Stephen Purcell Resignation

Giving, taking, or both?

All of the fuss over former City Council leader, Stephen Purcell’s personal life shouldn’t obscure the fact that he’s been running a local authority which is caught up in a web of ‘”cronyism” and an “elaborate system of political patronage“.

One friend put his resignation down to the strain of running the local authority, “combined with the added pressures of the Commonwealth Games planning and the controversy over Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT)…” (Sunday Herald 07.03.2010).

Of course, the “controversy” over SPT refers to the cancellation of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL) – one of the key ‘legacy’ promises for the Commonwealth Games 2014. Alongside the obscene spiralling of costs on the M74 northern extension – another key ‘legacy’ claim for the Games – this leaves the City Council’s transport policy pledges in ruins (more on this story soon).

It would be interesting to know what “strains” Purcell was under in relation to the Commonwealth Games. It has aleady gone £81 million over budget with four years still to go, the transport legacy is in tatters – what’s coming next?

Meanwhile, The Herald has revealed the “cronyism at the heart of Purcell’s council” ensured that friends and allies pocketed an extra £400,000 – on top of their council salaries – for chairing and sitting on the quangos that Purcell has expensively created from former city departments.

And how does an ‘extended system of political patronage’ work? Well, lets look at events in the east of Glasgow: Willie Haughey (a good friend of Purcell, and the largest Scottish donor to the Labour Party) recently received nearly £700,000 for a plot of land in Camp Road, Rutherglen from Clyde Gateway Developments – a quango run by Iain Manson, Purcell’s former political advisor no less.

This doesn’t point to any ‘conspiracy’ of course, it’s just politics as usual: the same old revolving doors network of legalised theft. We think it’s time for a real study of land ownership in the east end to see exactly who is likely to benefit most from ‘regeneration’ in the area.