So, What is ‘Lefty in a business school?’

An introduction about me and what my blog will be about…..

Hello everyone!

Thanks for stopping by…..

My name is Brian Finlay and I live in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, Scotland and this is my blog! You’re all most welcome here……

I love to write about politics and business related policy. I have over 18 years experience of working in the service sector in a shop floor capacity and at strategic management level.

I am currently studying my MSc in Human Resource Management at Strathclyde Business School and like to see the area of business through a critical lens. Being in a business school environment can be challenging for someone who votes Scottish Green Party and feels regulation is the way forward to tackle our deep routed inequality in the UK. This can be seen as ‘lefty’ or counterproductive to the ‘entrepreneurial spirit of the UK’. I tend to see it as just caring about people; especially with the power differences between employers and employees. I decided to finally start my blog after thrice fracturing my ankle and receiving an operation to correct the damage and realign my talus bone. What this means is, I’ll be on couch/bed rest for 12 weeks so this is a way of keeping me sane but also putting into place a dream of mine of blogging and writing opinion pieces.

I support Scotland being an independent country, again not massively popular in the business arena, and could see huge opportunities to shift towards a fairer society not relying on fossil fuels and exploitative working practices. The renewable energy sector could be the new bread and butter of Scotland’s economy with more innovation and funding alongside tourism and food and drink. We could be a successful small economy with principles, such as Iceland introducing compulsory gender equal pay and Finland trialing Universal Basic Income.

I write opinion pieces mostly and have many letters published in national newspapers. I wanted to take the next step in my writing journey to attempt to intrigue and engage others. I will, over the next few weeks post my letters from the past year as many challenge political rhetoric and the world of business. This will help you understand my motivations and passions further.

Business and enterprise can be used for good, there are many examples of fantastic social enterprises across Scotland and the rUK, or it can be used to exploit people for profit. Sadly, the latter seems to be most common with precarious work on the rise and working conditions continuing to be ground down to a pulp by The Conservative Government.

Please get in touch on and let me know your thoughts:

Twitter: @BSFGreen

I don’t respond to rudeness or trolls as silence indicates exactly how much time will be given to their points of view.

Fingers crossed for a speedy recovery very but in the interim; I’ll be writing to my hearts content…

Opinion: Of course you can be Tory and LGBTQI+, but you must at least acknowledge the irony if you are.

After reading Cameron Bradbury’s HuffPost Blog about his common retort to people asking ‘How can [Cameron] be gay and be a Tory?’ – I felt compelled to respond. I shared his blog on social media as I found it interesting hearing an alternative LGBTQI+ voice. But what I felt was missing, was at least acknowledging the irony of being LGBTQI+ and “being a Tory”. I am gay but could never identify as a Tory. But then again I’m a socialist. No, not a champagne socialist mind you, just a regular classic socialist from a council estate.

Before I go any further, I would like to point out I have seen little evidence Labour, or indeed any political party of ‘the left’, act as if “they have a monopoly” on the LGBTQI+ community’s vote. People in the UK are free to vote for or identify with any political party they choose. And as Cameron stated in his blog, supporting the Conservative Party shouldn’t make you any less of a member of the LGBTIQ+ community. That is true and it doesn’t but don’t be surprised if you piss off other community members if you do.

I attended school in Scotland during Section 28 and it had a significant negative impact on me accepting my homosexuality – as it did for many LGBTQI+ individuals of my generation. Arguably one of the worst of Margaret Thatcher’s many notorious policies, Section 28 silenced the discussion and acknowledgement of people being gay in schools and in any other local authority building. ‘But it is OK now, the Tories are different’. I beg to differ.

After losing the Conservative majority in the House of Commons in the 2017 General Election, the ever ‘popular’ Tory Prime Minister Theresa May entered into a ‘confidence and supply’ deal with the Democratic and Unionist Party (DUP) to the tune of £1 billion of taxpayers money. The DUP do not support same-sex marriage for the people in the North of Ireland – and have blocked same-sex marriage from becoming legalisation in 2015. Moreover, the Conservative Government have brushed off the concerns of those LGBTQI+ people as something to be dealt with by the devolved administration in Belfast – which has not been functioning since January 2017. Also, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist leader Ruth Davidson, who identifies as LGBTQI+, has found the relations between the UK Government and the DUP a contentious topic to discuss. Davidson walked out of an interview when questioned over the DUP and gay rights in June 2017 after Theresa May went into cahoots with the DUP.

But former Tory Prime Minister David Cameron did introduce equal marriage to England and Wales in 2013, whilst in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Yes that is true. That said, more than half of the Tory MPs in that coalition Government voted against the Act’s introduction. David Cameron relied on votes from the Liberal Democrats and Labour to legalise same-sex marriage. The Tories are also lagging behind Scotland in LGBT inclusive education. In 2018, the Scottish Government – alongside the hard work of the charity Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) Campaign – announced LGBT-inclusive education across all state schools. The Conservative Party really are not “championing LGBT rights in the UK” – so let’s just put that idea to bed.

That said, I am not discounting the individual efforts of Lord Arran after he was personally motivated by the loss of his older brother, thought to be homosexual, in bringing about the Sexual Offences Act 1967 that Cameron mentioned in his HuffPost piece.

It cannot be denied, the Tories are the masters of ‘othering’ minorities. It is used to play sections of society against one another, we saw this clear as day with immigration from both David Cameron and Theresa May. In an interview with ITV News in July 2015, David Cameron claimed a “swarm” of migrants were crossing the Mediterranean to the UK and then Home Secretary Theresa May perpetuated fear with her intensification of the ‘hostile environment’ policies – including the controversial “go home” vans circulating areas of London where higher levels of migrants from overseas lived. This type of ‘othering’ and use of dehumanising language is reminiscent of the Conservative’s approach towards the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. Nothing has changed; just in this instance the minority targeted with the ‘othering’ is different.

But of course you can be LGBTQI+ and “be a Tory” Cameron. No-one is suggesting you can’t – or indeed no-one should be suggesting that is the case. However, if you choose to put yourself out there you must at least acknowledge the irony – fellow LGBTQI+ individuals and those who engage in politics will be intrigued. My mind boggles when a member of the LGBTQI+ chooses to be a Tory – not because that individual can’t be a Tory but because of the oppression of LGBTQI+ people in the past and the ‘othering’ of minorities in society today. As LGBTQI+ individuals we know what it is like to be seen as a minority, which is why we should stand with all minorities collectively. But at the same time that is for the individual to decide. No one is forcing all LGBTIQ+ to be socialists, a champagne one or even just a classic one, they should be free to support the free market if they really feel that is what is right. But that doesn’t mean you must vote Tory to get those kind of politics. A LGBTQI+ person is free to choose to be a Tory. Therefore a LGBTQI+ person is free to think what they choose about a fellow LGBTQI+ person being a Tory.

One thing is for sure, there ain’t no party, like an inclusive party.

Lead image available at: WikiCommons

Why I’m frustrated with Corbyn. A Scottish perspective on Brexit.

Being of the left, Jeremy Corbyn should be my guy. That is why I was chuffed to see him elected as Labour leader in 2015 and why I anticipated positive change in the official opposition at Westminster. I agree with his views on a variety of policy areas from how to fund public services, social justice, renationalisation of infrastructure, less conflict driven foreign policy and many others. Because of his stance on Brexit, however, I have lost any faith I had left in UK Labour.

What is next for the UK and the Labour Party?

Now, opposing Corbyn on Brexit has been branded on Twitter, predominately in the ongoing scuffle of #FBPEs vs Corbynistas, as ‘centrists’ trying to stop Brexit. I do understand the agenda of the perspective taken by Alistair Campbell’s newspaper The New European attempting to undermine the ‘Labour left’ and Corbyn’s leadership. But Brexit is much bigger and more important than internal feuds within the Labour party. Left Foot Forward reported findings that Corbyn’s Brexit stance isn’t as much at odds with Labour party members as many mainstream media outlets suggest. In fact, Left Foot Forward states that only 29% of the 1000+ Labour members polled oppose Corbyn’s Brexit stance. Those who support this position are concerned that a People’s Vote could cause a constitutional crisis if the result of the 2016 EU referendum is overturned. This confirms that the Labour Party is not for me and why I support the Scottish Green Party.

Corbyn’s stance is valid, if the Leave vote was to be ‘gazumped’ it could risk alienating heavy Leave leaning Labour constituencies in England. These are the working class communities that have been left behind for decades. But with that said, the Leave result was won on the back of suspected financial corruption, post-truth politics, data collection with potential social media manipulation and right-wing ideologies over a ‘freer‘ free-market alongside their obsession with tighter immigration controls. None of this will be a benefit to the constituents that voted against the establishment in 2016. It has been the two-party system at Westminster and Neo-liberal cheerleaders in Number 10 that has left these communities behind, not necessarily the EU.

Every single financial prediction in relation to Brexit is going to have a negative impact on the economy. The worst of course being a no deal Brexit, which is looking more likely than ever before. Any Brexit outcome will ultimately affect the most vulnerable people in society and cause further financial inequality. It will not facilitate Corbyn’s aims of a fair and equal society for the many. I understand Corbyn is stuck between a rock and a hard place. But he has historically been anti-EU which may have some bearing on his thought process.

In Scotland however, we voted Remain and have no desire to leave the EU. And we meant it.

Scotland and Brexit

Every single local authority in Scotland voted to Remain in the 2016 EU referendum. That, in my opinion, is a pretty strong and decisive statement. Scotland wasn’t the only nation to vote to Remain, Northern Ireland did too as well as the overseas territory Gibraltar. However, the rhetoric we all hear is we must respect the will of the “British people”. Which ones are they referring to? Those who favoured Leave in England and Wales? I’m sorry, but I am not willing to accept that nor should anyone from a Remain voting nation or overseas territory. If Corbyn believed in the importance of the integrity of the United Kingdom he would be vocalising an alternative vision for Scotland and Brexit. But alas, he has not and there is no such thing as a “jobs first Brexit” for Scotland or anywhere else the UK for that matter.

For Northern Ireland, a differential arrangement has been agreed between the UK Government and the EU because of the Irish border concerns. I am not taking away from the importance of the unique complexities of Northern Ireland’s border with the Republic of Ireland, but where differentiation can be agreed for one nation it can be done for another. Perhaps it is just a lack of political will from Theresa May and her negotiating team to secure single market and customs union access for Scotland.

The Scottish Government presented several compromises in relation to Brexit and the Scottish Parliament even refused to give consent to the UK Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill. These have been ignored by May and have not been advocated by Corbyn. This is ‘surprising’ after Labour MSPs backed the Scottish Government’s comprises and refused consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill in Holyrood. To add salt to the wounds, just 15 minutes was given in the House of Commons to debate on concerns that the EU Withdrawal Bill was breaching the devolution settlement – accusations were made that the UK Government were using Brexit for a ‘power grab‘ of powers held at the Scottish Parliament.

And even now, a handful of Scottish Labour MPs openly back a People’s Vote including Ian Murray and Gerard Killen. What will it take for Scotland to be heard amongst this chaos and din in the UK Parliament? And will Corbyn have the guts to bring forward a vote of no confidence in the Conservative UK Government if May’s deal doesn’t get through Parliament? I remain sceptical.

The democratic deficit

It is becoming clear that the only option left for Scotland is to consider independence from the UK. Brexit has shed light on the democratic deficit and the contempt shown towards the Scottish electorate in major UK constitutional issues. However, Brexit is just one of many issues Scotland has voted against but its voice has been disregarded. All but one Scottish MP voted against the renewal of the UK’s nuclear weapons programme, named Trident, which was overlooked. Most noteworthy, these weapons of mass destruction are housed in Scotland just over 40 miles away from its largest city. Scottish MPs also voted against the two child cap on welfare, that UK Labour abstained on, in 2015 which gave birth to the ‘rape clause‘. Scotland also rejected the bombing campaign in Syria when the vote took place in December 2015.

This cannot continue to happen. Under the current Westminster system and the revolving door of Tory to Labour and round again, Scotland will never be heard. Whilst Labour continue to prop up the current political status quo and facilitating traditions like the first past the post system and ridiculous House of Lords we will not see the radical change needed in the UK. Scotland will not be heard on important issues like Brexit or on issues such as defence. And I cannot see how Labour or Corbyn will provide an alternative nor have the political will to find a solution to Scotland being ignored.

We must have the option to choose independence at the earliest sensible opportunity. After all, the Scottish Parliament voted in favour of one in March 2017 and the SNP Scottish Government has a cast iron mandate to revisit Scottish independence in the context of Brexit.

Featured image sourced from Sophie Brown on WikiMedia



Section 28 – Thirty years on and the othering continues….

Thirty years ago, on the 28th of May 1988, at the Ross Bandstand in Edinburgh Princes Street Gardens, one of the biggest Scottish lesbian and gay rights events that had ever been organised took place. It was to protest the ‘Section 28’ which had been passed and legislated by the UK Government on the 24th of May 1988. The Lark in the Park saw prominent LGBTIQ+ figures such as Ian McKellan addressing crowds under a banner ‘lesbian and gay rights are human rights’. An idea that has, in very recent history, became normalised with Pride Scotland events increasing in popularity since it’s creation in 1995. Pride now takes place in most major towns and cities in Scotland; from new pride celebrations in Aberdeenshire and Kirkcaldy to more established events in Glasgow. The clause, which was part of the Local Government Act 1988, banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by local councils and in schools across the UK. This made it illegal for anyone seeking advice about their LGBTIQ+ feelings or inclinations to be offered support in school and even literature which mentioned homosexuality was prohibited. Margaret Thatcher, whose Government introduced Clause 28, created an environment where LGBTIQ+ individuals did not ‘exist’ in the mainstream which had the desired effect for these individuals to feel alienated from society.

The controversial amendment and entirely ideologically motivated changes were spearheaded by Margaret Thatcher in her Conservative Party conference speech in Blackpool in 1987. The timing of this stark shift to anti-LGBTIQ+ rhetoric also coincided with societal impression of public opinion of homosexuality being ‘wrong’ and the right wing media’s pandemic and aggressive coverage of the HIV/AIDS crisis which peaked in the early/mid 1980s.

Margaret Thatcher addressed her conference with these chilling words:

“Children who need to be taught to respect traditional moral values are being taught that they have an inalienable right to be gay. All of those children are being cheated of a sound start in life. Yes, cheated.”

Now, it is really quite shocking to hear the then prime minister of the UK, of only just thirty years ago, utter those words as we know that sort of talk would not be excepted in today’s political discourse.

However, it does. The discussion around transsexual individuals’ tends to be whipped up into a huge verbal frenzy and labels these individuals’ as something obscure and to be feared. The debate around feminism and that movement being anti-trans woman is essentially excluding people that really just want to be accepted for who they choose to be. The transsexual population in the UK is only around 1%; but from the extent of coverage in the tabloid and right wing press you would think it was a much larger social group. Perhaps we should remember and reflect on the debates and oppressions of the past in this country when dealing with individual’s choices or sexual orientation and however they choose to identify. We should also be mindful that 48% of people that identify as trans have attempted suicide at some time in their life according to Stonewall (2015): that is nearly half that have attempted suicide.

The repeal of the Clause 28 first took place under the first devolved Labour/Liberal Democrat Scottish Government in 2001, after huge grassroots campaigning against it, and was eventually repealed in England and Wales in 2003. This legislation was specifically designed to ‘other’ and alienate groups within society when they needed the support and advice the most. This policy targeted a time when young people are developing and forming romantic relationships, where sexual education and feelings of belonging are crucial whilst in the state education system. I am confident in seeing a brighter future of LGBTIQ+ individuals in Scotland with the political parties across the spectrum supporting the work, and intentions, of the TIE (Time for Inclusive Education) Campaign at ensuring that LGBTIQ+ issues will be discussed in the classroom.

In 2009, David Cameron the then prime minister of the Conservative led Coalition Government, apologised in the House of Commons for the introduction of Clause 28 and stated his party ‘had got it wrong’. Since then his party has decided to alienate those who receive State benefits and those who choose to make the United Kingdom their home or who are trying to get here fleeing war and persecution. The famous tabloid headline, on the front of the Daily Mail, of David Cameron referring to ‘swarms of immigrants’ shows the hand in glove support for Conservative ideology in contemporary Britain amongst the main stream media.

The then Home Sectary, and now Prime Minister, Theresa May facilitated the creation of the ‘hostile environment’ that lead to ‘go home’ vans driving round residential areas of London; thought to house high numbers of immigrants. In 2017, Theresa May addressed the party conference suggesting ‘lists’ for foreign workers and stated “when change [to immigration levels] happens to quickly it makes creating a cohesive society impossible”. This is also the same hostile environment that lead to the Windrush Generation scandal, which happened earlier this year, which resulted in British citizens: being denied access to the UK after visiting family abroad, losing their jobs and being denied healthcare though the NHS for cancer.

The controversial Clause 28 legislation might be resigned to the history books of UK Politics and remembered by those in the LGBTIQ+ community but the othering and fear creation remains just as prominent within the ideology of the Conservative Party. A hatred which has often been, and continues to be, perpetuated by the tabloid newspapers and other right-wing media outlets. The Tory Party remains the ‘nasty party’ targeting ‘problem’ sections of society, that they themselves have selected, and the main stream media continue to bleat the headlines of hate from the rooftops.

You’re right Ruth Davidson, the ‘crash’ generation don’t trust the Tories and it is little wonder why….

The ‘crash’ generation are being met with some of the most unstable working conditions and callous welfare cuts in living memory – and neo-liberalism is to blame

After reading Ruth Davidson’s opinion piece highlighting how younger generations do not trust the Tories; I was left perplexed. I agree with the Scottish Conservative leader – the younger generations don’t trust you! The negative ‘stereotypes’ that follow the Conservative Party around, which Ruth neglects to explore further in her article, exist for a reason. The Scottish Conservatives may have increased their presence in the Scottish Parliament, but the Holyrood 2016 campaign was built on a single platform ‘send Nicola Sturgeon a message, we don’t want Indyref2’. I saw no ‘writing of their own destiny’ from the Scottish Conservatives in this election campaign as they failed to differentiate themselves from a single UK Conservative Party policy; or in any General Election campaign since. They also used this Indyref rhetoric in the Local Council Election in 2017 which proved ‘successful’ but entirely opportunistic and irrelevant to the powers held by local government.

It is important to point out, to some in the wider UK who may be unaware of the Scottish Parliament’s voting system, that Scot’s cast one vote for a constituency candidate and one for a regional party. The constituency candidate system is ‘first past the post’, as it is in a UK General Election, but the regional is proportional representation with a formula used to give parties who have not won the majority of the constituency seats an advantage. The voting system would require an article of its own to explain but this link provides a detailed overview.

The ‘roaring success’ of the Scottish Conservatives is reduced to a whimper when it transpires that Scottish Labour, the third largest party in Holyrood, gained a larger percentage of the constituency vote than the Tories and nearly 20% less than the Scottish National Party in the regional vote share. As for the General Election in 2017, the Tories did secure the second biggest vote share but just 1.5% more than Labour; which could easily shift in the next General Election.

Now, since the ‘amazing’ success of Ruth Davidson and the Scottish Conservatives is put into context I will address some of the policy issues that impact on the ‘crash’ generation.

This is a very interesting label given to the younger generation, often labelled as millennials or Generation Y interchangeably, as the 2008/9 crash was caused by the liberal economic order; neo-liberalism to anyone that is not Ruth Davison. It is well known that financial deregulation and greed caused this financial crash, through financialization and inflated property value, and now the younger generation have and continue to face gross inequality, degradation of working conditions and decimation of the welfare state.

These conditions were created under Thatcherism and perpetuated by neo-liberal cheerleaders under successive New Labour and Conservative lead governments.

Under Ruth Davidson’s Party the UK have seen further squeezes on the expressions of workers, via the Trade Union 2016 Act, and the ‘talking out’ of Stewart McDonald MP’s Bill on regulating and banning unpaid work trials. This is an issue which largely affects the service sector; dominated by younger workers. The millennial generation are thought to be more tuned in to ethical behaviour of organisations and have access to a wide variety of news sources to aid forming their own opinion about political parties. This could be part of the problem for the Tories lacking credibility with younger voters.

The introduction of the two child welfare cap on tax credits, which produced the abhorrent ‘rape clause’ to which Ruth Davidson defended in Holyrood, is one of the most controversial welfare policy changes since the ‘bedroom tax’. A welfare ‘clause’ which would force a woman to openly discuss an incident of a rape to a third party in order to claim tax credits for a child she has had as a result of rape. Moreover, Esther McVey MP sat in the Scottish Parliament and boasted of potential ‘double benefits’ of the rape clause of having someone to discuss their traumatic experience of rape and receive financial support.

So Ruth Davidson, it is a little wonder the ‘crash’ generation does not trust the Tories as your party continues to become more heartless and callous as time goes by. It is not a ‘bold narrative about the benefits of our free society’ that we need it is political change – to which you and your party have no place in delivering.

Why the airstrikes in Syria is Theresa May’s biggest contradiction…

We can afford to drop bombs abroad but we cannot afford welfare provisions at home?

On the evening of Friday the 13th of April 2018, on Theresa May’s Government’s word, the UK took part in ‘limited and targeted air strikes’ on Syrian soil. Following French and U.S. word, we dropped bombs to degrade Syria’s chemical weapon abilities. The strikes were a reaction to the chemical attacks on innocent civilians in Douma: near Damascus in the south of Syria. I do agree with Theresa May that chemical attacks on civilians are ‘horrific and abhorrent’, but I don’t believe dropping bombs in the region is the answer. We are fanning the flames of a seven year civil war in Syria and creating a stronger case for ‘Islamic State’ to see us as the enemy. Not only that, but we risk injuring innocent civilians in these targeted airstrikes and we cannot be sure the intelligence we are working from is correct; just as it wasn’t in Iraq. With Russian involvement in the Syrian conflict and vetoing diplomatic efforts in the UN it does make the Syrian situation seem near impossible to fix.

I have been appalled by the images of the innocent bystanders in this war and the ego massaging that has gone on between May, Macron and Trump, amongst others, disgusts me. I do feel there is an alternative motivation for this war wether that be oil, power or just ego building I cannot decide.

This article is to call out Theresa May on her biggest contradiction of shaking the famous magic money tree and finding just enough money for ‘targeted’ and ‘successful’ airstrikes on Syria. However, there is not enough cash left over to lift the UK out of Austerity or even house child refugees who are potential victims of barbaric acts of violence from Assad; or indeed the ‘West’. Millions of people are displaced in Syria and millions have fled risking exploitation and rejection in which ever country they may end up in. Whatever rhetoric we get fed Austerity is a choice made by the Conservative Government but we can always find money for war when it comes knocking. However, we can never seem to be able to find the money to help the vulnerable at home or abroad when it comes to refugees.

Since the 2015 General Election result, where the Conservatives won a slim majority in the House of Commons, the Austerity regime was maintained and in some areas of fiscal economic policy it was strengthened. Controversial plans to cap family welfare provisions to just two children and produce the ‘rape clause’ as a form of ‘goodwill’ was to ‘take pressure off the public purse’. The role out of Universal Credit was to ‘save money to the tax payer’ and help facilitate getting ‘the national deficit down’. The Conservative supporting media and Conservative MPs themselves stigmatise claimants as scroungers and blame disabled people for ‘our low productivity’ as a nation. The amount of people using foodbanks across the UK because of the heartless decimation of the welfare state, sanctions initiative within Universal Credit and growing in-work poverty due to poor regulations around precarious work continue to increase.

Since 2010 the Conservative led coalition have imposed a 1% pay cap on public sector workers because ‘we need to get our house in order’ causing in-work poverty due to an employee’s pay rise not meeting living costs increases over the past eight years. The NHS in England, which is the sole responsibility of the Conservative Government, was described by The British Red Cross to be in the state of a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in 2016/17 due to funding cuts all rolled out by Governments since 2010. Patients were being treated in ambulances outside hospital buildings and charities were stepping in to support ambulance services in some parts of England.

Yet, during this time of Austerity, the Conservatives increase defence spending and invest more in our military. They even voted in favour of renewing our Trident nuclear weapons capability to the tune of up to £306 billion over a decade. These are weapons of mass destruction that could cause ‘horrific and abhorrent’ suffering to innocent people here in the UK and completely destroy life wherever it is targeting. Nuclear weapons are essentially chemical weapons, yet we bomb other countries for ‘having’, in the case of Iraq, or using, in the case of Syria, chemical weapons. I am aware that these chemical weapons used in Douma were more localised but we hold weapons that could cause more destruction and harm just a 45 minute drive up the road from Glasgow. Around 75 innocent people lost their lives in the chemical attack in Douma, but how many civilians could be killed or injured by fuelling tensions in the region with airstrikes?

Theresa May pleads her case for deciding to authorise targeted airstrikes in Syria as a difficult one. The minority administration did not not even call an urgent debate in the House of Commons, which is currently not sitting, or a vote but she consulted only with her cabinet who backed the action with French and U.S. allies. They backed airstrikes as a knee jerk reaction to the terrible attacks on the people of Douma. They say it is in the ‘national interest’. Well, if spending millions of pounds on airstrikes based on ‘hearsay’ is to benefit the people of the United Kingdom we can easily lift the Austerity regime and house refugees fleeing the ‘horrific and abhorrent’ scenes in Syria.

Brian Finlay

MSc HRM Student


Here’s a tip….leave servers tips alone!

Profit maximisation should never happen on the back of the underpaid and overworked employees…..

The debate around front of house staff and their tips has appeared in the media again after TGI Fridays policy proposal to strip 40% of card tips from front of house staff. The idea has been floated to give the kitchen staff the 40% of the servers card tips in lieu of a pay rise. The trade union Unite will ballot members at two of the TGI Friday restaurants to propose strike action and a protest has been planned in front of one of their flagship branches.

So what!? Well I think it is important to see company policy proposals like this in context. Hospitality, and the service sector in general, is one of the lowest paid sectors in the UK and the staff in hospitality are among the most likely to be on zero hour contracts (ZHC). The front of house staff are more than likely on The National Minimum Wage (NMW) and some employers target younger staff for the simple reason to pay the lower bands of NMW. After all, it is cheaper to have 16-25 year olds working than anyone over the age of 25. This intention is often masked by having young staff ‘repressing the fun brand and their target customer’ in the restaurant, which may hold some truths, but I’d argue it is to decrease operational costs and increase profit.

As someone with over fifteen years’ experience in the service sector, in both retail and hospitality, I have seen the degradation of working conditions and the control mechanisms first hand. The increased utilisation of scripting and technological monitoring controls the employ to act in a way the employer desires. The technology can monitor an employee’s average spend and rank staff from low to high performers; which can be used in performance reviews or prioritising who gets the hours. Regardless of their fluffy employer branding or ‘bring your personality to work’ you must act in a certain way at a certain intensified pace. You are constantly at risk of having your shifts cut short or all together which can lead to financial instability. This can vary from company to company but it is common practice. I’ve been the manager having to make difficult decisions about not recruiting new staff and intensifying the workload of my team to squeeze out a little more profit for the shareholders. I’ve had to performance manage or discipline staff for not following procedures due to rushing through their workload or having stock stolen from their shop-floor even though they don’t have the resources to maintain company standards. I see it now through a critical lens, but I didn’t back then.

So what does this have to do with TGI Fridays and their new tipping policy. Well, it reduces the tips kept by the front of house staff. As a waiter all through my undergraduate degree and recent MSc tips were what I lived off. It was my pocket money and it was the reason I stayed at my waiting job as it funded my studies. Secondly, TGI Fridays is not giving a pay rise to their kitchen staff they are using tips left by customers’ for the good service they have received. This means the company will make more profit by taking tips off front of house staff and giving it to the kitchen staff to increase their wages. This is what I see to be wrong in this situation, the pay rise should come from the company not the front of house staff.

Now, I have no issues with tips being split fairly between front of house staff and kitchen staff. The two would not be able to perform their job without each other. In Pizza Hut, where I worked for four years during my studies, kitchen staff are on a slightly higher wage than front of house staff and receive 30% of card tips from the floor. This has always been the way since customers could leave tips via card; which started in late 2016. All cash tips were kept by the server that was responsible for looking after the table but was not distributed. A separate article could be written about the ethics and fairness of pulling tips and redistributing them but this article is focussing on tips being used to increase company profit.

Tips should not be used to top up wages. There have been horrendous examples of this in Las Iguanas and other restaurants in the UK. The NMW should come from the company in exchange for the employee’s labour and any uniform which must be purchased should be subsidised by the employer. There has also been cases of companies having to back pay because they forced staff buy specific shoes or trousers for work; these should be provided or reimbursed. As for tips, these should be between the staff and the customer. Different systems operate between employers but management and the company should not benefit from gifts being left by customers with the intent to reward the employees effort and the service they received.

If the employees’ were to benefit from keeping their own tips it could be a contributing factor of why the employee may stay in the job and potentially encourage them deliver better levels customer service. The benefits to the employer could be staff retention and the increased likelihood of customer satisfaction. This positive employment relationship could be nurtured by paying employees fairly and by providing good quality and interesting jobs. Allow front of house staff to serve customers with their own personality not following rigid scripts. Allow the kitchen staff to be creative and deliver high quality food within the remit and the standards of the organisation. Leave tips out of pay, and do not use gifts left from customers for profit maximisation.

Brian Finlay

MSc Student in HRM


Money buys political power, this isn’t democracy…

After the allegations around Vote Leave and Cambridge Analytica serious questions need to be asked.

In the past few weeks the discussion around money and power have dominated the mainstream media. If it’s not Russian diplomats paying £40k to play tennis with Boris Johnson, it’s allegations of Vote Leave moving money around between BeLeave, AggregateIQ and Cambridge Analytica. The incidents of not so long ago scandals of the Panama and Paradise papers which documented the wealthiest in our society hiding assets away in tax havens have long been forgotten in political discourse. Oh, and remember the Conservatives and Lib Dem’s being investigated for election fraud at General Elections; that investigation didn’t provide any solutions to the problem or prosecutions just fines and no by-elections. The problem is this kind of blatant opportunism is an attack on democracy and shows how money buys power, to get power you need money – so the rest of us are stuffed!

We can see huge variations in the value of donations each political party receives on the run up to elections. Prior to the snap General Election last year the Conservative’s managed to raise around £25 million and Labour raised around £9.5 million. Amongst the other UK parties the Liberal Democrat’s raised nearly £4.5 million and the SNP raised around £600 thousand; most of which came from a single lottery winning doner. Other parties such as UKIP, Greens and Plaid Cymru raised less than £330 thousand between them. However, on the run up to the General Election in 2015 UKIP had a single donation of a million pounds from Arron Banks, an entrepreneur, who has broken ties with the depleting party.

The difference in financial donations is startling. The Conservative Party received donations of nearly £10 million pounds more than all the other political parties put together. It is important to point out that the snap election caught political parties by surprise as it was called with no warning. The UK parties had less time to collect money from coffers.

Instant access to cash, in the instance of the snap election, was crucial for a successful campaign. Even with an absolutely terrible campaign, useless leader and growing grass roots support for Corbyn money still won the election. Even though the Conservatives lost their majority the winners were the Conservatives which have paid around £1 billion, in tax payers money, to the DUP in a ‘supply and demand’ deal to remain in power.

This is clearly unfair, but there is nothing in place to regulate a level playing field when it comes to total donations to parties only how they are spent. This has however not resulted in any action taken to parties apart from fines; which they can afford to pay. It’s like having a race with varying types of cars and engine sizes; it wouldn’t happen in any other context. Moreover, when the allegations were made about Cambridge Analytica, about the recent fraudulent or ‘dodgy’ events surrounding Vote Leave, the Electoral Commission had to give seven days notice to gain access to offices and IT systems. I’m no tech expert but I am pretty sure a few delete buttons were pressed and data destroyed in seven days before the access was granted. The powers must be given to these autonomous bodies to make sure that fair and transparent campaigns are taking place and democracy is protected. We hear of Russian interference in elections but I am more concerned about the interference of the wealthy few in our own country supporting ideological shifts in UK politics and drastically to the right.

Questions must be answered about these allegations about money being pumped through different organisations around Vote Leave. As Caroline Lucas suggested on Andrew Marr over the weekend (25/03/18) “This puts weight behind having a people’s vote on the deal secured by Theresa May from the European Union”. If the £350 million pounds for the NHS and Turkey joining the EU tomorrow narrative was not grounds for ratification of the result these revelations pick holes in the legitimacy of the EU Referendum result. If The result was swung to the 1.9% majority on breaches to spending allowances on the Vote Leave a referendum on the deal must be offered to the UK.

Money and power will always be linked whilst we exist with a neo-liberal unregulated economic paradigm. Success will always be easier for those with money and it will remain that way as long as power can be bought without real consequences. It is up to us to to vote for change and engage with peers and neighbours as that is the only election method that has more success rate than money fuelled electioneering and physiological marketing.

Brian Finlay

MSc HRM student