Sunday 27 October 2002

Jack sees the light

I have always been a fan of Glasgow Herald columnist, Jack McLean. Described as the Urban Voltaire, Jack writes a very readable diary about his life as a man-about-town. Recently, he has been relentlessly pursued by the tax authorities and has been in fear of losing his beloved home.

But, what's this? On Saturday, Jack writes:

It took a capitalist organisation, dedicated to making profit, to save me from eviction and homelessness. When a young woman called Mia Dussin rang me last Friday to suggest that the Clydesdale Bank, for whom she works, might be able to help me, little did I realise that today I would be sitting with her and her manager, another young woman, this one called Paula Flannigan, while I hear, at first with incredulity, that I will still have a roof over my head. The two girls were charming and nice, the way bankers are supposed not to act. But, then, in the various crises over the past while, Scottish Power, Scottish Gas, British Telecom, and assorted other greedy capitalistic firms have been sending me letters saying things like: “We can defer payment just now. But can we help?” In a wee touch of contrast, the non-profit-making authorities who allege they are here to make all our lives absolutely stoating have been pursuing me like something out of the Sicilian Mafia. I don't know why this is, but am somehow reminded of the fact that Donald Dewar (our late, very socialist, first minister) had about a squillion quid in his will and Tom Winning (the late Scottish cardinal) left two grand.
Jack was once a teacher and when he recalls those days his comments on the state education system are worthy of a life-long libertarian. Otherwise, Jack has always appeared to be a standard leftist member of the chattering classes, uttering the usual anti-capitalist cliches. Now, Jack has discovered that profit-seeking companies survive by helping their customers and that his experiences with the Glasgow Education Department are echoed elsewhere in the public sector. Welcome to the real world, Jack.