In their article, ‘The spatialities of actually existing neoliberalism in Glasgow, 1977 to present’, Mark Boyle, Christopher McWilliams and Gareth Rice (2008) usefully problematise our current understanding of neoliberal urbanism. Our response is aimed at developing a sympathetic but critical approach to Boyle et al's understanding of neoliberal urbanism as illustrated by the Glasgow example. In particular, the counterposing by Boyle et al of a 'hybrid, mutant' model to a 'pure' model of neoliberalism for us misrepresents existing models of neoliberalism as a perfectly finished object rather than a roughly mottled process. That they do not identify any ‘pure’ model leads them to create a straw construct against which they can claim a more sophisticated, refined approach to the messiness of neoliberal urbanism. In contrast, we view neoliberalism as a contested and unstable response to accumulation crises at various scales of analysis.