Romani ite domum
What's this, then? 'Romanes Eunt Domus'? 'People
called Romanes they go the house'?
It-- it says, 'Romans, go home'.
No, it doesn't. What's Latin for 'Roman'? Come on!
Vocative plural of 'annus' is...?
'Romani'. 'Eunt'? What is 'eunt'?
Conjugate the verb 'to go'.
Uh. 'Ire'. Uh, 'eo'. 'Is'. 'It'. 'Imus'. 'Itis'.
Right, stop that, that’s silly! The Antonine Wall
was the focus of much attention on Tuesday, more
beset by politicians than it ever was by the savage
hordes living beyond the North Western frontier of
Roman empire. We
were there to highlight the wall’s status as a World
Heritage Site – one of Linda Fabiani’s achievements
during her time as Minister for Culture and
Wednesday’s event was fronted by new Culture
Minister Mike Russell – or would have been had he
not been running late and had Michael Matheson MSP
step in to do the first bit before Mr Russell could
get there. He was joined by London Minister for
Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism Barbara
Follett MP and each donned a silly hat and looked
ridiculous – unlike me…
Barbara Follett is a very pleasant woman and easy to
get along with, a politician with a human touch and
certainly a cut above the other Labour MPs who were
there, her good manners and intelligent conversation
a refreshing change from the boorishness of her
colleagues. If ever again I despair of Labour MSPs
I’ll take myself off to meet some Labour MPs and put
it all in perspective – if these are the guardians
of the honour and traditions of Westminster then
supporters of that institution might well be asking
“quis custodiet ipsos custodies?”
After such frolics and frivolities, though, it was
back to the ordinary stuff – sic transit gloria!
Education Committee on Wednesday morning for an
evidence session on social work – something which is
a fairly sensitive subject at the moment with the
court case over the death of a young child in
Dundee. I was
employed in social work before May 2007 (learning
development officer) and I have some degree of
understanding of the pressures under which social
workers operate and the situations which sometimes
occur in which it is difficult to determine the most
appropriate course of action. The pressures on our
social services are quite intense and I maintain my
respect and sympathy for those on the front line.
There is a limit to what can be done by social work
staff in any case, and cases like the Brandon Muir
one highlight the difficulties of ensuring the
safety of children and why we should always seek to
learn and improve on the services we provide.
The afternoon plenary session on Wednesday saw us
finally get through to righting a wrong that
resulted from a House of Lords judgement as we
passed the Damages Bill which will restore the
rights to compensation of workers who suffered
asbestos-related conditions as a result of
negligence other than their own. It’s been a long
hard fight for many of the sufferers of pleural
plaques and some of them weren’t around to see the
final victory but it is at least satisfying to know
that we have put right something which had gone
Today’s debate in chamber was a Lib Dem one where
they sought to force the Government to guarantee a
minimum income of £7,000 for every student in
Scotland through grants, loans and parental
contributions – but without saying what the
proportions should be. Indeed, the Lib Dems made it
clear during the debate that it could be 100% loan.
The brass neck of the bunch who landed us with the
Graduate Endowment tuition fee now trying to tell us
we aren’t doing enough for students and offering as
an alternative a whopping great burden for students
to carry! That would be a £7,000 per year tuition
fee – plus interest. Shameful.
I’m pleased that we have a record we can stand on.
The Treasury refused to allow us to move the Student
Loans money from AME to DEL (it’s a bit technical,
but basically means that they keep control of it and
what it’s spent on) to prevent us from turning loans
into grants, providing free maintenance on top of
the free education we provide since we abolished the
Graduate Endowment. Education based on the ability
to learn rather than the ability to pay is a benefit
to all of society – and the benefit of avoidance of
long-term indebtedness should be obvious to everyone
now. Even with that refusal of the Treasury to
allow the freedom for the Scottish Government to
change policy, though, Fiona Hyslop started pushing
it through by other means – 20,000 part-time
students (often the poorest) now get grants instead
of loans, improving their chances of finishing their
courses and thereby improving their life-chances.
It’s not enough yet, but we won’t give up. Quod
Some of the research that I used to rebut the daft
arguments of our opponents came from
Scotland’s Colleges and you can read it for yourself
The Association of Scotland’s Colleges has done good
work here, making sure that the voices of
students are heard. That’s pastoral care!
Talking of colleges, I was privileged to be invited
on Friday for the launch of its International
Baccalaureate programme – the first and the only
state-funded education establishment in Scotland to
be authorised to deliver the programme. Well done
Motherwell College! I was also given the chance to
tour the new campus (still being built) – another
outing for the hardhat and the steel toe-capped
wellies! I still don’t fancy being a builder.
Roma locuta est. Causa finita est.