Friday, September 9, 2016

Glasgow Labour Councillors express their anger as key civic post of Baillie is decided on the toss of a coin, we now have internal strife and councillors failing to attend meetings and rarely being seen in the City Chambers, clearly this is what shouldn't be passing for leadership at present or in future

Dear All

It seems that politics in Glasgow is on a knife edge, the SNP are preparing to mount a serious challenge despite having no real talent in their ranks to take on the Labour Administration.

You might think as this time round the Labour Party would be keen to do everything in a professional manner, which is why I am surprised that Glasgow's Lord Provost and the party's chief whip Alistair Watson decided who would become a Baillie on the toss of a coin.

The position of Baillie on the council is considered a top civic post, it has a key ceremonial role where a councillor can go along to functions and represent the Council.

It seems that none of the candidates were present at the less than historic flip of a coin was carried out in private, but if any of this stands scrutiny the both candidates should have been present and a third party.

Personally, I don’t know either candidate for the post, but you would think the process would revolve around merit; the best candidate for the role should be based on the overall performance of the individual.

As to the excuse of "pressure of time", this is nonsense and doesn’t hold water in my opinion, how long does an interview take, how long does a review of the councillor’s attendance record take?

It has also come to pass, that the move hasn’t gone down well and caused a new wave of internal strife within the ruling Labour administration in Glasgow and here was me thinking that when I put in my application to stand as a potential councillor I would if elected be joining a ‘happy ship’.

That bit was a joke, I am well aware of what goes on in the council and how the council runs.  

One of the problems flagged up by current councillors is that party councillors are failing to attend meetings.

Obviously this could be explained away as demonstrating leadership, as in ‘better things to do’ with their time.

A question which springs to mind is, are certain councillors keeping up with their surgeries and ward walkabouts to identify problems.

Another example of leadership was the number of Labour Councillors and ex Labour Councillors who have defected to the SNP; again, I am sure this could be explained away to the party as demonstrating leadership.

During the 2016 campaign in Pollok, I rarely worked with the 7 elected Labour councillors in the Pollok Constituency until the last week of the campaign.

I haven’t been to an official branch meeting of the Pollok CLP during my entire time as a member of the party.

The only one which I did turn up to was cancelled on the night.

Chief whip Alistair Watson has issued an order requiring full attendance from all councillors, given that some people are retiring, their money cannot be affected and internal strife, one wonders how many will answer his call.

Do the ones turning up display leadership or do the ones falling to do so display leadership?

In the end the job was to be given to Cllr Marie Garrity, she is understood to be an ally of the ‘faction’ around the council leader.

One of the problems with the Labour administration especially during the Purcell reign was the way he operated which caused factions, it seems Purcell’s legacy is continuing according to some people who have no problem speaking to the press about it.

Clearly spilling your guts to the press is displaying leadership albeit anonymously.

In an email to party colleagues, Ms McKeever said:

"I contacted you on the 16/8 regarding the vacant Bailie position and I wanted to update you. I was informed yesterday by both the Lord Provost and Cllr Watson they had made the decision by tossing a coin in private and Cllr Garrity will be the new Bailie."

Given you cannot rewind history back, given the damage have been done internally and publicly, the best thing to do is ‘jog on’.

A spokesman for the Labour Group said:

“In this particular circumstance there was pressure of time and the Lord Provost and Business Manager of the Labour Group decided to resolve the issue by the toss of a coin. The members of the Labour Group have since decided that alternative means to resolve close run contests such as this should be used in the future”.

This is called putting a brave face on a disaster, when the person said alternative means I assume that means following some kind of process and having people who understand things like rules.

To show how this has bombed within the group, a Labour insider said:

"Pauline was very keen for the Bailie role. She's not standing next year and was keen to experience it. She is absolutely raging about what happened and confronted Watson in his office. Folk like Liz Cameron who had been here for years and was Lord Provost said she was astonished the coin toss was done to select a group member for a civic role. No one else can remember this ever happening before."

Another happy camper said:

"The reality is that this decision should've gone to a vote amongst the group. I've never heard of decisions for office holders to be taken in this way within the council. But we are facing the time when people need to get real and fight for this council and city."

One of the things I discuss sometimes with someone I know is governance, and why governance is important not just in an organisation but also for the individuals who administer it.

An SNP group spokesman said:

"Given the ongoing carnage within Glasgow Labour it will come as no surprise to anyone to learn that decisions are made by the toss of a coin. For a long time we have strongly suspected that is how key policy decisions are made and we can only hope that the electorate will soon replace them with an administration that makes decisions based on rational thought and not just chance."

The coin toss is good news for the SNP because it gives them an opening to spin a story of how the Labour Party must be removed at the Glasgow Council Election in 2017, I wonder when the coin was flipped did the people involved think that they might also be tossing a coin on whether the next administration of the council would be Labour?

So, what would I have done?

I think I would have given the defeated candidate the role of Baillie given that  Cllr Marie Garrity appears to be coming back if she can get elected.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University  


Auld Jock said...

Hello George

Coin tossers. Absolutely bizarre. Should the good folk of Glasgow re-elect tossers? Probably , since the snp are the biggest tossers of all.

Auld Jock

Anonymous said...

they re a gift to the SNP , clowns

G Laird said...

Hi Auld Jock

"Coin tossers. Absolutely bizarre. Should the good folk of Glasgow re-elect tossers? Probably , since the snp are the biggest tossers of all."

I don't think an administration can function without governance, rules and regs, I do see how a coin toss for a civic post can meet that criteria.

I see that Labour is only fielding 43 candidates for next year's election including a psychic medium.

Can you spot George Laird in this, trade unionists, Jeremy Corbyn supporters, two former MSPs, party apparatchiks and a female Episcopalian priest.

I have an appeal or not depending on whether the party gets back to me.