Council plans on museums ‘against party policy’

Plans by Labour-run Glasgow City Council to hand over control of its museums, galleries and sports facilities to an independent charitable trust is against party policy, it has been claimed.

Opposition politicians and unions have pointed to Labour’s latest policy document which opposes the creation of charities for outsourcing services, claiming there is a massive paradox between what the party is pledging and what its largest council is trying to do.

The policy was inserted into Scotland’s Future: Report of the Scottish Policy Forum at the insistence of the Labour-affiliated public-sector union Unison.

It is understood it was drafted in 2006 with specific reference to proposals at Fife Council to hand over the management of its facilities to a trust, and was approved last November at Labour’s Scottish conference in Oban.

The policy states: “We will look at ways to ensure the legitimate incentives that apply to charities are not used as vehicles for outsourcing by local authorities.”

Unison, which is pursuing a number of avenues to halt the hiving off of the culture and leisure department, has been quietly raising the issue with Labour politicians in an effort to encourage them to highlight the contradictions with its elected members in Glasgow.

But the policy document has now fallen into the hands of opposition councillors, who will use the proposed transfer and creation of Culture and Sport Glasgow, which has now been cleared by Scotland’s charities regulator, as an election issue.

Christopher Mason, leader of Glasgow council’s LibDems, said: “This is an extraordinary twist to the tale of (GCC leader) Steven Purcell’s crusade to Blairise’ the council.

“This part of the Labour Party’s new policy statement was written with the deliberate purpose of committing it to oppose the kind of thing Steven is seeking to do.”

Mike Kirby, Glasgow branch secretary for Unison, added: “Unison was instrumental in having this policy included and of course we are raising this with politicians in the run-up to the elections. We’re concerned the party in Glasgow is moving away from the general policies in Scotland.”

But John Lynch, executive member for culture and sport, said: “Dr Mason’s comments are disingenuous and clearly an attempt by the LibDems to hide from the fact their expensive plans for a Local Income Tax would add 6.5p in every pound to income-tax bills.”

Herald

Culture Capitalism

“1990 has been a year of fun, piano-hallentertainment and enjoyment for the people of Glasgow and that’s what we wanted it to be.” (Pat Lally, former leader, Glasgow District Council)
“1990 was a year when an intellectually bankrupt and brutally undemocratic administration projected its mediocre image on to the city and ordered us to adore it.” (Michael Donelly, one- time assistant museum curator. Peoples Palace, Glasgow)

Culture is something through which we make sense of the world. The co-modification of culture as a business tool denies its greatest attribute to most, as a therapy and distraction from more harmful pursuits. Culture is a common good and should not be underestimated as a stabiliser of physical and mental well-being of a society. Deny people of their cultural life and you deny them a vehicle for their aspirations and their place in the world. Neoliberalism commodifies the therapeutic into a money value and destroys that which does not convert.

Cultural Colonisation

“In the light of the hard facts of life as it is lived by people at the bottom of the heap in Glasgow, it is difficult to see the ‘culture’ tag as being anything other than a sham accolade to help grease the wheels of capitalist enterprise and smooth the path for the politicians. It is little wonder working-class Glasgow remains unimpressed. There is widespread acceptance that it has nothing whatever to do with the working- or the workless-class poor of Glasgow but everything to do with big business and money: to pull in investment for inner-city developments which, in the obsessive drive to make the centre of the city attractive to tourists, can only work to the further disadvantage of the people in the poverty ghettoes on the outskirts.

The so-called Merchant City might be reborn but only for those and such as those: the well-heeled who serve and perpetuate the system and profit by the miseries and inequalities inherent in the system: the kind of people who now find themselves installed in central areas where the have-nots “who have not yet benefited from the Thatcher revolution” were long ago uprooted. The rest is just camouflage. Like the million pound spend annually maintaining security at the Burrell whilst housing-scheme squalor gets a pittance. Like the Regional Council laying out £62,000 to stone-clean the Talbot Centre’s exterior whilst the residents within still kip on the floor. That is your Culture City in a nutshell.” Farquhar McLay – Intro to “Workers City 1988”