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Sixties' child Mackney fights an ageing battle

WHEN a trade union elects an ageing flowerchild like Paul Mackney as its general secretary, and holds its national conference in the week of Bob Dylan's 60th birthday, you can expect a certain frisson.

Speeches at lecturers' union NATFHE's conference were laden with references to leaving employers "blowing in the wind" - and the college lecturers' strike had everyone "knocking on heaven's door".

Mackney himself, when he was mere regional official, had a poster of the great man in his office, and claims to have considered firing a secretary who asked the name of that funny-looking man on the wall.

But, in an act of defiance, his younger staff went to a pub to listen to a locally-celebrated Elvis impersonator. Mackney retaliated by quoting Lenin the next morning: "To choose battle at a time advantageous to the enemy is criminally foolish."

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