What we can be sure about is that the event itself was a success by any standard. It was well organised and ran like clockwork. No mean feat when you consider that this was the largest, most complex event ever held in the UK.
So let’s park the cynicism for a moment and celebrate some of the unsung heroes of this enormous undertaking.
Let’s hear it for the organisers, the United Nations, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Glasgow Council, Police Scotland and the rest. The planning was superb and flexible enough to cope with thousands of moving parts and last-minute changes. It looked seamless – great work.
Let’s give a nod to the cleaners and caterers, the tireless backbone of any big event. They kept the thousands of delegates and staff fed, watered and clean 24/7. Good job.
And what about the police search teams, two and four-legged? They searched the venues, vehicles and everything that entered the secure area. It’s a meticulous and exhausting job where there is no room for error – well done.
Then there’s the police motorcycle outriders – the bikers. Take it from me, riding a heavy motorcycle fast, in close formation on wet roads requires skill and courage. The convoy route of over 40 miles on the M8 was as long and testing as it gets. A breed apart, the bikers and mounted officers can always be counted on when the going gets tough. Once again they rose to the occasion.
And let’s raise our hats to the public order units, drawn from across the UK, particularly the liaison officers (the ones in light blue tabards). Tireless in their patience, they engaged quickly and did everything possible to enable peaceful protest.
Such was their success that troublemakers gained no traction and were reduced to the juvenile ploy of letting down car tyres. Even that was botched when they couldn’t tell the difference between a gas guzzler and an eco-runabout.
The protesters too deserve credit. Noisy, colourful and passionate, they were, for the most part, peaceful and got their message across in style. The remarkably low arrest rate reflects well on them as much as the police.
And don’t forget about home cover, the men and women left to hold the fort, at council or police offices. Working round the clock and doing the work of two, they also deserve our thanks.
And well done Glasgow, the old city looked great despite the drizzle and the malign efforts of her bin men. She gave a warm welcome to the world.
There were countless others, too many to mention in this short piece.
But for a last word, let’s congratulate the leaders, the gold and silver commanders of the various agencies. They will get little praise but would surely have ‘carried the can ‘if things had gone wrong.
The faith they placed in their teams was well justified. Whatever the long-term outcomes of COP26, all the unsung heroes deserve our thanks. They at least gave the conference the chance to succeed.
Tom Wood is a writer and former Deputy Chief Constable