Ten things Glasgow Labour won’t want voters to know

The race to secure the biggest prize in Scottish local government is on.  Today, Labour launched its manifesto for Glasgow.  It contains 100 pledges which the party promises to deliver for the people of Glasgow, if re-elected, with the focus on jobs, children and young people, and regeneration.  The manifesto also sets out twenty achievements of its last four years in power (though one or two, such as housing stock transfer actually happened before 2007) and at least one of the supposed achievements – the M74 extension – more properly belongs to the Scottish Government.  Still, it’s not a bad track record but will it be enough to save Labour from a mauling by the electorate?

But no matter how Labour dresses things up, Glasgow’s problems remain deep-seated.  Venture out of the city centre and away from the development along the Clyde and into outlying areas – the ones twixt centre and suburbs especially – and the streets are resolutely rundown.  The evidence of poverty all around is pervasive.  Glasgow looks just as tired and forlorn as it ever did, with the pockets of growth overshadowed by the level of decay.  It’s almost as though the boom years have passed many communities by – and actually, they have.

And there is a sense abroad that people have had enough.  Labour has had years, nay decades in charge of Glasgow – more than enough time to do some of the things it is promising in the next four years.  Labour appears to have woken up at last to not being able to take its bedrock vote for granted.  In the 2011 election, a lifetime’s habit of voting Labour was broken.  This year, as last, there is a real whiff of change in the air.

Folk – despite what politicians and parties sometimes think – aren’t stupid.  For every achievement cited by Labour, they can point to a failure.  Just in case they can’t, here’s ten things lurking in Scottish government statistics that Labour won’t want the people of Glasgow to know before 3 May.

1. Between 2000 and 2010, Glasgow has had the highest prevalence of problem drug users of any local authority in Scotland

Not just in actual numbers but in percentage terms.  Throughout the last ten years, the level of problem drug use has remained stubbornly high, with little evidence of improvement.

2. Glasgow has the highest average class size in primary school in all of Scotland

According to the 2011 pupil census, the average primary school class size  in Glasgow is 24.6.  In primary one, the average class size is 22.1 and in primary two and three, it is over 25 – over the statutory limit, in fact.

3. It also has one of the lowest rates in Scotland of pupils who stay on beyond fifth year at school

While Glasgow does relatively well at encouraging young people to stay on until fifth year, the drop-out rate at sixth year is one of the worst.  In neighbouring East Renfrewshire, the staying-on rate for S3 – S6 is 82.2%, while in Glasgow it is only 47.5%.

4. The council has the highest number of primary school teachers and second highest number of secondary school teachers on temporary contracts

In the last teacher census, there were 390 primary teachers on temporary contracts – nearly 9% of the total in Scotland.  And it has 297 secondary teachers on temporary contracts, second only to North Lanarkshire – another local authority where Labour’s dominance is threatened.   Over 14% of Glasgow’s secondary teachers are temporary – and only 38 of these are probationary, newly qualified teachers.

5. Despite having relatively high numbers of children with additional support needs, Glasgow has fewer ASN auxiliary staff and classroom assistants in secondary schools (147) than Fife does (183)

6. Glasgow spent less on repairing, altering and maintaining schools last year than Argyll and Bute, Edinburgh, Fife and Stirling did

Yet, Glasgow has significantly more schools than any of these other local authorities.  Of course, a smaller repair bill might be a good thing – and all of Glasgow’s secondary schools were rebuilt or refurbished putting them in the “good” category – but there are significant numbers of primary and special schools in the poor or bad categories.

7. By contrast, Glasgow has one of the largest bills for PFI payments and charges – amounting to over £46m in 2010-11

This is the cost of all that refurbishment and new build under the old Scottish Executive’s PFI and PPP model.  Every year, over £46 million goes out of Glasgow’s budget into the pockets of private sector firms.

8. Glasgow had the lowest rate of council tax collection in Scotland in 2010-11

After years of languishing far behind other local authorities, Glasgow has made significant progress in the last few years but it still lags behind other councils, and last year only collected just over 92% of the council tax due in its area.  Even increasing the rate of collection by one or two per cent would provide substantial, additional revenue for expenditure – and perhaps stave off some cuts in services.

9. The number of dependent children in temporary homeless accommodation in Glasgow has not reduced over the last four years – and accounts for a quarter of all children in Scotland in temporary accommodation

Over 1300 children spent Christmas last year in temporary accommodation in Glasgow.  The numbers have come down slightly, particularly from 2008 and 2009, back to 2007 levels.  Thankfully, very few families are being housed temporarily in bed and breakfast accommodation, but high levels of homelessness among families with children in Glasgow persists.

10. Glasgow is more employment AND income deprived than any other local authority

According to the SIMD data for 2009, Glasgow had a higher proportion of working age population unemployed (“employment deprived”) than any other local authority (19.2%), had the largest number of areas classified as most employment deprived 41% (taking over this top position again from Inverclyde).  It also had the largest proportion of its population classified as income derived (26.4%).

Poor and workless – and more of the most poor and most workless areas and communities within its boundaries than any other council.  It’s definitely not a legacy to be proud of.


25 thoughts on “Ten things Glasgow Labour won’t want voters to know

  1. Sorry for the typos in my last post. Always happens when the red mist descends after coming across sh*te as Karen Dunbar might have put it – or keegh as my Glasgow upbringing would have expressed it.

    • or keech even! I agree wholeheartedly with your criticisms. This is politics – if they put up 20 achievements that they claim for themselves, then only fair to put up 10 failures. Also if can’t hold ruling party to account then what is the point? Surely political administrations have to be accountable for successes and failures.

      • The spelling of keech/gh has always been a puzzle. It comes directly from the gaelic. It always reminds me of the joke the late and great Neil MacCormick used to tell (usually in the gaelic)about two wee boys building a wee church on the pier at Tobermory out of dry cattle droppings when the meenister came off the evening boat from Oban. “My” he said “and that’s a fine church, boys. And where’s the minister?”
        “Ah, we hivnae enough keech for the minsister”

        Sounded better when Neil told it.,

      • Neil told great jokes. I remember that one!

  2. Geoge Laird

    The Scottish Governemtn gives Glasgow City more money per head of population than is given to any other local authority in Scotland. FACT
    The failings of Glasgow can be laid squarely at the door of the administration of Glasgow council who have ruled the city for over forty years (including all those years when the SNP was NOT in government but Labour regularly was in Westminster and Holyrood.

    It appears that Labour has ruled Glasgow for forty years but all,of a sudden has come up with lots of good ideas to improve the Glasgow they have maladministered for all these years.
    That’s the only judgement that can be reached as they promise a multitude of measure(uncosted) which they somehow have neglected to put in place before now

  3. Glasgow City Council
    Report to the Children and Families Policy Development Committee
    Report by Executive Director of Education
    25th November 2010



    5. Future of Pupil Support Assistants

    A brilliant wheeze to spend £2.04m of Education Budget on severance payments to 146 PSAs (annual salary cost £1.93m) so Cordia staff to be transferred to Education (“new” annual salary cost £1.93m). Net result – staff cost saving to Cordia and Education benefit of minus £2.04m. That’s a classy comittment to Education.

    “5.7 The proposed service reform proposals currently being pursued include;

    􀁸 The introduction of a single generic designation of Support for Learning Assistant replace the various current designations and roles of Pupil Support Assistant
    􀁸 A revised generic role profile that will provide local flexibility to deploy staff according to local circumstances and priorities
    􀁸 Existing pupil support assistants expressing an interest in voluntary severance/premature retirement by released in 3 tranches
    􀁸 That vacancies to the new post of Learning Assistant be offered to staff currently working with Cordia”

    For “generic designation” read “no requirement for necessary skills or training”. That way you can justify “offering” vacancies to folk Cordia want off their books.

    Of course, these “…..need to be seen in the broader context of the vacancy opportunities being offered to Cordia staff and the opportunities for financial efficiencies that will accrue to Cordia, not Education Services.”

    I could continue about Kelbourne’s roof and electrics, Hampden School’s fire and the emptying out of St Raymond’s and Gadburn. And don’t get me started about their relationship wth Charles Price’s many and varied property development Companies and the threat of CPO powers (or not).

    This isn’t political – it’s practical. I am not interested in gimmicky pish from anyone. I want a Local Authority that fulfills its Statutory functions with the minimum of waste and the maximum of purpose. After that you can have all the political gimmicks you want but first – do your job.

    I’d also like it to be honest, open and free of intimidation.

  4. Fair enough highlighting the problems, but assuming the SNP gain control (which I think they will), how will things look in two years time?

    I’m not defending Labour’s mismanagement of the city, but winning control could be a poisoned chalice. It is very difficult, in fact impossible, to turn things around in such a short space of time. But having promised big changes, the SNP will get the blame. Voters don’t look at the long term. They look at the present.

    • Barbarian
      There may be an element of truth in what you say but iif it had been entirely the case by the same reasoning they would have thrown Labour out years ago

      • Problem is, the SNP were never really organised before. And seeing the standard of some of the SNP councillors in South Lanarkshire, things haven’t got much better!

    • You don’t really need to imagine Barbarian. Here in Renfrewshire we got an SNP/Lib dem coalition last time around… who carried on with the similar failed policies of Labour. Library and school closures coupled with inflation busting pay rises for the various heads of service – all the while the deteriation in Paisley town centre continued apace.

      Now it might be that turning around Renfrewshire Council takes longer than 5 years, but I’m certain that turning around Glasgow will take longer – especially if the sniping from “labour people” is as heated as it is in Renfrewshire.

      BTW – I think that the SNP will fall short in Glasgow.

  5. The reason labour have been in control in glasgow for so long is the coverage they get from the media.If the BBC in scotland were to do their job properly labour would have been out on their ear long ago.The same can be said for the print media who seem to be the public relations dept of labour.

  6. Dear Burdzeye

    To address your points:

    “1. Between 2000 and 2010, Glasgow has had the highest prevalence of problem drug users of any local authority in Scotland”.

    This is not a council created problem, to suggest otherwise is disingenuous.

    It is the SNP Government that has controlled of law and order since 2007 to date.

    “2. Glasgow has the highest average class size in primary school in all of Scotland”.

    This is a Labour fail but Glasgow Council can’t build additional schools due to lack of money.

    “3. It also has one of the lowest rates in Scotland of pupils who stay on beyond fifth year at school”.

    This isn’t the fault of the Labour Council either; it is a collective fault of the political class who don’t care for the working class. Since 2007, it is the SNP who control higher education.

    “4. The council has the highest number of primary school teachers and second highest number of secondary school teachers on temporary contracts”.

    That is to do with shortage of money and their money comes from the SNP Government.

    “5. Despite having relatively high numbers of children with additional support needs, Glasgow has fewer ASN auxiliary staff and classroom assistants in secondary schools (147) than Fife does (183”)”.

    This isn’t a numbers game and your analysis is superficial.

    “6. Glasgow spent less on repairing, altering and maintaining schools last year than Argyll and Bute, Edinburgh, Fife and Stirling did”.

    Again, it isn’t a numbers game, are you comparing like with like?

    “7. By contrast, Glasgow has one of the largest bills for PFI payments and charges – amounting to over £46m in 2010-11”.

    This was a top down policy of Labour in Holyrood and if a similar policy came from the SNP then they would do exactly the same, remember councillors sign standing orders for the party, the point is moot.

    “8. Glasgow had the lowest rate of council tax collection in Scotland in 2010-11”.

    In an ideal world people would have enough money and be honest enough to pay, but we don’t live in an ideal world do we?

    “9. The number of dependent children in temporary homeless accommodation in Glasgow has not reduced over the last four years – and accounts for a quarter of all children in Scotland in temporary accommodation”.

    Would we have less numbers under and SNP administration? The answer is no, the answer is no because of factors out with the control of the council.

    “10. Glasgow is more employment AND income deprived than any other local authority”.

    Again, this isn’t the fault of the local authority, and can an SNP authority promise full employment?

    No, it can’t, is the SNP giving away free money to income deprived Glaswegians to spend?


    Ten things the Labour Council don’t want you to know, could be 10 things that the SNP cannot promise to change when out with their control either.

    It’s a poor post by you, pointing the finger and blaming others for things they have no control over and if the SNP gets elected, they wouldn’t have much control over either.

    Burdzeye, maybe you are flying too near the Sun that has blinded you to reality.

    Yours sincerely

    George Laird
    The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

  7. As hard as it for some to accept the sun has set on the Britisher Empire. It is time Brit Labour has its flag taken down in Glasgow as well!

  8. Says it all really. I just find it hard to believe that the citizens of Glasgow have been blind for so long when everyone else can see what’s been happening for many many years. Having made a recent visit to Glasgow I was disappointed to see that it had lost a lot of the sparkle it had when I worked there in the eighties. Even back then we were seeing the third generation of families unemployed. Labour Scotland fail.

  9. I’m disappointed that, after many blogs condemning (correctly) Labour for negative campaigning, that you now resort to the same tactic. At least Labour’s new PPB concentrates on what they will do, rather than on what the SNP won’t. Do the SNP Glasgow group have no positive policies?

    • Lol Chris – a surorising number of SNP policies have ended up in Labour’s manifesto – a Carer’s Champion, Petitions Committee, integrated bus ticketing, support for self-build. These were ideas which Labour opposed and ridiculed but then used. But that’s by the by. I am afraid it is very difficult to be positive here.

      Let’s take one issue which I think is going to become important – whether or not Labour is committed to no compulsory redundancies. At this stage no-one knows. Literally. Council staff & their families have no idea whether or not Labour are committed to not making anybody compulsory redundant. The Labour manifesto says nothing about it. Yet if you read George Ryan’s twitter feed he is very angry about the suggestion. He is the councillor who has had responsibility for personnel matters. However the Labour Party nationally is clearly briefing that they will pay for their commitments by cutting back office staff which suggests that compulsory redundancies may be on the cards given the scale of their commitments and the fact that most of them are not budgeted for. Matheson has said nothing. Not a tweet or a peep from him.

      This is just one issue but it’s an issue that people are entitled to have clarity on. It’s really difficult not to be negative about this kind of behaviour. I think that Labour councillors in Glasgow did not write their own manifesto. I think it likely that they may not know themselves whether or not they are committed to no compulsory redundancies. This is farcical. Really farcical.

    • There’s a world of difference between trying to scare the public away from voting for a party (as Labour have consistently done with the SNP over the years), and truthfully highlighting historic failures by a party, especially when that party has had 40 years to improve things, and is only offering the world now because its hegemony is under threat.

      Plus the SNP is actually offering something better. Labour’s negative campaigning in the past has just been “vote for us because we’re not them“.

    • I think it is only fair that the Burd chooses to highlight just how rundown Glasgow has become under Labour. I was born in Govan in 1954 and moved to Govanhill/Crosshill (I lived right on the border of the two areas) in 1957 and lived there until 2008. When i first moved to Govanhill/Crosshill it was a prosperous vibrant area with plenty of small businesses and interesting shops, when I left much of the area had become a slum. Drugs, criminality, violence, slum landlords, inter-ethnic tensions and violence are now commonplace. I was lucky I had the ability to move my family out of the area and now live in Aberdeenshire. The contrast in quality of life is awesome – crime is virtually unheard of and employment opportunities are very good. I know you cannot compare where I live today with an inner city, however the point is that the southside of Glasgow used to be a good place to live. There is no doubt in my mind that the decline in the area is down to an incompetent Labour administartion which has mismanaged Glasgow for decades and successive Westminster governments which chose to ignore the decline of a city which was once known as the second city of the empire. Labour’s record in Glasgow is shameful!

  10. Labour’s manifesto is a lot of pie in the sjy. They are going to give everyone free wifi, they are going to rebuild or refurbish every single primary school in Glasgow, they are going to make Glasgow the greenest city in Europe, they are going to do this, that and the next thing – and absolutely none of it is costed. The very fact that none of these thimgs are actually budgeted for proves that they are empty promises.

    If no other reason existed that, in itself, would be a reason not to vote Labour. Completely cynical and completely irresponsible.Glasgow does have a lot of problems and no party has a magic wand, the SNP doesn’t have a magic wand any more than Labour. But if the Council used the powers it has in a more systematic and sensible way it could make more of a difference.

    it’s a change of culture that is needed more than anything else.

  11. Ten out of ten for chutzpah.

    To have a SNP supporter question the veracity of any other party’s claims of delivering manifesto pledges after their own party’s infamous 86 of 96 ‘headline manifesto commitments’ scam certainly takes a world-class brass neck.

    Furthermore it is slightly odd that a SNP supporter would highlight problems in Glasgow schools when the SNP group in Glasgow voted to cut the education budget.

    I’m sure the SNP group leader in Glasgow will explain.

    She certainly does seem to have a way with words…

    • Dear God, not you again grahamski! You are such a troll! Your posts here, the Scotsman and in the Herald have a certain *fingers in ears* *NA NA NA NA NO LISTENIN’* ring to them.
      What is pleasing to note is that your type of posts are increasingly on the wane in Scottish maintstream media. Most contributors to debate seem to be of sound mind and reason; enough so to see that the future is a much brighter place in Scotland when we have Scottish people looking after Scottish interests and Scottish concerns… as opposed to being represented by people that are unsure whether they are Scottish/British, British/Scottish or solely British who also seem to support ‘jobs for the boys’ and bullying as a means of local governance.

    • You really can’t argue with facts. There is no conceivable way that Labour can rebuild every primary school in Glasgow over the term of the next administration It’s just nonsense and everyone knows it.

      It is farcical. I read on tweet from a Labour guy before the campaign really kicked off saying he was watching West WIng in preparation for the council elections.

      Eh, what? The West WIng? We are talking bins, potholes, home helps and schools here, not the blooming West Wing.


  12. If ever a city constituency has been taken for granted as electoral fodder for sharp operators it has been the people of Glasgow squashed and locked down in their immediate communities with poor quality of environment, poor health and quality of life and tragically poor aspirations. It’s a divided city with a handful of desirable postcodes all but different worlds to the people on the periphery. There may be an increasing awareness of missed opportunity on the part of Glasgow Labour but I fear it’s too little too late and motivated more by party self interest because make no mistake Glasgow is a symbol of time running out on Labour hegemony.

  13. I was brought up in what was a great city. It is now a city centre surrounded by shanty towns. When I was born it was the second biggest city in UK and the second city in the the Commonwealth. It’s present condition is inexcusable.
    I hope the SNP campaign reminds the people of Glasgow what it was and paints them a picture of what it can become again.
    It has everything it needs to be great except leaders

  14. One of the reasons I know cynicism has not yet taken me over completely is I remain convinced that, somewhere in Glasgow City Council’s marble magnificence, is a Labour councillor who loves his/her city enough to be deeply ashamed of such blatant failures and willing to ditch traditional tribalism for its—rather than their own—benefit.

    But every time Gordon Matheson opens his cakehole, he makes it obvious it’s not him.

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