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Showing posts with label Accord Centre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Accord Centre. Show all posts

Thursday, 5 April 2012

The Commonwealth Games ‘legacy’? Shona Robison SNP and Patricia Ferguson–Labour in cosy concert against Dr. Libby Porter

This programme made me feel sick – an SNP MSP in league with a Labour MSP against the people of Dalmarnock, the disabled children of the Accord Centre, and a Glasgow University world expert on urban regeneration and the negative impact of projects such as the Commonwealth Games.


University of Glasgow School of Social and  Political Sciences


Glasgow Labour destroyed Dalmarnock, made some of its people homeless and penniless, while obscenely enriching property developers and house builders. The SNP has done little or nothing - except pose for a few photographs - for these people.  The local SNP MP, John Mason, as far as I know, has walked away from them. (I would be delighted to hear differently from him, or any source.)

The Glasgow Press, with the honourable exception of the Sun and Paul Drury, has either ignored them or misrepresented their position. The rich sportsmen of Glasgow, and Celtic Football Club, on their doorstep, have ignored them. Scottish television channels have given them superficial and in general negligible coverage.

This is Glasgow and the Commonwealth Games’ shameful secret, and should be the shame of the sports-obsessed professional and political classes of the West of Scotland.

There is still time for the Scottish Government to show some humanity – and some bloody sense – before the local elections on 3rd of May.


Police probe into Commonwealth Games land deals

Police drop probe into land deals

Friday, 10 February 2012

A message to Glasgow Labour councillors – don’t be part of the death of Labour – be part of the future of Scotland

The Glasgow Labour ship is aground, holed below the waterline, but may float until May.

To Labour councillors - I have this to say - you can't avoid risk either way, so make the smart bet - move to the SNP. You'll be welcomed, and your constituents will understand - but only if you do it now, and spend the next ten weeks or so explaining and convincing them. If you truly believe in Glasgow, you MUST do it - and you can.

Don't be part of the collapse of Glasgow Labour - be part of the future of Scotland!

Glasgow City Labour – three wheels on their wagon – excited squeals from Gordon Matheson

Municipal politics often present an ugly, sordid spectacle, one that is mercilessly depicted in Private Eye’s Rotten Boroughs feature. Few present one as sordid as Glasgow City Council, which over decades has honed the traditional script elements of cronyism, petty nepotism, influence-peddling, individual venality and payoffs allied to huge profits to the external vultures -the beneficiaries of contract placements, insider information and land deals. And of course, bullying and intimidation, both within the hallowed precincts of the City Chambers, and among the deprived communities that suffer under such a regime when they make their brave individual protests.

We only have to remember the victims of the Dalmarnock Commonwealth Games development and regeneration project – were ever two words so misused? – the families made homeless, the small businesses wiped out, the disabled children and their families callously deprived of their Accord Centre.

When their voices were raised, the full force of the law, plus police (80 of them plus 15 riot vans) and masked council workers with sledgehammers was deployed against them, in one of the most shameful episodes in municipal history. The “rich got rich and the poor got poorer”, but the property developers, the lawyers and the councillors? “Ain’t we got fun?”

But a rotten wagon travelling on rough terrain begins to rock: people fall off – or get pushed – the axles give out and the wheels begin to come off. Yesterday in the council chamber we saw unprecedented scenes, or at least got the flavour of them. Glasgow City Council’s Labour hegemony came perilously close to the edge of the ravine.

But Labour ‘won’ the vote – 40-38 – and a flushed and excitedly squealing Gordon Matheson  bounced out of the chamber in a state of euphoria, emitting breathless gasps about passionate ideals and values, labouring under the delusion that he had won a victory rather than narrowly averted a humiliating defeat – a Pyrrhic little victory that presages an inevitable end in May.

I said a bit last year (see blogs below) about the implications of corruption in local government and the GCC Labour policy of clearing ‘deadwood’ from the rotten Labour tree, a futile exercise, since the great axe of the democratic voice of the electors of Glasgow is going to bring it down in the May elections.

And when the light shines on the fallen trunk, some strange thing will be seen scurrying away into the undergrowth.


Blog - Friday, 16 September 2011

What happens when the wheels come off the Glasgow Labour machine?

Back in May of this year, I asked the following question -

What happens when any political machine loses power at the local level anywhere in the United Kingdom, indeed in any city in the democratic world?

The City of Glasgow, my native city, was not far from my mind when I asked the question. (see blog extract below). I was thinking ahead to the local elections of 2012. The wheels have begun to come off the Glasgow Labour machine even earlier than I thought they would.

First we had The Scotsman on 13th September, with the headline Labour split over plan to ‘devolve’ the party with a sub-header of Angry backlash as Westminster accuse Murphy and Boyack of ‘selling out’ to the Nationalists. (That could as well have been worded as UK nationalists accuse Murphy and Boyack of ‘selling out’ to the Scottish Nationalists.)

Then on the 15th of September, The Herald carried the headline Labour faces backlash over shake-up of councillors.

(Among those being ‘cleared-out’ are former City Treasurer James McNally and former licensing chief Stephen Dornan.)

Their attempts to clear out what they see as deadwood councillors has understandably not been received well by the dead wood. I’m a dog man myself – I have two Westies, Angus and Dougal – and I was interested to see that the Deadwood Clearer-in-Chief, aka Brodie the Beagle Jamie Mallan, also seems to be a dog man, at least according to The Herald.

The idea that some elected officials in Glasgow City Council are deadwood seems to be either an affront to democracy, or a recognition of what some have always alleged, that the Glasgow voters would vote for the equivalent of the Hartlepool Monkey if it ran on a Labour ticket. Hartlepool notoriously hanged the monkey, but so far Glasgow Labour have not proposed such a draconian penalty. However, I conceive of other possibilities. In my blog (below) of May 2011, I identified the possible categories that could exist within a rotten borough, which of course, post-Purcell, Glasgow may not be …

Within the central structure of a rotten borough there are three groups -

honest employees and politicians

dishonest employees and politicians who are up to their necks in the corrupt practices

those who are all too aware of what has been going on, but who have not participated in, or profited by it, but who have remained silent rather than blow the whistle.

Now, assuming that those conducting a clearout of alleged deadwood – such as that being carried out in Glasgow - had insider knowledge of which group each councillor was in, and assuming that the possibility exists, however remote, that they were not all as honest, public-spirited and dedicated to those who elected them as I hope all Glasgow City Councillors are, the $64,000 question is then – which group would they target?

Logically, it would be the dishonest ones, but for that to be true, those conducting the clearout evaluations would have to belong to the third group, those who were aware of what was going on, but had not blown the whistle. Since by definition, apparent incompetence and corruption go hand-in-hand, the reason for clearout can then safely be advanced as incompetence.

However, if those conducting a clearout in this imaginary rotten borough (there is no current evidence that GCC is a rotten borough, at least since Purcell) were in fact complicit in dodgy goings-on, the logical strategy would be to clear out the honest politicians who were not aware of what was going on, but not those who knew, but didn’t participate, since this might induce them to blow the whistle belatedly.

I fervently hope that Glasgow is not, and even allowing for Purcell, never has been a rotten borough, but in a city council and administration of the size and complexity of Glasgow, with all the temptations inevitably involved in the placing of lucrative contracts, the granting or withholding of planning permission and licenses, the insider knowledge of large-scale development projects such as the Glasgow East Regeneration and the Commonwealth Games projects, it would be nothing short of miraculous if no elected official or salaried employee had ever yielded to such temptations.

In their position, I would be as angry and apprehensive as the group of Glasgow councillors who have been categorised as ‘deadwood’ clearly are under these circumstances, because of the inevitable potential damage to their reputations and because not only their competence is being impugned, but a dark cloud of suspicion will inevitably accompany them if they go quietly. In their place, I certainly wouldn’t …

Colin Smyth, Labour’s Scottish General Secretary, has a job and a half on his hands. Perhaps Tom Harris, MP can help.



Let’s look away from Glasgow for a moment, and consider what happens when any political machine loses power at the local level anywhere in the United Kingdom, indeed in any city in the democratic world.

I will use the term used by Private Eye, that indispensable publication that covers the ground that mainstream media are either too lazy, too complacent or too scared to address - rotten boroughs. Private Eye regularly publishes the sordid details of such rotten boroughs across the UK, where blatant corruption, the self-interest and the personal profit of councillors reign supreme over any concern for the people who have the misfortune to be dependent on them.

The mechanics of such corruption of local democracy across the UK are always the same - the award of contracts in disregard of best practice, failure to declare interest by councillors, nepotism, insider knowledge of land development, so-called consultancy and training contracts, lucrative sinecures for councillors on quasi-independent bodies, revolving door appointments to organisations that have benefited from council largesse. The necessary links with external organisations created by the giant budgets controlled by councils creates a potential for influence that should work for the good of the people, but all to often operates against their interests.

But like all political power, when the continuity of the hegemony is threatened, those external organisations whose relationship with the political power brokers  has been less than transparent begin to get jittery, and a process of disengagement begins that is deeply worrying to the politicians involved.

And within the central structure there are three groups - honest employees and politicians, dishonest employees and politicians who are up to their necks in the corrupt practices, and a crucial third group, those who are all too aware of what has been going on, have not participated in, or profited by it, but who have remained silent rather than blow the whistle.

It is this group who begin to break their silence when the power structure begins to look shaky, anxious not to be caught up in a scandal that they have never profited from. Once those first cracks appear, the honest group, often comprising senior professionals, becomes uneasily aware of what has been going on under their noses, and begins to probe the weakest parts of the edifice of corruption.

Soon thereafter, panic sets in among the truly corrupt. Having no allegiance to any person or principle other than that of expedient self-interest, they begin to try to distance themselves from what may be coming their way. At that point, the dam begins to burst- auditing bodies, professional organisations, the police, national government and the media acquire a sudden interest.


I make the above points as general observations about corrupt organisations. Glasgow City Council may be entirely free of corruption, especially since the end of the Purcell era, which may itself just have been the personal failings and the personal tragedy of one man. If this is so, then in the Dalmarnock case, they have been simply deeply misguided in the way they pursued otherwise laudable objectives in relation to the regeneration of the East End of Glasgow and the huge opportunity presented by the Commonwealth Games,  displaying professional callousness and a total lack of empathy towards an entire community of ordinary working people, and a highly selective view of the law as it relates to compulsory purchase and the acquisition of land for development purposes.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Legacy? - What Legacy? - The Commonwealth Games

Newsnight Scotland’s first half last night was devoted to the question of what lasting benefit, if any, will result from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It started well, asked the right questions of the right people, including Dr. Libby Porter of Glasgow University, who as far as I know is Scotland’s only expert on international urban regeneration projects, and John Beattie, former rugby internationalist and now a broadcaster.

Both made highly relevant contributions: both questioned if there was any real legacy of such events. Dr. Porter asked what should be the central questions in this debate - who benefits by such projects, and the one that is never asked - who suffers because of them? The answer is clear - property developers, athletes and politicians benefit, and the local people - the beating heart of the area being ‘developed’ - suffer, and are, on occasion, destroyed economically and emotionally by the development juggernaut.

This first part of the Newsnight item occupied one third of the total time budget - the remaining two thirds were devoted to a talking heads studio discussion of mind-bending banality and irrelevancy between Gordon Brewer and Doug Gillen, a sports journalist, and Professor Joe Goldblatt of Queen Margaret University.

Newsnight Scotland had the choice, of course, of including real people, ordinary Scots whose lives had been turned upside down by Glasgow City Council and the Commonwealth Games developers - the Dalmarnock families and small businesses, who have been forced out of their homes and have received no compensation whatsoever because they had the temerity to challenge the derisory sums offered to them, while already rich property developers were having millions thrown at them by GCC - or the mothers of the disabled children who are wholly dependent on The Accord Centre, which is being taken away from them, with no satisfactory replacement.

But such an injection of real life and real people into the debate would have been emotional, untidy and difficult to manage, whereas a couple a talking heads, however, irrelevant to the debate, was the infinitely easier option, the default choice of lazy journalists and lazy producers everywhere.

Alternatively, Newsnight Scotland could have given Libby Porter a place on the panel, or even the total slot, because she has lived and breathed the Dalmarnock experience, got involved with the real, vulnerable human beings who are obscured by the glib PR of politicians and Glasgow Council, and their ever-compliant companions, the Scottish Press. Libby, an Australian, didn’t just theorise in the groves of academe, she was there on the streets, and behind the barricades, sharing the pain when the full force of the Glasgow City Council, the law and the Glasgow Police were thrown against one of the families, the Jaconellis.

The Sun's horrifying eviction report and video

I look forward to the New Scotland after independence, but some of its people and its institutions are going to have to take a long, hard look at themselves if they are to be a part of it. The people of Dalmarnock have been betrayed by their media, their press and above all, by the professional classes of Scotland, with a tiny number of glowing exceptions.

The Human cost of the commonwealth Games