Words and photograph by Stuart Maxwell
‘**** This, I’m off to Hogwarts’ read one of the many imaginative placards as hundreds of Glasgow students marched into the Christmas village in George Square to protest against cuts to Scotland’s education budget and proposals to increase tuition fees in England and Wales.
JK Rowling’s magical realm seemed to be an inspiration for many of the protesters. On another placard, the much maligned Nick Clegg was compared to Voldemort- the insatiable baddie from the Harry Potter stories.
The protesters gathered outside Strathclyde University’s Royal College Building on a day when student protests swept across the UK. For a short time, 30 protesters occupied the Royal College Building before rejoining the main demonstration.
Although the demonstration was met with a strong police presence, the day passed without incident- unlike London, where violence erupted leading to injuries and arrests. One policeman told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘ I think it’s been a total success. These students are making their point in a very respectful way and in all honesty they’ve been a pleasure to work with.’
By early evening the protesters were in George Square for a speech-laden rally, below the recently erected Christmas lights which were still to be turned on. Speakers included Greg Philo, Head of Glasgow Media Group and Vice President of the National Voice of Students, who told the crowd: ‘ Today has been a disaster for the Tory Coalition.’
Pete Murray, President of the National Union of Journalists told the protesters they were an inspiration to the older generations, who now find themselves needing to confront the career threatening polices that are seeping north from Westminister. Pete said: ‘I congratulate you for this fantastic day.’
Greg Philo told the crowd that the media are not doing enough to challenge the Government on their economic policies and said one venerable media institution was fast becoming ‘a factory of lies.’ He called on students to keep marching in protest.
School students from across Glasgow, including Hyndland Secondary, left their classes early to participate in the protest that reflected much anger toward Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. Listening to lyrics of the chants, it was clear than many felt betrayed by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Liberal Democrats.
Liberal Democrat MSP for Glasgow, Robert Brown, told the LOCAL NEWS that students should look closely at the deal on the table and said the problems today were created by the former Labour Government.
Said Robert: ‘The reality is that the horrendous financial situation that the Labour party left behind is the cause of the cuts and increased fees facing the country today.
‘None of the other parties could offer offer a better deal. It’s a very difficult issue but the best friend of the students is still the Liberal Democrats.’
Reading the placards and listening to the clourful chants at George Square, it would seem that the students don’t know who their best friends are. Nick Clegg sure has a lot of minds to convince that he’s Dumbledore rather than Voldemort.
By Klaudia Jędrychowska
Five candidates from Drumchapel and Anniesland are today fighting for the Glasgow City Council seat vacated by Steven Purcell.
The by-election was called after the Leader of Glasgow City Council resigned from that post then stood down as a councillor for Ward 14.
Larry Butler is contesting the seat for the Scottish Green Party, Christopher Hughes for the Scottish Labour Party, Paul McGarry for the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Frank Rankin for the Scottish National Party, and Matthew Smith for the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party.
Previously, local people had demonstrated strong support for Labour, giving the party all four seats for that Ward in the City Council.
This by-election will show whether or not Labour will maintain its strong position within the community, given Purcell’s resignation and questions about his conduct while in office.
Local Councillor Jonathan Findlay, a Labour colleague, said: ‘This will have zero effect on today’s by-election. People will be looking at the whole record of the Labour Party and local representation.’
He added: ‘Steven was one of my best friends and the best man at my wedding. I knew him very well. He was a very good Councillor and he was very good for the city. It’s a great loss to Glasgow and Scotland.
‘No-one will replace Steven.’
In 1995, aged 22, Purcell became the youngest Scottish Councillor ever elected. Ten years later, he became Leader of Glasgow City Council.
Today’s General Election issues may influence the council by-election. With the Liberal Democrats strengthening in the opinion polls and the prospect of a hung parliament, Labour’s predominance in North West Glasgow may be challenged.
This inspires Lib-Dem Paul McGarry. He believes Leader Nick Clegg did a very good job putting the party’s message across and it will influence today’s elections locally and nationally.
He added: ‘Local people are frustrated by inactivity and problems not being solved. People tell us they had been phoning up the Council trying to get the things fixed, but nothing was happening.
‘We want people to feel that when they’re phoning up the Council they are not getting ignored. People in this area say they want somebody they can talk to, someone who will listen.’
In this by-election the support is divided, it looks like it will be a close thing. It is the second recent by-election in Ward 14. In June 2009, the Labour candidate, Annie McTaggart, won by 2584 votes.
The polling stations will be open till 10pm and the result should be announced early on Friday morning.
Maryhill has for generations been a Labour stronghold but was urged to change allegiance by Nick Clegg at Woodside Halls last night.
The Leader of the Liberal Democrats – who was there to back Glasgow North candidate Katy Gordon – made a point of first engaging the audience and then asked them to ditch the ‘habits’ of voting for Labour.
He said: ‘Many of you come from families and communities who have supported the Labour Party for generations.
‘It was part of who you were, and I think you have been let down. I think you have been taken for granted.
‘I know it is very difficult to break the habit of generations, and it can feel like betrayal. But it is not a betrayal of yours – It is Labour who has betrayed you.’
Clegg urged the people of Glasgow North – and across the country – to follow their hearts and not vote tactically.
He said: ‘I don’t think people should people should be pushed and bamboozled by desperate government ministers.
‘It is a council of despair for Labour by trying to frighten people into voting in a way they want them to.’
Clegg believes it is his party that can help rebuild the communities that he says Labour have let down, and Cameron’s Tories have done nothing but pay lip service too.
Before rushing off to his next stop on his tour of the UK, he said: ‘Labour supporters are thinking about lending us their support and I’m very optimistic we can do very well in this election.’
Katy Gordon is riding the crest of a wave on streets of Glasgow North following Nick Clegg’s performance at the first Leaders Debate.
The Lib Dem candidate firmly believes the national optimism of her party – which has not had an MP in the city since Roy Jenkins over 25 years ago – is being mirrored in her patch.
She was keen to point out that the campaign has been helped by a new recruit who joined the Lib Dems from the SNP in February this year.
She said: ‘Since Alec Dingwall joined us and left the SNP, our campaign has gone from strength to strength. People who previously voted the SNP are thinking twice and nothing is a sure thing for Labour anymore.’
Despite this, the Liberal campaign has been slammed by Patrick Grady, SNP candidate for Glasgow North.
He said: ‘The Liberal Democrats are not fighting any sort of campaign in the other seats in Glasgow. That is neither a liberal approach nor is it very democratic.
‘Most of the Liberal Democrat campaign team are wearing post office uniforms.
‘The number of leaflets produced and sent along with flying Nick Clegg in to get his photo taken at the Clyde must make their carbon footprint awfully high.
‘We have been out knocking on doors across the constituency and for the past two-and-a-half years.
‘The SNP are fighting very hard to win all of the seats across the city.’
The Labour Party is not concerned about the Lib Dems’ optimism of gaining the seat from their candidate and sitting MP, Ann McKechin.
A Labour spokesperson said: ‘Ann is one of the most active MPs in Scotland and she is well known and well liked by the constituents in Glasgow North.
‘It’s up to the people in the area and we are confident that we will retain this seat no matter how many leaflets and brochures the Lib Dems put out.’
By Erik Geddes
General Election outsider and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg has been hailed by the national press as the victor from last night’s leaders’ debate on ITV in Manchester.
However, Local News Glasgow canvassed reaction at ground level in Glasgow and found a mixed response to the event.
Firstly, during the debate I put out the question on my Twitter – ‘Will these Leaders Debates really make more people vote?’ which was met with derision by Tom Hosie from the East End of Glasgow. He tweeted back to me that it was making people ‘change channel to Have I Got News For You’.
Despite that, the 90 minute debate on ITV captivated the nation with an audience of nearly 10 million people.
Steven McKell was glued to the set but annoyed by the host. He said: ‘Alastair Stewart ruined it, he didn’t let it flow it enough.’
Clegg picked up plaudits from the polls and potential voters, and not just natural Lib Dem voters.
A Greenockian who works in Glasgow and tweets as RealColinQuinn said ‘Clegg has nailed Cameron’.
Stewart Taylor from Partick was also unimpressed with the Tory leader, who was enjoying the Glasgow sunshine this morning. He said: ‘Clegg swung it, Broon was Broon and Cameron was like a wet fish handshake.’
Scottish Nationalists – and indeed many Scots watching – felt left out by the whole affair which dealt with many issues which are devolved matters in Scotland.
Cozie Thom, an SNP supporter, was fed up with Alex Salmond being excluded from the debate.
He said: ‘Never mind the UK’s double-dip recession, as if things weren’t bad enough we’ve now got a triple-dipped debating disaster.’
Indeed, while there were detractors from all sides it seems everyone had something to say about it. Southside Paddy said: ‘Clegg was terrible, slimy and dodged questions, but Gordo came across as distinguished.’