I'm conscious that I really ought to say a bit more about the AGM before I forget.
As usual, 'conference' is a really strange mix of, lets be honest here, some real tedium, very dull but worthy talk, mixed with bursts of quality debate, sparky and witty intervention and stuff that realy raises the spirit. The usual wait for quoracy each day is irksome, but I think I'm right in saying it was much quicker this year than in some previously.
As has already been touched upon and not surprisingly, this year there was a palpable undercurrent of unease and dissent and the 'closed' session only aggravated this and fuelled greater cynicism. Without going into any great detail, it was a sober, largely technical examination of the issues surrounding any possible legal challenge to TR and a very wide-ranging Q and A conducted by solicitor Edward Cooper.
Following this, I think a number of things are now very clear to me. Firstly, there are grounds for a challenge, but more specific evidence is urgently required from members. A number of people were interviewed on the day and evidence obtained. I understand others are due to be interviewed this week and an urgent call will go out later today for yet more. I'm sure the Napo communication will make clear what is required.
Secondly, time is desperately short. Action has to be taken in the next couple of weeks if there is to be any chance of delaying, or halting the proposed share sale.
Thirdly, due to member pressure and widespread unease, coupled with changes to the composition of the Napo 'top table', there has been a seismic shift in resolve regarding a legal challenge and as evidenced in the statement made by the General Secretary on Saturday morning.
He made it absolutely clear that any legal challenge was definitely not contingent upon the support of any other union, although support was being actively encouraged, particularly from Unison. But he confirmed Napo would proceed alone if necessary. He also confirmed that further alternative legal advice would be urgently obtained if, for any reason, the current 'direction of travel' was not felt strong enough. Money is not an issue we were told.
I'm led to believe Ian deviated from the prepared and agreed text, but hopefully this was nothing substantial or particularly germane, but it would be interesting to know nevertheless.
In passing, I think I'd also like to mention his short speech saying goodbye to interim-Chair Chris Pearson. I think it's highly significant that, when speaking of an extremely short period in office, the General Secretary still saw fit to refer to having had 'differences' between the pair. For me it sort of puts into a whole new perspective the interim-Chair's several references to there being a few things 'not quite right' at Chivalry Road, and that he would 'make the new co-Chairs aware' of certain issues.
I suspect I'm not alone in having a wry smile at some of the 'motherhood and apple pie' motions that find no objectors and pass comfortably 'nem con', but every now and then conference throws up some really excellent speeches and though-provoking debates. My personal favourite was the motion regarding probation returning to social work values.
The proposer spoke eloquently and with obvious passion and should they be reading this, I would dearly like to publish it on the blog. The motion passed unanimously and I couldn't help but notice the vigour with which former CEO Sally Lewis showed her delight.
Actually there were some other very good speeches that I feel deserve a wider audience than afforded them at Scarborough, and those by self-confessed compulsive letter-writer Mike Guilfoyle spring to mind. He has kindly forwarded these to me for publication and I extend a similar invitation to any other conference contributor.
I'll sign this off with a further mention of Sally Lewis who made some extremely forthright and negative statements regarding TR that for me I found quite annoying. It may well be naive or unfair of me, but symptomatic of the growing anger that this omnishambles is generating, but why oh why didn't we hear her say all this when it would have had some effect?
Just one Chief willing to stand up publicly and unequivocally at the start of it all would have been newsworthy and just might have galvanised some others of her supine colleagues. This whole bloody shambles was, after all, made possible by Chiefs and Trust Boards.
I think it's worth mentioning that I detect a return of some mojo! Readership this weekend has been amazing with well over 4,000 hits both on Saturday and Sunday and some of the revelations coming in about the TR omnishambles around the country are both staggering and shocking. These are not teething troubles - the system is clearly smashed. Please keep the horrors coming in as I intend to publish a 'horror special' ahead of the usual Sunday roundup.