Thursday, 10 July 2014

A campaign of openness?

The Yes campaign argues that independence would give us the chance to leave behind the bad practices of Westminster and embrace a brave, new Scotland.

A key principle, surely, is openness. After its first meeting, Yes Scotland's advisory board promised a "campaign of quality and openness".

I interviewed Yes chief executive Blair Jenkins last week and tested this commitment. How much does he get paid as chief executive?

Other companies reveal their CEO earnings, so I assumed Jenkins  - a public figure - would be relaxed about providing answers, or at least a rough indication.

Below is the transcript of the exchange.

To be clear, I would ask Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall the same question, but interview requests have so far been met with silence.

PH: How much do you actually get paid as chief executive?

BJ: I’m not talking about that, either.

PH:  Why not, in the interests of transparency?

BJ: I’m not on the public payroll

PH:  Sure, but there’s nothing to stop you from saying what you get.

BJ: Well, if you get people from the other campaign to specify.

PH: The Yes side is supposed to be ’different’. You are ‘different’ to the other side. Why not just say how much you earn? Is it six figures?

BJ: It’s not appropriate. It’s not information in my gift to disclose.

PH: [Other] organisations reveal the salaries of their CEOs.

BJ: Well, here’s the other thing, no-one has asked me that. Not a single person has asked me that in two years. People would assume that I am doing a responsible job and getting well-paid for it.

PH: Why can’t you just say how much you earn?

BJ: It’s not relevant in this debate.

PH: Folk who make donations to Yes might want to know how much the figurehead earns.

BJ: Lots of people have donated and [no-one] has asked me.

PH: Why so shy?

BJ: I’ve answered your question. Lots of people have donated and no-one has asked me. You are the only person who has. It has never come up as an issue. It’s not an issue.

PH: It’s an issue in the sense that I’ve raised it. Why not, in the interests of transparency, just answer the question?

BJ: For the reasons I’ve just given.

PH: Being?

BJ: It’s not relevant.


Monday, 7 July 2014

Is Kez the Chosen One?

I recently blogged about the possibility of Johann Lamont standing down as Scottish Labour leader before the 2016 Holyrood election.
Four replacements were spoken of internally: deputy leader Anas Sarwar; shadow international development secretary Jim Murphy; Lothians List MSP Kez Dugdale; and, bizarrely, Glasgow Lister Drew Smith.
Since then, Euan McColm has used his Scotland on Sunday column to write about a potential Murphy leadership, while a fascinating Better Nation blog gave a thorough run-down of all the likely contenders.
According to several well-placed party sources, there is no doubt that Lamont’s “people” have been boosting Dugdale’s profile
Lamont’s “people” – by that, I mean her closest supporters– have made this move for reasons of survival.
If Murphy took over, the current leader’s “people” would be cast into the political wilderness.
If it was Sarwar, they would (metaphorically) be thrown under his bus.
You don’t need to be an expert in Labour Kremlinology to see what has been going on.
Not only was Kez, 32, promoted to Education in the last shadow cabinet reshuffle, but she was also given a prized BBC Question Time slot earlier this year.
I also understand some of Johann’s “people” wanted Kez to do First Minister’s Questions in March, when Lamont was absent. In the end, Jackie Baillie stepped up.
Kez has also been given a prime-time Daily Record column, which is not something that happens by chance. Her weekly musings are a terrific opportunity to introduce herself to Labour voters.
Of course, the generous help Kez has received has not gone unnoticed.
It’s not just the Labour group at Westminster that is marked by tensions.