Whoever says Scottish politics is dull might want to take a look at last week’s unravelling saga around Labour controlled Glasgow City Council. Who would have thought when Gordon sat next to him on the Thursday before last that within a week one of Scotland’s up and coming politicians would have attempted suicide, that a police investigation would link the same man, Glasgow’s most senior politician, to major organised drug criminals and an 18-year-old Labour activist would be end up dead outside the city’s Council Chambers. As ever Gordon is pulling a Macavity on this one.
Steven Purcell was talked about as the saviour of the Scottish Labour Party, its brightest young star, he was tipped as a future First Minister. However if Purcell ever wanted a return to front-line politics, he certainly handled his spectacular fall from grace, spectacularly badly. No crisis manager could stop the drip, drip, drip of information concerning his party-boy lifestyle, snorting and drinking until the wee hours yet serving the city of Glasgow to a surprisingly competent degree. Yet he was in with the wrong crowd and in May last year some of Scotland’s top coppers visited Purcell in his council offices as his name had repeatedly cropped up in investigations. There was reason to believe that someone was attempting to blackmail Purcell with mobile phone footage of him.
Fast forward to last week and as Gordon was leaving Glasgow, Purcell was going into meltdown. Vodafone blocked his number after he abused call centre staff and he was found in tears talking nonsense at his desk. He ended up in the Castle Craig rehab centre. Although Purcell was earning fifty grand as council leader, you must wonder how much of this went up his nose and therefore who was paying for the rehab stay and for retaining of lawyers and crisis managers? Either way Purcell went missing from the rehab centre on Sunday night. Some have suggested he attempted to kill himself in open water as he was found soaked.
By now the story had started to emerge in the press and by Monday the internet was rife with rumours about Purcell stepping down because of cocaine rather than the “stress” cited in the official statement. We now know that Council staff wanted to blow the whistle but were stopped by Purcell’s mysteriously funded lawyers. As the week progressed the story unravelled more, Purcell’s vain attempts at crisis management were no match for overwhelming evidence. The final straw was the collapse and subsequent death of a admirer of Mr Purcell’s, a young Labour Party activist named Danus McKinlay who “worshipped” Purcell and “would do anything for him” . Guido understands that McKinlay was diabetic and there has been reason to believe that he had stopped taking his medication resulting in his subsequent collapse. Witnesses said they thought he was drunk – an easy mistake to make of someone who desperately needs insulin.
That was the final straw, within two hours Purcell had resigned as a councillor and has fled Scotland to an unknown sunny destination. Through all of this Gordon has remained silent. The ally he was once so keen to be photographed with, campaign for, tip for future greatness and fund-raise for, was left to the scrap-heap. What did Gordon know and when?