Clydeside crisis

4th July 2003 at 01:00
SPARE a thought today for Jim Mitchell, the education convener in Inverclyde. A month is indeed a long time in politics. Fresh from the triumph of beating Labour in May to take over the council's administration, he was dumped as Liberal Democrat group leader and handed education as a consolation prize. But education in Inverclyde is far from consoled. Mr Mitchell appears to have done a masterful job in alienating headteachers, the unions, the Catholic Church and school boards.

But spare a thought, too, for Bernard McLeary, Inverclyde's director of education. Fresh from an endorsement by HMI and with the prospect of an pound;80 million modernisation programme, he was basking in the approbation of "well done, thou good and faithful servant". Now he has to serve a political boss who rubbishes the HMI report, pulls out of the rebuilding programme and appears to have lost the confidence of the very people Mr McLeary needs to do his job effectively.

Spare a thought, finally, for the Liberal Democrats in the ruling Executive. Inverclyde represented their flagship victory in the May elections, helping them to stand firm in the coalition negotiations with Labour. Their pride on the Clyde is now looking a little humbled. Should they not step in?

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