I'm told that Chivalry Road is a hive of activity at the moment and news that the London Solicitors have won their case against Chris Grayling over legal aid might well give some Napo members hope that the activity might involve intense effort on a similar legal challenge.
Far from it I'm told because, as I've repeatedly stated on this blog, there has never been any serious plan, let alone desire, of pursuing a Judicial Review on any aspect of TR. Now there will always be those that choose not to believe this, preferring instead to swallow the line that it's all being done in secret so as not to prejudice the case. Indeed this theme has already surfaced on this blog:-
The solicitors have taken over a year to get to this point, highlights that it is not an overnight process.
They also tweeted a few weeks ago apologising for the little info that they had disclosed during the process, stating that they could not publicise much without prejudicing the case.
My contempt for those in positions of authority within the union for allowing this myth to perpetuate knows no bounds. I'm going to say this just one more time - there will be no JR of TR - there never was any intention of mounting a legal challenge because the General Secretary has always been against it, for reasons that are not entirely clear, and the only hope of mounting a challenge to this view was lost when Tom Rendon was hounded from office.
I've heard it said many times before that one of the reasons for not mounting a legal challenge - which incidentally the MoJ privately find astonishing - is the desire to hang on to the money in case of a winding up of the union. It could just be incompetence of course, but it's all academic now because any legal challenge is almost certainly out of time.
So, if there's not a lot of activity going on fighting TR or preparing a legal challenge, what is keeping everyone so busy, preventing meaningful communication with the membership and the General Secretary from writing his blog? I'm told he's busy courting a merger with another union, having been earlier rebuffed by his old union the PCS. I'm led to believe the union in question is Prospect:-
Prospect has over 3,600 members working in a broad range of organisations that are essential to maintaining law and order throughout the UK.
Their input is key across all parts of the judicial system, from departmental policy and criminal investigation through to court proceedings and the penal and probationary systems.
Their expertise spans a variety of specialist roles from forensic scientists to justices' clerks, serious fraud investigators to prison service chaplains and psychological assistants.
The union has members throughout the Ministry of Justice – one of the country's biggest departments – as well as in smaller private companies such as LGC, formerly the Laboratory of the Government Chemist before privatisation and now a provider of investigative, diagnostic and measurement services.
Another key membership area for Prospect within the justice sector is the Metropolitan Police Service where the union represents around 1,000 specialist police staff including fingerprint officers, blood spatter scientists, ballistics specialists, explosive experts, e-forensics specialists (including data retrieval from computers and mobile phones), crime scene examiners and collision investigators, photographers, technicians, health & safety officers, estates managers and surveyors, and custody nurse practitioners.Now don't get me wrong, trying to arrange a merger with another union might be a very sensible thing to be doing if it looks like the imposition of TR and consequent loss of membership begins to question the viability of the union. But this raises a number of questions in my mind, the first being if this is all being undertaken with the authority and approval of the union's governing Executive?
The second question is a bit more serious and concerns how this will eventually be 'sold' to the membership? Will it be a case of 'it's the best we can do in the circumstances' which begins to sound rather ominously like the explanation that was offered to the membership over those 'agreed' TR terms. Was that recent rather pointless letter sent out by the General Secretary saying how well things are going designed to prepare the ground, a bit like trying to stop a run on a bank in parlous trouble?
I'm sure that at least some members will be asking themselves if the situation we now find ourselves in is not so much as a result of TR, but rather more as a result of some breathtakingly inept decision-making at the very heart of the union? There's just time to register this weekend for the AGM in Scarborough at the early bird rate of £45.
No doubt there will be others who will say this is all an anti-union plot by a blog with a hidden agenda. All I can do is repeat that I'm only interested in fighting TR and speaking as I find and as I hear. As always it's up to readers to look at the evidence and make up their own mind.