Martin Hannan: Don’t let these bullies win, Jim

Pic: Ian Georgeson.
Pic: Ian Georgeson.
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Like most people, I was largely unaware of the internal problems of Lothian Buses until the Evening News yet again showed why it is unrivalled in its coverage of the Capital, giving us the inside track on what is an ongoing scandal.

That employee director Owen Boyle felt he had to resign last week, largely because of the war of words being conducted via the News, tells you plenty about the scale of distrust and disarray in the management of the company, which, don’t forget, is owned by the council taxpayers of the Lothians.

I don’t know Ian Craig, the chief executive whose alleged intimidation of senior managers led to the row. Nor do I know Bill Campbell, Norman Strachan and Bill Devlin, the three executives who complained about their boss.

This I will say about them – in any private firm the size of Lothian Buses, if four highly-paid managers with a responsibility to take forward a successful company could not sort out their differences round a table, they would all be shown the door pronto by the directors. But this is Lothian Buses, and it’s effectively a public concern, so nobody has yet been sacked or even disciplined, and all the time the citizens are well aware that each of the people involved could walk away with a massive payout they don’t deserve. At least Ann Faulds’ departure as chair of the company did not cost the public purse.

Edinburgh City Council owns the vast majority of the shares and that allowed it to put transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds, below, on to the board to work with the chief executive and other board members to find some way ahead.

Then took place a quite sinister development, and that was the attempt by members of the Unite trade union to intimidate Cllr Hinds into resigning from her position on the board of the country’s only municipally-owned bus firm.

The Joint Trade Union Committee members at Lothian Buses are supporters of what might be called the anti-Craig faction, and they said they didn’t want the former lord provost on the board, even in an advisory position.

That’s their perfect right, but what really alarmed me was that someone in Unite decided to leak it to the press that if Cllr Hinds did not step down, the union would not support her at the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary election when she will be the Labour Party’s candidate at Edinburgh North and Leith.

As a Unite member herself, Cllr Hinds could normally count on financial and campaigning support from her union but now it looks as though she might not get that vital help in the seventh most marginal seat in Scotland. As an SNP member, I should be delighted – but I’m angry, actually.

If Unite is serious about this, and Cllr Hinds has not yet been officially told, then it is nothing more than an affront to the democratic process.

Cllr Hinds and I have had our run-ins in the past, and she and I will never agree politically, but to threaten her candidature because she is doing a council-appointed task is just so wrong. It smacks of the old bullying tactics unions often used against Labour people. I invite new Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy to step in now and tell Unite they are bang out of order.

Councillors are on thin ice now

There I was walking, or that should be sliding, through the city the other day when yet again I wondered why the council just can’t get its act together when it comes to tackling frozen roads and pavements.

It’s in real trouble now, though. Rebus writer Ian Rankin was one of those complaining on social media about his area being a skating rink. Expect a few councillors and officials to be bumped off – figuratively speaking, of course – in his next piece of tartan noir.

At least Midlothian councillor Derek Rosie was honest when he said: “There is a growing expectation on our staff to get down every road and pavement. That is simply unrealistic.”

You’ll have had your grit, then.

Hoy’s an inspiration to all Scots

With great dignity and humility, Sir Chris Hoy received all the plaudits going when he accepted the lifetime achievement award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony.

That an Edinburgh boy should receive such fantastic acclaim in a Glasgow venue shows just how inspiring and wonderful this great Scotsman has been, and continues to


Spare us this nuclear option

I HAVE seen a couple of letters to newspapers recently trashing renewables and advocating the spending of untold billions on nuclear power stations. Apparently it’s a clean fuel – tell that to the people of Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Modern experts disagree about the number and severity of nuclear power station accidents, but then scientists back in the 1950s said such incidents would only happen once every thousand years.

The two I’ve named, plus Windscale and Three Mile Island, therefore mean we are safe from nuclear disaster until the year 6011. Somehow I don’t think so – let’s have no second Torness, please.

Purely for research..

Almost blubbed at the News story about teenage Lotto millionaire Jane Park learning that money isn’t everything. Can I have a few Lottery millions to fund my research on this matter?