Sir Peter Housden, Permanent Secretary of the Scottish Government, gets £180,000. Senior judges, senators of the College of Justice, are on £173,000. By those standards £200,000 annually, with a contractual right to a bonus thrown in, counts as not bad at all.
You wouldn't sniff publicly at the pay slip, at any rate. When average earnings in Scotland are hovering at around £21,000, you wouldn't want to give the wrong impression. You certainly wouldn't want it to get around that you had allowed yourself to be put forwa rd for a part-time job paying – this is not a typographical error – £4583 a day. It looks bad.
It looks much worse if you are meanwhile being paid taxpayers' money to run a "sponsored non-departmental public body" dedicated to the common good called Scottish Enterprise (SE). That counts – and this is not a matter of opinion – as a full-time job, a big job, an all-consuming £200,000 a year job. Common sense would tell you to be sensitive to the fact.
Then again, common sense would also tell you that accepting £55,000 for 12 days work a year in the private sector in London while publicly-funded colleagues cover for your absence back home is a very bad idea indeed. An inability to grasp why this would anger people just compounds the problem. It causes your judgement to be called into question.
Dr Lena Wilson, chief executive of SE, is widely regarded as a paragon. There's no reason to doubt it. She has risen high and fast in the economic-development game while maintaining a range of interests in education, the arts, sport and voluntary organisations. No glass ceiling, it is always worth observing, has contained her. So while going through "seven or eight" interviews for that £55,000 non-exec job with the Intertek Group, didn't she once wonder: "How will this look?"
I remember in the early 1990s when you were a junior executive at Forth Valley Enterprise. You were a nice person in those days. Since then, it's all gone wrong.