Voices for Change in Glasgow North West held an excellent hustings in Drumchapel Community Centre on Thursday 26 April.
Seasoned trade unionists and community campaigners, the organisers had the event well managed with chairwoman Kate Walker keeping everyone, politely, in order.
An audience of more than 30 challenged the candidates on issues such as personalisation and support for people with learning disabilities. Personalisation is the new programme which assesses how much funding an individual with care needs requires and they decide how they will allocate that.
Each prospective candidate – or party representative – was given a few minutes to state their case then the audience piled in with their reflective questions.
First up was Stuart Maskell of the UKIP. He was honest about his lack of experience in social care service issues and was appreciative of being invited to the hustings. He recommended seeing the film The Iron Lady. ‘It isn’t about a Prime Minister, it is about a woman with dementia. Alzheimer’s is expected to affect 1 million residents of the UK by 2022 – only ten years from now,’ he said. ‘That is a worrying problem.’
John Docherty of the SNP explained his background of the Fire Service for 30 years and now his work for an SNP MSP. ‘We will work across the sectors,’ he promised. He took notes of various situations raised by individuals in the audience and said he would follow through on finding out what could be done in each person’s circumstances.
Judith Fisher for the Scottish Labour Party agreed Personalisation was a ‘huge change,’ but added: ‘We believe it is a fairer system.’ She also mentioned the party’s plan for more child care hours and for the creation of jobs alongside the existing successful apprentice scheme.
Spokesperson for the Scottish Socialist Party, Sandra Webster, pointed out that carers save the government an estimated £10 million a year. ‘But they are still only being paid lip service,’ she added.
Ronnie Stevenson who is a candidate in his own ward of Langside was from the Scottish Anti-Cuts Coalition. ‘People should have care according to their needs,’ he contended. ‘But that is not happening. I’ve seen social workers in tears because they are not allowed to give the service care they know that individual needs. They have been told – here is how much can be spent – and that’s all they’re getting!’
He also warned that if people think it is hard just now with the cuts it will get very much worse in the next two or three years. ‘That’s why the Scottish Anti-Cuts Coalition wants to get more people into Councils across Scotland. We don’t want any more cuts.’
Most of the audience had first hand experience of cuts in social services. Said one woman who works closely with the social work department: ‘A man I know, with learning difficulties has had his budget cut from £78,000 a year to £44,000. He can’t go out anywhere now and just sits watching tv.’
A support worker with 50 people on his list, told the meeting that every one of the people he knows who has completed the process to personalisation has had massive cuts in their funding. ‘I think they started with services users with learning disabilities first, because they would meet less resistance from them. It is very unfair expecting a person who has reading and writing difficulties to fill in a self assessment form of many pages. That person, and those who care for them, are getting very stressed.’ He also questioned whether anyone in the city had qualified for 100% personalisation package. ‘It is a terrible process,’ he commented.
Alan Gow who was a Voices for Change host at the top table, moved into the audience to make his personal statement: ‘There is no proper engagement with citizens and carers. There has to be proper discussion and decent, moral involvement to ensure carers are genuine partners in care. They are not, right now.’ He said plans were made ‘behind the scenes,’ Followed by a one day ‘consultation,’ in a ‘fancy hotel room’ then it was ‘all over.’ He continued: ‘The choice is take this or that and it is said with a smile. But what the people are really saying is don’t cut my budget, that’s my wages. The political parties are not listening!’ he concluded forcefully to loud applause from the audience.
Johann Lamont, the new Scottish Labour Party Leader wasted no time in appointing her shadow cabinet.
Meeting for the first time in this week leading to Christmas, the Shadow Cabinet sorted out their portfolios.
A mix of experienced former ministers and newer voices ‘to speak on the important issue for Scotland,’ the Leader said: ‘Our job will not just be to hold the Scottish Government to account, but to show our party’s ambition again. Together we must set out and convince the people of Scotland of Labour’s vision for our country. Ours is a positive vision for a prosperous Scotland that can pay its own way, a wealth-creating Scotland that uses its wealth to build a fairer country, a Scotland determined that not one person’s talent is wasted, a Scotland that challenges all Scots to be all that they can be, and which creates the conditions in which we can reach our aspirations.’
Flanked by her deputy, Anas Sarwar and Margaret Curran, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, the Pollok MSP’s team is:
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth – Ken Macintosh
Shadow Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism – Rhoda Grant
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Cities Strategy – Jackie Baillie
Shadow Minister for Public Health – Richard Simpson
Shadow Minister for Social Justice – Drew Smith
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning – Hugh Henry
Shadow Minister for Children and Young People – Neil Bibby
Shadow Minister for Learning and Skills – Neil Findlay
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Culture, External Affairs and the Commonwealth Games – Patricia Ferguson
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment – Richard Baker
Shadow Minister for Housing and Transport – Elaine Murray
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice – Lewis Macdonald
Shadow Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs – Jenny Marra
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Local Government and Planning – Sarah Boyack
Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment – Claire Baker
Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change – Claudia Beamish
Shadow Minister for Youth Employment (attending shadow cabinet and working with education and finance teams) – Kezia Dugdale
Scottish Labour Parliamentary Business Manager – Paul Martin
Chief Whip – James Kelly
Shadow Whip – John Pentland
In addition, Johann Lamont has asked Tom Harris MP to review how Scottish Labour uses technology to campaign. He will report to the deputy leader Anas Sarwar. Mr Harris will also work with Shadow Cabinet Secretary Richard Baker to advise on capital investment and infrastructure.
In making her final announcements to complete her team Johann Lamont said: ‘Scottish Labour has an excellent set of newly-elected MSPs and I am very pleased to have appointed eight of them to front bench roles. Together, over the coming months, we will be working hard to change Scottish Labour.’
In the new year she intends to make further shadow cabinet appointments from beyond the world of politics.
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
Tomorrow, Saturday 17 December, the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party will be announced. The three contenders are Tom Harris MP, Johann Lamont MSP and Ken Macintosh MSP. Throughout the campaign this website has received not one release from any of the three or from the Scottish Labour Party itself. As an independent, responsible, news website of long standing, a request for information and to be kept in touch with progress was made at the beginning of the contest. Each person did respond at that time but not one appears to have any mechanism in place to speak to anyone outside their party or to spread word about what they are doing or planning. Tom can be found if you tweet or choose to go on to his website. Johann’s website restricts what information can be viewed. And Ken’s page to ‘sign up’ for information can’t be found and seems to have been last updated in September.
All of this assumes someone has the online means to find out about these politicians. It is also dependent on the curious person making the effort to seek out the news of each candidate.
This lack of outward communication from three senior politicians would suggest that whoever gets the job is not seriously interested in telling anyone outside the party what they are doing. Maybe they have nothing of substance to tell. Is that not the reason why the Labour Party did so badly at the Scottish Parliament elections?
Complaints of a dirty environment in the Hillhead Ward 11 area, were the major issue for local residents, most candidates found.
Newly elected Councillor Ken Andrew, SNP, said he’s never seen anything like some of the back lanes he was shown. ‘One in particular was ‘eye watering,’ it was so bad.’ He polled 1026 votes at stage one and1851 finally at stage seven.
Martin McElroy, Scottish Labour Party, found parking was a major problem for people. He was also ahead of the game in promoting concern for graduates to get them into jobs instead of ‘working in coffee shops.’ He said: ‘ I didn’t know Councillor Gordon Matheson was going to announce a new scheme for jobs for graduates but I’m glad he did for it is something we’ve overlooked.’ His vote at Stage one was 945 and 1276 at stage six.
His first election, the PA to MSP Paul Martin admitted he ‘didn’t sleep a wink’ the night before polling day.
Coming in a respectable third place with 435 votes on the first stage of the count and 639 at stage five, Green Party candidate Stuart Leckie considered the low turnout was ‘a big problem for the democratic process.’
Conservative and Unionist Party candidate Maya Forrest was eliminated at stage four with 441 votes compared to 372 votes at stage 1. She found underage drinking, anti social behaviour, potholes and litter among the main problems for residents. ‘Having fought so hard to establish Station Park, and been very proud to see how good it had become, it really hurts to see it abused by some young people.’
Liberal Democrat Ewan Hoyle was eliminated at stage 4 with 311 votes compared to 307 at stage one. Working on his dissertation on public policy, he found parking, lack of Council cleanliness and poorly maintained properties – by both landlords and tenants – were the main issues on the street.
Neil Craig of UK Independence Party (UKIP) picked up one vote between stage one and stage two to go from 36 to 37. Running a science fiction book shop in Woodlands, he said his was the only party in Scotland that believed a ‘free market really works.’ Expelled from the Lib Dems because he believed in a free market, he said, he admitted he’d expected to do better. ‘But I’ve not done this before. It won’t put me off and I plan to run again in May at the Glasgow City Council elections.’ He pointed out that candidates were not allowed to put up posters. ‘That must have depressed the vote for everyone,’ he said.
Britannica Party candidate Charles Baillie received 11 votes and was first to be eliminated from the ballot. A semi-retired, self-employed electrical contractor from Springburn, he emphasised that his party welcomed people who were British nationality when that was their only nationality. In referring to the Scottish National Party he said: ‘Separatism is an issue.’
With such a low poll and a new, electronic counting and calculating equipment that worked for the single transferable voting system, the polling station in the new Hillhead Primary school was closed shortly after 11pm.
Westminster MP Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central) is the latest to bid for Labour Party leadership in Scotland. He’s set his sights on the deputy leader post and joins Westminster senior colleague Tom Harris (Glasgow South) and MSPs Johann Lamont (Pollok) and Ken Mackintosh (Eastwood) who had earlier declared their interest in being leader.
Sarwar, who has been a constant supporter of the Glasgow inspired campaign for human rights in the Gambia, put his hat into the ring this weekend in time for the Labour Party conference in Liverpool (Sat 24/Sun 25 September) when the Scottish rule changes will be debated. He said: ‘I want to work with the Party leader to make sure we are an electable force again, working for the whole of Scotland.’ He pledged to travel throughout the whole of Scotland to listen to people ‘from all walks of life’. He said the vision had to be one of confidence in the future of Scotland. With ‘honest analysis’ of where Labour is in Scotland and what its message is and how it project it, he said: ‘I want to make sure we are an electable force again, working for the whole of Scotland.’
Labour Party rule changes allowed Westminster MP Tom Harris to declare his interest in the campaign which had previously been restricted to MSPs. Aiming to replace present Scottish Labour Party leader Iain Gray - who sought refuge in a sandwich shop when confronted with pensioners asking him to challenge the Tory tax cuts – Tom Harris was clear about his strategy. ‘We need to appeal to people beyond the Labour Party. The battle to win votes will be won in the workplace, the high street, the tv studio, the council chamber, the board room and in the home, not just in a single debating chamber. As a Party we need to have a strong vision and a positive outlook to appeal to new voters.’ A constant Twitter contributor, has already taken his campaign out and is meeting groups of young people unconnected with politics, who use the social media networks he is already familiar with.
At Holyrood, Johann Lamont has been a noteable fighter for the Labour Party cause. And locally in Pollok, she has been an active elected representative. She said: ‘First, we have to re-build confidence and trust across Scotland. It can’t be a case of Labour telling others what to do. It has to be Labour listening. These are tough times and there are lots of challenges. We have to pull together and we need a strong Labour voice to protect the young and the vulnerable and to hold the Government to account.’
Ken MacIntosh was born in Inverness of a Gaelic speaking father from Skye and a mother from Peebles in the Borders. Early in September he led a campaign against a waste incinerator in Newton Mearns.
He said a new, positive, vision for a strong Scotland is needed. ‘Devolution is the reason I got into politics. I believe the Scottish Parliament is there to build a stronger Scotland, but our Party needs to do more to harness the potential of devolution to improve the lives of the Scottish people – this is my priority if elected leader.’
He added: ‘It’s time to change the Scottish Labour Party. We need to be less top-down, have a strong positive vision and we must use the new young talent we now have. This contest is not just about leading the Scottish Labour Party. I want to win the hearts and minds of Scots to win the next election and become the next First Minister.’
A special Scottish Labour Party conference will be held on 29 October when the formal campaigns will be launched. The new Leader of the Scottish Labour Party will be announced by 17 December.
In an extraordinary night which changed the political landscape of Scotland, Glasgow voters rejected long established Labour Party names: Charlie Gordon, Pauline McNeil, Patricia Ferguson and Frank McAveety.
Instead the Scottish National Party (SNP) was able to declare: ‘It’s a stunning night.’
Nicola Sturgeon was returned to the Scottish Parliament for the newly configured Glasgow Southside with 12,306 votes to Labour Stephen Curran’s 7957 votes.
SNP gained Anniesland constituency by seven votes for Bill Kidd who polled 10,329 votes to Labour Bill Butler’s 10,322.
In Cathcart Constituency James Dornan took the seat for SNP with 11,918 compared to Labour Charlie Gordon’s 10,326
Kelvin Constituency was won by Sandra White with 10,640 compared to incumbent Labour’s Pauline McNeill who polled 9,758.
Glasgow Shettleston went to SNP’s John Mason with 10,128 compared to Labour Frank McAveety’s 9,542.
The only seats to stay in Labour Party hands were:
Newly aligned Maryhill and Springburn constituency with Patricia Ferguson polling 9884 compared to SNP’s Bob Doris on 8592.
Glasgow Pollok seat stayed with Labour’s Johann Lamont with 10,875 compared to SNP Chris Stephens’s 10,252.
Paul Martin kept Glasgow Provan with 10,037 in contrast to SNP Anne McLaughlin’s vote of 7,958.
As other wins for SNP were being announced during the Glasgow count, Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘The SNP is now a force to be reckoned with across Scotland. This is a triumph for our Positive campaign. Our job now is to unite Scotland and to lead.’
In a bitter response at the podium her opponent, Labour’s Stephen Curran said: ‘The SNP will never get away with this in Glasgow.’
Sandra White commented later: ‘The SNP has broken the back of Labour in Glasgow with our Positive campaign.’
Labour’s Pat Ferguson said: ‘I’m proud and privileged to have served this constituency. I was the first Labour MSP for the former Maryhill/Springburn constituency and do not take one single vote for granted for one second. I am there to fight for every sector of the community in this new constituency and to make sure they are dealt with fairly.’ Her SNP opponent, Bob Doris, announced his wedding in his speech. ‘Four years ago I didn’t mention Janet my girlfriend in my thank you speech. Today I’m mentioning my fiancee Janet and soon she’ll be Mrs Doris!’ He also said the overall results in Glasgow and Scotland were ‘staggering’ for the SNP. And in an impassioned plea he asked for ‘even more positive results next time.’
John Mason who won and later lost the Westminster seat in the city’s East End, and secured the Shettleston constituency for SNP at Holyrood, first praised the outgoing Frank McAveety who had been the Labour MSP for the area. ‘We must thank him for all the work he’s done in Glasgow’s East End.’ But he went on: ‘The SNP ran a positive campaign – securing the M74 completion work, the Commonwealth Games and the rail link to Edinburgh as well as the council tax freeze. But Labour ran a negative campaign, running down the SNP and running down Scotland. The Labour Party must take a long, hard look at themselves.’ In promising to have a visible presence with a shop in Shettleston and being easily contactable by his constituents he added: ‘It is an incredible privilege to be trusted by the voters to serve this constituency.’
Frank McAveety in his farewell speech said: ‘I’ve served the East End of Glasgow for 22 years – as a teacher, a city councillor and as MSP. I care passionately about my city and its problems.’ Amid shouts and boos from the assembled crowd at the Glasgow constituencies’ count in the city’s SECC, he went on: ‘This country is now polarised. The Commonwealth Games was a Labour led initiative as was the National Indoor Sports arena. We made the largest investment in schools and education and I will work tirelessly to win this seat back for Labour.’
At 4am when it was clear that SNP had made remarkable gains in Glasgow, Nicola Sturgeon told the LOCAL NEWS: ‘I’m thrilled. There are quite stunning results across Scotland.’
In Cathcart were Labour’s sitting MSP Charlie Gordon lost the seat to SNP’s James Dornan, James Dornan said: ‘Charlie conducted his campaign in a gentlemanly fashion.’ In an emotional speech he went on to say: ‘I will represent everyone in this constituency. It is the area I was brought up in. I raised my kids here. We have worked hard day and night for the past three months and I thank all those who worked like Trojans to secure this positive result for the constituency.’
A sombre Charlie Gordon responded: ‘I’ve been a Labour Party activist for 42 years. I leave this stage tonight a wealthy man. Wealthy because I have my health and a wonderful family.’
Paul Martin who retained Glasgow Provan for Labour ranted about the SNP cuts. When his SNP opponent, Anne McLaughlin took the podium, a re-count was in process for the Anniesland Constituency where initially one vote appeared to be the difference between the lead candidates. She forecast: ‘These successes in Glasgow and across Scotland are not a one-off for the SNP. By electing SNP in force in Glasgow, the city has broken the link of people’s dependency on Labour for ever. If Labour continue their scurrulous attacks on Scotland, their lies will be found out and the people of Scotland will stop listening to them.’
In Glasgow Kelvin where SNP’s Sandra White took the seat from Labour’s Pauline McNeill, Sandra paid tribute to Pauline’s hard work in that community and said: ‘The SNP have aspirations for the people of Scotland. We believe every person deserves to have aspirations.’
In her turn, Pauline McNeill said: ‘I represented the area for 12 years. I did my best for everyone and I’ll miss them. I’m proud of what we achieved and hope that whatever happens with the government of Scotland that everyone will unite on the issues in the Scottish Parliament that will take the country forward. The UK coalition is wrecking our lives.’
As the night wore on a two party state emerged in Glasgow’s voting between SNP and Labour.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat’s highest vote was in Glasgow Kelvin where Natalie McKee got 1900 votes. In Anniesland, Lib Deb Paul McGarry got 1000 votes. In Cathcart, Eileen Baxendale got 1118 votes. In Maryhill and Springburh, the Lib Dem candidate, Sophie Bridger, got 833 votes. In Pollok, Isabel Nelson got 490 votes. In Provan, Michael O’Donnell got 413 votes and in the Southside constituency, Lib Dem’s Kenneth Elder got 612 votes.
Conservative Ruth Davidson became an MSP on the List vote. She said: ‘I’m pleased the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party will continue to have a presence in Glasgow. It’s needed with the SNP being rampant! ‘
The last vote to be announced around 6am in Glasgow was the Anniesland constituency where a recount had taken place because of the narrow margin. The final result was: Bill Kidd, SNP, took the seat with 10,329. Bill Butler, Labour was close behind on 10,322. Next was Matthew Smith of the Conservatives who polled 2,011 and Lib Dem’s Paul McGarry received 1000 votes with the Communist party of Britain’s candidate, Marc Livingstone taking 259 votes.
In a victory speech, Anniesland constituency winner by seven votes, Bill Kidd said: ‘My opponents behaved in an exemplary fashion and the outgoing Bill Butler has done fantastic work in the constituency. I and the SNP will work hard for the next four years to ensure carers are treated in the manner becoming to a civil society and that our country is not despoiled by Trident – British weapons of mass destruction.’
In his turn, Bill Butler thanked his team ‘We fought hard and I don’t think we let the party down. This is not my farewell to politics where I’ve been for ten and a half years. I will continue to campaign for social justice – socialism as I know it – I will renew my opposition to the new Trident and will be on any platform with those who do that too.’ He singled out his mother, Patricia Ferguson who retained the Maryhill and Sprinburn seat, for special thanks for her support.
The only other candidates in Glasgow’s eight constituencies were Tom Muirhead an independent in Kelvin where he polled 405 votes and John McKee, an Independent in Cathcart where he polled 450 votes.
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NOTE: You can email your QUESTION for the SUNNYGOVAN hustings to the email below……
Friday 15 April at 7.30pm: West End Hustings in St Mary’s Cathedral, Great Western Road. Candidates from the Scottish Labour Party, Scottish Conservatives, Scottish Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party and Scottish Green Party expected. A representative from Christian Aid Scotland will also be on the panel. All the Holyrood candidates are standing for the Glasgow Regional list so what they have to say will be relevant to voters across the city.
Tuesday 26 April at 7pm: Southside Community Hustings in Kinning Park Church. Nicola Sturgeon, Stephen Curran, David Meikle and Kenneth Elder have agreed to attend. Hosted by Sunny Govan Radio, the event will be chaired by Jim Boyle of Oxfam. If you have questions you’d like to ask this panel please email: email@example.com or phone 0141 445 3741
Sunday 1 May at 7pm: Langside Church if the builders have completed work on the new building, or in the David Cargill Centre, 166 Ledard Road, Glasgow G42 9EU, if not. Candidates for Glasgow Cathcart on a Question Time type of panel: Eileen Baxendale, Scottish Liberal Democrats: James Dornan, Scottish National Party: Charlie Gordon, Scottish Labour Party: John McKee Independent: Richard Sullivan, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.