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Ponsonby: What took Lord Provost so long to walk away?

Eva Bolander's resignation was inevitable after claiming £8000 expenses for clothing and shoes.

Eva Bolander claimed in £8000 in clothing expenses. <strong>Glasgow City Council</strong>
Eva Bolander claimed in £8000 in clothing expenses. Glasgow City Council

From the moment it was revealed that the about-to-be-ex Lord Provost Eva Bolander had used taxpayers’ money for what appeared to be expenditure rooted in vanity, her resignation was inevitable.

Let’s be clear, she is going because she has lost the confidence and support of her SNP colleagues, two of whom have told me that her manner irritated many in the group. It is not inconceivable that some of the opprobrium of her colleagues was more to do with personal dislike than the issue at hand.

Her claims for £8000 of clothing, shoes and beauty products were within the rules and therefore legitimate. What she chose to spend money on, however, reveals a politician of poor judgement, a conclusion that is underlined by the fact she waited to be pushed rather than exiting the stage earlier and with a little more dignity.

I have never met Eva Bolander and have not attended any civic function at which she has spoken, but I thought the decision to elect her as Glasgow’s first citizen a good one. It said that people who have made their home here are just as important as the people born here. Her confirmation as Lord Provost was in itself very Glasgow.

When an expenses story appears about a politician they are almost always on to a hiding to nothing since most of the public take a ‘give them nowt’ attitude, based on the erroneous view that to serve is to thrash your snout in a trough of easy money.

The column inches devoted to such stories are for the most part disproportionate to the alleged ‘crime’. They play out in the same way. Revelation is made written in mocking tones. Political opponents upgrade the alleged behaviour from misdemeanour to felony. The resignation calls emerge. The subject of the story initially goes to ground and then admits to an error of judgement. A resignation ensues as the criticism will not go away.

This story is a blip on the Richter scale of scandal. It has also been accompanied by the kind of overstatement that questions the judgement of opponents, such as Labour dubbing Bolander the Imelda Marcos of Glasgow. What? Seriously? Marcos and her husband amassed billions illegally whilst presiding over mass poverty. The comparison is plain stupid, being neither accurate nor indeed funny if that was the intention.

Eva Bolander might have survived this if she had faced up to her poor judgement on day one and called in the cameras to offer an apology. Instead, in accountability terms, she hid, doing herself no favours and giving the impression that the shield of a carefully worded statement would suffice.

I have been around politicians for nearly 40 years and those whose bent is to be bent are few in number.

Eva Bolander is guilty of poor judgement and naivety and she has correctly paid the price. The only question I would ask, what took you so long? With that she should now be left alone to serve her constituents to the best of her ability.


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