High office no bar to public service
When a former government minister is appointed to a key council post, there will inevitably be questions about probity. The appointment of Tom McCabe as policy manager in Glasgow Council’s land and estates department will raise eyebrows (your report, 21 July). But the reaction of SNP group leader Graeme Hendry was too hasty.
The question he should be asking is not about assurances that Mr McCabe will not put allegiance to Labour first, it is whether the council’s recruitment and selection policy was observed meticulously.
Once holding a senior position in the Holyrood administration should not be seen as a gateway to employment, but neither should it automatically be seen as a barrier.
Has Mr McCabe the experience, qualifications and insight to fulfil the duties of the post? Was he afforded the same courtesy and opportunity to apply for it as the other candidates? Can the interviewers give an absolute assurance that all candidates were considered on merit?
These are the points Mr Hendry should be concerned with. If the answer to all three is yes, he can have no complaint. Mr McCabe will be employed under the same code of conduct as other council employees. It will be for managers in Glasgow Council to determine whether he ever breaches it.
Local authorities throughout employ many people who are individual members of political parties. There is nothing wrong with that. The overwhelming majority know where to draw the line between professional judgment and political preference.
A public perception of “jobs for the boys” should concern any administration. It does need to be backed up by concrete evidence, however.
To deny Glasgow Council the services of Tom McCabe simply because of his political record would be counter- productive as well as questionable in terms of equal opportunity and civil liberty.
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