#beetroots, #biscuits – how the battle for truth @USS is being won.

I find myself embedded in a bizarre discussion on #transparency between some of the brightest bods on twitter. This ill becomes me, I am out of my depth, a TUC cracker in the posh biscuit barrel.

The nutritional allusions had to be spelled out to me, after being handed a virtual plateful of what appear to be beetroot.PNG

The back plot

I wrote a mildly critical, but perhaps too unctuous blog which expressed some sympathy for USS Supremo Bill Galvin. I was trying to convey the puzzlement that Bill clearly has, that he is seen and his outfit are seen as untransparant.

If the benchmark for disclosures is what has historically been dished out to members of pension schemes, USS is well ahead of the curve. Bill can rightly point to precedent.

But if the benchmark is the world where most of his members (UK university lecturers) live, then Bill , USS – and indeed I – are falling short. Witness Sam Marsh (of the Sheffield UCU). The Link to Sam’s blog is here

sam marsh.PNG

Sam has written a short story on the frustrations he had had, getting information for himself and his members from USS (too long for this blog but you can read it here)

Sam rightly pulls me up for misunderstanding the quality of disclosures he – and his colleagues – are requiring.

It took Mike Otsuka to explain to me just how out of touch I was

On #biscuits


The link is to an FT story – that opens

 Britain’s highest-paid university chief huddled inside her tower at the university of Bath as the mob below hurled biscuits — bourbon creams, fig rolls and all-butter shortbread, among other varieties.The confectionery assault was an expression of outrage that the university had covered a £2 biscuit claim as part of the £20,000 annual expense bill for its vice-chancellor, Glynis Breakwell.

On #beetroot

The second piece of the puzzle falls into place if you read an article placed in the University of Birmingham’s staff magazine where the Vice-Chancellor likens the necessary process of change to the revelation he discovered when being forced to eat beetroot in a posh French restaurant. The episode is very much online.


beetroot new.PNG

The baffled Bill Galvin, like the Chair of the BSPS Trustees and his team is living in a different world from his members.

His members are livelier, more social and considerably wittier than he is. They are not tied down by the corporate ethos, nor members of the PLSA. They want the truth on their terms not his.

I am clearly being cast as being on Bill’s side, since I am still (to an extent) , living in Bill’s world! But I am being shaken out of my lethargy by social media.

My worry is that when confronted by the Facebook pages, Allan Johnson still didn’t quite get it, and when confronted by twitter – neither does Bill!

The battle for truth is not being fought in great set pieces – a Waterloo or a Somme! The battle for the truth about the USS’ finances is being fought by guerrillas on twitter!

Bill Galvin ought to be committing some of his capacious communications budget – to participate.

Bill Galvin

Baffled Bill

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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