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INSIDE TRACK: The real Glasgow games are on the point of kicking off

SSHHH.

If you listen carefully you'll hear it. It's the sound of Scotland's most conspicuous councillors behaving themselves. Never mind the grinding of sharpening knives; even the whispers of tearoom manouverings are being drowned out by the lull of equilibrium at Glasgow City Chambers.

Recreational in-fighting and the odd bit of fratricide, long-standing traditions of Glasgow Labour, are clearly on hold with both the Commonwealth Games and independence referendum fast approaching.

But, beneath the veneer of the happy stable family, a vacuum is emerging and a series of milestones and external factors might soon accelerate the natural abhorrence of such scenarios.

First, how long does council leader Gordon Matheson plan on sticking around? When asked of his longer term political ambitions his mantra has been to be at the helm through the Commonwealth Games.

A successful Games would be an ideal time to walk, especially with no end to the difficult financial climate and a paucity of "big ideas" for Glasgow. Otherwise there's the risk of a push.

But the oft-touted challenger/successor to Mr Matheson, city treasurer Paul Rooney, is said to be no longer interested in the post, his long-standing supporters have effectively been stood down and there's no clear contender to become next top dog.

Also, no obvious talent is emerging from the 20 or so new Labour councillors elected in 2012 and trumpeted as more professional and politically committed fresh blood.

There's talk of frustrations amongst the new intake, but only James Adams, the group whip who is close to deputy Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, shows signs of being groomed and blooded for bigger things.

But next leader? Way too early. Meanwhile, two former MSPs biding their time in the Labour administration's mid-table will discover in the coming weeks if they have been selected to contest the 2016 Scottish elections. Both Bill Butler and Frank McAveety are said by colleagues to find their current environment frustrating and neglectful of their skillsets and talents.

Mr McAveety in particular could muster a crowd, including influential figures from the north and east of the city. Is a move for the mahogany-panelled leader's office, £50,000-plus-year and real power preferable to hanging around the backbenches until 2021 for another shot at Holyrood? We'll soon see.

And what of former leadership contender Archie Graham, aka Mr Johann Lamont? The deputy leader's long-held role of heading up 2014 for the council will end soon and, while publicly he'd never covet the top job, privately, colleagues say, it wouldn't be too alien a thought for him.

The prospect of the husband and wife team leading Labour into two elections isn't unrealistic, sources say.

As for the opposition SNP, come September 19 the constitutional question may no longer be the cohesion for a very disparate group of individuals. Privately mocked by Labour for "missing open goals", their pledge to act like an administration-in-waiting this term is very much open to question.

So, as news also abhors a vacuum, let the Games commence.

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Local government

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