Cllr Thomas Kerr represents Shettleston Ward on Glasgow City Council.
It’s been a couple of years since I’ve written for Conservative Home, and in that time I regret to say the situation in SNP-run Glasgow has gone from bad to worse. Last year the city I love was named and shamed as the fly-tipping capital of Britain, receiving more complaints on illegal dumpings than any other UK council. This dubious honour came at the same time as it was revealed that Glasgow is the highest spending local authority in the whole of the United Kingdom on graffiti removal.
You might think that this means that anti-social messages are removed efficiently and proactively, but, as we all know, value for money isn’t exactly an SNP strong suit. And, not content with leaving it at fly-tipping and graffiti, the nationalist run council has added to its list of accolades with reports of Glasgow hosting the fourth highest population of rats in the UK.
Waste-laden streets, anti-social messaging scattered across our lived environment, and rodent infestation. These are the legacies of Glasgow’s first ever SNP run council. And instead of addressing the series of crises they have created; the nationalists simply deny reality and act as if nothing is wrong. The new mantra of SNP-run Glasgow is ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ because the party has told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears – it is the most essential command emanating from the leader’s office.
When binmen threaten to expose the conditions in which they are forced to work – being subject to daily rat attacks that have led to at least five injuries amongst the workforce – their trade union representatives are accused by the SNP Administration of fearmongering. When senior SNP councillors in Glasgow endorse political graffiti on social media, they feign ignorance and turn to their usual deflection tactics. And when legitimate concerns are raised around overflowing bins and abandoned fly-tipping in local communities, these concerns are disparaged by Susan Aitken, the Council Leader, as echoing ‘far right’ sentiment.
I don’t know if you will be better able to discern what exactly is ‘far right’ about expecting your local authority to carry out the basic functions of keeping the streets clean and bins emptied but it might give you an insight into the calibre of leadership Glasgow is suffering under at the present moment. This is the same leadership whose Lord Provost had to be hounded out of office after claiming for designer clothes and pedicures on the taxpayer’s dime. It’s the same leadership who thought it appropriate for public money to be spent ferrying the Council Leader to Paul Simon concerts and SNP campaign events. Privately even SNP politicians will admit what they dare not in public – that Cllr Aitken’s leadership of Glasgow has been an unmitigated disaster for the city and that she has completely lost the trust of ordinary Glaswegians.
Barely a week goes by that Cllr Aitken doesn’t expose herself as woefully inadequate to the task she faces. Constituents of mine were absolutely horrified to hear her recently speaking to STV journalist, Bernard Ponsonby, who pressed her on the ‘filthy’ state of Glasgow’s streets to which her only response was that they needed a ‘spruce up’. With the pages our of local paper dominated on a daily basis with images of abandoned fly-tipping and overflowing bins right across the city, it is inconceivable to everyday Glaswegians that the council’s grand strategy for our streets and green spaces so completely lacks in ambition and promise. Worse yet, Cllr Aitken was pilloried the week after that interview for continuing to downplay Glasgow’s waste crisis and crediting our graffiti epidemic on ‘a wee ned with a spray can’.
For those unaware, ned is a disparaging term for working class people in Scotland – standing for ‘non educated delinquent’. Coming from the SNP leader of Glasgow City Council, a party who has controlled Scotland’s education system for fourteen years, it does beg the question – if the graffiti is indeed down to ‘non educated delinquents’ then their lack of education can only be attributed to the SNP’s disastrous record running our schools and colleges. The truth is that people from working class communities like mine are tired of being talked down to by the nationalists – happy as they are to preach to others from the moral high ground what they are singularly unable to live up to themselves.
The growth of the SNP in Scotland came from supplanting the Labour Party and now their transformation is truly complete. Just like Labour they have been consumed by internal divisions and fostered a culture of fear and intimidation to keep the party faithful in line. And in Glasgow, just like under Labour rule, they have completely taken their eye off the day job in favour of enriching their own narrow partisan interests. Next May, the people of Glasgow will have a choice. Do they reward the failure of the SNP in their incompetent mismanagement of the city and the failure of the Labour Party to hold them to account? Or do they deliver a strong team of Glasgow Conservative councillors, under my leadership, to continue to stand up for ordinary hard working people by rejecting the scourge of nationalism that has brought this great city to its knees. That choice will be for the electorate and I won’t be taking a single vote for granted.