Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson was last night crowned “Scottish Local Politician of the Year” at the Herald’s annual awards ceremony. Since the event was held in Edinburgh, we thought it only fair to have a celebration right here in Gordon’s hometown. So we are delighted to welcome our good pal Nicki Minaj, to present the Excellent Matheson Award to A Thousand Flowers Lolitician of the Year, wee Gordo.
Since this has been a week of sketchy listicles involving Labour politicians, what better way to celebrate this momentous occasion than to crack open the tonic wine, as we rundown all Gordon Matheson’s finest moments from the last year?…and a bit.
1. Empire Games
Why bother having a council meeting when there’s the really important business of taking selfies with ED MILIBAND?!?! When Ed was stoating about at the Galleries for the cameras during the final days of the referendum campaign, his ranks were swelled by an army of “No Supporters” who seemed remarkably similar to Glasgow Labour councillors. This would perhaps have been less scandalous had it not been for the fact that the first meeting of the full council in 6 weeks lasted a whole 15 minutes and was inexplicably “adjourned“, to allow the Labour crew to get their coupons on the telly with the great leader.
2. The constant Square Go
Glasgow’s “principle civic space” has been less spacious and civic than ever during the reign of Mr. Matheson. The initial idea for a radical redevelopment caused massive controversy, given most people wanted some grass and some benches. The council were insistent that the Square must be able to host large (i.e. corporate) events. After a consultation involving a whole 42 people, there were six bids entered and a winner chosen to redesign the Square at a cost of £15m. This was suddenly dropped in January 2013, without much explanation. There was a subsequent police enquiry but in the end it was concluded Matheson was perfectly entitled to have lobbied for his favourite design despite his varying roles as essentially judge, jury and executioner and then cancel it all. Despite no execution of the threat to radically revamp George Square, the Council are suggesting the end cost of the facelift will be…£15m. In recent years, the Square has been inaccessible just as often as it’s been open, hosting private, ticketed events or more likely, just closed off, in transition, under construction or generally in a guddle.
Possibly THE stupidest thing that’s happened for a long time. In short – there’s a statue with a cone on its head that Glaswegians take great delight in, particularly since for years, the council has simultaneously allowed the “Wellington Cone” to be promoted as a symbol of the city and spent vast sums every year taking the cone off the statue, only for pished people to risk life and limb putting it back on. To put an end to this popular ritual, the Council announced they would put the statue on an EVEN BIGGER PLINTH, to make the challenge of putting a Cone on its head even more difficult and dangerous, at a cost of around £65,000. The ensuing rammy broke the internet and poor Matheson was forced to appear on TV and defend the decision. No sooner had he finished, the Council shat it and reversed their decision and the whole thing went away…until the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, where a tribute to the cone was played immediately after Gordon Matheson’s speech, ignoring the fact he was the only person in Glasgow prepared to go on TV and say that putting a cone on a statue’s head was something which should be urgently and expensively opposed.
4. Glasgay. But not really.
Speaking of the opening ceremony, Glasgow and Scotland are really gay, right? Equal Marriage, Karen Dunbar, *that* kiss and Gordon Matheson is the second openly gay leader of GCC in succession. Given that homosexuality is illegal in all but 11 of the 53 Commonwealth countries, it was entirely correct that there was a focus on the progress we’ve made in Scotland and how much remains undone during the Games. Serious chat notwithstanding, acknowledging so publicly that Glasgow is a city whose story has been shaped by LGBTI people was a pride inducing moment for this old queen, however tokenistic it probably was.
But wither the Council in all this? Well, the organisers of Pride Glasgow actually asked the Council NOT to fly the rainbow flag during Pride in 2013, claiming to do so would be tokenism, since they had removed funding from the event. This year, Glasgow Pride 2014 charged an entry fee for the first time, as queer weegies were charged a fiver to stand in a car park in the rain, rather than be given any of the many available public spaces. The excuse from the organisers? The lack of available venues due to…the Commonwealth Games (which hadn’t started) and lack of council funding and co-operation. If Matheson is pursuing the “gay agenda”, he’s got a funny way of showing it.
5. A word from our sponsors
There were some real Labour values on show at the Games, with perimeter security provided by Selex, who produce drones, radar, targeting and surveillance equipment for well know human rights violators like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Israel (who were carrying out a mass bombardment of Gaza, including the extensive use of drones, as the Games opened). Inside the fences, it was all about perennial fuck ups G4S, who so famously made a total arse of security at the London Olympics, with the main sponsors ATOS and BP being most famous for death (in the form of the notorious “work capability assessments” which have driven thousands to destitution and worse) and death (by continually burning and spilling everything) respectively. When these are the people paying the piper, it’s no wonder the tune is hoaching.
6. Parklife is Prohibited
Just last night we covered the Council’s latest scheme to demolish a park and replace it with shops/houses now the Commonwealth Games are over but that’s the thin end of the wedge. In January, the Council announced their new draconian “park management rules” which banned everything from radios, having 4 dogs, cycling at a safe speed, training paramilitary organisations (yes, specifically), meeting groups of people and doing ORGANISED SPORT anywhere within Glasgow’s Parks. One crucial feature of the rules was that the council could, at any time, charge entry to the park and third parties and corporate sponsors could have right to dictate the terms of entry to our public spaces – essentially meaning they were no longer public spaces. Following a consultation, there’s been silence from the City Chambers, the links on their website are broken, so who knows what happened to their scheme. Still the core principle of selling our green space out from underneath us remains, with the lease to a section of Victoria Park randomly appearing in an online auction.
7. World’s Shoutiest Man
Matheson’s speech during the Opening Ceremony at the Commonwealth Games was undoubtedly his finest hour. We can’t really describe it much better than we did at the time:
Maybe his mic wasn’t working, maybe it was working so well he couldn’t hear himself or maybe, just maybe, he delivered a fervourous performance worthy of the tinpot dictator he is in his own mind. Drunk on temporary power, it was like watching a figure from history declaring war on their ideologically wayward neighbour, as Matheson furiously bellowed his demands for welcome and enjoyment at the terror-stricken audience.
Everyone clapped extra loudly, incase the G4S guards tazered them for looking insufficiently welcome.
8. Not Stepping Down
The famous Royal Concert Hall steps on Buchanan Street haven’t even been around for that long but they have developed into one of the best and most versatile civic spaces in the city. It’s THE place to sit and have your lunch while the many wonders on offer in the City Centre unfold before you. In an hour it’s quite possible to see a rally, juggling, get some hellfire and brimstone preaching and doubtless some random free tat. It’s widely believed by those who work in the Buchanan Galleries that the steps attract, rather than detract, from their customer base. But they are stairs, not shops, so the Council plans to demolish them and make room for even more retail. In an unitentional propaganda fail, Matheson even had the cheek to declare that a Yes vote could see the planned demolition scrapped. Sadly, despite being a non-shitebag city on the whole, the destruction of the steps/Scotland will continue unless we show them we’re not gonnae stand for giving up our seat…to the point it will cost them theirs. There’s a demo planned for Saturday 6th December at 2pm, details here.
9. Red Road to Nowhere
In a move described as “bold and dramatic” by the Glasgow 2014 PR machine, it was announced that the Red Road Flats were to be demolished on live TV, as part of the Commonwealth Opening Ceremony. In a city which has lost 60,000 social houses since 1991, the proles were expected to cheer the demise of “the past”, which was unfit for humans (except of course, the asylum seeking families who the council had continued to house there for years). The future – gentrification, social cleansing and never ending rent increases – was here, hooray! Not surprisingly, like most of GCC & Co.’s bright ideas, it was dumped very quickly following yet another public outcry but not before Gordon Matheson extended the invitation to the 887 households who would have to be temporarily evicted to go to Glasgow Green to “soak up the atmosphere” of watching a part of their community destroyed – because it would look great on the telly.
10. Making Steven Purcell look almost competent
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