By our Political Staff

ELSPETH KING has decided not to resign but to stay on as curator of

the People's Palace, according to close friends who are deeply disturbed

by left-wing attempts to hijack the campaign to secure professional

justice for her.

They are among a minority of her supporters advising her to abandon

her formal complaints against Glasgow District Council where the affair

has produced a major political crisis.

The appeal against the decision not to appoint Ms King, curator of the

People's Palace for the past 16 years, to the new post of keeper of the

city's social history is due to be heard next Friday under the council's

grievance procedures.

There is considerable irritation at senior level in the district

council over the Elspeth King campaign, which is regarded as highly

manipulative. There is also frustration that the official side of the

story cannot be put since Ms King has invoked the grievance procedure.

This has silenced the council for the moment.

Various perceived shortcomings in Ms King's attitude and performance

would be highlighted by officials should the matter go as far as an

industrial tribunal, and some of her friends have been warning her that

she would be ''cut to pieces'' at it.

It is being emphasised that Ms King has not been dismissed but that

she has failed in open competition to win a senior post for which she

applied. Mr Mark O'Neill was preferred. Senior officials have been

exasperated by references to his Irish background by individual

commentators and letter-writers in the Glasgow Herald. These are

regarded as ''racist''.

It is said that Ms King is difficult to work with and is obsessively

defensive of the People's Palace. It is also denied that the People's

Palace has been ''starved of funds'' as her supporters have alleged.

The King affair is now being used, it is claimed, by various dissident

left-wing groups, some of them crypto-communist organ-isations, whose

intentions are to stymie the proposed development of Glasgow Green for

leisure and tourism.

They also want to topple Mr Pat Lally as leader of the Labour group,

instal a left-wing leadership and reverse the council's policies of

developing the city in partnership with the private sector. They are

exploiting the genuine admiration, among all social groups in Glasgow,

for Ms King's achievements at the People Palace.

Senior officials are alarmed by what they see as a threat to the

council's whole policy for the Year of Culture, and some of Ms King's

supporters were appalled by the way in which the meeting on Thursday

night, called to co-ordinate efforts on her behalf, was taken over by

left-wing groups.

The relationship between Ms King and her employers is felt to have

deteriorated to a point where compromises are hard to imagine. But it

would be regarded as helpful if Ms King withdrew her complaint under the

grievance procedure.

Any upgrading of her post there, to recognise her particular personal

contribution -- a comparison is being made with a ''personal'' chair

created by universities for distinguished academics -- could hardly be

contemplated now by politicians who feel they are fighting for their

survival. Nevertheless, a compromise of this kind might be the only way


The affair has created problems for Councillor Lally, who is on a

council visit to the Soviet Union. A meeting of the Glasgow District

Labour Party on June 28 is expected to be very difficult for him.

By then it is estimated that the majority of constituency Labour

parties will have passed motions supporting Ms King and calling upon the

council to reconsider its decision. That, in itself, may be difficult to

do, given that Mr O'Neill would be entitled to take action himself if Ms

King was subsequently given the job to which he has been appointed.

At the same meeting a motion will be brought by the Transport and

General Workers' Union noting with disquiet and concern the management

of and political interference in trade union affairs by certain elements

of the council's Labour administration.

If a parallel is drawn with this issue and the Elspeth King affair --

and privately, the same parties are being associated with both --

Councillor Lally could be in for a rough ride.

The Elspeth King affair in itself is unlikely to be seen as big enough

to threaten his position as council leader. However, the combination of

criticism over

that, taken alongside attacks on the council's running of the Year of

Culture and the proposed development of Flesher's Haugh at Glasgow

Green, are being seen as adding up to a crisis of confidence in the

Labour group leader.

No particular councillor is being seen as heading a revolt against

him. There is generally recognised to be a core group of 18 left-wing

Labour councillors, another group further to the right loyal to Lally,

and another group in the middle, the critical factor in this issue.

Ms King's lawyer, Mr Rod McKenzie, of Harpers, said yesterday that if

she is unsuccessful at next week's appeal proceedings, she will bring a

claim of sex discrimination by the council to a industrial tribunal.

Senior officials believe this claim to be ridiculous and are preparing a

powerful case to disprove it.

Mr McKenzie said that he was not being permitted to represent her at

Friday's meeting. The council's disputes procedure was silent on this

point and it had ''chosen to interpret them that I am not permitted to

be there. We feel that is wrong and will be letting the council know''.

A group of around 100 of her supporters protested outside the City

Chambers yesterday. Their attempts to have a delegation received by

Labour councillors including deputy leader Bailie Jean McFadden and

Councillor Charles Davison who chairs the arts committee were rejected.

Mr Stewart Maclennan, an executive member of the city Labour Party who

stressed he was speaking only as an Elspeth King supporter, said: ''The

way we have been treated is appalling. Has no one told the Glasgow

councillors that the walls are coming down all over Europe and they

should not be erected here.

''We, as members of the Labour Party, will not tolerate our

councillors acting in this way. We already have strong indications that

a majority of members may soon be coming round to the thought that a

full review of the case should be carried out.''

Mr Maclennan added: ''Pat Lally has been hiding behind this nonsense

of the case being sub judice which has been exposed for the sham that it

was. He has nothing to hide behind now and as soon as he returns to

Glasgow he should speak to the people he is supposed to serve and tell

them what is going on.''