Sunday, 21 March 2010
There is little I can say now about Steven Purcell as the magnitude of Glasgow’s political corruption under Labour unfolds. I have believed for many years that Labour was failing Glasgow, and my conversion to the cause of independence for Scotland was in significant part based on what had been done to my native city, although Iraq and Afghanistan were my dominant reasons.
I tried to get some of this across in my first political YouTube video in support of the SNP campaign in Glasgow East.
But I had a desperate need for at least one Glasgow hero, regardless of party, and I cast Steven Purcell in this role. I am left with a feeling of deep sadness at what has happened to this Glasgow boy. His political career is irretrievably destroyed and perhaps his health.
Over the life of my blog (with an unscheduled interruption for a heart attack and a quad bypass) I have been critical of the anti-SNP bias in the Scottish print media – a pro-Tory bias in The Scotsman and a pro-Labour bias in The Herald. My main target was The Herald, because I have expected little from The Scotsman in recent years.
But the decline of the oldest English-language newspaper in the world, with a proud history in objective journalism, and arguably the true voice of Scotland, a voice that resonated beyond its West of Scotland and Glasgow base, worried me deeply, especially since its Labour-biased news and editorial coverage and comment was regularly contradicted by what has always been the glory of The Herald – its Letters page. There the true voice of Scotland was heard, a great, countervailing blast to the distorted and selective reporting on the other pages. The soul of The Glasgow Herald lay in these letters – the fearless, vigorous voice of the people of Scotland.
But in recent weeks, as the wheels have begun to come off the rotten Labour wagon, national scandal followed national scandal and the whole sorry Purcell affair gained momentum, I noted a gradual sea change in The Herald’s reporting, together with a rising note of unease in its tone.
Today, much become clear in The Sunday Herald. Its editorial comment on the Purcell affair goes under the headline -
PR, politics and the press – A conflict of interest? Yes – A barrier to the truth? No
Some selected quotes -
“Since Mr. Purcell’s departure, speculation has grown ever more fevered, encompassing suggestions of a network of powerful figures working behind the scenes to influence the workings of the city. The suggestion that this so-called network includes leading figures from the media is now threatening to undermine public confidence in the integrity of the Scottish press.”
(The colour highlighting is mine – PC)
“There have been hints that some Scottish newspapers have pulled their punches on the controversy, because editors have been too close to Mr. Purcell or, worse, they have been cowed into submission by Peter Watson and the PR firm Media House.”
Commenting on the allegation that a conflict of interest might exist because the legal adviser of the Herald and Times Group, who is also a listed shareholder in Media House and offers a service described as “reputation management”, which is aimed at keeping clients off the front page, with claims of “ …being networked at the highest level and having access to decision makers at the highest levels” as the key to its success, the Herald and Times MD, Tim Blott said he was extremely concerned at the conflict of interest which had arisen in the Steven Purcell case.
The timing is, to say the least, unfortunate, coming on the same day at The Sunday Times carries the headline -
Revealed: Labour’s cash for influence scandal
Steven Byers, former Labour trade and transport secretary describes himself as “… like a cab for hire – at up to £5000 per day”
Other senior Labour figures named include Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon. They all appear to have been caught out by a Sunday Times sting identical to the one that caught the dodgy Labour Lords recently.
This is the Union at work – the United Kingdom – ‘Great’ Britain – our rickety democracy, now rotten to the core, corrupted beyond redemption, with its participants tearing each other apart as the general election approaches.
Every organ of the state and of a free democracy is infected by this, including a free press and media. Those who profited from it, and accepted and exploited its patronage for 13 years under the laughably named People’s Party, Labour, are now jumping ship in all directions, and fighting for a place on whatever lifeboats they can find, desperately trying to ally themselves with what they see as the coming new ascendancy.
Wake up, Scotland! We have choices – in the general election, in the 2011 Holyrood elections and in a referendum on independence. We must rid ourselves of this poisoned Union and find a new, clean road for Scotland.
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Here's what I wrote about him last March. I still feel that way, and wish him well in his recovery. I hope he sees the light and changes his party to the SNP, but whatever he does, he will do it well and honourably.
Of course, I may be wrong and his critics right, and if so I will eat crow.
FROM MY ARCHIVE
Sunday, 15 March 2009
Sunday, Sunday - and Steven Purcell
Oh, the Labour Party! What it has become is both tragedy and farce. Someone should dramatise its decline and fall. It could tour the world, like Black Watch. Brian Cox could play Gordon Brown as a Lear-like figure, crying in the political wilderness. There would be parts for Iain Gray, for Wendy - tears (crocodile variety) would flow copiously ... Stop, stop! This is serious - I mustn't get carried away.
Among the ruins, however, I find wholly admirable Labour people, still alive and kicking, albeit a little damaged. Today, one of them, Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow City Council, is in the news, for all the wrong reasons as far as Iain Gray and the Labour leadership are concerned.
He is the kind of young Glaswegian I recognise and celebrate. He was born in 1972 in Yoker. Now to men of my generation, born in the centre of Glasgow (E1) but living in Dalmuir, near Clydebank in the early 1960's, Yoker was a kind of frontier town, on the Clydebank/Glasgow border.
When the pubs shut at 9 o'clock (yes, my children, 9 o'clock) Yoker pubs, lawless and rumbustious, stayed open until well into the night - well, half-past nine, to be exact. With a fast car from Dalmuir - say a Hillman Imp - you could be thrown out of the Park Bar in Dalmuir at closing time and be in the Cawdor Vaults for a final swally before half-nine. When the Clydebank licensing laws changed to permit opening until 10 o'clock (oh, bliss!) we were all skint by 9.30 and had nowhere to go but home.
But our hero, Steven, missed all that. A 16-year old school leaver, and a YTS trainee in a building society, he was precocious politically, apparently (I look twice in astonishment) joining the Labour Party at 14 and being elected to Glasgow City Council, for the Blairdardie Ward, at the age of 23. He just rose and rose, being elected - unopposed - as Leader at the age of 32. That career path is not down to luck - it must be due to formidable ability and political nous, allied to superb people skills. And if all this was not enough, he seems like a genuinely nice guy. There is still hope for politics, and for Glasgow, if not for Labour.
It's such a pity you are in the wrong party, Steven, but you've got all the years ahead of you to see the light.
You will be a worthy opponent for Alex Salmond when the hapless Gray disappears. I look forward to the contrasting styles at First Minister's Questions. Good luck.