One week on from losing his seat as MP for Glasgow South, Tom Harris admits he’s not used to the idea yet. ‘My wife, Carolyn, worked for me so it means she’s redundant as well,’ he said. However he – and all the other MPs who are out of a job – have two months to wind up their offices and enable paid staff to move on.
‘I stopped getting paid on 8 May,’ says Tom, in a matter of fact way. ‘But I’m not panicking at the moment. ‘I’ve got a lot of time on my hands. An alert for my regular surgery came up on my phone and I just deleted it. That was a relief.’ He said that the four constituency surgeries each month were never well attended. ‘Most people phoned or emailed me with their problem.’
However, he still gets up early. ‘Our two sons are at primary school and I have to take them there, so that’s a good routine. But I want a new job.’ The family was prepared in advance for defeat and everyone has been ‘nicely supportive,’ said Tom. ‘It wasn’t a shock. Everyone is quite relaxed about it.’
When he goes to London soon to sort out things like the lease on his flat and office, he expects to meet up with some people who may have job offers. ‘Writing or something along those lines,’ speculated the former journalist and public relations professional.
Revising his CV, he commented: ‘It is 16 years since I looked at my CV, so that’s instructive!’ Now he reckons he can add on skills he learned as an MP and Government Under Secretary of State for Transport under Tony Blair, in the Department of Transport under Gordon Brown and as Shadow Environment Minister under Ed Miliband.
It’s early yet, but he’s looking again at the novel he’s been writing. ‘I don’t plan to be a sad act and put all my hopes into writing a best seller,’ he said in his laconic way. But he has had ‘Why I’m Right and Everyone Else is Wrong,’ published. This collection from his popular blog ‘And Another Thing,’ was an easy read of comments along the political way interspersed with thoughts on a wide variety of other, less serious, issues.
At his veledictory constituency Labour Party meeting he told his colleagues he didn’t want to get involved with public debate on the future of the Scottish Labour Party. ‘I’ve a lot of respect for Miliband. I think he would have made a far better Prime Minister than people gave him credit for. In Scotland, the Labour Party situation could hardly get worse. But I support Jim Murphy. It is difficult to see if there can be recovery. It will certainly take some time to work out. Whatever happens I am for the UK or nothing. I’m not for a Scottish Labour Party.’
Commenting that everything was ‘in a state of flux’ he added: ‘I’ve no truck with nationalism. I don’t think the nationalist route is the way to save Labour.’
Allowing others to debate and dissect the dogma dilemmas, Tom has taken time to catch up on reading, watching ‘Game of Thrones’ and spending time with his family and walking his dog.
He added: ‘I went to the Emirates (where the count was held) early when I’d been alerted to the fact that I was going to lose. To be honest, at that point, it was like a weight had been lifted off me.’
On a 65.99% turnout in Glasgow South Constituency, SNP’s Stewart McDonald won over Labour’s Tom Harris who had been local MP for 14 years.
Tom Harris (LAB) 14,504
Ewan Hoyle (Lib Dem) 1,019
Stewart McDonald (SNP) 26,773
Brian Smith (Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition TUSC) 299
Kyle Thornton (CONSERVATIVE) 4,752
Alastair Whitelaw (GREEN) 1,431
Total valid votes 48,778. Electorate 74,051.
In Glasgow South West Constituency the turnout was 40,965 representing 61.87% of the electorate. Incumbent Ian Davidson of the Labour and Co-operative Party lost his seat with 13,438 votes compared to the 23,388 cast for Christopher Stephens of the Scottish National Party.
Bill Bonnar Scottish Socialist Party 176
Ian Davidson Labour and Co-operative Party 13,438
Sarah Hemy UK Independence Party (UKIP) 970
Gordon Alexander McCaskill Scottish Conservative and Unionist 2,036
Isabel Nelson Scottish Liberal Democrats 406
Christopher Stephens Scottish National Party (SNP) 23,388
Sean Templeton Scottish Green Party 507
In Glasgow North 36,987 of the 60,169 electorate actually voted – representing 61.47%. The result was a win for Patrick Grady of the SNP over Ann McKechin (LAB)
Martin Bartos, Scottish Green Party 2,284
Russell Benson, Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol 154
Patrick Grady, Scottish National Party 19,610
Lauren Hankinson, Scottish Conservative and Unionist 2,901
Angela McCormick, Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition 160
Ann McKechin, Scottish Labour Party 10,315
Jade O’Neil, Scottish Liberal Democrats 1,012
Jamie Robertson, UK Independence Party UKIP 486
Glasgow East showed that 60.31% of the Constituency’s 70,378 people registered, voted.
Margaret Curran (LAB) 13 729
Kim Long (Green) 381
Natalie McGarry (SNP) 24 116
Liam McLaughlan (Scot Socialist ) 224
Gary McLelland (Scot Lib Dem) 318
Andy Morrison (Scot Con & Unionist) 2,544
Arthur Misty Thackeray (UKIP) 1,105
Total votes cast: 42,417
Glasgow North East showed that 56.91% of the Constituency’s 66,678 people registered, voted.
Willie Bain (LAB) 12,754
Eileen Baxendale (LIB DEM) 300
Jamie Cocozza (Scot Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) 218
Geoff Johnson (Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol) 225
Zara Kitson (GREEN) 615
Anne McLaughlin (SNP) 21,976
Annie Wells (CON) 1,769
Total votes cast: 37,945
Glasgow North West showed that 64.25% of the Constituency’s 68,418 people registered, voted.
Moira Crawford (GREEN) 1,167
James Harrison (LIB DEM) 1,194
Roger Lewis (CON) 3,692
Chris Mackenzie (Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol) 213
Carol Monaghan (SNP) 23,908
John Robertson (LAB) 13,544
Zoe Streatfield (Scot Communist Party) 136
Total votes cast: 43,961
Glasgow Central showed that 55.51% of the Constituency’s 70,945 people registered, voted.
Simon Bone (CON) 2,359
Andrew Elliot (Scot Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) 119
Cass MacGregor (GREEN) 1,559
James Marris (Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol) 171
Stuart Maskell (UKIP) 786
Katie Rhodes (Socialist Equality Party) 58
Anas Sarwar (LAB) 12,996
Alison Thewliss (SNP) 20,658
Chris Young (LIB DEM) 612
Total votes cast: 39,381
All of Glasgow Labour MPs were made redundant last night. Each of the city’s seven constituencies voted for the Scottish National Party to represent them at Westminster. But Conservative David Cameron remains secure in No 10 Downing Street. In the early hours of the morning he said he wanted to: ‘Bring Britain together and build on the sure foundations this government had created.’
The senior Labour figures who are now jobless in Glasgow are: Margaret Curran(Glasgow East) Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central) Ann McKechin(Glasgow North) Willie Bain (Glasgow North East) John Robertson (Glasgow North West) Tom Harris (Glasgow South) and Ian Davidson(Glasgow South West).
Said Ian Davidson: ‘I regret very much letting down Labour in the rest of the UK.’ He criticised Labour’s strategy in Scotland and added: ‘It needs to be clearer what Labour stands for. Labour is about challenging wealth and power. We’ve not been doing that strongly enough. We need to get back to our roots.’ He added that Jim Murphy’s position was untenable. Asked what he’d do himself, now, Mr Davidson replied: ‘I’ll not go to the House of Lords. But I’ve no idea really.’
Tom Harrison was clearly shocked at being out of a job after years representing his area but said: ‘That’s democracy. But I doubt that an SNP Scotland will welcome a former Labour MP looking for work.’ And he added: ‘That’s not a criticism. But that’s not the kind of politics I want to be involved in.’ However, SNP Stewart McDonald who won Tom Harris’ old seat, paid generous tribute to him in his victory speech.
The full results for Glasgow’s seven constituencies are recorded on this website.
A triumphal arrival awaited Nicola Sturgeon at the Glasgow count. Although no seat had been declared at that point, it seemed clear that the Scottish National Party had made a clean sweep in the city’s seven constituencies. The whole SNP team turned out to welcome her with total surround sound.
A seemingly buoyant Margaret Curran who has been Labour MP for Glasgow East and Shadow Scottish Secretary, looked set to lose her seat as did Tom Harris for Glasgow South.Margaret was brought into the counting hall tightly surrounded and supported by her party colleagues.
Tom Harris who had been Labour MP for Glasgow South for more than ten years, admitted defeat before the count was declared. ‘That’s democracy,’ he said. ‘I’m looking for a job now. But I doubt that an SNP Scotland will welcome a Labour MP looking for work.’ And he added: ‘That’s not a criticism. But that’s not the kind of politics I want to be involved in.’
At that stage, there was no sign of Anas Sarwar who followed in his father, Mohammad’s footsteps in Glasgow Central for Labour. But there was still hope that Willie Bain in Glasgow North East or Ann McKechin in Glasgow North might survive the cull.
As the candidates begin to arrive at the count at the Emirates pavilion in Glasgow, the first votes are being counted. Early impressions favour the SNP, but the night is young. Exit polls wider in the UK appear to show that the Conservative and Unionist Party has the number of seats they need for David Cameron to remain in No 10.
The Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) were ahead of the vote at their hustings meeting in the Jurys Inn Hotel. They are planning for the Scottish elections next year. Each candidate emphasised that the progress towards a better future would only come through hard work and socialist principles. This general election campaign was a good opportunity to get their issues such as public ownership, anti cuts and anti racism, across to more people. TUSC are fielding 10 candidates in Scotland, four of them in Glasgow Constituencies. Said Glasgow South candidate Brian Smith: ‘We need to get busy on Friday morning. That’s when the real work starts.’ Jamie Cocozza, TUSC candidate for Glasgow North East said: ‘ We don’t agree with the SNP but Labour needs a kicking.’ Angela McCormick, TUSC candidate for Glasgow North said: ‘The rich are completely out of control. It feels as if we’re being ruled, not governed,’ adding ‘It would be nice to win a few seats in 2016.’ Andrew Elliott, TUSC candidate for Glasgow Central was unable to attend because of his trade union duties, said Chairperson Louise Donegan. Before the candidates took the floor, shop steward, Chris Sermanni and Stewart Graham, case worker for the homeless in Glasgow, informed the well-attended meeting of the progress of their six weeks strike for fair pay.
So many people wanted to attend Sunday’s hustings for Glasgow North candidates that the doors had to be closed when the maximum of 150 was reached in Hillhead Baptist Church building. Organised by the West End group of Churches – ACTS – and welcomed by Alison Spurway, the event was chaired by Professor John Curtice whose political commentaries are legendary. He posed the questions which had been submitted earlier.
Each candidate started by setting out their party’s stall. SNP’s Patrick Grady, said he wanted the energy of the Referendum to re-vitalise politics at Westminster. Opposed to austerity and spending on weapons of mass destruction, he said his party would be a strong voice for Glasgow. He said: ‘Glasgow North is a most idverse area of inequality and presents great challenges. The SNP would represet you with heart and passion.’
Simon Bone, the Scottish Conservative and Unionist (CON) candidate for Glasgow Central, stood in on behalf of his party colleague Lauren Anne Hankinson. He said there were three reasons people in the constituency should vote for her on May 7 – ‘We are part of the Union and that was demonstrated by the Referendum. We’re a young party with a growing membership and young leader, Ruth Davidson. And we’re the party for business – especially small and medium enterprises because we’d keep business tax low and opportunities up.’
GREEN Party candidate Dr Martin Bartos, said his party would put public transport back into public hands to keep profit for people not business. ‘We’re the party for people, the planet and peace,’ he added.
UK Independence Party’s (UKIP) Jamie Robertson said this was a most exciting year to have a general election. ‘The Scots always punch their weight in the UK,’ he said.
James Harrison, a candidate in Glasgow North West, was standing in for Scottish Liberal Democrat (LIB DEM)’s Jade Elizabeth O’Neil. He said his Party would promote fair taxes by cutting taxes, raising the tax threshold and introducing new green laws. ‘We’d fight for quality of healthcare and mental health,’ he said.
Ann McKechin, Scottish Labour Party (LAB) – who has held the seat for the past 10 years – said that had been a great privilege and she hoped the electorate would vote for her to continue. ‘I have a strong commitment and am passionate about many things including promoting a living wage, ending the obscenity of fees for industrial tribunals, the future of our young people and social justice.’ She also advocated an end to food banks and stated clearly that she wanted David Cameron out of office.
Angela McCormick of Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) said the same old voices of the main Westminster parties had ‘made life misery for thousands.’ She said a key election issue should be the plight of the people who had died in the Mediterranean. ‘The denial of action to save them and the racism of UKIP, should make you cry.’ She railed against ‘the rich getting richer,’ sanctions and the vast numbers who didn’t earn a living wage.
Russell Benson, introduced as the candidate for the ‘Cannabis is Better than Alcohol’ Party correct that, amid laughter, to say he was standing for ‘Cannibis Is Safer Than Alcohol.’ He posited that 1 million patients found cannabis an effective medical treatment and that they should not be criminalised. ‘We could save £300m before even considering tax,’ he said.
Asked their position on nuclear weapons, Ann McKechin (LAB) said she had opposed them since 2007 and voted against the renewal of Trident. Patrick Grady (SNP) said he joined the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament before he joined the SNP. ‘Weapons of mass destruction are a moral outrage. Especially when Ed Milliband said he wouldn’t press the button – yet any Government he might lead would cut help for the poor but spend on weapons. I’d vote against them at every opportunity if elected,’ he said. Simon Bone (CON) posed the question: ‘Why get rid of them when North Korea is working to have them and other countries will have them in a year to 18 months? Yes, they are a deterrent and the Americans pay for them.’ He clarified that the UK pays for the warheads. James Harrison said he wasn’t involved in negotiations so couldn’t say if the Lib Dems would ‘draw a red line’ on Trident reduction but he wanted to see a reduction in the weapons around the world. Martin Bartos (GREEN) admitted the topic depressed him and he was utterly opposed to nuclear weapons. ‘If they are a deterrent, then why not arm everyone in Glasgow with knives or guns? It isn’t rational. It doesn’t make the world safer by having nuclear weapons and calling them deterrents. They are as abhorrent as biological or chemical weapons. True leadership would have the moral authority to get rid of them if they don’t want to destroy the planet.’
Jamie Robertson said UKIP would support renewal but admitted the weapons were frightening. His comment: ‘They do support a lot of jobs in Scotland,’ was greeted with groans from the audience. Angela McCormick (TUSC) immediately responded to say the STUC has that week published a report which ‘knocked the myth of jobs on the head,’ and referred people to the STUC’s website.
On the question: ‘Is the financial deficit really important?’ Simon Bone quipped: ‘personally or Government?’ Then revealed that the debts from World War 1 had just been paid back, finally, three weeks before. ‘We’ve got to balance the books. If we borrow, we have to pay back.’ Martin Bartos pointed out that the way you run a nation’s economy is different from how you manage the money in your wallet. ‘When the banks failed, vast quantities of money were printed which went to the banks. But that did not help. We should let this model of austerity go and scrutinise the dogma that has fed it so long. It is better if we think along the lines of a farmer in difficulty needing resources to buy seeds to sow crops to have the hope of harvesting more in the future.’
James Harrison’s response was to end tax evasion. His party would not rectify things by cutting welfare as the Tory’s had done. Instead Lib Dems would grow the economy to grow more jobs. Ann McKechin said far too many people got too little return for their work. With 500,000 working people dependent on housing benefit, the economy was not working. Higher wages and spending on research and development were ways Labour would grow the economy. Russell Benson’s solution was to ‘take the economy out of the hands of gangsters and put into the hands of public bodies.’ Angela McCormick’s answer for TUSC was to highlight trade union protests on the cuts planned for the following week. She said: ‘This is not your deficit. It is the bankers’ deficit. They gambled and lost. It is a sick joke that we are asked to pay when the 1000 richest people in the UK own £500 billion. If the wealthy tax dodgers were taxed that would bring in £100bn.’ And she warned of bigger cuts to come.
Jamie Robertson’s line from UKIP was to come out of Europe. ‘That would save billions.’ Patrick Grady (SNP) also warned of ‘worse to come.’ But he pointed out that Finance Minister, John Swinney had balanced the books of the Scottish Government since 2007.
A questioner from the audience asked the candidates to justify the loss of thousands of further education lecturers’ jobs. Ann McKechin (LAB) said she’s lobbied Glasgow University to pay the living wage as they had some people on zero hours contracts. Labour’s policy was to stop the exploitation of people by forbidding zero hours contracts after 12 weeks. Patrick Grady said it was a free education that motivated him to get into politics. Jamie Robertson (UKIP) said it was ‘a tragedy’ that people were written off and his party would give people a full-time contract after 12 months.
Angela McCormick (TUSC) said the Tory party – supported by UKIP would be too ‘right wing’ and had already attacked the rights of workers. ‘I work in further education and know we need to start to do things differently.’
The next question was on the refugees dying in the Mediterranean. ‘These are Europe’s Boat People,’ said the questioner. ‘Shouldn’t we let them come and bring their assets?’ With Professor Curtis interjecting: ‘Should we take a share of these refugees?’
Answers ranged from Jamies Robertson confirming his party’s policy on more control of UK borders to prevent ‘unlimited immigration.’ Adding that he favoured the Australian points system. to James Harrison (LIB DEM) saying it was ‘a disgrace’ that Europe had reduced the budget (to save those drowning in the Mediterranean) at a time of great need.
Green Party’s Martin Bartos told how his Czech parents came to the UK in the 1980s and he, with them, worked to be good citizens here. ‘We believe immigration helps the economy and enriches culture.’ He also said that as a psychiatrist, he had treated people (asylum seekers) who had gone through torture. ‘But what was worse was seeing them put through unspeakable things in the immigration process. That is our shame.’
Going against his party’s policy, Conservative Simon Bone declared there wasn’t enough immigration. ‘We forget the numbers we export to Spain, for example. I’d encourage more immigration.’ Patrick Grady (SNP) supported more immigration. ‘We support the right of people to move and be global citizens. Scotland would be a welcome beacon and this would be to our well-being.’ Angela McCormick (TUSC) said the present government had made a conscious decision not to help the asylum seekers and so, in her view, they had murder on their conscience. ‘We take nowhere near the number of refugees we should . This is a humanitarian crisis.’
She added that Dungavel was ‘Scotland’s shame’ and should be closed down. She highlighted an STUC sponsored protest there on Saturday 30 May in solidarity with the asylum seekers detained in Dungavel who are on hunger strike because of the conditions and the unlimited time they are kept there. Russell Benson considered there was a link between people being trafficked, illegal immigration and the unregulated drugs market. ‘We have an archaic policy in the UK.’ Simon Bone (CON) said the UK had a moral duty to help: ‘We were partly responsible for the conflicts that caused people to migrate.’
On the local issue of the future of the North Kelvin Meadow – wild green space wanted by local people for children to play in and by developers to build flats – all candidates were against the commercial development of the space.
Asked by Professor Curtis what aspect of their Party’s policies they were least comfortable with, there was a wide range of answers. Patrick Grady (SNP) said he’d prefer an elected head of state instead of retaining the Queen, though he’d stand by the promise to abolish the House of Lords.
LIB DEM’s James Harrison admitted abandoning tuition fees had been a mistake and cost votes. GREEN’s Martin Bartos wished his party had a much cleverer way to get more people standing as candidates. Russell Benson said that Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol was a single issue party. ‘We could fight on more issues – for example safer alcohol. It can be used as a safe relaxant but it is also tearing communities apart.’
Conservative’s Simon Bone said he was a bit embarrassed by members with extreme views going to UKIP. On the bedroom tax, he didn’t think people should be punished for having an extra room. ‘We should be able to manage the situation better by allowing people to rent out the spare room and make some income.’
Ann McKechin (LAB) admitted it was ‘a very difficult question.’ She said she’d like an MP to interpret issues according to their own constituency and their own principles. ‘Some were opposed to the war in Iraq or to Trident and are prepared to take the consequences.’ Angela McCormick said she had no difficulty with anything in her party’s manifesto: ‘I helped write it!’ She added that the most uncomfortable thing for her was to ‘stand here’ at the hustings meeting.
UKIP candidate Jamie Robertson raised a laugh when he said with hesitation: ‘I’d need to read the manifesto (again) but…I support it all.’