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asgow: the second city of the Empire, onetime shipbuilding capital of the world, home of Adam Smith, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and John Logie Baird. But for a great metropolis which gave us television, ultrasound and Alex Ferguson’s football genius, the city’s leadership has all too often failed to live up to its illustrious past.
The council’s current leader Susan Aitken is a perfect case in point. Swept to power in 2017 on the SNP tidal wave that engulfed Labour’s last bastions, Aitken’s four-year reign has been characterised by arrogance, incompetence and mismanagement. Such follies were perfectly encapsulated last month by the city’s waste crisis in the wake of bin collection cuts and bulk uplift charges, which left giant dead rats floating in bins and rubbish piling high in streets.
After GMB general secretary Gary Smith warned that Glasgow is ‘crumbling’ and ‘filthy’ ahead of November’s COP26 summit, Aitken likened such criticisms of Glasgow’s dirty streets to the ‘far right’. Asked about whether she was ’embarrassed’ by the state of her city she replied:
“I’m not embarrassed, I’m more angered people are using that kind of language for political purposes. There’s a real echo of the language that some far-right organisations have used about Govanhill for a long time. It’s the same kind of words. It’s a scapegoating and a targeting of Glasgow.
Unsurprisingly Smith was not too pleased about being compared to fascistic goons and responded by calling the embattled leader ‘desperate and disgraceful.’ But it’s not just on bins where Aitken has failed: cuts mean the city’s libraries have remained closed since March 2020 with nine still awaiting a reopening date owing to the city’s dire finances – despite her party leader’s professed love of reading and books.