An attentive audience of more than 100 people attended the Sunday night hustings held by the West End group of churches under the banner of ACTS – Action of Churches Together in Hillhead Baptist Church. Taking the place of most denominations’ evening service, the meeting gave all the Glasgow North Constituency candidates an opportunity to answer voters’ questions. These covered issues from the Royal Bank of Scotland’s damaging environmental involvement to improving the lot of asylum seekers and priorities on extending the powers of the Scottish Parliament.
Deftly chaired by retired minister the Rev. Dr Norman Shanks, the line-up included current Westminster MP Ann McKechin (Labour) who is being closely challenged by Katy Gordon (Lib Dem) and Patrick Grady (SNP). But the other candidates – Martin Bartos (Green Party), Angela Mc Cormick (Scottish Trade Union and Socialist Coalition) and Richard Sullivan standing in for Erin Boyle (Conservative and Unionist) – gave positive contributions which left quite a few listeners admitting they felt unsure of where they would place their vote on Thursday 6 May. Thomas Main (British National Party) did not attend.
The hustings panel agreed that every vote counted in this election and could make a positive difference.
A further churches organised hustings will take place in Ruchill Parish Church, 15-17 Shakespeare Street, Glasgow G20 8TH at 7pm on Sunday 2 May.
And a service of prayer for the general election will take place in Kelvinside Hillhead Church, Observatory Road, off Byres Road at 7.30pm on Wednesday 5 May, the eve of voting.
Glasgow North is shaping up to be quite a battle. Two women, sitting Labour MP Anne McKechin and Lib Dem candidate Katy Gordon, along with the SNP’s Patrick Grady are fighting a tight seat.
Katy Gordon has lived in Glasgow for nearly 20 years. She is pushing the notion that Glasgow North is a two-horse race between her and Labour. But it has been 23 years since there was a Liberal MP from any Glasgow seat.
Backed by Vince Cable, Lib Dem Shadow Chancellor, Katy said: ‘There is still a Liberal tradition here, a flickering flame that has never gone out.’
She has a massive task ahead of her. The seat is occupied by Labour MP Ann McKechin who polled 11,001 votes to the Lib Dem’
s 7,663 votes last time, with SNP trailing on 3,614.
McKechin expects real challenge from the Liberal Democrats and the SNP, but says most voters will be making a ‘key decision’ between Tory and Labour. She said: ‘This is always a seat that will be tighter than others in Glasgow.
‘The overwhelming number of people that I talk to don’t think David Cameron has anything to offer them . We have the strongest policies on jobs.’
The SNP can be optimistic, as they polled highest at last year’s European Elections in the North of the city. Their candidate, Patrick Grady, an Invernessian now living in Dennistoun, launched the SNP campaign in February at Summerston Asda, assisted by Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Patrick said: ‘The Labour party in Glasgow have let local people down. With hard working councillors, MSPs and MP John Mason, people know that the SNP will put local interests first, last and always.’
Martin Bartos, the Green Party candidate, said: ‘At some point Scotland will elect its first Green MP, and Glasgow North will be the place to do it.’ Also standing will be Erin Boyle – Conservative, and Angela McCormick – STUSC.