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A fair cop?

Brian Taylor | 14:31 UK time, Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Gordon Brown was asked about police officers pay in the Commons. Twice. It’s hard to judge which was the most uncomfortable for the prime minister.

Firstly, Tory MP Michael Fabricant shook his resplendent yellow locks at the PM before offering a new version of the West Lothian question.

How could it be right, he proclaimed, that police in Lichfield would be getting a poorer pay deal than those in Linlithgow? (Guess which constituency Mr Fabricant represents. Hint: it’s not Linlithgow.)

Then Angus Robertson MP bestowed his own special brand of beatific smile upon Mr Brown as he invited him to praise Alex Salmond (born, incidentally, in Linlithgow) for the police pay deal on offer in Scotland.

You’ll recall that the Scottish Government has decided to backdate the police deal in full while officers elsewhere in the UK are subject to an outbreak of relative stinginess from the Home Office.

Mr Brown’s answer in each case was the same: a tirade against Scottish ministers for falling short on their promise to deliver one thousand new police officers on the beat in Scotland.

I say “answer” - but perhaps “response” would be more strictly accurate.

SNP ministers could scarcely believe their luck when the Home Office took the decision on pay, accompanied by a leaked document evincing hope that Scotland wouldn’t cause too many difficulties.

I imagine that posed a real dilemma for the Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. I see him consulting his officials and special advisers.

“So”, he pondered, “give me this again slowly. For the price of a few million quid, I look like the good guy, I get the Scottish cops onside just when I need their help over redeployment. AND it’s a huge pain in the neck for Labour at Westminster. Where do I sign?”


  • 1.
  • At 03:55 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • iain morrison wrote:

Mr Bean's response was a "tirade against Scottish ministers". He really has lost it hasn't he? I've heard of delusions of grandure but he seems to be reduced delusions of competency.

  • 2.
  • At 04:07 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • clamjamfrie wrote:

Isn't the real story Brian, not so much the obvious and easy response from Scottish Ministers (who would have factored in the full pay rise in any case to the spending review: so no additional cost-pain at all in reality), but the ineptitude of UK ministers?

It really is wishful thinking to think refusing to implement the deal is going to dampen pay demands elsewhere in the public sector. More likely, it will signal the need amongst unions to adopt a more militant stance. It also removes any prospect of unions agreeing to arbitration involving the government. It all seems so, what's the word, incompetent. Complete political incomptetence.

  • 3.
  • At 04:18 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

I actually watched PMQs today, and thought Brown was "radio rental".

Attacking the SNP regarding police numbers when the cost of back-dating the pay rise in Scotland is only £3m.

Some of his other "responses" were so irrelevant they insulted the intelligence.

  • 4.
  • At 04:34 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • karinm wrote:

hi brian

I wonder if the police will be keen to move on participants at the big protest by fuel protestors planned for this weekend.

  • 5.
  • At 04:57 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Salmondwinsagain wrote:

It is NOT, REPEAT NOT, about pay, it IS about the Govt going back on an arbitration ruling.

Just shows how far out of touch they are with reality - WHO is advising them???????????????

  • 6.
  • At 05:00 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • John Lawrence wrote:

What will happen to poor old Wendy Alexander if the polis take the huff with new Labour?
The illegal election 'cash stash' could yet proove rather costly. Are they still taking bookings at Corntonvale, or is it overcrowded with the Christmas rush?

  • 7.
  • At 05:39 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Aircraftman Shaw wrote:

There is a crack in the make-up of the UK that won't go away. No matter what the London government does it will always be there.

As you observed recently Brian (10 December), the temptation to criticise Scotland and/or the Scottish Government has to be tempered with the knowledge that this just makes the case for independence.

I can't see how any prime minister can keep the anti-Scottish sentiment in a bottle (be it the West-Lothian question, police pay, etc.) over the long term.

Must dash... the English national news starts at 6 pm (but there is occasionally a item to keep us jocks north of the border happy).

Let's see how the police ballot is reported.

PS Anyone else finding almost impossible to add comments to this blog?

  • 8.
  • At 05:44 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Bill wrote:

The PM also saib that the SNP should be ashamed of their Party-No mention of Labour being ashamed of themselves or their Party!!!!

  • 9.
  • At 05:52 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • djmac wrote:

As Lawrence Welk used to say:
'Wunnerful, wunnerful'

  • 10.
  • At 06:58 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • karin wrote:

I do wonder if the police are successful in getting their pay deal what is too stop nurses and other public sector workers form following suite. The same situation occured with public sector workers in the NHS. Surely if the government backs down on police pay then the other workers are going to vote to strike.

  • 11.
  • At 07:24 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • G Ford wrote:

Nearly fell off the chair laughing at the last paragraph.........And Aberdeen Cooncilors backed Wee Eck aye things are moving along nicely. Perhaps I missed it but didnt see it specifically mentioned on the "National" news or Reporting "Scotland" that the Scottish Cops got the rise and the Eng and Welsh didnt.Just slipped the News Eds mind no doubt.

  • 12.
  • At 07:34 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Gillon Johnstone wrote:


South of the border Police have been forced to do the one thing they feel is unthinkable and that is vote for the right to strike, Professionals to a man and woman. The goverment say the love the police and what do they do cut their pay. Here in Scotland, yes the SNP goverment have not been able to provide 1000 officers but are providing 500 and paying the current serving officers properly and backdating the pay correctly.

the police in scotland support the scottish goverment in England and wales they feel betrayed by the Labour goverment..

I thjink gordon brown really should learn when to shut up and do the right thing

  • 13.
  • At 09:17 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Barney Higgins wrote:

I listened to 5 Live's coverage and Brown took a bit of a battering. The SniP's have definitely stolen something of a march on Labour in every area - although as BT explained before cuts will be the result of the budget proposed by Swinney. Brown/Jacqui Smith should have done the honourable thing and agreed to the raise after the independent review. I would be very wary of the police having the right to strike; they are well paid in the public sector starting on more than a teacher. It will be interesting how public support might be affected by their past behaviour, I'm thinking of the Miner's 84/5, but I've been on many trade union, human rights marches and their general disdain for the great unwashed who feel strongly about a cause or are taking industrial action is palpable. I say this with no particular malice to the police, they should be given what they were awarded.

  • 14.
  • At 09:57 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Tam wrote:

If the cops are on strike, they can't investigate the Labour funding scandals. Yup, he's a crafy fox that Mr Brown.

  • 15.
  • At 10:02 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

You are so right Brian. Just as Jacqui Smith looks like she needs the cops onside with potential petrol price protests in the pipeline, they look like wanting to go on strike.

Still, you can't be a politician if you are always willing to say yes..

  • 16.
  • At 10:12 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Norman M wrote:

Yes Brian. Amusing that Broon rants about something that's nothing to do with Westminster. Tee hee.

A real dilemma for Macaskill.

  • 17.
  • At 10:43 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • karin wrote:

I do wonder if the police are successful in getting their pay deal what is too stop nurses and other public sector workers form following suite. The same situation occured with public sector workers in the NHS. Surely if the government backs down on police pay then the other workers are going to vote to strike.

  • 18.
  • At 11:52 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

New Labour in the UK seems to be going the same way as New Labour in Scotland was prior to the last election: its response to anything is an attack on the opposition parties, rather than a positive emphasis on their own policies. Constantly attacking the opposition, particularly with wild unfounded claims, does not win much support from the electorate. It was a lesson hard learned in Scotland, but we're starting to see a more positive New Labour north of the border. Will New Labour in the UK learn that lesson without needing to lose an election first?

  • 19.
  • At 11:54 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • cox wrote:

It reminds one of the twice reduced block transfer. The inherited original being forewarned as tight, plans are made by the new team at Holyrood. The baseline is then reduced by underspend in the NHS and the revised spending plans are announced in Westminster....along with a steal of an idea to cut inheritance tax, but at less cost to the public purse with the saving going to the NHS budget. Neat.
Holyrood explains the tighter settlement, minimises the pain, and reaches a concordant with COSLA who commit for 1 year in case of any more jiggery pokery from on high. The opposition now has to unite to change the budget, their only gain being different pain.
Score-keeping aside, who really loses but the payers? Follow the money back to the voters Brian.

  • 20.
  • At 11:57 PM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • LEGION wrote:

Hint: London = Left Hand, London Labour.

Hint: Embra = Right Hand, Scottish Branch o' London Labour.

Theyhuvnaeabaldyclue :-)

  • 21.
  • At 12:36 AM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • Archie Andrews wrote:

For once I agree with you Brian: I doubt Kenny MacAskill could scarcely believe that senior Labour politicians could be so totally stupid. But, there we have it!


“So”, he pondered, “give me this again slowly. For the price of a few million quid, I look like the good guy, I get the Scottish cops onside just when I need their help over redeployment. AND it’s a huge pain in the neck for Labour at Westminster. Where do I sign?”

Brian, do I detect the tiniest hint of cynicism here? Are you actually suggesting in your wildest imaginings that the SNP Government would ever do anything deliberately to embarrass Westminster, especially embarrass our esteemed PM. (few verses of God Save etc but not verse 6!!)

Brian I am shocked and appalled..... well, at least slightly....

  • 24.
  • At 08:17 AM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • JohnMcDonald wrote:

Well, I think you have it completely wrong. The Justice Minister gave the award because it was in the budget and the discussion about making Gordon Brown look silly never took place.

I believe it suits some peoples' opinion to portray the SNP Government as only capable of playing schoolyard-level politics. God forbid that Scotland could produce a grown-up Government; it might just mean we were adult enough to run our own house.

I don't view Alex Salmond and his team through rose-tinted spectacles but I, like many others I suspect, have seen through the "Wee Eck" coverage.

  • 25.
  • At 09:42 AM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • HalfwayThere wrote:

I have to wonder ...

In all the stamash about the Scottish Government honouring the agreed pay rise - has anyone stopped to consider the fallout had they unilaterally chosen not to? (the way the faithless bounders in Westminster are attempting to)

Had Holyrood pinched these pennies and Westminster not, I'm sure you'd hear the howls of indignation all the way to wherever T B-Liar is currently hiding!

  • 26.
  • At 10:28 AM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • John Johnson wrote:

Brian as a serving police officer of some 29yrs I am a somewhat cynical.I am pleased that the Scottish Govt has abided by the arbitration as so it should but wonder what was the true reason.On the other hand their English counterparts not abiding by arbritration would appear to be small mindedness.There would appear to be a growing resentment within the public service.I think the current Labour Administration in England could eventually face their own winter of discontent.


  • 27.
  • At 10:43 AM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • John Johnson wrote:

Another thought from a cynical old polis. Could it be because Scotland under an SNP Administration did not receive the funding it was expecting from its Labour masters down south, and down there they are still smarting from the police investigation into cash for honours.There are many sub -plots

  • 28.
  • At 02:50 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • anon wrote:


I think you'll find the last paragraph was a bit of a tease, besides if you don't think the SNP (or any other party for that matter) wouldn't take a chance to score political points over their rivals then you are deluded.

  • 29.
  • At 04:06 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • leith of nazareth wrote:

pm broon--called 500 more policeman--and a payrise backdated --shameful

whats a payrise not back dated called---LOL


  • 30.
  • At 08:05 PM on 13 Dec 2007,
  • JohnMcDonald wrote:

Try reading what I said as you seem to have missed my - albeit obviously too sophisticated - point and I don't need to be told a tongue was firmly in Mr Taylor's cheek.

The "Wee Eck" abuse isn't only wearing thin it is increasingly being seen as an attempted patronising put-down of anyone who has the temerity to want to step up from provincial hick.

  • 31.
  • At 03:09 PM on 14 Dec 2007,
  • JohnMcDonald wrote:

Actually #28 not #26

  • 32.
  • At 10:55 AM on 16 Dec 2007,
  • boudica wrote:

Excuse me but the Police are well paid and dont do the Job our Area you cant get a hold of the Police when the Youth are causing havoc they turn up hours later and do nothing as far as I am concerned It is the Army who should be the Best Paid of the Publiuc services and not The Police ..who cant even get your name right when you do make a complaint ... and the real reason the SNP awarded the Police this Pay rise is not because of the arbtration ..but because he takes the heat off their failed Promise of 1.000 New Officers yep the SNP are getting good at the ducking and diving ....

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