P&J Column for 19.5.14

Len returns to the wrestling ring, but Barney suffers the Technical Knockout.

Ron Cluny, Official Council Spokesman

This has been a bruising week to be an Aberdeen political heavyweight, and I’m not just speaking about Len Ironside’s appearance at The Beach Ballroom. The dunts Len took grappling with his opponent may be painful just now, but the ones Barney Crockett suffered at the hands of his colleagues will take the longer to heal. Poor Barney. He is not the first politician to find that the comrade who seemed to be clapping him warmly on the back was actually clutching a dagger.

Barney’s time in office has been marked by some notable achievements. Stalling the development of Union Terrace Gardens; the pulling down of a modernist nightmare of glass and steel and approving the erection of something entirely different, which will have the added benefit of closing off traffic on one of the city’s main North-to South thoroughfares and – most important of all – some epic spats with Alec Salmond. He will, of course be disappointed to leave prematurely. There was still much to be achieved. I am sure he would have dearly loved to resolve the Haudagin situation and to get through a whole day without baring his teeth at someone from the SNP. But he should not be downhearted. He has accomplished more in politics than has ever previously been achieved by someone who sounds like either a character in the Flintstones or a friendly purple dinosaur. No mean feat at all.

The removal of Barney Crocket as Leader of Aberdeen City Council represents the greatest setback for a politician in the North-East of Scotland since Michael Gove failed his Cycling Proficiency test at Kittybrewster Primary. We asked some of our regular contributors for their reaction to the news:

Archie Fraser, Gentleman of the Road – As someone who spends an unusually large portion of my day walking the streets of Aberdeen; seeking out un-emptied wheelie bins for an alfresco luncheon, or a commodious skip in which to catch 40 winks, I have first hand experience of the discord which has lately underscored civic life. The new leader of the Council has an opportunity to bring harmony back to the Town. That’s why their first act should be a ban on anyone playing guitars, accordions or, crucially, bagpipes in the City Centre without also holding a Grade 6 certificate from the Royal College of Music

Jock Alexander Mtv (Meikle Wartle Television) presenter – With a power vacuum in Aiberdeen City, some folk believe the time is right for a radical shake-up. So fanFeel Moira left the village on Tuesday, after announcing she wiz ‘Gaan tae mount a Coup’, I winzae aa that surprised. However, fan Tam Wilson’s prize Charolais turned up in the village square on Setterday, startled, skittish, but itherwise unharmed, we realized that Moira’s ambitions mebe werena political efter aa.

Jimmy Hollywood, Sandilands Most Eligible Bachelor – I’ll be honest, I niver kent Barney Crocket wis leader of Aiberdeen Cooncil. I ayewis thocht he wiz King of the Wild Frontier. Ye ken? The Broch.

Struan Metcalfe, Conservative MSP for Aberdeenshire North & Surrounding Nether Regions – What would I do if I were leader of Aberdeen City Council? That’s easy. I’d kill myself! ROFL!

PC Bobby Constable, community policeman (retired).

There wis shocking scenes this week with a full-scale riot taking place at the new HMP Grampian in Peterheid. I awyse said that the move to a so-called “Super-Prison’ would cause problems, but of course, the powers that be didna listen. They wid sooner listen to some spotty wee nyaff of a Penologist with a PhD, a great heap of data and a passionate interest in re-integrating offenders into the community than pay ony heed to a grizzled veteran of a thousand cracks ower the heid wi an extendable baton like me. Say fit you like about HMP Craiginches, but there were very few incidents of serious disorder there. Because, when a jail has a thriving black market in heavy-duty sedatives and nithing in it worth breaking, you find that prisoners just canna be bothered to trash the place. Another thing that contributes a lot to the likelihood of prison riots is overcrowding. Squeeze them in fower tae a cell and they dinna hae room to swing a chair. Leave folks unbefuddled and gie them en-suite lavvies and the idea that they might be human being with rights and a that sort of caper and yer jist asking for trouble. It took them a fair bit o time to get ahud o the riot, and a. I jist wish my old sergeant, Dunter Duncan, ,hid still been around. Dunter wiz a 20-stone colossus fa cut his teeth – and smashed abody else’s – in the Gorbals. He didna haud back. I mind eence, it kicked aff in the holding cells at Queen Street and him and me hid to ging to sort it oot. Dunter grabbed the person closest to him, pit him in strungle-hold, and shouted that he wid keep squeezing the life oot of him until the riot stopped. They aa calmed doon straight way and went back to their cells, quiet as lambs. Which wiz a great relief, cos I wiz jist awa tae pass oot.