Friday, 18 May 2012

Catch the Moments


Ever since the sudden death of my younger brother, Kevin, I have been thinking carefully about what I am doing - and what I plan to do with the rest of my life.

In recent times I've put off or delayed all kinds of projects and plans - for one reason or another - but mostly because of my work on equal pay.

So after weighing things up over the past few weeks - I have finally decided that it's time to move on and do something different in future - time to recharge the batteries.

Because for the past seven years the fight for equal pay and my work with Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES) - have taken up most of my time and energy.

And although I haven't yet decided what I will actually do - I know that it's time for me to take up a new challenge.

I will continue to support all of the outstanding equal pay cases that are still underway - and I intend to keep the blog site going in one form or another.

But it's fair to say that in future I will be spending a lot less time on these issues - than has been the case in the past.

Essentially I plan to take a step or two back, so that I have the time and space to decide what I really want to do - maybe I will find a new cause which I can contribute to and help make a   difference - all serious suggestions will be considered.

So in terms of any day-to-day queries regarding things to do with equal pay, people's first point of contact should be Action 4 Equality Scotland or Fox Cross Solicitors in Edinburgh - who will be able to help and advise as necessary.

The relevant contact details are:

Action 4 Equality Scotland
E-mail: enquiries@action4equality.co.uk
Phone: 0131 652 7366

Fox Cross Solicitors
Web site: http://www.foxcross.co.uk/
E-mail: enquiries@foxcross.co.uk
Phone: 0131 652 7360

I'm sure regular readers know I have enjoyed the past seven years immensely.

I can honestly say that I have achieved much more with Action 4 Equality Scotland in terms of equal pay - than would ever have been possible as a trade union official.

Which is as good as it gets really - so this looks to me like the right time to consider new possibilities and a change of direction. 

The best way to explain how I feel is probably through the words of Robert Burns - which I spoke at my brother Kevin's funeral service - there can't be many better maxims for people to follow in leading their lives.

A Bottle and an Honest Friend - by Robert Burns.

"Here's a bottle and an honest friend!

What wad ye wish for mair, man?

Wha kens before his life may end,

What his share may be of care, man.


Then catch the moments as they fly,

And use them as ye ought, man:

Believe me, happiness is shy,

And comes not ay when sought, man."

So I plan to catch this particular moment while I can - and though I will continue to support A4ES and the ongoing fight for equal pay in Scotland - my role in future will be different.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Representing the Members


Since Ed Miliband became leader of the Labour party - in September 2010 - the big three public sector trade unions (GMB, Unison and Unite) have poured £10 million of their members' money - into Labour coffers.

To do so lawfully, the trade unions have to conduct a political fund ballot (PFB) - but only once every ten years - a process which very few ordinary union members bother to take part in.

So the turnout is poor, dreadful in fact - in single figures.

If I recall correctly the turnout in the last Unison PFB was only 8% of the total union membership - which means that 92% failed to return their ballot papers.

To anyone interested in trade union democracy that is very worrying.

Because 100% of union members who pay into the union's Political Fund at the time of the ballot - keep doing so once the vote has taken place.

Which means that the vote - or ballot - is completely unrepresentative.

Now the reason for this is that the PFB passes most union members by - they don't really know what it's all about - so they don't bother to vote and once the ballot is over things just continue as they were.

The same is true when most union members sign an application form - to authorise the deduction of union contributions from their pay.

No one explains the details of the 'political levy' - or the fact that a relatively small amount of money is 'top sliced' every week or month from their contributions - then handed over to the Labour party.

Because the truth is that very few union members support the Labour party - and if they really understood what's going on, they'd choose to hang on to their money - or perhaps donate the funds elsewhere.

So the Political Fund is a con - a scam - a 'milch cow' for union leaders to raise money for the political party that they support - but which ordinary union members don't support in anything like the same numbers.

My solution to this problem of 'big money' unduly influencing UK politics - is to cap donations from the trade unions - and everyone else.

The way to do that is to simply say that union members have to 'opt in' to pay a political - as they do in Northern Ireland, for example - perhaps at the time of the Political Fund Ballot.

In which case the authentic voice of union members would be heard - the role of trade unions inside the Labour party would be legitimate - instead of completely disproportionate which is the case now.

More importantly an 'opt in' scheme would be good for our democracy - and the body politic.

Especially if ordinary union members had the choice of making a small donation to another political party - as well as the option of paying no political levy at all.

'Now what's wrong with that?' - I hear you say.

Nothing - absolutely nothing at all.

Opting-Out Made Easy



Here's some more information about opting out of the political levy.

I've updated the names and contact details of the regional secretaries involved - as there have been some changes since the post was first published back in 2010.  

I can't imagine that the trade unions would make things difficult for members who decide to hold onto their hard earned cash - but if they do, be sure to let me know.

I'm sure the press would be interested to hear the details.

Opting-Out Made Easy (22 October 2010)

In a recent post I promised to provide contact details - for any readers wishing to opt out of paying a political levy to the Labour party.

Now the official way to do this is very cumbersome and involves tracking down some local union rep within your branch - whom no one knows - and who may not even understand what you're talking about.

So the best and quickest way to do this would be simply to send an e-mail to your union regional secretary - and politely ask that person to sort things out on your behalf.

Here are the people you may wish to contact:

GMB - Harry Donaldson: harry.donaldson@gmb.org.uk

Unite - Pat Rafferty: pat.rafferty@unitetheunion.org

Unison - Mike Kirby: m.kirby@unison.co.uk

All you need to do is to say something along the lines of:

"Dear Regional Secretary

Labour Party Political Levy

I would like to stop paying a political levy to the Labour party with immediate effect - and would like to union to return this money to me in future.

My union membership number is - xxxxxxx

My address and post code is - xxxxxxxxx

My union branch is - xxxxxxxx

Please action this request on my behalf.

Yours sincerely


A Member"

And that's about all you need to say really - just remember to date the e-mail and include your union membership number etc.

For obvious reasons - keep a copy of what you send for future reference.

The unions should not be putting any obstacles in your way - if you wish to exercise your right to opt-out of paying the political levy - if they do, let me know.

Other People's Money



A number of readers (union members) have been in touch to ask how they can stop paying a political levy to the Labour party.

Well here's a previous post to the blog site which explains some of the background - more information will follow shortly.  

Paying a Political Levy (11 October 2010)

A number of readers have asked for advice recently on how they can stop paying a political levy - as part of their regular union contributions.

Many union members don't even realise they pay a regular levy - which is then passed on to the Labour party - to the tune of millions of pounds a year.

For union members who don't actively support the Labour party - handing money over on a regular basis is plainly a bit bonkers.

And opting out of the political levy system - would save union members around 10% a year on their union contributions.

So how do you opt out?

Well the best thing to do would be to write to the regional secretary of your own trade union - stating that you no longer wish to pay into party political fund - that supports only the Labour party.

You can then do what you want with the money that you save - you could spend this on yourself - or make a donation to some cause or issue that your do actively support.

I will post contact details for the regional secretaries of the trade unions that affiliate to the Labour party - over the next few days.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Selective Focus


I was touched yesterday while listening to the remarks of Ian Davidson - a Glasgow Labour MP and chair of the Scottish affairs select committee in the House of Commons.

Ian was like a man possessed - out to right a great wrong - and determined to stand up for fair play in a future referendum on whether Scotland should become independent.

Now what had got Ian's knickers in such a terrible twist is the question to be asked in the 2014 referendum - which the Scottish Government believes should go something like this:

"Do you agree that Scotland should become an independent country?"

To which the answer is either Yes or No - presumably.

But this is not good enough for Ian and fellow members of the Scottish affairs select committee - who all believe this is a leading question and therefore likely to tilt the answer - towards Yes rather than No.

Now I was a bit puzzled by the lengths this rather obscure committee had gone to in its effort to rubbish the proposed question - after all a similar question was used by the then Labour government in the referendum used to re-establish the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

So I decided to do a bit of research myself and to see if anyone else asked similarly direct questions - on matters of topical importance - and I found an example relating to the strike ballot held last year by one of the big Labour affiliated public sector unions, Unison.

Now according to its own web site Unison asked members the following question on the ballot paper:

"Are you prepared to take part in industrial action in the form of strike action?"

Again I am presuming that the only possible answers are either Yes or No - otherwise people would be deemed to have spoilt their ballot papers.

'So what's the essential difference between the two questions?' - you might ask.

'None' - I would say.

In which case why is the wrath of the Scottish affairs select committee so selective - why doesn't the committee create a similar 'stushie' about leading questions asked in strike ballots held by trade unions affiliated to the Labour party? 

Now I don't know the answer to that question - but if and when I find out - you'll be the first to know, of course.

All Greek To Me


The news from Greece is bad.

While the Greeks and their beleagured economy appear to be heading for hell in a handcart - the people to blame for this state of affairs alll appear to live in the rest of Europe - no one in Greece bears any responsibility, apparently.

The position at the moment is that Greece is having borrowing billions of Euros just to pay the salaries of its public servants - because the Greek economy does not generate sufficient funds to pay its own bills.

I watched a series of interviews with Greek people on TV last night - who queued up to say how bad things are and argued that the rest of Europe should come to their rescue again.

By forgiving even more of their national debts - and lending Greece even more money while the Greek people acquired the necessary skills to live within their means.

As the interviewees spoke I couldn't help but notice they were all travelling on shiny new tram cars - similar to those, no doubt, which have wasted nearly £1 billion of public money in Edinburgh.

The problem in Greece is that for years the country has been spending far more than it earns through its national wealth - and for all that time the Greek people have remained wedded to a deeply entrenched national culture - which means that they have paid little, if anything, in the way of taxes.

So when the bubble finally burst why does it become everyone else's responsibility to put things right?

Because that's not what's happening in either Ireland or Spain - these two countries have their  own financial problems, but they are both taking responsibility for getting out of a mess of their own making.

The word 'austerity' gets bandied about a lot these days - but what it realy comes down to is that countries should live within their means - because if they don't they are simply passing on their debts to future generations.

Now everyone borrows money - many governments borrow money to invest with the aim of growing the economy and improving the national wealth - but the key issue nowadays is that they must do so sensibly and not recklessly.

Otherwise they create the conditions for what we have today - boom followed by bust - and all the heartache that goes with tough economic times.

The situation in Greece is getting to the point where normally sympathetic people are getting fed up with all the constant whining - and finger pointing elsewhere. 

If the Greek people can't elect a government to stand up and take responsibility for their own affairs - then they should just leave the Euro and be done.

After all no one is forcing them to stay and I'm fed up listening to all this drama - which comes down to people wanting to have their cake and eat it at the same time. 

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Robin Hood in Reverse


The news media reported the other day that the chief executive of NHS Lothian - Professor James Barbour - is retiring early and will be receiving his full pension entitlement.

Apparently the Prof's pension package is worth £75,000 a year - plus a one-off lump sum payment of £220,000 which is presumably tax free.

Now that adds up to me although it makes little sense - because the present rules do allow people to retire on a salary worth half their salary - and to receive a tax free lump sum worth three times their annual pension.

The present rules also mean that people retire on their final salary - which in this case seems to be around £150,000 a year - even though the good professor has been in the top top job for only ten years or so - around a quarter of his career. 

Now I'm sure Professor Barbour has been a good and diligent public servant in his time - but that doesn't mean that he is worth - to my mind anyway - an annual pension that is three time the average salary in the UK.

Nor does it seem fair or reasonable to me that senior people be pocketing such huge tax free lump sums - which must seem like winning the lottery to most ordinary folk.

Yet later this week the trade unions will yet again be striking to defend these ridiculous final salary pension schemes - which have been deliberately designed to benefit the higher paid groups of public sector workers.

The reality is that low paid workers in NHS Lothian are subsidising the Professor's retirement package - which would be much fairer if the rules were based on career average earnings.

As I've said before, the present final salary rules behave Robin Hood in Reverse - because in pension terms they take from the poor and give to the rich.

And the unions are on the same side of the argument as good old King John - and the Sheriff of Nottingham. 

Sheriff of Nottingham


Monday, 7 May 2012

Actions and Words


The Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC) contacted me last Thursday to say that South Lanarkshire Council (SLC) intends to lodge an appeal - over the recent Freedom of Information (FOI) case at the Court of Session.

The one in which three senior Scottish judges decided - unanimously - that South Lanarkshire Council should be required to publish pay information regarding the pay of male dominated  council jobs.

Now in my opinion this is a scandalous state of affairs, a cynical abuse of the FOI process - and a terrible waste of public money into the bargain.

But the news is very interesting as well - because last Thursday the council was operating without political oversight or control - given that the local elections were taking place that same day and resulted in no single party having a majority.

So how could such an important decision be taken by council officials acting on their own - without proper debate and public scrutiny - which is what local democracy and local government is all about?

For the past five years South Lanarkshire has been a Labour-run council courtesy of Tory support - what will happen in future has yet to be decided and certainly wasn't decided by Thursday 3 May 2102.

So what's going on - you might be entitled to ask yourself?

Within the past 12 months two Scottish Labour leaders - Iain Gray and Johann Lamont - have been quick to criticise the Scottish Government over its failure to abide by an adjudicated decision of the Scottish Information Commissioner (SIC).

Yet here we have a completely out of control Labour council going even further - much further.

By thumbing its nose at not just the independent Scottish Information Commissioner, but the highest civil court in Scotland - the Court of Session.

Now if I might remind readers briefly what Lords Marnoch, Mackay and Brailsford had to say in their detailed written judgement from the Court of Session:

"We say that because, having regard to the Commissioner's findings looked at as a whole, we are satisfied that even applying the stricter test the Commissioner could only have concluded that necessity (of publishing the information) was made out. In particular, he held that the Requester's own interest coincided with a widespread public interest in the matter of gender equality and that it was important to achieve transparency on the subject of Equal Pay. No better means existed to achieve that goal than be releasing the information in question."

So while politicians bang on about their values - about the importance of openness, transparency and accountability - their actions speak much louder than their words.

Let's see what MSPs have to say on the matter - once the Scottish Parliament gets back down to business after the holiday weekend. 

Saturday, 5 May 2012

I Am The Egg Man


I don't think there's anything remotely funny about some idiot hitting Labour leader - Ed Miliband - with an egg.

Although I was surprised that this chap was able to get so close - do his dirty deed - and then run away without anyone hauling him to the ground.

One of the few good things that Labour's John Prescott ever did - an my opinion anyway - was to give the bully who hit him with an egg - a well-deserved taste of his own medicine. 

Instinctively old Two Jags responded with a swift left hook to the jaw - of the long haired oaf who ambushed him on a public walkabout - during the 2001 general election campaign, if I recall  correctly.

Now there are lots of people I would like to pelt with tomatoes or rotten eggs - in fact it would probably take me all day to compile a full list. 

But just because I disagree with someone or something - doesn't give me the right to walk up to them an slap them in the face with a custard pie - or pour a bucket of green slime over their heads.

Not only does that lead to copycat behaviour - it can lead to dangerous copycat behaviour - by strange and deluded people who think they have a right to take the law into their own hands.

So I hope the authorities catch the clown who assaulted Ed Miliband and help him see the error of his ways - preferably with a bout of community service.

All Shall Have Prizes


So after the dust of the local elections has settled it appears that the Scottish voters have decided that 'all shall have prizes' - with the exception of the Tories and Liberal Democrats.

The SNP can clearly to have won the national election - since they emerged yet again with the largest number of councillors (424) - which is the litmus test of any national contest.

The SNP may have improved their showing in Labour's heartlands since 2007 - but they failed to deliver a knockout blow - leaving Labour still in overall control of Glasgow and North Lanarkshire.

The Tories took comfort in the fact they they didn't do quite as bad as the Lib Dems - which is a sign of the times rather than a cause for celebration - if you ask me, anyway.

Meanwhile the Lib Dems in one Edinburgh constituency were out-polled by Professor Pongoo the Penguin - a man dressed up in a ridiculous bird suit - which only goes to show how far the Lib Dems have sunk.

As far as the politics of equal pay is concerned, probably the most interesting result is in South Lanarkshire - which like most councils in Scotland - is in the position of no single party enjoying overall control.

The same thing happened back in 2007 - but the Labour group did a deal with the Tories in South Lanarkshire - which handed the reins of political power to Labour for the next five years.

Whether the majority opposition councillors in South Lanarkshire allow the same thing to happen this time around remains to be seen.

'Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me' - is both an old and wise saying.

But we shall probably know within the next few days.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Excuses, Excuses


If the opinion polls are correct, Boris Johnson will win the fight to be come the Mayor of London later today - which will take the shine off an otherwise good set of election results for Labour - in England and Wales at least.

Labour leader - Ed Miliband - appears to have accepted defeat in London even at this early hour - with the rather pathetic excuse that Boris Johnson ran an independent campaign and kept his Conservative credentials 'under the radar'.

Well I have to say that seems more than a bit bonkers to me - because Boris Johnson has one of the highest profile of any politician in the land - and the voters in London like him because he's a bit of a maverick instead of just another party hack.

In fact they liked that quality in Ken Livingstone, albeit some years ago, when he ran as an independent to be London Mayor - defeating the official Labour candidate in the process - the rather hapless Frank Dobson, MP.

So we shall see what happens, but if Labour lose as predicted - they need to face up to the fact that they picked the wrong candidate - plain and simple. 

Ken Livingstone is part of the establishment these days - someone who rails against 'rich bastards' while quietly organising his own considerable earnings in such a way - as to pay the least possible amount of tax.

No wonder London voters smell a rat.

The Sun King


Here's an intelligent and thoughtful article by David Aaronovitch - who writes regularly as a commentator for The Times newspaper.

Now I don't know David Aaronovitch, personally.

I would say he's not an anti-Labour in any way - more of a natural Labour supporter, if anything - but prepared to speak his mind and speak out against hypocrisy within any political party - of the left or the right.

I never had any truck with the News of the World - which pulled a few good scoops admittedly although without ever adding much to the credit side of UK journalism - in my opinion anyway.

I'm not a fan of The Sun either, I have to admit - but I could say the same thing about the Daily Record and The Mirror group of newspapers - which have behaved as  sycophantic cheerleaders for the Labour party - for many years.

Without a word of complaint from Labour, it has to be said - just as there was no complaint from Labour when News International gave a favourable press to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

So I think David Aaronovitch has hit the nail squarely on the head - No Murdoch, no Thatcher, no defeat - makes no sense.

The Left believes it was The Sun wot won it

Murdoch is still blamed for the Catastrophe of Thatcher. Without him, the workers wouldn’t have voted Maggie in

After the Milly Dowler phone-hacking revelations last July, and before a single piece of evidence had been heard by the House of Commons Media Select Committee, I believe that the Labour MP Tom Watson had decided what he wanted the committee’s conclusions to be.

How could it be otherwise? His book, Dial M for Murdoch, was published this week to coincide with the publication of the committee’s report and begins by asserting — without qualification — that News Corporation has exerted “a poisonous, secretive influence on public life in Britain” and has “used its huge power to bully, intimidate and cover up”. So rapid was the book’s publication that elementary errors of fact, such as the claim that the BBC’s political editor, Nick Robinson, worked for Sky, remained unchecked and uncorrected.

When Mr Watson forced through the committee the line that Rupert Murdoch was not “a fit and proper person” to run an international business, he went far beyond what the evidence to the committee had indicated. As his Labour compatriot Jim Sheridan volunteered to the BBC on Tuesday night: “It was inconceivable that he [Rupert Murdoch] didn’t know about it [phone hacking]. Yes, we didn’t have the evidence to suggest that that was the case, but it’s clear that in the public’s eye this was unacceptable.”

When the first headlines appeared on Tuesday quoting the committee’s contested conclusion, Mr Watson may have thought that he’d brought about one of the most unlikely victories in recent history — the triumph of the Left over one of its greatest institutional enemies. It was his work that allowed Ed Miliband to say yesterday that “the Murdoch spell has been broken”. Rejoice! Rejoice!

What for my friends and comrades on the Left was, or is, the Murdoch spell? Latterly it referred to the idea that Labour leaders were forced away from their natural inclinations for fear of what “Murdoch” would say or do to them. With News International selling a third of the newspapers in Britain, Labour people were supplicant at Rupert’s feet for fear of suffering the fate of Neil Kinnock. They dared not endorse left policies, dared not be nice about Europe, dared not attempt any decent radicalism lest Jeremy Clarkson and Trevor Kavanagh were set upon them.

It may be that Mr Watson was particularly sensitive to this possibility. He was famously a spear carrier for Gordon Brown, attempting to organise a putsch against Tony Blair in Brown’s favour in 2006. But Mr Brown was the most assiduous Murdoch-courter of any prime minister, before failing to win the endorsement of any News International newspaper in 2010.

When I met a person very close to Mr Miliband shortly after his election as Labour leader, I was told that part of his strategy was to try to remove the institutional blocks to the advance of the Left in Britain. One of the most important of these blocks was Rupert Murdoch.

It is hard to overemphasise the particular place in the demonology of the British Left that is occupied by the Murdochs. For many of us the Catastrophe of Thatcher was utterly unexpected. Even after her first victory we had expected a fairly fast return to the postwar consensus. We had been certain that the British people, and especially working people, would turf Mrs Thatcher out. Instead they kept voting her in.

There were two explanations for this, as there are for all long-term political failures: we wuz wrong or we wuz robbed. Many went for the latter. And why had the famous C2s, skilled workers, so perversely gone for Mrs T? Because they bought The Sun and the News of the World — once centrist papers and now, under Mr Murdoch, Thatcherite. Mr Murdoch had “peddled” poison to the people. He had alienated them from their true champions, which would have been us. No Murdoch, no Thatcher, no defeat.

This was a dominant left narrative until Tony Blair became Labour leader and said, in effect, “we wuz wrong”. But the Thatcher years, with the miners strike, the enemy within, market triumphalism and then Mr Murdoch’s smashing of the print unions at Wapping, was terribly wounding for the Left. As if that wasn’t bad enough for them, Murdoch’s success coincided with and epitomised what was happening in popular culture . In 1986 a renowned topless model was deployed by The Sun during the print dispute at Wapping under the legend “Samantha Fox has joined up and is pointing her bazookas at the enemy lines”. Over 30 years those bestselling papers (and then their websites) filled up with soap opera and adultery and our TV screens shimmered with flesh.

The ethical vacuity of the whole tabloid world (I particularly loathe its ”monstering” of unlucky targets), its intense competition and the size and complexity of News Corporation combined in deadly fashion to create the current opportunity for the Tom Watsons. Branching out from the revelations of widespread illegality in certain parts of News International, and the subsequent cover-up, it has become possible to level almost any charge at any part of the organisation. Politicians claimed to be subjected to (unspecified or anonymous) threats and blackmail. Rebekah Brooks was a mafioso. “Corruption” was widespread “throughout News International”.

Those of us who work for The Times know that such exaggeration comes close to outright falsehood. I understand perfectly how this sounds, but I’ll say it anyway: this newspaper is the best run and most collegiate of any media organisation that I’ve worked for, and I’ve worked for a few. Mr Murdoch, therefore, is eminently fit enough to run us. As for TV, Uncle Rupert, as none of us call him, bought a loss-making satellite operation in the 1980s and, against the background of derision and opposition, turned it into BSkyB. He believed in it, invested in it, made the losses and came through. Is he fit to run it? The question is almost ludicrous.

Rupert Murdoch didn’t and doesn’t actually change big policies. Tony Blair — a convinced European — was not swayed by News International’s Europhobe inclinations. And credit, if any is due, for not joining the euro more properly lies with Gordon Brown than with any Sun editor.

Despite that, I myself have no quarrel with the long march of accountability through the various corridors of power, however uncomfortable. I welcome it. But I would prefer it to be led by people who are not associated, as Tom Watson is, with attempting the “rehabilitation of old-style trade union fixing and activist stitch-ups”, as Tony Blair said in his memoirs. Such politics was all, said Mr Blair, “great fun for those who like that sort of thing”. But the thing is, most of us don’t.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Bust and Bust


Up until now I've had a fair degree of sympathy with the plight of Rangers Football Club - despite the fact that I'm not a fan.

My logic is simple: 'How can it be good for Glasgow (or Scotland) to see Rangers FC in such dire straits?' 

But the news that an American tycoon - Bill Miller - has been named as the preferred bidder for the Glasgow club is raising great doubts in my mind.

Which have nothing to do with the fact that Bill Miller is an American - but everything to do with the fact that this is beginning to look like a good, old-fashioned, asset stripping exercise.

Because as far as I can see all that is going to happen is that the favoured few amongst the many Rangers creditors will be paid off - and the rest can go hang.

Including the UK taxpayers who are allegedly owed tens of millions of pounds - the latest figure being bandied about in the press was up to £134 million - and counting.

Now if this were the result of bad luck, of a business doing its best and failing, only to pick itself up and try again - then maybe I could see the point.

But it's not - the problem appears to be deliberate tax avoidance - on an industrial scale which has cheated the public purse out of many millions of pounds. 

So it's hard to see how Rangers can be allowed to just walk away - and leave everyone else holding the baby.

If the former chief of the Royal Bank of Scotland - Sir Fred Goodwin, as was - can be stripped of his knighthood, so that he is now just plain Fred then what should happen to the former Rangers owner, Sir David Murray?

Why should he be treated any differently? 

The whole saga is developing into a scandal that is much wider than just football - sadly.

The focus is now shifting to the use of what appear to be extremely unethical business practices and the lengths that some people and organisations will go to - to avoid paying their fair share of taxes.