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From virtue to venalityCorruption in the city$
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Peter Jones

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719088728

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719088728.001.0001

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Graft in Glasgow and Labour’s ascendancy 1933–68

Graft in Glasgow and Labour’s ascendancy 1933–68

(p.54) 3 Graft in Glasgow and Labour’s ascendancy 1933–68
From virtue to venality

Peter Jones

Manchester University Press

In the late nineteenth century Glasgow had been a model of Victorian urban government and the local elite was steeped in Victorian ideals of public service and civic probity. After the expansion of the franchise in 1918 local politics became more open and the Irish Treaty of 1921 undermined the necessity of the Unionist Party in Scotland and Glasgow in particular. By 1933 Labour had become the majority party in Glasgow’s City Council. A new type of politician entered public life that needed to live by politics as much as live for politics. This was achieved by using public office to accept bribes; dispense favours over public building programmes; cultivate patron-client relationships to secure drink licences; control the allocation of vendors’ stalls in local markets. A local press campaign resulted in the establishment of a Tribunal of Inquiry (1933) which exposed wrong doing in respect of the Council’s housing department. Little was done and corruption persisted throughout the post-war years and Glasgow shows that corruption can prevail in a political system where one party ruled for long periods of time without significant political opposition.

Keywords:   Graft, probity, tribunal, drink interest, sectarianism

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