Friday, 26 June 2015

Congratulations, Gordon Matheson

He had one job. 

One job.

All he had to do was to be a more stable and competent leader than a coke-snorting, chemically-dependent, gangster-linked, Tammany Hall-style machine politician. 

But he failed, miserably, and will go down in history as probably the worst person ever to guide the governance of Scotland's largest, greatest city.

His memory will be inextricably linked with criminality, corruption and incompetence. 

He pushed jailbird and rogue slum landlord Sohan Singh on to the Council, turning a blind eye to the Labour donor's criminality. He rewarded Singh by making him a Baillie - the highest civic honour the City can confer.

After wasting £100,000 of Glasgow ratepayers' cash on a competition to select a new design for George Square, Matheson spat the dummy after his favoured design was beaten, and refused to continue with the revamp. The Violet Elizabeth Bott of the City Chambers was subsequently accused by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland of breaking strict anti-corruption procurement regulations, and Police Scotland's Major Crimes and Public Protection Unit swiftly launched an investigation.

George Square has been a rumbling theme throughout Matheson's leadership of the Council. The Square holds a special place in the hearts of Glaswegians, including being the site of Bloody Friday, from which the Workers' Revolution was launched in 1919. It is a symbol of Glasgow's rebellion against the Unionists' hated Poll Tax, where tens of thousands gathered in the 1980s to demand the abolition of the charge. 

When the square was laid out in the time of George III - to give some idea of how long ago this was, he was on the throne during Britain's annexation of Ireland - it was on spare ground on the outskirts of the city. The Square was originally used as a parade ground, and for slaughtering horses. It was a very public space - in early C.XIX photographs, there are washing lines visible, with clothes drying on them. 

During that period, the Square evolved into a private garden, with houses being built along its sides, but by 1888, when Queen Victoria opened the City Chambers, it was indisputably a public space. 

It is one of the few green spaces in Glasgow City Centre, and was popular with office workers, who would sit on the grass under the shelter of one of the mature trees ringing the square. Naturally, Glasgow City Council decided to cut the trees down, and replace the grass with tarmac. 

Part of Matheson's treatment of George Square - once the space for Glaswegians to celebrate, to protest, to demand - is that he is intensely uncomfortably with the concept of dissent. He well remembers protests in George Square, and has spent his administration trying desperately to ensure it doesn't happen to him. The focal point of his administration has been removing public spaces from Glaswegians. Whether it's putting physical barriers round George Square or actually renting it out to commercial companies, anything he can do to stop people gathering there has been done.  

What used to be a public square is now Matheson's private fiefdom - fenced off from Glaswegians so it can be used for Orange Order events - paid for, against our will, by Glasgow's hard-pressed citizens. The words "Orange Order" run through Matheson's time in charge like a stick of rock. 

One of the worst things about living in Glasgow is the seemingly endless procession of Orange Order parades. It is a constant reminder that Catholics aren't welcome in the "friendly city". So when Matheson's administration brought in new rules for parades, decent citizens breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn't to be, though - Matheson had made a secret deal with the fascist organisation to allow them to increase the number of parades, in return for electoral support for Labour. The rules were only to be applied to anti-austerity and pro-independence demonstrations, as well as one infamous occasion where the local police baton-charged a group of anti-fascist teenagers walking to a soccer match in the East End.

This is reminiscent of his treatment of the iconic Buchanan Steps further up the city centre. During the independence referendum campaign, these became the focal point for the Yes campaign, with a series of colourful, noisy events flooding the area. Within five months of the referendum, Matheson carried out Labour's threat to punish Glaswegians if we voted yes, with a spiteful decision to demolish the steps to prevent any further display of dissent; the area to be handed over to - surprise! - a private company to make money. 

A particular humiliation for Matheson came during an incident when he was caught noshing off a gentleman who wasn't his partner in a public car park in Cathcart. In a surprise development, the Procurator Fiscal chose not to pursue a prosecution. Of the Council leader. Who has input into the Police budget. Matheson's close relationship with the Police was further demonstrated when he set no fewer than seventy of his police thugs onto a grandmother in Dalmarnock who didn't want her home bulldozed to become a car park. The dawn raid took two hours, and left the family homeless. This only applied, incidentally, to people who weren't rich and powerful. When Matheson needed land from Sir Willie Haughey, Member of the Order of the Officer of the British Empire and the 1st Baron Haughey of Hutchesontown in the City of Glasgow (and, I'm sure entirely coincidentally, a major financial donor to Matheson's struggling Labour party), his Council chose to pay Lord Sir Willie £17m for land which cost him £8m. If anyone thinks Sir Willie Lord is getting special treatment just because he's a millionaire, think again! It wasn't just him: the Council gave spiv failed businessman David Murray £5,1m for land valued at less than £400k. 

If only the Jaconellis of Ardenlea Street had been rich, famous, and Labour donors, perhaps Matheson wouldn't have been so keen to send his armoured, baton-wielding thugs in to batter a granny's door down at dawn to seize her land. 

There has been corruption scandal after corruption scandal in Glasgow while Matheson has been in charge. One of the worst was when a crony of his, Ronny Saez, was made redundant from the Glasgow East Regeneration Agency. Two of his councillors not only gave him a standard redundancy payment of £42.000, but chose - at their discretion - to spend Glasgow taxpayers' money on increasing his total payoff to £500.000 - half a million pounds of money which had previously been earmarked to help children out of poverty. Because the charity was dissolved, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator had no powers to bring criminal charges - although they couldn't have been more scathing about the corrupt behaviour of Matheson's administration.

But possibly the very worst manifestation of Matheson's corruption, arrogance, and contempt for the people of Glasgow was his treatment of our most vulnerable citizens. The behaviour of Glasgow City Council in general, and Gordon Matheson in particular, towards our citizens with addition support needs has been an absolute disgrace. He ought to lie awake at night in bed unable to sleep, his conscience continually jerking at the curtains of sleep as they try to close.

Despite massive protests, Matheson's administration gleefully decimated care provision as part of an, ahem, "redesign" of disability services. He slashed funding for, and eventually closed down, three day care centres. Berryknowes, Hinshaw Street and Summerston were summarily closed by decree of El Gordo. 

That wasn't enough to satisfy his raging desire to steal as much money and as many services as possible from decent Glaswegians so he could funnel it to his friends and cronies. At Middlefield School in the west of the City, Matheson's administration removed the funding from its residential aspect, wrecking a facility parents described as "transformational". 

People who attended vital day care centres - often for decades - were heartbroken by Matheson's ideologically-driven crazed desire to wreck as much as possible in as little time as possible. Matheson's decisions regarding care facilities have destroyed lives. The knock-on effect for carers has been utterly catastrophic. Some have been forced to give up work to become full-time carers now the Council has abrogated its responsibilities. Others have had to consider putting the person they cared for into care - a heart-rending decision. 

At a meeting to discuss the closures, neither Matheson nor Matt Kerr, who he placed in charge of Social Care, bothered to turn up. And in a sign that these were his cuts, and that he took full responsibility for it, Matheson himself moved the motion at the Council to slash and burn our disability services. 

Not only could Matheson find a single family affected by his cuts to support him, a huge protest organised by Union and the families was held outside the City Chambers. Matheson's service cuts were said to have removed social interaction from the day care centres' users. 

Glaswegians - particularly those who care for the most vulnerable - will be delighted that this creature is standing down. 

Matheson has been a disaster for Glasgow. His entire career has been a nest-feathering ego trip. He has done untold damage to the City of Glasgow, which will take decades to unravel. The damage he has done to the people of Glasgow might never be mended. 

Good riddance, Gordon. Please don't come back. 


  1. I am not a Glaswegian but if I were I would be looking forward to the day a new administration takes over and gets a good look at the books, I doubt Mr Mathieson has been any worse than his predecessors in fact he is just a string of Glasgow Labour who thought that this was their fiefdom to do as they wished with.

  2. Just the tip of the corruption iceberg in Glasgow's own Tammany Hall and its ALEO's. No one from Labour has yet explained why a well known gangland enforcer - one Mr Louis Rodden - was let out of jail early by the Glasgow Fiscal's Office in spite of police protests he should serve his full term and then turned up at a Jim Murphy Fund Raiser on the table next to Mr Murphy and the main speaker, Dr Reid. According to Mr Murphy's election agent, in 2010, "Aa body kens Louis". Mr Rodden admitted he was at the fund raiser because, 'I like to hear Dr Reid speaking'. The implication being he often listened to Labour politicians in Glasgow Labour. Mr Murphy claimed he did not know Louis Rodden in spite of his agent's claim about Mr Rodden being well known to Glasgow Labour apparatchiks - Dr Reid, according to sources, was apoplectic that Rodden had been in the room and it had become public knowledge. Yet folk who frequented the 'prawn sandwich' hospitality section at Parkhead suggested Dr Reid had knowledge of Mr Rodden as he was often entertained in the hospitality unit next door to Dr Reid's which was allegedly paid for by known front companies of the Glasgow Gangs and in which local Labour politicians and members spent many a happy afternoon.

    The then Strathclyde Police Service estimated in 2010-11 Glasgow City Council and North Lanarkshire Council gave contracts worth in excess of £2 million to known Glasgow Gang front companies, conducted a clear out of their own officers and backroom staff who had 'connections' to the Glasgow Gangs while stating they believed the Glasgow's Fiscal Office was riddled with Glasgow Gang operators who leaked confidential police information to the gangs like a sieve.

    I did a bit of digging around in my article in January 2011: