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INSIDE TRACK: The tragedy that brought out the best of Glasgow

FIRST some cynicism.

The Clutha Vaults tragedy did more than bring out the best in the too-often-maligned city I've called home for 15 years. It was an excuse for some of its most myopic, bigoted and tribal elements to vent partisan poisons.

It was obvious from the outset we were dealing with multiple fatalities. Yet within 90 minutes references were made to crass perceptions of the Clutha's clientele and where they might slot into the city's football divide. Worse still, some cheered it.

Others, keen to highlight a rebellious streak, apportioned blame to the police with an ignorant "expertise" on civil aviation regulations.

Labour MP Jim Murphy, who was not only part of the rescue operation but who also articulated so well to the world the shock and horror of what happened last Friday, was promptly accused by some of making capital from this human tragedy.

Similarly, the announcement by the First Minister that Scotland's "resilience operation", our equivalent of Westminster's civil contingencies committee Cobra, had been mobilised was met with shrill cries of nationalistic propaganda and chest-thumping during a tragedy.

Social media, particularly Twitter, served as a call to arms to those in the rest of Glasgow and further afield who could offer help and support with an immediacy rarely seen.

It also became a platform for ghouls and zealots and those mawkishly offended that journalists were using the medium to bring "news".

Few with any grace could doubt the sincerity during media interviews of political, civic and emergency services leaders the following day when the cold winter light revealed the extent of the previous night's catastrophe. It was in their faces.

But the repeated use of corporate slogans and brandings, primarily People Make Glasgow and Keeping People Safe, sounded contrived, an inability to articulate the situation without lapsing into well-worn buzz terms.

And over the last week I've overheard a number of conversations in the workplace, on the commute and on the school run on whether any other UK city would have acted similarly in such a situation. The consensus is yes.

But not an hour before the Clutha tragedy, quiz show Have I Got News For You was awash with "jokes" on Scotland and alcoholism on the back of the independence White Paper.

Not long afterwards the frankly dreadful reality TV person Katie Hopkins was making jokes about life expectancy north of the Border.

The very mention of Glasgow, even within Scotland, still throws up comments on violence, aggression, laziness, deprivation and sectarianism. But the clientele of the Clutha Vaults represented anything but, a socially mixed group enjoying an international music style in a traditional pub.

In the face of this constant onslaught, too often based on long-outdated perceptions, Glasgow has every right to be proud of its response and of how it has rallied round.

There should be no "cringe factor". But among the layers of grief, there is also a sadness that it has taken something like the Clutha Vaults disaster for Glasgow to be positively defined.

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