Royal rumpus

8th June 2001 at 01:00
This week's annual meeting of the Educational Institute of Scotland very nearly never took place because of an 18-month dispute over the non-replacement of Fred Forrester, the union's former depute general secretary, who now plies his trade in occasional journalism.

Only a settlement at the end of May with the office branch of the MSF union saved the day. Officials were due to strike and even general secretary Ronnie Smith - not normally inclined to rush to the barricades - told elected members there couldbe no show if they were not on duty.

The fallback, as ever, was the second EIS royal charter, granted by George V in 1925, which requires that an annual meeting shall be held on dates fixed by the previous annual meeting. In theory, Her Majesty could have received protests.

There were rumours the monarch was set to dispatch Scottish Secretary Helen Liddell to Moray Place to insist the event should take place. Smith, it was suggested, would have capitulated when faced with "Stalin's Granny".

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