Mhairi Black, MP made the House of Commons sit up and listen in a way few maiden speeches have done. She spoke honestly and from real, personal, knowledge. That is probably a pointer to other MPs of all parties – speak the truth, speak from genuine experience and don’t hesitate to say where you stand.
This young honours graduate said clearly the Labour Party had left her – she hadn’t left the Labour Party. Why is it so difficult for Labour Party wannabee leaders to understand that simple message? That Party has drifted so far from its social and socialist roots that it is now unrecognisable to those who once felt at home there.
The Scottish National Party now provides the succor, stimulous and strength to countless people across the classes who once would have carried a Labour Party card. The Labour Party can sit and weep, wring their hands and say repeatedly: ‘We must learn to listen.’ But if they don’t follow through, don’t mean what they say, don’t understand what they have to do, they will lose. And that’s exactly what has happened. The sharp decline of a once proud party’s leadership is a disaster in some ways. But there is never a vacuum in nature or in life. So the SNP are filling the space and leading from the front with very bright young folk like Mhairi Black.
On a 65.99% turnout in Glasgow South Constituency, SNP’s Stewart McDonald won over Labour’s Tom Harris who had been local MP for 14 years.
Tom Harris (LAB) 14,504
Ewan Hoyle (Lib Dem) 1,019
Stewart McDonald (SNP) 26,773
Brian Smith (Scottish Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition TUSC) 299
Kyle Thornton (CONSERVATIVE) 4,752
Alastair Whitelaw (GREEN) 1,431
Total valid votes 48,778. Electorate 74,051.
A triumphal arrival awaited Nicola Sturgeon at the Glasgow count. Although no seat had been declared at that point, it seemed clear that the Scottish National Party had made a clean sweep in the city’s seven constituencies. The whole SNP team turned out to welcome her with total surround sound.
A seemingly buoyant Margaret Curran who has been Labour MP for Glasgow East and Shadow Scottish Secretary, looked set to lose her seat as did Tom Harris for Glasgow South.Margaret was brought into the counting hall tightly surrounded and supported by her party colleagues.
Tom Harris who had been Labour MP for Glasgow South for more than ten years, admitted defeat before the count was declared. ‘That’s democracy,’ he said. ‘I’m looking for a job now. But I doubt that an SNP Scotland will welcome a Labour MP looking for work.’ And he added: ‘That’s not a criticism. But that’s not the kind of politics I want to be involved in.’
At that stage, there was no sign of Anas Sarwar who followed in his father, Mohammad’s footsteps in Glasgow Central for Labour. But there was still hope that Willie Bain in Glasgow North East or Ann McKechin in Glasgow North might survive the cull.
As the candidates begin to arrive at the count at the Emirates pavilion in Glasgow, the first votes are being counted. Early impressions favour the SNP, but the night is young. Exit polls wider in the UK appear to show that the Conservative and Unionist Party has the number of seats they need for David Cameron to remain in No 10.
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.