Friday, 5 March 2010

Leave Purcell alone

The strange Steven Purcell saga is a private tragedy for the man (tragedy in its Aristotelian definition, of course) and his fall is huge. What I have found most distasteful, though, have been the reactions of his Labour Party colleagues. Brown, Murphy and Gray refused to pay any tribute to him as he left office as leader of Glasgow Council and the statement today after he left office as a councillor was made by a party spokesman rather than by a named politician, there is still nothing on Scottish Labour's website giving thanks of any kind to Mr Purcell (although there is a childish jibe at George Osborne), he got a passing mention from his erstwhile deputy who has temporarily taken over the reins at the council and some more fulsome praise from Alex Salmond, but nothing from senior members of his own party. Indeed, Labour members seem to be keen to get themselves into the newspapers telling him to divulge details of his personal life.

I don't think that his expensive PR team and lawyer have been useful to him throughout this and he must have a huge bill to settle with them for all their services, but he shouldn't have needed to lean so heavily on them at all. Whatever Mr Purcell's tragic flaw that has brought him to this end, he should have had support from his party and from his party colleagues - they seem, instead, to have been intent on doing him down.

There are people now saying that the public have a right to know the details of Mr Purcell's health, a right to know why he resigned. No we don't. We have no right to his personal information, no right to rake through his private life, prurience does not equate to the public interest. The administration in Glasgow might take a look over the decisions he made recently, just to check that nothing went awry but we have no right to probe into his private life - he was not owned by the public, he was employed by the public. I believe that the newspapers will be carrying more bad news for him tomorrow, news unconnected to his resignations. In a week his life has been turned upside-down and dropped on its head.

I find myself in the unusual position of feeling some sympathy for a Labour politician. By all means examine what his decisions in office were and whether they were good, but leave the man alone. He'll be needing time and space and the support of friends to recover from whatever he has been suffering. In the name of common human decency, leave the man alone.


Lallands Peat Worrier said...

Well said Calum. You neatly echo my own sentiments on the personal aspects of the tale. Although, it is noteworthy, even given the muted quality of the Scottish Labour blogosphere, that this argument seems largely confined to the "cybernats" who were being so cheerfully bashed these months past, while the distinguished red dwarfs keep their peace, and their silence.

subrosa said...

Well said Calum. When I first heard of his resignation on the radio Iain Gray's few sentences were anything but complimentary. Then I knew something was up.

The man has resigned. He's no longer a public servant so he deserves the same privacy as we are permitted.

CrazyDaisy said...


While I respect your comments, the fact is if you're in the public eye and use the media on the way up, biased as it is, it will consume you on the way down. It is a true reflection on modern society what has happened to Purcell, unlike you I have 0 sympathy, you live by the sword you die by the sword.

It can't be easy, because as you step further forward into the limelight you, your family, your behaviour, even what you eat and where you eat will become fair game. Make sure you buy a x shredder and use it, because they will rake through your bins for a story.

The media consuming junkies will line up forks at the ready to devour any information, true or otherwise.

Good luck,


Not the Messiah said...

The bits of information seems to be all over the place with well known Labour supporting journalists postulating links between some very tragic events that certainly on the fac eof it, seem entirely unconnected.

1. Stress over SPT Labour Scandal / Commonwealth Games

2. 'Chemical Dependancy', a phrase apparently coined by the internal GCC PR team.

3. Tragic death of youn Council employee and Labour Activist in the recent Glasgow North East By Election.

4. Purcell fleeing a rehabilitation clinic, a search being called off and the man himself discharging himself

5. Purcell apparently fleeing the country for the 'southern hemisphere', probably Australia in the face of media speculation and what the Sunda papers are about to reveal.

6. Union Leader and internal Labour Party rivals giving short but seriously negiative quotes to the press.

7. Glasgow City Council being investigated over data protection breach

8. An attempt to close down the story going all the way back to the initial SPT Scandal.

A number of speculators are suggesting that the story that is about to erupt is not centred on Purcell solely but more on a wider cronyism or corruption prevalent in the West Coast..... this would seem to suggest property, financial or funding irregularities.

Dean MacKinnon-Thomson said...

A very dignified posting.

I absolutely agree, and do not think that the Sunday Newspapers shall demonstrate the same dignified restrain however.

Let right be done, let the poor man recover, his absence shall be felt in Glasgow, as he was an extremely capable man.

But at the end of the day, no one should ever understimate the Labour capacity to hate each other in their petty little vendettas that so divide our Hollyrood 'leading' Opposition...leading who where still remains to be identified of course.


Shuggy said...

A surprisingly charitable post from a political opponent. I agree with the spirit of what you've written here - except for this quibble: Purcell is allegedly a user of a class A drug and by all accounts a well-connected user. If his conduct here is to be considered to be a private matter, surely the rest of us are entitled to the same consideration? But legally we're not.

Alec said...

I do think you're wrong on this one, Calum. Purcell was not a private individual, but a significant political figure who, we can safely assume, descended into a drug-induced paranoia and - it's looking increasingly likely - had less than welcome links to known criminals and/or less-than-transparent recipients of Council grants/contracts.

As an individual [and personally likeable one], he deserves our utmost sympathy and I hope he returns to full mental wellbeing. His situation, however, is intertwined with very valid questions which are being and will be asked.

Oh, you're absolutely right on the former Council and Party colleagues currently looking for suitable vertebrae to slip the knife through.