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Dowson's descent

John Dowson, leader of the Independent-Liberal Democrat coalition in Dumfries and Galloway, is a man of independent mind.

In the 1992 general election, he stood for Labour against Ian Lang in Galloway and lost heavily. Last time out, he switched to the Referendum Party before withdrawing and advising supporters to vote Tory. His wife is a staunch trade unionist.

Last week's education committee revealed all his maverick qualities as leader of the Independents when he challenged a request from the directorate, approved at the pre-meeting by the controlling "admin group", to take up the Government's option of two extra days for Higher Still training.

Dowson did not want to see children losing two days' education and said teachers should give up two days of their holidays instead, paid for by the Government.

An amendment found no seconder. "I'm nearly as unpopular with teachers as I am with social workers," he confessed. "What the hell. Can I have my 'descent' recorded?"

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