Lally to be ousted as Provost within two weeks
Glasgow's Lord Provost has faced more final curtains than most leading men, but always seems to manage an encore. So is the Pat Lally story really entering the last act?
Words: Stephen Naysmith
D-DAY FOR LALLY is a well-worked headline. He must be sick of seeing it.
The man dubbed 'the face of Glasgow' has been written off more times than most rally drivers. Yet this time it looks as if Lord Provost Pat Lally is to be deposed after 22 years in local government.
The city council's Labour Group is to ask Chief Executive John Anderson to call a special meeting of the full council, at which standing orders will be amended to enable Lally to be removed from office.
The move is necessary because there is no procedure in council rules for stripping him of the title. For his part, Lally has made it clear that he has no intention of quitting in the face of allegations that he inSists are unfounded and still unclear.
Surprisingly, Labour’s National Constitution Committee (NCC), which imposed the sanctions on him, has not revealed what the charges were, or which where found proven.
However, his image has been dented sufficiently that four out of every five callers in a local newspaper telephone poll said he should go.
It is understood that complaints against him include misuse of the Lord Provost’s hospitality budget of £212,000 and of the common good fund — a package of property and shares owned by the city, and currently valued at about £76 million, which earns Glasgow £700,000 a year.
He is also alleged to have undermined the then council leader Bob Gould and failed to acknowledge the authority of the Labour Group whip and the National Executive Committee of the party.
But with the evidence on Lally’s rap sheet under wraps, what has leaked out has been bizarre - the grounds for the charge of undermining Bob Gould apparently included secret negotiations to sneak the Eurovision Song Contest into the city, without the council leader knowing.
Lally has responded angrily to a process he has described as 'unattributable mud-slinging and smears'. He argues these have ‘undoubtedly created in the minds of the people a belief that there is substantial wrong-doing.’
Precarious provost: time running out for Lally
Ahead of the Labour Group’s meeting, he was unwrlling to elaborate, however and told The List: ’All I have to say is that l'm having ongoing consultations With my solicitor.’ Followmg the announcement that the group would seek to change standing orders, Lally and Mosson reaffirmed their intention to seek legal redress.
But whatever the outcome of any legal moves by Lally, it looks as if his reign as Provost is almost over.
The leadership of the council is angry that it has been left to them to finish the job begun by the NCC, but there is no doubt that they will carry it through, according to a source close to council leader Frank McAveety.
.. .thei‘good-rtimes ~ , _ g -
o 1966 elected to the-old GlasgowCorporétlbn.
representing Castlemilk . ” ". ,.
o 1986 Elected leader of Glasgo ,,=Di_str,ict‘» Council, a position he loses to Jean‘McFa'ddeni'ini 1992, but regains in 1994 - ' , _‘ .. ,
o 1988 A regenerated Glasgow achieves itsfirSt ' big coup — the Garden Festival
o 1990 Glasgow is declared European City. of
0 April 1996 Lally becomes Lord Provost when
Glasgow District Council and Strathclyde Region merge
.. . and the bad
- Lally is excluded from-the Labour Groupin 1976 over alleged financial irregularities at-a C astlemilk social club. No evidence is everfound - 1996 council trip to Edinburgh Tattoo leads-to press storm over junketing. A party of nineteen travel by limousine and have a slap-up‘mealin~ Edinburgh - the same week the council makes £80m cuts and sacks 2000 workers
o 1997 the then council leader Bob Gould goes public with votes for trips allegations
0 Jan 1998 Lally and his depute Alex Mosson are banned from holding party office for. eighteen months by Labour's NCC
- 17 Feb 1998 Glasgow's Labour Group moves to amend standing orders so’Lally can‘be deposed
‘The leadership has to lead. This diversion has to end so that we can focus on the real work of the council,’ he said.
And he was unconcerned about the apparent weakness of evidence against Lally. 'The council appointed the Lord Provost and can therefore remove him. It is like "club rules",' he said. ‘He has been reprimanded and has lost the confidence of the party.’
It has been a damaging and humiliating drama for Glasgow, but the final act will now be played out within fourteen days. Labour, both locally and nationally, are hoping it will be the cathartic end traditional in all the best theatres.
And ﬁnally. . . why women can’t be allowed to box - period
ONCE UPON A TIME you could look to the press to bring you - well, news. Now though, the media only seem able to indulge in 'big wowee' reporting. The tidings that Dundee is a city of b**“*ds is, perhaps, a prime example - Jerry Sadowitz famously came to this conclusion some time ago. However, recent research actually confirms that 51% of Dundonians are born illegitimate. Even football phone-ins stereotype the City of Discovery. Stuart Cosgrove’s On The Ball received a rash of disgruntled calls when he quipped that the Tay Bridge Disaster was so~called because the erection took people into Dundee. Sadly, the callers' outrage was fatally muffled by the dozens of screaming weans in the background.
ATHLETES TAKE DRUGS. Really? The latest scandal to hit the sporting
world was the withheld Olympic gold from Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati for smoking dope. Fairly remarkable considering that marijuana is not on the banned substances list. Presumably the committee which accepted that he was actually a victim of passive pot- smoking were themselves out of their faces on performancereducing narcotics. Or maybe they were simply too busy ordering pizza to read their own rules.
STILL. THERE ARE occasions when the tabloids can achieve something which very nearly defies analysis. Such as their fulsome support of John Prescott after the ice-bucket- emptying antics of anarcho-popster Danbert 'Nigel' Nobacon At the Brit Awards. You would have thought that the press should be having a go less at Chumbawamba's water-
Women boxers: cramping their style
sports and more at the excrement currently being dished out over the population’s collective head by John's boss.
THEN THERE ARE things which beggar belief. The British Boxing Board of Control concluded that welterweight world champion lane Couch - aka '1’ he Fleetwood Assassin' — shouldn't be granted a professional licence to fight in the UK on medical grounds. Naturally, her lawyer got on the case and received a reply which suggested that. being a woman. she suffers from PMT and is more liable to do damage due to her unstable state. All terribly sexist. of course. Perhaps the only way round it would be to match fighters, not in weight categories but on the clashing of the monthly cycle. Then we'd get a right old rammy. (Brian Donaldson)
20 Feb—5 Mar 1998 I'll! LIST 23