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Absent friends (1)

Mike Russell, the SNP's new education spokesman, delivered a well-received speech to the HAS conference. His insights were more on form than his sight, however. Launching into a passage on the post-McCrone discussions, he noted: "I see Ronnie Smith (general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland) sitting in th audience."

This discomfited not a little Allan Douglas, head of Wallace Hall Academy in Dumfriesshire, to whom all eyes turned. There is indeed a remarkable resemblance between the two. But for the record, we can reassure the more tribal trade unionists that Ronnie Smith was not at the bosses' conference.

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