Tongues are wagging in Glasgow after the Labour leader of the Council Gordon Matheson was caught in an ‘act of indecency’ in a city park. Tipped off by a passer-by, the police investigated and found Matheson committing the act. They followed up by reporting the incident to the procurator fiscal, who declined to take any action.
The incident did not ‘out’ Matheson, who is openly gay and is in a civil partnership. Indeed his election to the post in 2010 was considered to have marked a sea-change in the attitudes of the people of Glasgow. But it was an act of infidelity and Matheson has made a public apology to his partner and admitted to having an affair with the man with whom he was caught.
But what makes this case most interesting is that Gordon Matheson intends to remain as leader.
As Leader, he has established the Commonwealth Jobs and Graduate Funds; committed Glasgow to bid for the 2018 Youth Olympics; launched a major revamp of George Square; approved a scheme to reduce Glasgow’s landfill by 90%; introduced winter fuel payments to pensioners; and embarked on the refurbishment or rebuild of every school in the city.
In November 2012, Gordon Matheson was named Local Politician of the Year at the Herald Scottish Politician of the Year Awards.
The Tweets on this case range from the usual “Any attack on him is homophobic” through “It’s his private life and nobody’s business but his own (and his partner’s)” to “He broke the law even if he wasn’t prosecuted” and “How can you trust a politician if he lies to his nearest and dearest?”
His Labour colleagues are also divided, though Glasgow’s Labour Party is notorious for being a nest of vipers. Matheson replaced Stephen Purcell after he admitted using cocaine and said he feared blackmail. But if he holds onto his post it will be seen as another sign that Scotland, and Glasgow have moved on.