In true Presbyterian tradition, all six election candidates for the Glasgow South seat had their say in Cathcart Trinity Church. Each was listened to with respect by the audience of almost 200 people. Three people who wanted to have a shouting match were politely, but firmly dealt with by the Chairperson, Rev Wilma Pearson and chose to leave.
The format worked well. First, every candidate stating his case, then questions were asked by the Chairperson from those submitted some time before. Each candidate gave his answer. And a final response concluded an informative and carefully timed evening.
Tom Harris who has represented the area for Labour since 2001 when the seat was Glasgow Cathcart, left no one in doubt about his concerns should the SNP ‘sweep the board.’ He said: ‘That is the elephant in the room. There can never be a coalition between Scottish Labour and the SNP. The only sure way to stop them is to vote Labour.’
Stewart McDonald, the SNP candidate was equally certain: ‘If you want business as usual at Westminster, then I’m not your guy. If you want to move forward and hold politicians accountable, you should support me.’
Ewan Hoyle, the Scottish Liberal Democrat representative said that the Liberal Democrats were the major ‘green’ party championing climate change at Westminster. ‘If you want green issues to be on the table at Westminster you should vote Liberal Democrat,’ he said.
Kyle Thornton of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party said his party was the only one with a plan to make things better for everyone in Britain. ‘Everyone who wants a job should get a job. There will be help for the young people into jobs or college or university or an apprenticeship. This is not another Referendum. If you want the country to keep together you should vote Conservative.’
Scottish Green Party candidate, Alastair Whitelaw said it wouldn’t be a career disaster for him, personally, if he didn’t get elected. But he urged people to consider the international perspective so that this country cultivated better relationships all over the world. ‘This is the only way to secure our future by being better at the so-called ‘soft’ relationships and being able to speak other languages. Peace, disarmament, food production and climate change are the things that need to be done better in the next 30 to 50 years if we want to make this world a safer place.’
Brian Smith of the Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) warned: ‘If you vote tactically, you’ll still get austerity. Think carefully and vote for what you really belive in. Dream dreams, that way you can change society.’
Photograph shows BACK ROW from left: Alastair Whitelaw (Scottish Green Party), Brian Smith (TUSC), Ewan Hoyle (Scottish Lib Dems), Kyle Thornton (Scottish Conservative and Unionist). FRONT ROW from left: Stewart McDonald (SNP), Rev Wilma Pearson, Tom Harris (Scottish Labour Party)
Another day another Manifesto. This time the SNP fanfare launched ‘ Stronger for Scotland’ their 1757 word document setting out their stall for this General Election.
Greeted by party faithful in a climbing centre in Edinburgh, Scotland’s First Minister received a standing ovation lasting many minutes before she got to the rostum. She emphasised she was offering ‘the hand of friendship’ to everyone who: ‘wants real and positive change that will make life better for ordinary people across these islands.’
Said Nicola: ‘The SNP – if we are given the chance – will be your allies in making that change.’
Starting by pledging to the people of Scotland that if they voted SNP the party would make the Scottish voice heard ‘more loudly at Westminster,’ and would ‘stand up for Scotland and fight your corner.’ She then went on to promise the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland: ‘If the SNP emerges from this election in a position of influence, we will exercise that influence responsibly and constructively…and bring to that task eight years’ experience of government – of successful, effective and stable government.’
The manifesto highlighted plans to: end austerity; permit modest spending increases and a ‘slightly slower path to eliminating the deficit completely.’ Nicola said this would allow ‘at least £140 billion extra to be invested in infrastructure, support for business, protection of our public services and policies that will help to lift people out of poverty.’
Asked why England was ‘scared’ of the SNP, she replied that she did not believe ordinary people across the UK were scared. ‘We’ll play a constructive role as long as we are part of the system. We do not seek to bring down a government. We believe we have common cause with people of like mind everywhere in the country.’
And in a direct challenge to David Cameron she said: ‘I oppose any attempt to undermine the SNP at Westminster.’
Jim Murphy launched the Scottish Labour Party’s manifesto today with promises of give-aways for young people, 1000 extra nurses, 500 more GPs and a £200 million Cancer Fund as well as a £200 million Mental Health Fund.
Surrounded by (mostly) young party workers in bright teeshirts the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party said: ‘Labour will keep university tuition free and we will give the poorest students an extra £1,000 on their bursaries.’ For those who don’t go to university he offered: ‘We will invest £1,600 – the equivalent of tuition fees – in every 18 and 19 year old who isn’t in college, university or apprenticeship. This will be an investment, not just in their potential, but in Scotland’s future. We want to offer hope to our young people again.’ He also emphasised the £8 an hour minimum wage and the banning of zero hours contracts.
Margaret Curran – who has been the Westminster MP for Glasgow East – introduced Jim Murphy at the rally held in the Tollcross Leisure Centre. She told the audience of several hundred: ‘We can win against the odds if we put in the right effort.’ She won back the seat for Labour at the 2010 general election with an 11,000 majority. Traditionally a Labour stronghold, the seat had been snatched by the SNP before that.
The rally was closed with a rousing speech by former miner David Hamilton who commented: ‘We are not the SNP. Labour is a party for people who think for themselves.’Saying how hard it was for him after the miners’ strike when he was unemployed for two and a half years, David said: ‘People lose confidence when they’re out of work. It can affect their mental health. They should be paid a training wage to get back into work. Once back working, they gain confidence again. And the job should be paying a minimum of £8 an hour.’
But outside the fervour of the manifesto launch one local constituent – mature student and father of three, John Docherty said: ‘Manifestos looks good on paper. But they don’t practise what they preach. Labour has lost their way. My back ground has been a Labour voter – my father was a shipyard worker. My family history is socialist. But I recently joined the SNP. That’s the party that shows solidarity – community solidarity. Labour doesn’t get the community bit.’
And 22 year old Rebecca Black, taking a strictly timed lunch break from her £6.50 an hour job which will last 13 weeks said: ‘It would be good if I got money when I go to college next term. But I think they all tell lies and you don’t know who to trust so I don’t think I’ll vote.’
While the General Election race started many moons ago, the real race now begins as the candidates’ lists closed today (Thursday 9 April 2015) Those with £500 to deposit and the correct number of signatures from valid people, are the 51 candidates in Glasgow vying for the seven seats. All the previous MPs are Labour and are, naturally, standing again: Anas Sarwar, Margaret Curran, Ann McKechin, Willie Bain, John Robertson, Tom Harris and Ian Davidson – who is standing as Labour and Co-operative Party.
But Glasgow voters registered a 53.5% YES return at the Referendum. And on that polling night the SNP team told the few Labour Party senior people in sight – ‘you’ll be OUT next time!’ But it will take till the last vote is counted after the polls close on Thursday 7 May 2015, before we know if the SNP succeeded. Their candidates are: Alison Thewliss, Natalie McGarry, Patrick Grady, Anne McLaughlin, Carol Monaghan, Stewart McDonald and Christopher Stephens.
No constituency is a two-horse race. All have at least six contestants with Glasgow Central having the most at nine.
Each of the seven constituencies has a Scottish Conservative and Unionist candidate. They are: Simon Bone, Andy Morrison, Lauren Anne Hankinson, Annie Wells, Roger Lewis, Kyle Thornton and Gordon McCaskill. The Scottish Liberal Democrats also have seven candidates: Chris Young, Gary McLelland, Jade O’Neil, Eileen Baxendale, James Harrison, Ewan Hoyle and Isabel Nelson. And the Scottish Green Party has someone in each of the constituencies: Cass MacGregor, Kim Long, Martin Bartos, Zara Kitson, Moira Crawford, Alastair Whitelaw and Sean Templeton.
The Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition has fielded four candidates: Andrew Elliot, Angela McCormick, Jamie Cocozza and Brian Smith. And the same number of candidates has been presented by the Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol (CISTA) with: James Marris, Russell Benson, Geoff Johnson and Chris MacKenzie. Not to be outdone, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) has presented: Stuart Maskell, Arthur Misty Thackeray, Jamie Robertson and Sarah Hemy.
Making up the remainder of the lists are two people from the Scottish Socialist Party: Liam McLaughlan and Bill Bonnar ; one from the Socialist Equality Party – Katie Rhodes and one from the Scottish Communist Party – Zoe Hennessy Streatfield.
All it needs now is for the 75% who turned out to cast their vote in the Referendum to turn out again – and to encourage the remaining 25% who didn’t vote then – to make their mark this time. People have till Monday 20 April to register to vote. A lot of people could find they are not registered so it is worth checking beforehand. Go to: GOV.UK: Register online for online registration.
If you want to persuade people to vote FOR or AGAINST independence on Thursday 18 September you’ll need to have deep pockets – and move fast!
The Green Party and the SNP together have registered £1,494,000 to spend on a YES campaign.
The Labour, Lib-Dem and Conservative Parties have £1,434,000 to spend on a BETTER TOGETHER campaign.
If you plan to appoint an election agent then you have till Thursday 14 August to do that.
If you need to register for a vote – you have till midnight on Tuesday 2 September to do so.
So with 100 days to go there is everything to work for – especially if you are investing money in the process.
But what this is about, really, is investing in the future and the kind of future people actually want for themselves and for their children and grandchildren. Most people haven’t taken the time to sit quietly and envisage the world they’d wish to live in. So a few Dream-time sessions are called for. And dreaming is free!
Voter registration midnight on Tuesday 2
Labour was the runaway victor in the Shettleston by-election with Martin Neill fielding 2026 votes to SNP Laura Doherty’s 1086.
The Scottish Conservative candidate, Raymond McCrae, was third with 224 votes followed by UKIP’s Arthur Misty Thackeray with 129 votes. The eight other candidates had votes ranging from 68 to 31 with James Trolland, Scottish Democratic Alliance receiving six votes. This was five more than he obtained in the recent Govan by-election.
Because it was such a clear-cut win the transferable vote mechanism did not apply.
Fewer than one person in every 18 eligible to cast a vote, did so. The turnout was 17.55% from an electorate of 55,874.
Winning candidate Martin Neil prefaced his speech with commendation of everyone in Glasgow City Council and all the emergency services who had done a wonderful job following the helicopter crashing into the Clutha Vaults pub the previous Friday.
He went on: ‘I must pay tribute to the late George Ryan who served this ward as Councillor for 20 years. His are big shoes to fill but I will absolutely do my best.’
Later he told this website: ‘Not a single day of our campaigning passed without someone saying how much George had helped them.’ George’s widow, Linda, was one of the first to congratulate Councillor Neill once she dried her own tears.
Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council’s Labour Group said: ‘We’re delighted to have Martin as our newest member of Glasgow City Council. I know he’ll do a wonderful job for the people of Shettleston. He’ll be an exceptionally hard working Councillor and has proven he has the values and work ethic.’
From the weeks of canvassing, Councillor Neill said the biggest issue to tackle was dog fouling. ‘That was definitely Number 1 problem,’ he said. ‘Next is anti-social behaviour. That’s a big challenge. But I’ve got the energy and will be an all year round, open surgery, Councillor.’
SNP candidate Linda Doherty was the only female and the only one of the 12 candidates who lives in Ward 19. ‘This was my first time standing in a by-election,’ said the arts and performance graduate. ‘I’ve really enjoyed the experience.’ Her father John added: ‘I was a bit surprised Laura did this but I’m very proud of her. She worked her socks off.’
SNP MSP John Mason also praised Linda: ‘She’s done a lot of work and is clearly a woman of some merit or she wouldn’t have been selected by the Scottish National Party. ‘ He also commented that there was a problem with the low turnout. ‘That is very disappointing.’
Another of the candidates said it was clear in their campaigning that many people didn’t know a by-election was on. ‘Parties are not allowed to put posters up to show their candidate. So it didn’t ‘click’ with a lot of people they should have been out to vote today.’
While only fourth with 129 votes, UKIP candidate Arthur Misty Thackeray was jubilant. He said: ‘We beat the combined Liberal Democrat (53) and Green vote (41). This is our first time contesting this area. While it is only a council ward by-election, I believe it shows UKIP is on the rise in Scotland and we should be taken seriously.’ An Easterhouse man, he has run his own successful security and investigation business for 25 years.
Martin Neill now joins Ward 19 Shettleston Labour Councillors Frank McAveety (second left in photograph) and Bailie Anne Simpson with Bailie John McLaughlin as the SNP Councillor.
Another by-election another attempt at democracy.
Shettleston is now being targeted by 12 people who have a notion to change the area by becoming a Councillor in Glasgow City Council. In the recent by- election in Govan only two people in ten cast their vote. That was a drop from the previous election where three in ten turned out.
But how can a 20% turnout be democratic? It reflects poorly on voters but spells a powerful message to the elected representatives that people are totally disillusioned with what is being done in their name.
Will there be any change following one new Councillor in Ward 19? No matter which political party or campaigning group the successful candidate comes from, that person will make no difference to the policies of this city. Should the elected person be Labour which is in power with a solid majority, he’d have to toe the party line – especially as a new comer. Should the winner be SNP which is the chief opposition group in the City Chambers, they could put forward as many proposals as they wished. But they’d all be doomed to failure because of the Labour Party stranglehold.
A person from any other party or campaigning group would be somewhere on the very fringes of activities with almost no chance to influence decisions.
Politics in this city are a denial of democracy. The vast majority of voters didn’t cast their vote. So the people in power are there because of the few who took that responsibility seriously.
It would take a seismic effort to change that in any by-election.
Labour Councillers were told they had ‘blood on their hands’ at a stormy meeting of Glasgow City Council today. (Thursday 31 October 2013)
Shouted from the public gallery after a motion to removed ATOS as a corporate sponsor of the 2014 Commonwealth Games was defeated, several people there loudly condemned the Councillors. One man was arrested and charged with alleged breach of the peace. Police Scotland (Strathclyde) say a report has been sent to the Procurator Fiscal.
The motion was moved by SNP Councillor Billy McAllister from Canal Ward 16.
While recognising the ‘immense economic and social benefits’ to be derived from the 2014 Commonwealth Games and commending the international exposure which Scotland and Glasgow would receive from the Games, Councillor McAllister said: ‘ATOS must go as a sponsor. This is a company without any conscience. It is destroying lives.’
He gave details of individuals who had been assessed by ATOS Health Care as fit to work. One died within weeks of being declared fit for work. Another committed suicide. Said Councillor McAllister: ‘At least 10,000 people have been declared fit for work. ATOS is an ugly stain on our society. Their costly contract should be pulled. I do not wish to accept the shocking damage ATOS is doing to Glasgow’s citizens.
Even as people in the public gallery applauded him, the Lord Provost gave him a dressing down for being ‘disrespectful’ of her by continuing to speak well beyond the time permitted.
SNP Councillor John Letford of Maryhill/Kelvin Ward15, supported the motion to removed ATOS as a sponsor of the Games. He said ‘ATOS is the problem, not the solution.’ He called on people working for the health care assessment sector of the company who believed in social justice to follow their conscience and move to another job. ‘We must remove this monster called ATOS,’ he said.
But Labour Councillor Archie Graham for Langside Ward 7, who is Executive Member for the Games said: ‘You must separate ATOS health care from the Games sponsor ATOS which is a different arm of the company.’ He accused the SNP Councillors of attempting to damage the Commonwealth Games. He produced a picture of Nicola Sturgeon, SNP Deputy First Minister ‘enthusiastically participating’ in a Commonwealth Games lead-in event where she was being ‘cheered on’ by ‘the man from ATOS.’ He said it had been decided that ATOS was capable of delivering the Games’ services. ‘It is now impossible to distance ourselves from them. Where would the billions of pounds of sponsorship come from now?’ he queried.
Both Green Party Councillor Martha Wardrop for Hillhead Ward 11 and First Glasgow Councillor Stephen Dornan for Govan Ward 5 spoke out strongly against retaining ATOS as a sponsor for the Games.
Councillor Wardrop said she strongly criticised ATOS and the way it treated people being assessed. But challenged the Labour group that their concern was ‘All about the money they are bringing to the Games.’
Councillor Dornan urged Labour Group members to vote with their conscience. ‘Money can never replace people. That’s your choice.’
In his final response, Councillor McAllister said to Councillor Graham directly: ‘Shame on you if you put profit before people. You can’t say this is outwith your area. This is about our constituents in Glasgow. If you don’t vote with your conscience, this will come back to haunt you. This should not be about party politics,’ he warned.
The final vote was 29 for Councillor McAllister’s motion and 42 against.
At that point the public gallery erupted with people shouting down to the Councillors and throwing down handfuls of monopoly money.
One man shouted: ‘How will the disabled athletes look on this?’
As the police intervened in the public gallery the Lord Provost closed the Council session. Most Councillors re-assembled after a 20 minute break to continue the business of the day.
During the recess Councillor McAllister said he was very angry about the whole issue. ‘A lot of Labour Councillors said to me privately they’d like to support this motion but the Labour Group have whipped them into voting against it. It shows the state of Labour in Glasgow when they can’t vote with their conscience. We govern the city. If we don’t condemn the way ATOS goes about its health business we are condoning it.’
Before the Council meeting re-convened, Councillor Graham called Councillor McAllister’s conduct ‘an outrage.’
For the first time in 40 years SNP lost a by-election in Govan.
Whatever the personal feelings of the team who supported their young candidate, they would have been expected to wait and congratulate the winning, Labour candidate – who took full advantage of his election speech to rub salt into the wounds of his opponents.
But the SNP did not do that. The team was good enough to return to have a group photograph taken at the request of the Editor of this website and smiled for the occasion. But their hearts must have been sore.
There were rumblings at the various polling stations in Govan of less than harmonious relations between the two parties’ supporters. It is a sad indictment of the relationship between them that such a situation is allowed to fester and grow.
We should expect that those who are chosen by their political party to lead, are worthy of that leadership.
Increasingly from Westminster to Holyrood to Glasgow City Council, the quality of leadership is short of the expectations of ordinary citizens.
In preparation for the Referendum we would do well to remember that.