Glasgow City Council continues to have a Labour Party majority following the local government election.
It has 44 seats compared to 47 after the previous election. The SNP have 27 seats compared to 19 before. The Green Party have five seats which is the same as before but with a couple of new people. The Tory Party still has David Meikle flying the flag in Pollokshields. There is one Independent – Stephen Dornan who won Govan as a Glasgow First candidate.
He is a disenchanted Labour Party Councillor. The Liberal Democrats – who held six seats in the previous administration – returned only one person – Margot Clark in Linn Ward which was the first to be called on the day.
Commented Labour elder statesman Mohammad Sarwar who was the first Muslim to become an Westminster MP: ‘When the Labour Party is united across all levels – Westminster, Hollyrood and Local Authority –it is unbeatable. If the SNP had won Glasgow they would have claimed that as a victory for independence. But people are too frightened to separate the UK. And it must also be said that the Labour team put in a lot of hard work and effort.’
Said Gordon Matheson who was Labour Group leader last time round: ‘I’m delighted personally and delighted for all the candidates. We will work with all parties and draw strength from others. Our priority is the people of Glasgow so it’s back to work for them, now.’
Youngest of the new SNP Councillors is 18-year-old Austin Sheridan,
elected in Baillieston. He was an active Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP) – and said: ‘I’m absolutely thrilled. The fact that we had two SNP seats in Baillieston in 2007 at the last council elections and we’ve won two today, shows that we can hold a seat once we’ve gained it.’
Said Green Party Councillor Dr Nina Baker: ‘We are very pleased and have done better than all prediction. We have two great, new Councillors in Liam Hainey in Langside and Martin Bartos in Partick West. With Martha Wardrop re-elected in Hillhead, Kieran Wild in Canal and myself in Anderston/City we are well pleased with our five.’
Ruth Simpson, who had been a Glasgow City Councillor for Calton and a Labour Party member for more than 40 years, was standing as an Independent candidate in the 2012 city council elections.
She was one of the long-established Labour Councillors in Glasgow who was de-selected and not allowed to stand again. ‘I thought at the time the way things were done was not democratic,’ she said as she handed out flyers at polling stations for Ward 11- Hillhead where she was one of 13 candidates.
‘I read about my de-selection in the Herald. And my feedback form from my interview pre-dated the interview. My former Labour colleagues have all been good, it is just the Party machinery which is wrong. I thought about it and was tempted to go quietly into the night but after supporting the Party through the budget and listening to the debate in the Labour Group afterwards, I decided not to let things go. I felt the Party had left me.’
Not tempted to join any other party – ‘ I’ve been a Labour Party member since I chaired the Labour Club at University ‘ – she decided at the last possible minute to stand as an Independent candidate.
‘Hyndland people have been very nice and they know me,’ she said. Her family rallied round with her daughter and grandson among the team of supporters handing out leaflets to voters at local polling stations.
Environmental issues of bins, roads and clean streets were top of people’s lists on her campaign trail. Buses were also a big issue: ‘De-regulation is the only answer. But what is happening with the loss of routes is dreadful.’ Ruth also has strong views on education and how it has to be improved to enable young people to attain their true potential.
‘I thought going Independent would be like losing a limb. But it’s not been like that,’ she said cheerfully. ‘If I’m elected, my constituents know I’ll work hard for them all, as they can see from my track record. If I’m not elected – well – I’d have more time to spend with my grandsons.’
Of the 21 people retiring as Councillors from Glasgow City Council, around ten attended a poignant farewell earlier this week. Hosted by Lord Provost Bob Winter, who is, himself, standing down, it brought closure to many of the participants.
Said Jean McFadden who represented Garscadden-Scotstounhill and has served the city for 41 years: ‘Everyone felt it was a really nice touch to honour those of us leaving. Each person was presented with a personalised plaque which has the city’s coat of arms and the dates they’ve served. I have similar plaques from Glasgow Corporation but this is the only one which has my name on it.’
She has no plans to retired. Among her many ongoing activities she is an official examiner for work submitted by honours law students at Strathclyde University; she will get back to studying Advanced Italian for herself; she will mentor girls in a secondary school to help them achieve their potential; and she might go for an HGV licence!
‘I’ve always fancied driving one of those heavy goods vehicles round a tight corner!’ she said quite seriously. These are all outwith her commitments serving on the Legal Services Clinic and the Scottish Planning and Environment Law’s editorial board among others. She has also set herself to correct fundamental errors in some newspaper archives about who did what and when in the revival of Glasgow. ‘I just want to put the record straight. I was council leader from 1979 to 1986. That is when the team decided to change the direction of the city to move it into the creative industries and the financial sector. The minutes are there so I want the facts to be known.’
One of her future students will be former Drumchapel- Anniesland Councillor Matt Kerr, who leaves the Council to read law at Strathclyde University. He was selected after the resignation of Steven Purcell. He also attended the Lord Provost’s farewell event and said it was a very pleasant occasion.
Councillor Alex Glass who represented Greater Pollok for 13 years, told this website: ‘The evening and the presentation of the plaques was a good way to close off my time as a Councillor.’ Latterly he had been business manager for the city, overseeing many of the negotiations which kept Glasgow’s coffers from being emptied. One of the ways he saved the city money was to recommend cutting the fresh flowers budget. ‘That saved £50,000,’ he said. ‘ Stopping newspapers for every Councillor saved another £30,000 and at least that was saved on print bills when we cut back on paperwork.’ Aged only 52, he said this will be the first time in his life he’s been made redundant and he has, so far, no job offer. ‘I’ve work to do at home which I’ve long promised to complete for my wife,’ he said with a smile. ‘So I’ll do that and wait and see what happens. Everything is in the hands of fate,’ he commented philosophically.
Latterly a Bailie, Councillor Catherine McMaster has served Glasgow North East for several terms and said: ‘The event was not an obituary! It was really important to have something to say you’ve been here. Our training records were also included for every Councillor was expected to have extensive training in many areas of the work we do. That is the kind of record that was ignored by the Labour Party and dismissed in our interviews with them,’ she said pointedly. She was one of the Labour Councillors who did not take it kindly that she was de-selected by the party. She admitted she was still angry with the party for deciding she was ‘past the sell by date’ – ‘that is pure ageism,’ she commented. Her plan is to re-commence her private practice as a psychotherapist. ‘I’ll update my accreditation first,’ she added. The leading thinker behind the celebration of Glasgow’s medieval history, which has excited much attention and creative talent, she plans to continue to use her history knowledge within her local community in Easterhouse where Provan Hall Trust operates a building considered to pre-date the Provand’s Lordship on High Street. She said that her community had been generous in their appreciation of her work for them. ‘It has been a great privilege to serve this community. I’ll leave the new team to get on with the job and hope they will work to ‘let Glasgow flourish.’ But that will depend on how many voters turn out on Thursday.’
May Day in Glasgow was mainly unobserved by anyone of any political hue. A saltire flew above the City Chambers.
But there was one exception: – a group of Anti-Cuts Coalition Campaigners boldly stood outside the City Chambers’ front door and waved their red banners to show they cared.
They are all standing for election in local council wards so it wasn’t just a fun exercise.
Said Eric Stevenson (centre) ‘I haven’t given up on Socialism.’ A retired housing administrator, he is standing in Drumchapel –Anniesland ward. ‘I was a member of the Labour Party for 37 years and was expelled for being Militant. The current parties – including Labour – are letting people down. People have to have a voice and that’s why we are part of this country-wide Anti- Cuts Coalition.’
The others are from left: Ronnie Stevenson (Eric’s brother) who is standing in Langside ward; Luke Ivory who is standing in Springburn; Graham Campbell who is standing in Anderston City Centre and Akhtar Khan who is standing in Pollokshields.
Luke, who has recently come to Glasgow from Sutherland said: ‘People of Glasgow need an alternative. We’re it!’
Weel kent figure Graham Campbell who is secretary of the Afro Caribbean Centre in Glasgow and who works for an Anti Racist charity, added: ‘People are friendly but not giving away how they are going to vote. We think our results will run close to the Green Party’s votes.’
Added Akhtar, who with Graham , is a member of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC): ‘It’s a tough one to call. I might be fifth out of the eight candidates.’
All are agreed, the Anti-Cuts Coalition is a new political kid on the block and one they believe voters should consider as an alternative to established parties who’ve disappointed the electorate in the past.
Scottish Labour has unveiled its list of candidates for the local government elections in Glasgow – and promised to transform the support it offers from birth to old age.
The party’s manifesto for the next five years in Glasgow promises:
- to expand free childcare by up to 1500 per child
- to offer a guarantee of apprenticeships, jobs or training to every 16 – 24 year old in Glasgow.
- to rebuild or refurbish every primary school that needs it
- to build 3500 new homes for rent, and offers first time buyers help with mortgages
- to replace the Winter Fuel Allowance – cut by the Tories -for the over 80s in the city
The party will field 45 candidates across all wards in the city. Full details are on www.glasgowlabour.com/candidates.
Gordon Matheson, Labour Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: ‘This election is about the future of our city. Glasgow has changed so much over the years, but we need to keep moving forward and to give chances to the next generation.
‘Our candidates are working hard across the city, knocking on doors, talking to voters and listening to their concerns.
‘I joined the Labour Party to change society and change lives, and in tough economic times Labour in Glasgow will put people in Glasgow first.
‘That is why I have set out a vision to improve childcare, refurbish our schools, create jobs, build homes, and protect the city’s pensioners.
‘But this isn’t just about policies and new schemes to help people. This is about something much bigger. It is about protecting our citizens from birth to old age, giving chances to the next generation, doing always what we can to make the biggest city in Scotland the greatest city in the world.’
MSP Johann Lamont is the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party, She takes over from Iain Gray and has a wider remit.
She was elected from three tiers of Labour Party voters by a substantial majority of 51.77% over MSP Ken Macintosh who polled 40.28% and Westminster MP Tom Harris who polled 7.95%.
Her deputy is Anas Sarwar Westminster MP. He won his post by 51.10% against MP Ian Davidson who polled 33.28% and MSP Lewis Macdonald who polled 15.62%.
The results of the leadership campaigns were announced on Saturday 17 December in Edinburgh.
Both the new leader and her deputy are Glasgow based. Representing Pollok, former teacher Johann was brought up in Anderston of Gaelic speaking parents from Tiree. Former dentist Anas, whose seat is Glasgow Central, is a Southsider whose father was the first Muslim MP at Westminster.
Said Johann: ‘While I am delighted and honoured to be elected leader of Scottish Labour Party, I believe the real work starts now. In May, we fell short of people’s expectations and they turned away from us, unable to find a reason to give us their support. If we are to earn the right to serve the country, our challenge is to listen, to learn lessons and to demonstrate that we can change. I am confident that once again people will recognise that Scottish Labour is the party which understands their lives, can deliver their hopes and will stand up for Scotland.’
Added Anas: ‘It is a tremendous honour and privilege to have been elected as the new deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party. I want to thank members from across the movement for their fantastic support. Scottish Labour will always put the interests of the people of Scotland first and work to build a more inclusive, equal and prosperous country: an ambitious Scotland, within a successful United Kingdom, not just talking about change, but leading it. I will work resolutely behind our new leader to make sure that the changes that are needed happen. This process of renewal is for one key purpose: to give the people of Scotland a Labour Party that they can trust, a Labour Party they can believe in, and a Labour Party that can win.’
Senior Labour Party figures congratulated the new leader.
Ed Miliband MP, leader of the Labour Party, said: Many congratulations to Johann, the new and the first Scottish Labour leader. It was right to create this powerful new position which carries with it the weight and authority of the whole party in Scotland. Scottish Labour needed to make this radical change to reflect the reality of the devolution that Labour delivered. Johann’s mission is to win back the trust of Scots and challenge the SNP – a party that is cutting capital spending and public sector jobs faster even than George Osborne. As the leader of the whole Scottish party, she will command the support of all the Scottish Labour Parliamentarians, and I look forward to working with her and Anas as colleagues and friends.’
Margaret Curran MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, said: ‘I warmly congratulate Johann and Anas, who both ran excellent campaigns. This election has been fought in a comradely and good-natured fashion, not least because all the candidates know we have to change and change radically, but it has also invigorated our local parties and many of our supporters. I and the 41 Scottish Labour MPs who hold the UK government to account day in, day out, look forward to working with our new leader to make sure that Scottish Labour is back on the park doing what the people of our country expect: speaking out and doing what is right for Scotland.’
For more information on the leadership election and process see: http://www.scottishlabour.org.uk/leadership
Govan Road marks the dividing line between Glasgow Southside and Glasgow Pollok for the Scottish Parliament constituencies. And on Saturday 16 April it saw the SNP on one side of the road and the Labour Party on the other.
While the Labour Party had a stall and leaflets and loads of red ballons on the new Govan Cross Public Square, the SNP had star of screen and stage, Elaine C. Smith marching shoulder to shoulder with Nicola Sturgeon who aims to retain her seat in Glasgow Southside.
Said Elaine, who switched from Labour some years ago: ‘The question is – who will represent Scotland best? Who will fight Scotland’s corner? I believe it is the SNP and I’ve supported Alex Salmond for several years. He gave me advice on how to approach people when out canvassing. Believe it or not, speaking face to face with strangers is quite nerve-wracking for me because I’m used to facing an audience who are sitting in the dark and at a distance! So Alex’ advice was – talk about anything other than politics. Let that person raise the subject that is on their mind and then address it.’
Nicola, who was fresh from launching the Party’s manifesto, glossed over the fact that the spot for the photo opportunity included a Subway sandwich shop in the background. It was into another branch of that franchise that the Labour leader Iain Gray rushed when he tried to avoid a group of Citizens United Against the Cuts campaigners who wanted to speak to him.
But in Govan the sandwich shop was shutter and across the road the Labour Party team, led by Johann Lamont who is fighting to retain her Glasgow Pollok seat, was out in force. Councillors Alistair Watson and Jahangir Hanif were there and Councillor Stephen Curran who is standing against Nicola Sturgeon, had already been to Govan and gone on to Pollokshaws in his campaign trail.
Carefully ignoring each other, the two party teams lobbied passersby, especially those heading for the busy Saturday market at the Water Row side of Govan Cross. The votes cast on Thursday 5 May will finally show how many people have crossed the road, politically.
Partick was awash with redcoats on Thursday 7 April , as Labour Party supporters were out in force to support Pauline McNeill who aims to continue to serve Glasgow Kelvin constituency. While Harriet Harman, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party wore a warm, navy woollen coat, Pauline and several members of her team, were wearing bright red raincoats. With the threat of rain, the coats gave sensible protection as well as high visibility.
Said Pauline: ‘It is good to have someone like Harriet Harman with us today. People recognise these leaders. I had David Miliband here recently and it was lovely seeing people’s faces when they opened their doors.’ The main challenge she sees in the constituency – which has been extended to include homes around St George’s Cross – is dealing with people’s concerns about the rise in the cost of living. ‘I’m confident we as a Party can grow the economy to benefit the whole country,’ said Pauline. She added: ‘Locally, the big challenge is the lack of social housing and the quality of life in the West End.’
The Conservative candidate for Maryhill and Springburn in next year’s Scottish elections, Ivor Tiefenbrun, has resigned after it was alleged he said to a national newspaper that Scottish people are ‘so thick’ in their hatred of Margaret Thatcher.
The allegations brought an angry response from Scottish politicians. Labour MSP for Maryhill, Patricia Ferguson, told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘I was appalled by his comments. As someone who lives in Maryhill, on behalf of my constituents, I was deeply offended. Hopefully his colleagues in the Tory Party have a better understanding of the area. I wrote to Annabelle Goldie asking for an apology from Mr Tiefenbrun, and I still think he should deliver one despite his resignation.’
Bob Dorris, SNP candidate for Mayhill and Springburn, has called on Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie to launch an internal inquiry into Tiefenbrun’s comments and subsequent resignation. Said Bob: ‘That Mr Tiefenbrun has resigned is the strongest possible indication that he did make these outrageous, anti-Scottish remarks.’
He added: ‘Annabel Goldie cannot remain silent on the chaos, confusion, and the anti-Scottish insults which this sorry affair involves – and which also calls into question her party’s candidate selection system. She must announce an immediate party inquiry at Birmingham today.
‘The Tories have been trying to rebrand themselves as a Scotland-friendly party, despite the deep cuts coming to Scotland from the UK government. The comments attributed to Mr Tiefenbrun leave this rebranding in tatters and show an astounding contempt for our nation.
‘Mr Tiefenbrun may be gone, but I suspect his comments, combined with the Con Dem cuts on their way to our city, will succeed only in making a small Tory vote in Glasgow smaller still’.
Glasgow born Tiefenbrun made his name as a businessman, founding Linn Products, a high quality, electronics firm opened in Castlemilk in 1972.
In a statement following his resignaton, Mr Tiefenbrun said: ‘There are many issues facing our country and I have no desire for anything to divert my party, or indeed the media, from concentrating on the vital challenges. Accordingly, I will not be standing in the forthcoming elections.’
Mr Tiefenbrun only had his selection for the Marhyill and Springburn confirmed last week and the Tories will now have to start searching for a replacement. A spokesperson for the Tory party said: ‘We will start the process now and make a decision over the next few weeks.’
This is not Tiefenbrun’s first foray into political controvery. He used a newspaper column to announce that the ‘spirit of Stalin lives and thrives in Scotland through Gordon Brown.’
Tiefenbrun remains Executive Chairman of Linn Products and is currently a visiting Professor at Glasgow’s Strathclyde University.