UK corporate state: PPPs in Scotland

Michael Keaney michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Mon Nov 25 07:35:24 MST 2002


Labour councillor defects to socialists over PFI
TOM GORDON
The Herald, 25 November 2002

A REBEL councillor in Renfrewshire has become the first to defect from
Labour to the Scottish Socialist Party in the run up to next May's local
elections.

Iain Hogg, who has represented the Seedhill ward since 1995, told The Herald
last night he was jumping ship because of his disgust with Labour's pursuit
of the private finance initiative.

He said he was also disillusioned with the government's handling of the
firefighters' dispute and preparations for war with Iraq.

A Labour party member since he was 15, Mr Hogg will now stand for the SSP at
next year's local elections in Seedhill.

His decision leaves Renfrewshire Council split down the middle, with Labour
and the opposition parties holding 20 seats each.

He said: "This has been a big wrench, but Labour has changed. There's no way
for ordinary people to make their voices heard in the party any more. It's
dominated by big business.

"There are many things I'm willing to compromise on, but not my core
beliefs."

Mr Hogg, 34, was suspended indefinitely by Renfrewshire's ruling Labour
group in September after he abstained on a crunch vote on the future of the
area's schools.

The authority plans to rebuild and refurbish 12 secondaries and 10 primaries
using the controversial private finance initiative.

He said the folly of the PFI plan was summed up by St Andrew's Academy in
Paisley. Mr Hogg claimed the school was found to be in excellent condition
three years ago, and needed no more than £500,000 spent on it.

However, under PFI, he claimed it would be demolished and rebuilt at a cost
of £80m over 25 years.

"Most of the Labour group are against PFI as well," he said. "But none of
them have the testicular wherewithal to stand up to the Scottish executive."

A former vice-convener of education on the authority, Mr Hogg is currently
vice-convener of the community and family care policy board, which covers
social work in Renfrewshire. A single parent with two young sons, he has
also been a working electrician for 17 years.

Tommy Sheridan MSP, leader of the SSP, said the defection was a clarion call
to other Labour waverers.

Mr Sheridan said: "This is a first for us. However, we are finding more and
more Labour activists can't stomach the government's attitudes to PFI and
Iraq. People like Iain have given most of their lives to the Labour party,
but it no longer represents socialism or any of the ideals socialists stand
for.

"If more people are willing to follow their principles, like him, then there
is a political home for them in the SSP."

He added that because the SSP would not finalise its local authority
candidate list until January or February, other defectors would also be able
to stand next May on an SSP ticket.

Last month, the defection of a Labour councillor in Fife to the independent
grouping reduced Labour there to a minority administration.

Bob Taylor, councillor for Auchmuty and Woodside West for 18 years, switched
after complaining of "backbiting" in the Central Fife Labour party, which
had de-selected him.

Jim Harkins, Labour leader of Renfrewshire council, said: "I'm very
disappointed. I have always been very supportive of Mr Hogg. However, I am
not surprised at his action."

He also disputed Mr Hogg's reading of Renfrewshire's £144m schools PFI
scheme.

He said: "This is a big programme which will produce a big boost for the
local economy and jobs."




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