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Labour’s top talent in four-way fight to claim Purcell’s old job

The race to become the next leader of Glasgow City Council will be a four-way fight involving several of the local authority’s main players.

With no other candidates expected, the race to succeed Steven Purcell as leader of Scotland’s largest local authority will be between Jim Coleman, the interim leader; Archie Graham, head of the council’s 2014 Commonwealth Games efforts; Paul Rooney, former Police Authority chairman; and City Treasurer Gordon Matheson.

Insiders claim Mr Rooney, the youngest candidate, is front-runner but if, as many predict, it goes to a second vote, any of them could get the highest-profile post in Scottish local government.

The election comes after Mr Purcell quit last month amid admissions of cocaine abuse, heavy drinking and fear of blackmail.

The council has since been engulfed by allegations of cronyism and financial impropriety.

The successful candidate faces clearing the debris from the Purcell scandal and steering the city through the biggest squeeze on public finances in a generation.

Voting will be on or after the party’s city AGM on May 10.

If any candidate gets more than 24 votes he will immediately be declared leader. If not, the candidate with the fewest votes drops out and then with second choices being made anything could happen.

One council source said: “This is anyone’s for the taking. Rooney is the early leader and his team is certainly effective but you get the impression from the whispered conversations around the Chambers that the floaters or second preferences will decide it.

“It’s impossible to take people at face value. One senior councillor has told all four candidates they have his vote.”

Despite his reputation as a ‘reformer’ Mr Rooney is also being championed by some of those on the left.

Mr Rooney said: “We need to be more open and transparent about our decision-making.

“Only then will we begin to address the negative perceptions and mistrust that currently clouds the excellent work that is being done in the city.”

Mr Coleman said: “The next few years are going to be very difficult for all councils with budget cuts on the way and I would redouble our efforts to deliver services more efficiently and effectively.”

Mr Matheson, who is championed by Stephen Curran, many people’s preferred candidate if he had chosen to stand, said: “If I’ve learned anything at education and as treasurer it’s the need for brave decisions and teamwork.”

Mr Graham said: “We need to continue our programme of modernisation at the city council and to develop more imaginative ways of delivering services for the people of Glasgow.”

 

JIM COLEMAN

Age: 63

Status: Married with three grown-up children.

Position: Interim leader and councillor for Baillieston.

Former construction worker who joined the council in 1989 and has served as deputy under two leaders.

Is said to have received face-to-face commitments from 14 fellow councillors.

Pitch: “I would bring stability and common sense to the job.”

 

 

GORDON MATHESON

Age: 43

Status: In civil partnership with long-standing partner.

Position: City Treasurer and councillor for City/Anderston.

Former press and policy officer for the RNIB and executive member for education. Said by supporters of other candidates to have ‘single-digit support’ but by others of being able to command a dozen.

Pitch: “There are tough times ahead for the council but I’m prepared to make the decisions.”

 

 

PAUL ROONEY

Age: 32

Status: Married with two children.

Position: Executive member for education and councillor for Garscadden/Scotstounhill.

Former depute fiscal and chairman of Strathclyde Police Authority.

Supporters have estimated current support to be about 24. Opponents say 15 to 20 at a push.

Pitch: “It is essential that we continue with a reform agenda but we need to be more open and transparent about our decision-making.”

 

ARCHIE GRAHAM

Age: 53

Status: Married to Labour MSP Johann Lamont, with two teenage children.

Position: Executive member for social care and the Commonwealth Games and councillor for Langside.

Said to be able to command 12 votes although less clear than other candidates due to potential team-up with Mr Coleman.

Pitch: “I have the integrity, experience, enthusiasm and ability to be able to provide the leadership required for the task.”

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