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The Dinwoodie Interview

SUSAN Aitken has come a long way in the 30 years since she was a precocious teenager in Doc Marten boots writing her Higher English dissertation on proposals to ban Page 3 girls.

A very long way, giving that she has now spent 18 months leading the country’s biggest local authority, making her one of Scotland’s most influential politicians. The leader of Glasgow City Council had just spent a hectic week with the SNP conference on her turf running straight into the conference of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities in St Andrews, where she took time out to talk to iScot. The setting was significant, for one of her administration’s first decisions was to take Glasgow back into Cosla.

For more than an hour she talked about her political origins, where Left-wing views sat alongside Scottish cultural awareness; her disillusion with Labour’s monolithic view which saw devolution simply as a way to increase its grip on Scotland; to her emergence as a political force in a city where decades of Labour rule cried out for fresh thinking. She also spoke of her pride at trying to solve the injustice of unfair pay for women, and her anger at Labour critics of these attempts after overseeing the injustice for a decade.

Her parents were a Glasgow couple of old Communist Party stock who moved to Bigger in South Lanarkshire to find an affordable home, proving that the housing crisis in the cities is not a new phenomenon. Her father George was a council planner, her mother Doris earned a social work qualification as a mature student and their children, Andrew and Susan grew up in the old South Lanarkshire market town. “Both my parents had a very public sector ethos,” said Aitken.

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