Friday, 18 January 2013

Leave Gordon Alone

The news today that Labour Councillor, Gordon Matheson, was caught engaging in an enjoyable interlude with a friend in a public place led to a degree of "scandal" reports in the media, and, unedifyingly, on social media and comment articles. 

I know Gordon Matheson. Or, I've met him. He seems nice enough. Does a good line (not in the Purcell way) in pintripes. Enthusiastic wee man. Pleasant to political opponents. He's certainly not a man you immediately despise in the way of Jackie Baillie or Apartheid Jim Murphy.

The response from the National Party, when asked to comment, was clear and unambiguous - Drew Hendry, the Leader of the Opposition, said that he would not comment on Mr Matheson's private life. 

This was the right approach to take, not only politically, but on a human level. 

One does not need to imagine what the response would have been had the shoe been on the other foot. The unedifying spectacle of journalists and Unionist representatives harrying and abusing someone going through what must rank among the worst experience of their life. 

Most of the "outrage" seems to have been predicated on Mr Matheson and his friend engaging in their activity in a public place. 

This is faux outrage. 

It is not as though the two friends were engaged in mutual masturbation in the middle of Sauchiehall Street on a busy Saturday. 

They were in a parked car, in a deserted housing scheme, in the dark of night. They had a reasonable expectation that this was a secluded area. They had a reasonable belief that they were not outraging public decency. They had a reasonable belief that they would not be seen. 

Does anyone believe, seriously, that a high-profile man like Matheson would engage in an illicit sexual affair where he believed he could be seen?

There is no offence in the law of our nation of engaging in sexual activity in a public place. All the law requires is that steps are taken to ensure that nobody comes across it, if you will, who does not desire to. 

Reading between the lines, this "tryst" ( (c) The Sun) was spotted by a CCTV operator, and the police alerted. This isn't kids wandering past a park, it isn't a housewife wandering along a street, it isn't a dog-walker wondering why his dog has stopped at a car. 

The police reported the incident to the Procurator, who decided not to proceed. 

Why would the Procurator do so if public decency had indeed been outraged?

We may turn to the moral aspects of Matheson's behaviour. Yes, Matheson engaged in sexual activity with a former partner who was not his current partner. Yes, he did so illicitly (he could hardly do so publicly!). He's a highly-paid man, who could have got an hotel room. True. Have you ever had a joint bank account? Imagine the repercussions of an unexplained hotel room?

So, those of us who have never had an overlap in relationships, feel free to whine about Matheson.

I'm not going to write about him cheating on his partner. It's irrelevant, to everyone except the two of them. Regardless of his public position, he is entitled to a private life, no matter how he may conduct it, unless it is led using Glaswegian money. 

The illicit thing isn't an issue. It's an issue for Matheson and his partner.

Sadly, I don't think it's what Matheson did that's the problem. The problem to many people is with whom he did it. 

If I was to have scattered this post with "she"s, Matheson would have been guaranteed re-election for life. "Shagger Matheson, what a guy!". 

There's plenty of things to criticise Gordon Matheson for. 

There's the state of the litter-strewn city centre, which is paved with dog dirt.
There's the constant criminality of Labour Councillors.
There's the lack of the promised free WiFi.
There's the atrocious public transport.
There's the theft of £500.000 of public money by Labour Councillors.

Getting noshed off in the back of a Nissan Micra by a consenting adult is not one of the myriad reasons why Matheson should resign. 

Matheson's indiscretion took place on the 12th of December. My diary entry for that day reads: "re-organise payslips, send Tax Clearance Certificate; remember to order coal".

I know who should be getting slagged for a rubbish Wednesday night, and he's not wearing a pin-striped suit.

The criminality of Gordon Matheson's party is enough to be going along with. Gordon Matheson's party stole £500.000 of Glasgow's money to give to a crony. Gordon Matheson's councillors are involved in wife-battering, under-age-drinking, theft and drugs. 

Let's criticise him for not getting a grip on that. 

But let's not descend into hypocrisy, and to what seems to me, tawdry homophobia. 

Matheson's a poor leader of a criminal party which is wrecking our greatest city. I'm not averse to having a kick at the Labour Party - but not for this. Give the man a bit of privacy, give him a bit of dignity, let him and his partner get through it.

Just because of what he is - a Unionist and the leader of a party of thugs, thieves and criminals - doesn't mean we should forget who he is - a human being.

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