Glasgow Labour council have been heavily criticised after it emerged it plans to spend around £15,000 on an oil painting of the city’s current lord provost, Bob Winter.
The Labour council commissioned the portrait from artist Anne Mackintosh – an artist very popular with royalty and the Tory Party, who famously painted Margaret Thatcher – the portrait has already been completed.
Ms Mackintosh received a hand-written thank you note from Thatcher, and is reported to have said of David Cameron: “I told him he had wonderful skin.”
Other famous Tories she has painted include former PM John Major, former Tory Scottish Secretaries Ian Lang, Michael Forsyth and Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Ms Mackintosh also painted Labour notables, the late Donald Dewar and John Smith.
The news comes in the wake of a recent decision by the council in Edinburgh to reverse a similar plan to fund a £15,000 painting of its incumbent Lib Dem Lord Provost George Grubb as well as cancelling another £15,000 to be spent on a stained-glass window of former Labour Lord Provost Lesley Hinds.
The £15,000 expenditure on a portrait also comes at a time when the Labour administration in Glasgow is implementing spending cuts of around £42 million in the next financial year with the result that council staff numbers are being reduced.
Glasgow’s Labour run council has already spent £32.7m to pay almost 2000 employees voluntary early retirement redundancy deals so that staff will quit their posts. The reduction in staff numbers will form part of the council’s overall reduced spending and may well adversely affect service quality.
With spending cuts at the fore, the decision to honour Labour Lord Provost Bob Winter with a commissioned portrait has deeply angered councillors and trades unionists.
Martin Doran, a GMB trade union organiser, said: “This sort of spending is galling and beggars belief. Staff will be shaking their heads in disbelief at the callousness of such a decision.”
A Glasgow City Council spokesperson said: “Since the early 19th century, the council has commissioned portraits of out-going lord provosts.
“They are part of the city’s art collection and are hung in public view in the City Chambers portrait gallery.”