The Cone of Destiny: the People vs. Glasgow City Council

coneofeJust as we’d put the lid on one article about Glasgow City Council attacking civic space and the right of people who live in Glasgow to actually do things here which aren’t visiting shopping centres or drinking in clubs owned by Stefan King, Twitter suddenly erupted with the latest idiocy to emerge from the denizens of the City Chambers. Apparently, the sight of the cone atop the Duke of Wellington statue, an iconic Glasgow scene and a decades long tradition, is so “offensive” that the council are proposing spending £65,000 on a ‘long term solution’ to this problem by raising the plinth by about 90cm. This would, we’re told, ‘deter all but the most determined of vandals’, which sounds like more of a challenge than anything else. In any case it’s probably the most stupid idea to come out of the City Chambers since one councillor decided he was going to get chewing gum banned from the entire city a few months ago. 

The council’s report itself beggars belief, and shows once and for all what utter contempt the people of Glasgow are held in by the ruling administration:


It’s still a mystery who it is that gets so offended by the cone, which on any normal day of the year is surrounded by tourists posing for pictures. And believe it or not, they’re not posing for pictures because they’re massive fans of the particular horrible imperialist reactionary old bastard that it portrays (if they’re keen on that kind of thing there’s plenty of other statues to choose from); no, they’re mostly posing with it because there HAPPENS TO BE A FUCKING TRAFFIC CONE (sometimes even two) STUCK ON TOP OF THE STATUE. It’s wacky, it’s funny, it’s “one of the top ten most bizarre monuments on Earth” according to Lonely Planet… and it’s Glasgow.

Dare we suggest a long term solution might just be to leave a cone up there. After all, it’s not the fact that there’s a cone atop it that’s causing structural damage to the statue, it’s the constant battle between pished people on a Saturday night climbing up it and the council workers going back up to remove it on Monday morning. If this really is happening a hundred times a year, then little wonder the statue’s suffering a bit of wear and tear.

As for the “current economic climate”, Glasgow City Council are having to make £50m worth of cuts between 2013 and 2015, with 4000 redundancies since 2010. Services are already at breaking point, as the wildcat strikes by care workers earlier this year starkly showed, while the council is currently locked in a bitter dispute with hundreds of low paid school workers. When they’re this short of money, it’s remarkable that they’ve managed to stump up £65k for the staggeringly pointless task of raising a statue by 86cm. But this is Glasgow City Council and that kind of logic isn’t going to fly with them when they’re in the midst of their life mission to turn the city into a gentrified hellhole of wine bars, yuppie flats and chain stores. Just last week news emerged that they’re pushing on with Compulsory Purchase Orders to allow Buchanan Galleries to build a £300m extension, presumably with a hefty public subsidy, while Argyle Street and Sauchiehall Street are left to rot and one of the few places you can actually sit down around there, the Buchanan Street steps, are demolished to make way for a massive glass box.

I won’t bang on about this too much as I’ve covered the subject extensively before in relation to what’s going on with the Commonwealth Games, which you can read here. As for their attempts to drive all public dissent out of the city centre (except the Orange Order, naturally!), we’ve covered that in detail before too. Anyway, to those who often risk life, limb and sometimes arrest to keep up Glasgow’s proud tradition of sticking a traffic cone on top of the Duke of Wellington and his horse, we salute you. You are the true heroes of Glasgow, and long may it continue! It’s our city… and they still have no right to stop us having fun.

STOP PRESS: our pals over at National Collective have gone and called a demonstration against the council’s proposed act of civil vandalism. It’s tomorrow at 5pm outside GOMA (where else?) See you there!!


Further Reading:

Whose City: Are the Commonwealth Games Ruining Glasgow?

Whatever Happened to the East End Subway Extension?

Last Orders for The Lodge?


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9 responses to “The Cone of Destiny: the People vs. Glasgow City Council

  1. I’ve always found the idea of the cone being a symbol of Glaswegian identity faintly cringeworthy. Especially when (as the impressively detailed report notes) it ‘has been supported by former Lord Provosts and Chief Executives and even adopted occasionally by the City Marketing Bureau’. It’s always felt to me like a cliched view of Glasgow was being marketed whilst much of the individuality and character of the city’s public space and urban fabric was being systematically destroyed. I’m not sure that defending the cliche helps us to defend ourselves against that destruction or put anything positive in it’s place.

  2. If this is what elected officials spend their time worrying about – I despair ! £65k could help keep several community projects going instead of closing down. The cone is a symbol of Glasgow’s humour and tradition – leave it alone. Who doesn’t smile when they see it ?

  3. Pingback: People Want Cones - Diversion Projects·

  4. Rewind thirty years to the first young man coning the statue – a brush with destiny. I imagine it was done in slow motion as Light blazed from the doors of the Gallery Of Modern Art behind. And as the music of ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’ from Kubricks 2001 triumphantly heralded the moment, the impromptu crown was brought down onto the statues napper. Things would never be the same again…Glaswegians had gained a new enlightenment that would change their world forever. hehe- See more at:

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