorities Renumeration Committee reported to the Scottish Parliament in March that there are too many councillors and council officials sitting on Glasgow’s ALEO boards who are being paid a great deal of public money for carrying out ‘oversight’ they should be doing as councillors or officials.  There are councillors on these ALEO boards who have been caught using their ALEO budgets to fund Labour party activities contrary to Council Rules, Statute and Standing Orders and in breach of the Representation of the People Act.  Is it any surprise then that officials do ‘favours’ for their pals when it comes to contract issues or that organised crime can operate seamlessly within the Glasgow Labour Council to the gain of millions of pounds per annum for their front companies?

Then when an objectively evidenced complaint on misuse of Glasgow council funds arrives on the Standard Commissioner’s desk what do we find?  Yes, it is against the Representation of the People Act, Council Standing Orders and the rest but they have been doing it like that for years and no one has complained before, so that makes it ‘OK’.  The Standard Commissioner turns the ultimate ‘Nelsonian’ blind eye.  The folk who are supposed to represent our best interests and ensure a level political playing field settle instead from the lowest common denominator: ‘It’s aye been!’

Just what sort of message does that send out to the Glasgow Council workforce except that it is just fine to falsify work dockets and take what you want from the depot or office – it’s long established practice after all.

It cannot be much of a surprise to find that Strathclyde Police leaks information like a sieve when one of their past Police Authority Labour members acknowledged how well she knew Lewis Rodden, the McGovern Syndicate’s ‘security’ expert, who turned up at a Labour fund raiser for Jim Murphy.  While Strathclyde Police acknowledge the successful attempts of the gangs to put place men and women in their organisation and have taken steps to plug the holes, I worry about the Glasgow fiscal’s office.  Especially when you note that Rodden had his sentence for trying to acquire a security contract in South Ayrshire with a samurai sword or its like halved, with no opposition from the fiscal’s office.  This has to raise concerns about the passivity of the fiscal’s office when called upon to the investigate Steven Purcell and the ALEO contracts given to his pals and cronies, and its continuing failure to support Strathclyde Police’s warrant applications in this matter.

The thrawn Glasgow public will look at their feet and say – Whit can we dae, it’s aye been the same and anywa’ thon politicians, thir aw the same, better the deil ye know, I’ll be voting Labour, nae matter.

In Tammany Hall, at the end of George Street, the brown envelopes will continue to circulate and the thrawn Glasgow public will continue to shake their heads, hoping it will all just go away while criminal elements; political, official and legitimate will stow their pouches to overflowing with tax payer’s money and laugh all the way to the bank.

Its enough to mak ye scunnert an’ seek tae yer belly, so it is.