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There's almost a festive spirit in the trenches as the cheery faces return from their hols to billets in dugouts that haven't seen action for nearly a year now. But there's rumbling amongst the other ranks as well with the news that the Grandees have "revised its focus" and decided to scrap this year's pay offensive in favour of a mass consultation exercise to sound out feeling for action against the odious plans to alter the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS).

The Grandees argue, with some justification, that the pay campaign was a non-starter anyway as there's no enthusiasm in the ranks for another big push in the middle of a general slump, though that being so, one could question why they put made the case for it with the "Emergency" pay motion they pushed through conference only three months ago the middle of a general slump.

If the NEC requires a new policy to deal with the CS Compensation Scheme, a separate one day delegate conference should be urgently convened to debate the issue and decide policy. Pay must not be allowed to drop by the wayside even if the prospect of victory in our time seems remote. Pay is the one issue that unites all the membership while the amendments to the CSCS, draconian though they are, only affect two categories of members: those hoping for bumper redundancy pay-offs and those whose sick records make them vulnerable for dismissal. Sure, the cut in redundancy terms, in some cases reducing the compensation by two-thirds, is monstrous - but let's face it, those who were in line for the top dollar were never going to be offered it in the first place while those vulnerable individuals who will now get the order of the boot for the slightest infringement of Management's unilateral "attendance management" rules are not exactly the militant shock troops of the union movement.

Back at Chateau Falconcrest MARK SERWOTKA is gearing up for the re-election campaign one in which he hopes to win and bag a large enough popular vote to claim a mandate for his own personal political opinions and not those dictated by the Grandees. The first doesn't seem much of a problem. His only challenger is likely to be ROB BRYSON - the 4TM Golden Boy who is posing as the scourge of the REDS to mask his recent TROT past in the SWP. The second is another matter.

Though CPSA races were ultimately between the chosen sons and daughters of the TROTS and the MODERATI, the presidential and general secretary stakes always attracted a number of no-hopers who stood for the fun of it and often achieved a credible protest vote from members who would otherwise have not bothered to mark their ballot papers at all. This always created more general interest in the contests and certainly boosted the overall turnout. This particular two-horse race will be only a test of how many of the faithful the Grandees and 4TM can turn-out on the day. Well, they've got three months to do it, an inordinate length of time, and good luck to them - they'll need it. The average punter will be pissed off after the first 3 weeks, particularly as the CSCS consultations will also be running during this period and the thing that excites him/her most - the pay in their pocket - is suddenly shoved onto the back burner as the NEC realised they were sold a pup in December last year (PFL passim ad nauseum). Dusty told the truth, there was no extra dosh, but the Grandees still rammed through a so-called emergency motion on pay at conference, which they are now choosing to ignore. Actually, when they read this, expect pay to be at the back end of the agenda when the CSCS meetings take place.

MAREK knows that if he bags a large personal vote - one significantly greater than anything HUGH LANNING or LEON BAUGH could achieve - his hand will be strengthened in the corridors of power in Falconcrest. If he doesn't he'll have to continue to dance to the Grandees' tune.

BRYSON equally needs a credible vote - at least as much as he got when he recently challenged BAUGH and came within 200 votes of toppling him - to maintain his position in 4TM and provide a platform for the NEC elections next year. But so far he's confined his campaign to the usual anti-Trot hysteria and a defence of two Welsh 4TM members who've been suspended from holding union office for three years by the NEC.

A rule 10 complaint was upheld by independent panel of five senior distinguished retired members in accordance with the union's rules against two DVLC reps, LISA ROBERTS and MARTIN PHILIPS. The complaints, by supporters of the Independent Left, revolves around claims that both BEC members were colluding with Management and that the branch was not being administered according to rule.

Initially LISA ROBERTS and MARTIN PHILIPS face six complaints each. 5 of Lisa's and 4 of Martin's were dropped at the 1 st interview stage due to no evidence whatsoever.

Though the great and the good upheld the remaining complaints it did also add that it regarded the misdemeanours of the "Swansea Two" as minor infringements.

But that wasn't the view of the NEC which slapped on the three years ban which probably has more to do with the fact that these "Two" were instrumental in getting management to bar ineffective Wales Officer, JEFF EVANS, from the site. That could possibly be overlooked, especially in EVANS' case. Doing the same to SERWOTKA was a totally different matter.

Significantly the "Swansea Two" are not appealing against the verdict but only at the sentence. Interesting to note that you only get a year's ban for thumping a fellow member if you're in the SP, and a glowing reference for a new job if you thump your ex-girlfriend and break her bones if you're in the SWP. An appeal against the draconian sentences is pending. If that fails, expect an appeal to ADC next year. Standing Orders will surely find the time to schedule it instead of farcically stage-managed emergency motions on pay.

North of the Border, It seems the campaign to stop Alan Brown becoming an FTO knows no bounds including closing down the Edinburgh office and shipping the whole caboodle to new offices in Glasgow: not that very long after poor Alan made the move in the opposite direction.

Passing almost unnoticed through July's NEC was a paper on the strategic management review that blah blah blahed about the new SNO's and their work plans. But slipped in is mention of a 'specific consultation on facilities requirements in Scotland'. That's code for shut Edinburgh'.

This isn't entirely new, I know, Eddie Reilly having announced to his staff last autumn that it was going to happen (and then swearing them all to secrecy). But this being a union of course it wouldn't stay secret. Jim Doran, the IT bod who works out of the Glasgow office but isn't one of Eddie's minions, got wind and raised a grievance with his manager about not being included in discussions about an office move. Cue intervention from Nigel PIEMAN Pierce that the whole PCS estate was being reviewed and closing Edinburgh was only one of many options. And it was all kicked into the long grass until, that is, July's NEC.

It seems a break clause in the Edinburgh lease is proving too attractive an option for cost cutting that closure is being resurrected despite the imminent GS election period - Mark Serwotka will not want to be tarred as a job and office cutter like the employers we castigate. The consultation will be used as cover for background work being done on larger Glasgow premises and it will report towards the end of the voting almost certainly with an overwhelming case for Glasgow over Edinburgh but with a compromise of retaining a presence in the Scottish capital. That would allow Mark to say he had not reneged on his promise to staff of 'no compulsory redundancies and no forced transfers' as the few Edinburgh based staff (all the others live in Glasgow or its surroundings) would constitute the 'presence'.

The new Glasgow office will be expected to include an office for Mrs President, if she has her way, to save her some London travel although Eddie and his successor-designate, Lynn Henderson, are resisting that, arguing that she can use a hot desk like everyone else but Mrs President wants a more 'permanent' placement. She will, of course, then join Mr Janice in the office making it a real presence for Solidarity/Committee for a Workers International (don't ask!) as they'll be joined by Clapham escapee Jude Richie, another S/CWI bod.

Eddie Reilly is telling all and anyone who'll listen that he's still the main man in Scotland. "I'm Eddie Reilly, Scottish Secretary", he intones in what is obviously meant to be a firm, manly, authoritative voice. It's unfortunate that this is to the ever lengthening line of temp staff in PCS Scotland all of whom have either stared blankly, yet beautifully, or replied "Yes, but who are you here to see?". Like some latter day Norma Desmond he rails against the flow of the realpolitik proclaiming "I am big, it's the union politics that got small".

Eddie wasn't even asked to sit on the interview panel for Mr Janice's shoe-in as negotiating officer in Scotland last Friday but - get this - he was asked by the GS's office to book the room!  I'm told he passed it on to his PA by saying that Mark Serwotka had asked him to do it during a bigger discussion about something really important.  But everyone knew that it wasn't Marek on the phone.  How sad.

And they say the Scottish play's full of intrigue ...

Meanwhile the modern day version of Care in the Community appears to be still alive and well on the fringes of the PCS Health Group. DH Parky , Mad Malo Harvey and DANNY 'Mr Angry' Clarke, with much fanfare (lots of emails) announced a momentous meeting with the Great Leader in Falconcrest to have it out over the latest perceived injustices (too boring to list) that they had suffered at the hand of others at Group and National level in some LU plot against them - here we again... yawn. Following the meeting, news was awaited eagerly of concessions wrung from the Great Red Chief himself ....and awaited .....and awaited......and still awaited.

Now that the old man is away, Parky has to find a niche in the market for his own personal style of paranoia and it looks like he has found another smoking gun already - the DH London Branch Constitution. Apparently, the NEC dared to make necessary changes to the submitted draft Branch Constitution that meant it was slightly different when finally ratified from the version sent to the NEC (that's never happened before - lol). Parky is incensed at what he perceives to be undemocratic action within the constitutional power of the NEC, which he sees as a great injustice to those members who turned up to a poorly attended EGM (nothing new there generally) in the London Branch - mainly Parky and his mates - but despite a number of strange rants on the saddo INDY site, full of contributions from the similarly paranoid, delusional and deranged, has yet to explain what it is that is actually wrong with the constitution ratified by the NEC recently that makes it so terrible must be an LU plot to outwit must be must be ....don't let them take me away....

Some might say the important issues to concentrate might be mobilisation of Branches/Groups against the horrendous CSCS proposals, Pay, MYVC, organisation/recruitment etc, etc, but hey, that's just boring stuff for broader, more balanced minds.

Talking about has-been's, which is all we seem to do these days, BARRY REAMSBOTTOM may have been out on his ear when Speaker MARTIN fell on his sword in May over the parliamentary expenses scandal but he's now managed to fill some of his time by becoming a patron of the KELSTON CLUB & STUDY CENTRE, a boys' club run by the severe Catholic Order known as the Prelature of the Holy Cross of Opus Dei for the purpose of providing "young people with opportunities for personal development, through a varied programme of activities within a friendly environment and by offering personal advice and activities to help them improve their study habits and enrich their moral and spiritual life". No doubt BARRY has undertaken a suitable penance for his heinous allegations in the Daily Mail some years ago about his own miserable upbringing at a Catholic boys' school in Scotland.

During the meanwhilst, fellow Moderati STUART CURRIE is paving the way for his defection to the Scottish Nationalists in his crazed bid to get a seat in the Scottish Parliament, one way or another. The former Scottish Labour stalwart who jumped to the Liberal Democrats turned his coat again last summer, over the parliamentary expenses scandal (see PFL's passim). Councillor Willie Innes, the leader of the seven Scottish Labour members on the East Lothian council, would not be drawn on the prospect of Mr and Mrs Currie joining the Nationalists, but he did have some stinging words about the couple telling the East Lothian Courier : that "As far as I know at the moment, that is just a rumour. But whatever Stuart Currie does, it will not be done on the basis of principle, but opportunism. He has been in the Labour Party, the Lib-Dems and now maybe the SNP. It is all about what suits him individually." Now there's a surprise.

And finally farewell and a Red Salute to JOEL HIRSCH who retired from the Passport Agency after 23 years of disloyal service on 7th August. JOEL, an utterly useless clerk, can now spend his sunset years selling even more Socialist Wankers outside the post office to the other old wrinklies collecting their giros.

By the way, have you ever wondered what worr KEVA McWHO does with his genitalia on a Match afternoon? Neither have we. But it's not Kevin: we've inspected his willy and can confirm it's much tinier. Kevin was sitting 7 seats back and to the left of his uncle Blob.

The vulgar are always taken in by appearances and results; and this world consists of the vulgar.

Niccolò Machiavelli