GLASGOW belongs to who? Well, let’s see. Opinion polls for the June Westminster General Election show the SNP taking something of a hit across Scotland. But the rumour mill on May’s local council elections says that it’s going to be a landslide in Glasgow for the Nationalists, tipping 50 per cent of the overall vote.

The Yes City looks like it’s finally about to have its Yes “City Government”, as the party’s shadow council leader Susan Aitken likes to phrase it. She continues, “I will make Glasgow a rival to Barcelona, Copenhagen and Berlin”. These are bold claims, and one can already have fun with them by highlighting the quirkiness of these places.

Will the “city government” be removing busts and statues of old imperial masters, or putting an overall ceiling on hotel rooms to curb disruptive levels of tourism, as Barcelona’s radical mayor Ada Colau has done?

Will Glasgow abolish the last call for drinking, or encourage young creatives to live in cooperative co-housing arrangements, like Berlin? Will we entertain drugs-friendly freezones like Copenhagen’s Christiania – or try to match their 2016 achievement where more bikes are owned than cars?

There are a numbing mass of proposals on the SNP For Glasgow manifesto site (and, to be fair, no fewer from Labour and Scottish Greens). In the words of Tom Gordon from The Herald, we can identify “common threads” from this cross-party avalanche of policies.

“Devolving greater power to local communities; giving citizens more say in how budgets are spent; housing and planning reform; public bus networks; superfast broadband as a universal utility; councils generating cheaper electricity for local houses; and encouraging business through smarter procurement and sourcing food from local suppliers”.

As Tom says, the basics of council service – education, social care, potholes and rubbish collection – are well served. But there are also “unexpected ideas, such as addressing mental ill health with more counselling in schools.”

This is probably the most anorak statement ever – but I have enjoyed mulling over the progressive parties’ plans, schemes and dreams for the city of Glasgow. (Even the Tories’ Localism For Growth document has decent work therein, if you can avoid Oor Ruthie’s “No to Indyref2” mantra.) It can be exhausting to wrestle with the massive abstractions of independence politics – never mind the emotional knee-jerk responses they generate either way. Whereas to hear the prospective councillors propose their overlapping schemes – lighting systems for familiar streets, or walkways to the Clyde that you might imagine your own feet traversing, or the revival of city-centre alleyways in the New York style – is to recover a sense that politics applies to something graspable, familiar, do-able.

Those much more expert and seasoned than I will tell me a thousand tales of how rarely these manifesto promises are properly realised. And since they’ve only been out of power for eight years since 1933, the burden of Glasgow City Council’s triumphs and tribulations lies firmly with Scottish Labour.

The only Glasgow councillor I’ve ever known directly, and well, is the formidable Nina Baker (Anderson) from the Scottish Greens – now retiring. But I do recall a classic early-2000s junket to the palatial council chambers at George Square, with figures like Frank McAveety and Jack McConnell whirling amidst the cheap wine and cheese straws.

The best moment was coming upon the then Lord Provost Alex Mosson, wide and resplendent in his chain mail, who seized my elbow and theatrically hissed: “I don’t know why you’re bothering with all this democracy nonsense. It’s reliable and well-delivered services the people need, not democracy”. Stage winks from him, and affectionate cries of “ya auld Stalinist” all around – but I couldn’t have had the paternalist cliche of Scottish Labour’s city fathers more confirmed.

So, if there is finally an indy-friendly, non-Labour majority on May 4, the expectation of a clean broom is high. And although there are SNP-led and majority councils already, taking Glasgow would be the start of a substantial new wave of SNP governance (no doubt the reason for “city government” as their campaign buzzword).

Glasgow has a total turnover of £36 billion and one sixth of Scotland’s jobs. It has the full range of universities, a diverse economy between manufacturing and services, and an evidently gallus public life. It’s some political prize.

It is also still Scotland’s most deprived city and local authority area. According to the Glasgow Indicators Project, “almost half (47.3 per cent) of Glasgow’s residents – 283,000 people – reside in the 20 per cent of most deprived areas in Scotland. In contrast, just 26,000 people (4.4 per cent of the population) live in the 10 per cent of least deprived areas in Scotland”; and 34 per cent of the city's children were estimated to be living in poverty in 2016.

These figures make you swallow hard. To misquote the late, great Michael Marra, Mother Glasgow evidently doesn’t nurse all of her weans. What could a change of “city government” do here? We have to be clear about how much grip a council like Glasgow has on its resources.

The think-tank Reform Scotland notes that councils only raise 14 per cent of their total income (the rates and charges they levy on providing services). Fully devolving business rates and council tax to them would raise control over their own revenue to 41 per cent.

Would it revive the embarrassingly low turnout on council elections (less than 40 per cent in 2012), if people felt their representatives had substantial responsibility for the direction of their city?

The idea of a Glasgow (or any local council) becoming more fiscally autonomous within Scotland may rub some up the wrong way in SNP circles. The “Team Scotland/One Scotland” approach sometimes presumes the country is small and cohesive enough to be run as a single administrative and accounting unit - see the consolidations of Police Scotland, or the backtrack on the Named Persons scheme.

Yet, long-term, I wonder whether “devolution to Glasgow” – including finances – might not be a kind of safe haven for those progressive values and perspectives that feed the independence movement.

Throughout Europe and America, we seem to be undergoing a geographical revolution in politics. Major cities and their conurbations are becoming containers for liberal pluralism and networked prosperity. Meanwhile, the areas and towns “in-between” languish and lag behind, disconnected and resentful.

It can seem bizarre to watch the slow recrudescence of Tory politics in Scotland. But it makes sense if we connect their vote to this “stop-the-future” mentality, which weaves the aversion to indy into a more general resistance to globally minded progress. And whether it’s the Clintonites versus the Trumpsters, or the Macrons versus the LePens, the urban/non-urban split in these political mindsets is pretty consistent.

If these circumstances pertain in Scotland too, then great, complex, capacious cities like Glasgow (or like Edinburgh or Dundee) should become “laboratories for democracy”, as the Americans say of their states.

Again, let me be post-partisan about this. There is a plethora of ideas around community participation and decision-making, spread throughout the SNP/ScotLab/Green manifestos. If fused together and applied, they could excitingly revitalise citizenship in the city of Glasgow.

And if Cllr Susan Aitken is serious about her Barcelona comparison, then conversations must begin between EnComu, Ada Colau’s ruling coalition, and Glasgow. The “rebel cities” (to use geographer David Harvey’s words) may need to stick together, pool resources and share best practice, as the nation-states they are in become ever more dysfunctional and reactive.

Who does – or should – Glasgow belong to? As many of its citizens and denizens as possible, that's who. If the numbers fall right next week, I hope this huge opportunity is taken.