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BY JUDAS ISCARIOT - end of October 2005

The late Autumn mist hovers over the trenches with the first chill of winter to come. But it hotted up along the DEFRA front last week when 5,000 troops went over the top in a one day strike over pay. Though Management had banked on a low-turn out given that only 55 per cent had voted for action in the strike ballot, the strike was solid and it successfully disrupted the processing and payment of farm subsidies and the general work of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

And tension is rising on the DWP front-line. Management's latest broadside is to offer a very limited early release scheme to the recently joined lower ranks. TONY REAY wasn't amused and threw it back at them. Up and down the trenches the rumour is that the next big push starts on 16 th November. Or at least that's what CHARLIE McDONALD tells us in the last issue of his Alliance for Wankers' Liberty rag. Nothing official has come from Chateau Falconcrest but senior CARCASITES have been instructed to cancel all meetings on that day. And 17 th , just in case.

Back at HQ there is some satisfaction as the Government's climb-down over pensions last week. Under the deal, existing Civil Service workers and other public sector employees will retain the right to retire at 60. But new recruits are not covered and they will have to carry on till 65 or make greater pension contributions if they want to go at 60. The deal which PCS has been working for together with the other public sector unions (see PFLs passim) is clearly only half a loaf but was clearly the best that could be expected in current climes and that's why it was endorsed by the NEC. But others think otherwise.

 Socialist Wanker national leaders are particularly incensed at the fact that their two bods on the NEC, MARTIN JOHN and SUE BOND both went along with the LUNITY grandees and voted to accept the Government's proposal. They were denounced at a PCS LUNITY meeting in London last week where it was said that JOHN and BOND would now not be nominated for next year's NEC slate. The problem is that while the SWP's national campaign is based on mobilising unions for confrontation with the employers and the Government on every issue regardless of the likelihood of support or success, MARTIN JOHN and SUE BOND's objective is to remain in the LUNITY Big Tent and keep their seats on the NEC. It will interesting to see what happens next.

High-caste Revenue man ALAN RUNSWICK has also fallen from grace. The LUNITY grandees have prepared their nomination short-list for the Winter Conference and while RUNSWICK keeps his seat on the LUNITY national committee he's been dropped as "editor" of the PCS national organ THE VIEW in favour of PHIL MORCAM, a UNITY Commie badge seller, currently languishing as editor of the PCS DWP Group's rag THE VOICE. (Perhaps PFL should be renamed THE EARS . BARRABAS, Ed )

Whatever the differences, and they may relate to the sectional scrap between the IR and Customs within the new department, everyone is keeping mum at the moment. But RUNSWICK has been LUNITY's top thinker since TERRY ADAMS' retirement and his demotion, albeit minor, must reflect intellectual problems within The Big Tent.

STEVE CARDOWNIE, late of CPSA, was perhaps one of the most outstanding turncoats of his generation seamlessly graduating from the SWP's Redder Tape group to the Broad Left and then on to glory in the Scottish Labour Party to end up where he is today; Deputy Lord Mayor of Edinburgh. But now after 17 years of climbing up the greasy pole he's jumped ship again - this time to the Scottish National Party. Claiming that the council had got it badly wrong with its £714 million trams scheme; the controversial reorganisation of traffic in the city centre and a planned programme of school closures, STEVE has put Labour's grip on power in the Scottish capital in serious doubt.

Labour now relies on the casting vote of Lord Provost Lesley Hinds to win crucial votes. There are 29 Labour councillors and the same number in opposition. That means the Council will face a battle to force through some of its key policies. With fire board convener Ken Harrold off work after suffering a heart attack, the council could face a crisis within weeks.

The SNP had no councilors in Edinburgh , and Steve has been embraced by Alex Salmond and other bigwigs as a welcome asset.

CARDOWNIE has stated his reasons for turning his coat as being the rightward drift of Blair and Brown.

The real reason is of course different. The introduction of proportional representation to Scottish council elections in 2007 will mean a massive cull of Labour councillors . In Edinburgh . Labour will almost certainly lose about a third of their number. Steve has not gone out of his way to cultivate what remains of the party membership and was not expected to survive.

It's now likely that the SNP, short of talent in Edinburgh will put Steve quite high on their 'lists'. Defecting this far ahead of the elections could even allow him to have been a party member long enough to get elected to the Scottish Parliament, something he would never have been supported for by Labour.

He's refusing to resign his Deputy Provost post and left defiantly on Thursday to go on some trip or other abroad. The post is usually for the full term of the council, i.e. until April 2007

The Labour group may not be able to oust him as deputy lord provost but Councillor CARDOWNIE is certain to lose his prestigious role overseeing Edinburgh 's festivals and major events.

Nihil est incertius vulgo, nihil obscurius voluntate hominum, nihil fallacius ratione tota comitiorum.Nothing is more unpredictable than the mob, nothing more obscure than public opinion, nothing more deceptive than the whole political system.Marcus Tullius Cicero
106 - 43 BC