Dragging politics into the political arena

6th September 1996 at 01:00
Something was obviously afoot at Aberdeen education committee last week when the cameras turned up - it was of course the proposed cuts. Jim Wyness, Labour convener, inquired if members would mind the glare of publicity. Councillors minding being on telly? Whatever next?

John Porter, Tory challenger for Malcolm Bruce's Liberal Democrat parliamentary seat in Gordon, raised a slight objection: "I've not had the matt finish, Mr Chairman." Resuming the verbal spats he enjoyed on Grampian Region, he got stuck into confusion over two sets of papers. Wyness, a former modern studies and history teacher, called for "a few minutes" to digest the latest batch. "A few minutes," spluttered Porter. "You dinnae need a few minutes to read them."

The Lib Dems have their say on this colourful committee. Ian Yuill, their election agent in Aberdeen North, proposed supporting the Scottish Parent Teacher Council's petition against the cuts, which was backed by Labour's vice-convener, Jurgen Thomaneck, both of whom claimed it was a non-political move.

"This is an overt political stance for Councillor Yuill's own gratification, " Porter fumed. Jill Wisely, Porter's sidekick and Tory candidate in Aberdeen Central, accused Yuill and his cronies of "huffing and puffing" over cuts.

Pamela MacDonald hit back for the Lib Dems accusing successive speakers of "dragging politics into this".

"Dearie me," quipped Porter.

"I had hoped this motion would have been non-controversial," Yuill continued.

"Ho, ho," Porter replied.

Turning to another item, Thomaneck, the loquacious powerhouse, said there were "two alternatives".

Sparring partner Porter piped up. "Is that proper English, professor?" The professor of German at Aberdeen University revealed he had once checked the Latin derivation and the English dictionary and had concluded you could talk of even "three alternatives". He chucked in some Spanish for extra show. Having axed foreign language assistants in the city, Thomaneck is now doing his best to maintain the European dimension.

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