Thursday 19 February 2009

Purcell in the Times

I was very confused on reading this article in the Times today - which had the headline Glasgow schools 'being left to rot by SNP'. Had we suddenly become solely responsible for Glasgow's tumble-down schools? Had we fallen into some parallel universe where we, not Labour, had been the administration in Glasgow since time immemorial?

Of course not - it was just Glasgow's Dear Leader mouthing off to a helpfully placed Labour hackette,
harking back to the glory days of PFI. Cllr Purcell says;

“It depresses me when I look down south and see Public Private Partnership contracts being signed week after week.”

Well, it depresses me too. It worries me. PFI has been discredited, written off, and found to be a crap way of funding public works. Private Eye covers more of PFI's difficulties in the credit crunch era, and a quick google will turn up various examples of PFI's failings. The debacle over fixing poorly designed ventilation in Glasgow's PFI schools cost the Council some £8m - and set a precendent for future costs being borne by the Council, not the PFI contractor.

What Labour won't admit is that, only last week, they refused to consider the SNP's budget proposals which would have saved the Council around £20m and found money to transform Glsagow's five 'condition D' schools into buildings we could be proud of (for those with only fuzzy knowledge of schools condition surveys, a senior official in Education described 'condition D' to our group as "D for Dangerous"). Interestingly, one of the schools posing a risk to health and safety was in Steven Purcell's own ward.

SNP Education spokesperson in the Council, Patricia Gibson, found that her twenty minute telephone conversation with Ms Davidson didn't result in anything like partiality, so she is submitting the following letter to the Times. In case they neglect to print it, I got her permission to reproduce it here...

Dear Editor,

I have to say that I read today’s article on School Closures in Glasgow, Glasgow’s Schools “are left to rot by SNP” with utter disbelief.

At the Emergency Council meeting in Glasgow, Councillor Purcell stated clearly, and this was echoed by Councillor Gordon Matheson, Convenor of Education in Glasgow, that the Proposed Primary Estate Management Plan was not about money but about improving education in Glasgow.

According to the comments from Purcell as reported in this story, clearly this position has changed. The entire article focused on budgetary considerations.

Furthermore, to suggest, as he does, that this process is necessary since the schools involved are in a poor condition, is bewildering since the five Category D schools in Glasgow, which are not fit for purpose, are not included in these proposals at all, ie Stonedyke Primary School, St. Roch’s Primary School, St. Joseph’s Primary School, St. Mark’s Primary School and Thornwood Primary School.

To blame the Scottish Government for this state of affairs is laughable. The Labour Party has run Glasgow for 50 years. The Scottish Government has been in power for less than 2 years. This clearly smacks of cheap political point scoring by Councillor Purcell and his coterie and a refusal to take responsibility for failing to invest in education in Glasgow.

If this is about budgetary concerns, as Councillor Purcell appears now to be saying, perhaps he could explain why £60m was spent on the Glasgow Riverside Museum, or why £7m has been committed to the King’s Theatre or why £8m has been paid to private contractors to fix faulty ventilation systems in our PFI schools, since the original contract did not guarantee the work undertaken which then had to be paid for again in order to put right? That is a total of £75m on projects which clearly Cllr Purcell has prioritised over improving primary school buildings.

So instead of whinging and blaming the Scottish Government for decay and decline which has taken place under the 50 year watch of the Labour Party in Glasgow, he would be better served spending the substantial budget he has, which has increased under the current Scottish Government, on Glasgow’s schools instead of profligacy in other areas.

And it is further bewildering to hear that SNP led Fife Council is pressing ahead with six new or refurbished schools, since according to Cllr Purcell this is not possible.

It is time Cllr Purcell does the honourable thing and admits he has been utterly disingenuous throughout this entire matter with pupils, staff and parents across Glasgow and continues to dangerously play politics with education in Glasgow.

Glasgow’s children deserve better.


Councillor Patricia Gibson

SNP Education Spokesperson


Holyrood Patter said...

forgive me for indulging in pedantry, but it may not get published as your supposed to start your letter with "Sir,"

BellgroveBelle said...

Possibly, but it's not my letter to correct!

joe90 kane said...

Don't worry BB
only 7% of the British public expect journalists to act repsonsibly -
Research commissioned by the MST reported that only 7% of the public say they trust national newspapers to behave responsibly - a lower score even than banks. 75% of people think that "newspapers frequently publish stories they know are inaccurate". Almost three quarters of the public (73%) would like the government to do more to ensure that newspapers correct inaccurate stories.
Putting Out The People's Eyes
Media Lens
17 Feb 2009

Foreign corporate news media owners, such as Rupert Murdoch, deliberately telling lies about the SNP on behalf of New Labour doesn't seem to be working too well these days.
I'm mean, just look at support for the New Labour in Scottish opinion polls -
Labour support in meltdown
Tartan Hero blog
16 Feb 2009

As I said about the Glenrothes result BB, that was just a blip and fortunate timing on the part of New Labour.

With the whole of the British establishment and the British corporate news media against you, just look at the support you are getting from the public!
Just imagine if the SNP had all the advantages New Labour had - you would be miles in front.

all the best BB!

subrosa said...

Hello, do you mind it I link to this post with something I intend to write later today?

My post is going to be about the growing concern regarding sciences etc in schools but it would save me doing a separate post on Weavey Stevey.

Don't understand why I can't do a follow to your blog, but then I don't understand much about technology :-)

BellgroveBelle said...

Joe90, cheers for the info! Subrosa, go right ahead.

subrosa said...

Thanks Belle. Done. I've just put a wee bit up and then the link to your far more detailed (and superior) post. Decided to do a separate post instead of lumping it with the science Higher debacle. Too important really.

Anonymous said...

Likewise Bellegrove:


Labour seem to be going fullscale into spinning themselves into a fantasy world and think the press will just blindly swallow it.

brownlie said...

Bellgrove Belle,

Perhaps you're being unkind to Purcell?

Maybe he meant that it depressed him to see so much money wasted, week after week, on PPP down south and that he and his cronies were looking for a "more value for money" alternative up here in North Britain.

Then again, perhaps, not!

Anonymous said...

You should email the Joan McAlpine article around every school campaign in Glasgow.

In fact why stop there.

Get it to every school board and PTA in the city.

Education, education, education???

In the meantime you might like to see a list of Labour's latest spin

With these follow ups.

Glasgow Labour's school policy

Iain Gray undermined