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Glued to the seats at the STUC;Jotter;Back paige

STANDING OVATIONS were in short supply at this year's Scottish Trades Union Congress, which was held in Glasgow - not that the location was in any way responsible.

Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlem was accorded her now customary ovation before she spoke and another when she sat down. Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar did not get one, so no surprise there. But then neither did David Bleiman.

David who? He's the Edinburgh-based assistant general secretary of the Association of University Teachers who considerably overran his allotted 12 minutes at the end of a long day.

Despite the import of Bleiman's remarks, lambasting the Government's "anomaly" where students attending Scottish universities from elsewhere in the UK have to pay tuition fees for their fourth year, one delegate noted that it was the first time he had seen a signer for the deaf going to sleep during a speech.

The brothers and sisters in the Educational Institute of Scotland delegation were in short supply at the start of the morning session prior to the speech by the saintly Mo. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the traditional reception for the teaching unions had been held the previous evening.

One person who did make it on time was the union's vice-president, John Patton. Patton's conscientiousness may be partly explained by his elevation to high office, though the fact that he is a teetotaller might also have something to do with it.

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