Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is your Gabriel speaking. On behalf of all the cabin crew I must apologise for the late publication of this blog, which was caused by the writer discovering that full-time employment is more busy than when one has only 6 hours of lectures per week.
Sussex uses Asos
Since this blog caters mainly to a trendy lefty crowd, all readers will be familiar with online clothing emporium Asos.
Since Michael Farthing of ‘Vice-Chancellor’ fame is very far from being a trendy lefty, he probably isn’t. So he was probably momentarily confused when reading legal advice from his lawyers, Pinsent Masons (Gabrielquotes passim.), with frequent references to “ASOS”.
Turns out though, that in industrial relations speak, ASOS is “action short of strike”, in this case, university staff across the UK refusing to mark assessments in protest against their employment conditions. (Readers will remember last time this was an issue, when Sussex HR director Jane ‘bring me sunshine’ Summerville threatened to dock all pay from all staff who didn’t promise not to join in the boycott, whether or not they actually did join in.)
Pinsent Masons’ guidance, first issued in 2013 but re-published now, goes beyond advising on the law. Freely available online, it provides useful hints on tactics that universities could use to – and I quote – “create … pain for those taking part”. Surely some sort of boiling oil would be effective?
Meanwhile, Pinsent Masons, a firm which seems to specialise in expensively helping universities to crack down on students and staff who exercise democratic rights, is also doing what it can to cause me pain, by dumping a massive bundle of documents (pictured) on me just before judges begin to consider our legal battle over the release of Sussex University documents about the pros and cons of their decision to outsource catering services to a company blacklisted by the United Nations for corruption.
Rules: Drink a shot of Palwins* every time one of them is said; two shots if it’s shouted; and three shots if it’s shouted by someone who’s not even supposed to be speaking at the time.
Printable version available here!
A change is as good as arrest
Confusion on Monday evening as the House of Commons was first promised a vote on European Arrest Warrants, then denied it, then given it again slightly, then told just to behave itself and listen to mummy (Theresa May).
Eventually she decided that it wouldn’t be appropriate to let elected politicians vote on that sort of thing, but instead decided to hold a ‘proxy vote’ – a vote on a different question (“That this House agrees Theresa May is both marvellous and important” for example) that she would obligingly treat as a vote on the actual question.
Rumour has it that the Cabinet is going to organise the 2015 general election in a similar way; not actually holding it but treating some other decision-making process as a proxy for the popular will. The National Lottery for example.
North by South West
Figures released by Network Rail show that this is officially the worst time this decade to be a commuter, with more really useful engines delayed than any time in the last seven years. Personal experience shows this to be true, with South West Trains excusing their poor performance with an increasingly surreal array of explanations, culminating in last week’s “skateboard on the line at Wimbledon”.
Here are some of their other winners…
Cheque this out
Katy Bourne has been busy ‘working’ as Sussex’s Police & Crime Commissioner – and recently announced her latest round of Crime & Disorder Reduction Grants.
PCCs are legally obliged to make these grants, although the law leaves it up to their discretion whether or not they choose to give them an annoying brand name such as ‘The Safer in Sussex Community Fund’ and present them to the public as their own idea. Katy opted for the latter course.
But not all of the organisations who applied got all the funding they asked for. Some pretty laudable initiatives, such as Disability Hate Crime Awareness Day, received thousands of pounds less than requested.
Fortunately, though, Katy did manage to find the cash to spend £2,000 on “merchandise” for her Talk Sussex Engagement Programme (this is what old fashioned politicians might call ‘giving a speech in a town hall’), £1,200 on a new logo for her office (designed by the world’s most expensive four-year-old), £350 on domain names (for comparison, my Gabrielquotes.org.uk domain name costs £3 per year) and – screaming ‘value for money’ through every pore – £200 on a giant cheque to present to charities receiving Safer in Sussex grants much smaller than they’d applied for.
Trebles all round!
Five of the best
- The Huffington Post: Katie Hopkins tweets Palestinians are ‘filthy rodents’ – she really is desperate to get that column in the Jewish Chronicle…
- IFLscience: A man took this photograph of birds, and turned their positions into musical notes – quite cool on the whole.
- Smithsonian Mag: A private tour of the CIA’s incredible museum – keeping the museum’s existence secret for several decades may not be the best PR strategy.
- BBC News: The students who feel they have a right to cheat – wish I’d thought of this.
- Buzzfeed: You won’t believe what the 7 principles of LJY-Netzer leadership are! – yeah, who said Jews can’t do the 21st century?