Friday, 5 March 2010

The resignation of Steven Purcell

Well, well, well…. Who would have thought it?

Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow City Council and rising star of the Scottish Labour Party has resigned from both his position as Leader of the Council and as a Councillor.

The importance of the events of last week cannot be over estimated. This is a huge issue which is likely to continue shaking Scottish politics for months to come.

Let's recap:

Late at night on Monday 1st March, it became apparent that The Herald had a scoop: Stephen Purcell was going to resign from his post as Leader. This appeared on Tuesday’s edition of The Herald. The reason, we were told at the time, was stress and exhaustion as reported by the BBC News.

On the topic on the stress of high ranking public officials and politicians I side with this view. Or if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Except of course, that this has nothing to do with “stress and exhaustion”.
And there are two reasons to be sure of that:

First, we have the fact that Mr Purcell felt necessary to use the services of Peter Watson, Scotland’s top libel lawyer.

Second, Mr Purcell is employing Jack Irvine, allegedly Scotland’s answer to Max Clifford. Mr Irvine, a former editor of The Sun, is a PR professional whose job is to control media coverage of a story in order to protect his client’s interests.

As a long-suffering Glasgow council-tax payer, I hope I am not paying for any of this.

If that was not bad enough, we have the bizarre coverage by the Scottish media.
First, the BBC’s blog Blether with Brian was heavily “moderated” from the start.
From the very start, other online media outlets pulled the plug on online comments.
Under the disguise of well-wishing choreography, the papers hint that more is to come.

Speculation on Wednesday was rife as to the potential causes for Mr Purcell’s sudden departure and his using of the country’s top libel solicitor and top spin doctor. The Scotsman and The Herald continued to run with the story. Even the SSY wrote about it.
On Wednesday afternoon, it is made public that Mr Purcell had checked in at a re-hab clinic in the Borders.
On Thursday, The Scotsman reveals what everyone suspected but dare not write.
And on Friday, when everyone is in agreement that the Sunday newspapers are going to have the full story, it is made public that Mr Purcell has now resigned as a councillor.

In the meantime, the Labour party appears very quiet.
Whilst messages of goodwill and recovery have been made, political support for Mr Purcell is not existent within the ranks of the party.

This, by a long way, is not over: Sunday will only be the start. 
As another Scottish Labour failure said not so long ago: bring it on!

Update Saturday 6 March 2115h:
Now Mr Purcell has left the country.
The Daily Record

Can't wait for the newspapers tomorrow -if they are allowed or have the balls to print anything.  BBC Scotland's coverage of the most high profile political story since the Scottish elections has been a disgrace and further evidence of its Scottish Labour bias. Apparently Purcell's shocking resignation does not merit being included under the Scottish Politics section.

Another viewpoints worth reading here and here.
A somewhat different take from a Ranting Rab (no relation).

If Joan McAlpine was chief editor of The Herald, and if The Herald were not so biased towards Scottish Labour, then it would be worth buying it every day. Alas, we buy the Sunday Herald and that's enough. But will the SH have any substantial reporting about this story tomorrow? Paul Hutcheon, not for the first time, broke a top story, his sources must be very good. Does he have more to tell and will he be allowed to publish everything?

We shall wait and see.