"Bright star! Would I were steadfast as thou art -
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night..."
- John Keats, from "Bright Star!"
I don’t propose to say much on Steven Purcell – partly because I can hardly make head nor tail of the half-commentary and dulcet innuendo going on in the press. On one hand Purcell’s departure from his Heidship of Glasgow Cooncil has been met by a constellation of stellar metaphors - his career’s expansion and contraction, its advancing luminosity exploding in an unanticipated supernova of stress (or being properly pert and Scots-reductive, probably classified as a political mininova.)
Largely, the discourse on his magnitude has been comparative. Clustered around by Labour party red dwarfs – columnists and commentators have been admiring his superior light. Maybe you have to meet him. He never struck me as particularly interesting or engaging or sagacious on the telly. Certainly, not a full-throated member of the familiar toad chorus of Labour gentlemen – your Michael McMahons, Paul Martins, James Kellys, Duncan McNeils. More sagacious, absolutely, less of the visceral, amphibian tribalism which is fit only for bellyflopping in the mire and turning in its expense receipts. Whoop de doo. That is an attainment most of the educated population thoughtlessly achieves. Purcell’s lone splendour, then, is a grim essay on how effectively benighted Scottish Labour remains. His encomiums testament to the pervasive mediocrity, the fatuousness of its elected deputies, its betrayal of a better history. From this low-slung frog-perspective, a bare lightbulb might seem like a coruscating distant sun, its promise more willow the wisp than new star rising.
That said, the detail of Purcell’s mental state is none of my chuffing business. At least insofar as he hasn’t been buying hooch or highs on the public penny; or indulging in rampant corruption or pervasive incompetence from his seat in the City Chambers. Whatever the private truth, and I don’t give a fig, the air of prudery and self-satisfied sarcasm at the man’s expense is nauseating.