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Local focus

Brian Taylor | 17:37 UK time, Monday, 30 June 2008

Court news. David Marshall has been appointed to the post of steward and bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.

Which matters why? Because that counts as a (nominal) office of profit under the Crown. Even nominal beneficiaries cannot, simultaneously, be Members of Parliament.

In short, Labour's David Marshall has quit his seat in the Commons via the circumnavigation customary in the Palace of Westminster.

Which matters why? (Other than, of course, to Mr Marshall.) Because it creates a by-election: exactly the last thing Labour needs right now.

I knew and rather liked David Marshall when he was first elected in 1979 - and for a goodly number of years thereafter. That was in the days when I plied my trade in Westminster.

Never flash, he was nonetheless a diligent member, usually pursuing issues of poverty, homelessness and the like. He once brandished a blade in the Commons to make a point about knife crime in his area.

I must confess I have followed his career less assiduously of late. But I am sorry to hear he is unwell.

Labour decline

His departure, however, poses Gordon Brown a considerable problem. One would normally describe this seat as "solid Labour".

Mr Marshall had a majority of 13,507 at the General election. He took more than 60% of the votes cast.

Since then, however, Labour has declined. And the Scottish National Party, second placed in Glasgow East, has prospered: not least through gaining power in the Scottish Parliament last May.

Plus Labour has lost a leader. Not THE leader: that's Gordon Brown. Mr Brown's writ extends, fully, to Scotland: Labour is relatively minimally devolved.

But Wendy Alexander, Labour's leader at Holyrood, has gone.

So, just as the party should be focusing on a tough Westminster by-election, it will also be thinking about future leadership and strategy, in Scotland.

Labour, we hear, will fight Glasgow East as a local campaign on local issues. The candidate, they intend, will be a solid local citizen. One name repeatedly mentioned is Councillor George Ryan.

Why the local focus? Well, would you fight on UK or even Scottish issues - when your party has lost ground at Westminster and is leaderless at Holyrood?

Scottish average

By contrast, expect the SNP - who will select on Thursday - to fight on Labour's record.

The 10p tax rate, the price of fuel, the price of food, changes to the rules on benefits.
Those issues may well get a hearing from constituents in Glasgow East.

For example, the 2001 census indicated that Glasgow Shettleston (the old name for this seat) listed around one third of its citizens as having a "limiting long term illness". That is considerably above the Scottish average.

Despite efforts at regeneration, this area remains deprived. The mammoth Easterhouse estate lies within the constituency boundaries.

This is one of the schemes memorably described by Billy Connolly as "deserts wi' windaes". (Translation: arid, glazed zones.)

Mr Connolly is an occasional visitor to another Glasgow East icon: Celtic Park, the home of the current Scottish footballing championsgue Champions.

Can Labour win? They can: victory for the SNP requires a 22% swing, notably substantial.

Different question

A comparable swing was achieved in Hamilton South in 1999 - yet the SNP fell short.

Good example, says Labour. Proves that the SNP can be withheld. Plus that was a tougher contest because it was "unnecessary". (George Robertson stood down to take the top job at NATO.)

Poor example, says the SNP. Labour was flying high, relatively speaking, in 1999. It's slumped since.

So will Labour win? Different question.


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  • 1. At 6:05pm on 30 Jun 2008, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    Lets see what Labour's heartland makes of Wendy and Brown ... after all this is the third safest Labour seat in Scotland.

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  • 2. At 6:29pm on 30 Jun 2008, freedjmac wrote:


    Two points.

    1) Labour will not be able to hold this to local issues, since the axing of the 10p tax band and the price of heating will be major factors for the electorate.

    2) It will be a completely different ballgame if a certain Mr. Sheridan enters the fray. He could certainly split the Labour vote and let the SNP in - and maybe not by the back door!

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  • 3. At 6:32pm on 30 Jun 2008, I'm not Paranoid, they ARE all out to get me!!! wrote:

    Is it a good think to think 'local,' rather than 'best' when choosing a by-election candidate?

    What chance a certain Ms Wendy Alexander stepping forward and trying to get to Westminster - away from nasty Eck and the SNP 'bully-boys'...?

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  • 4. At 6:45pm on 30 Jun 2008, Tom wrote:

    Labour has failed Glasgow's East End. Labour were in-charge of the Scottish Parliament for 8 years. They have been in power from London for the past 11 years and of course held a majority of Scottish seats for around 50 years. This seat in particular has been held for 20 odd years?

    And this was Labours legacy.

    Male life expectancy across the city's East End is 68, five years less than the Scottish average, while in Shettleston it drops to just 63. Women, meanwhile, live on average to 74, which is still three years less than the national average.

    Across the area, 30 per cent of the population is described as "deprived", while 25 per cent are unemployed, compared with a national average of 5 per cent.

    Mortality rates from cancer and heart disease are all above average, with smoking in some pockets running at 50 per cent.

    13,000 majority is incredibly difficult to defeat but the SNP have been given more then enough firepower from Labour themselves.

    I hope the people from this constinuency will make their stand now and tell Labour that they don't want to suffer anymore and hopefully they will give another party the chance to make a difference.

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  • 5. At 7:00pm on 30 Jun 2008, kaybraes wrote:

    Where are Labour going to find a candidate dumb enough to stand,be humped , blamed for losing and then consigned to history and oblivion forever by the ever so slightly mad Brown? Better to just hand the job to the SNP or the raving loonies (Lib Dems). As for the social workers and ex schoolteachers standing as Scottish Labour leader ; Well!

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  • 6. At 7:19pm on 30 Jun 2008, Briggen wrote:

    Although Glasgow East is what has been regarded as solid Labour territory, I do not notice any political commentators predicting the result of the by-election. Previously they would not have hesitated to do so. After all, night follows day, and, with more or less the same degree of predictability, people in the east of Glasgow vote Labour. Or do they? Has the earth spun off its axis? Is it possible that the impossible could be about to happen in Glasgow East? Has predicting a Labour victory there become tantamount to sticking one's neck out? Times are changing.

    An interesting point by freedjmac about the potential effect of an intervention by an identifiably socialist candidate such as Tommy Sheridan. That would make the whole thing rather unpredictable, wouldn't it? Furthermore, if voters in Glasgow East are disposed to look around them and ask themselves if the Labour Party has done a good job for them over the years, why would they not think about voting SNP, especially in a by-election?

    I used to live in the east end of Glasgow in the 1960s. We all always voted Labour, of course, because that was the tribe we belonged to and because we trusted that party to look after us and make Glasgow better. If I had thought then that in the 21st century Glasgow, after all these decades at the tender mercy of the Labour Party, would be in the sorry state it still is in now, and if I had thought that Labour could have failed Scotland so abysmally, I would have voted, if I had been entitled to vote then, for the party that I began to notice in those days, marching eccentrically through the streets with banners flying and proclaiming that it alone had the answer. That was, of course, the Scottish National Party. We would have done better to take it seriously then rather than to go on voting Labour. I await the result of this by-election with interest.

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  • 7. At 7:31pm on 30 Jun 2008, richglasgowprincess wrote:

    This by-election isnt going to won or lost on these blogs, it will be the good people of Glasgow East who decide .

    Ironic that this ward is the most neglected by Labour and taken for granted by the Labour Party , now this ward will decide the future of the government.

    If they lose this ...and it is a big is a BIG ask of the SNP to win this seat, not impossible but it has to be an exceptional campaign and overcome voter apathy more than anything else.

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  • 8. At 7:43pm on 30 Jun 2008, stubbzysnp wrote:

    How different is Glasgow East to Glasgow Shettleston? Looking at the Scottish Parliament results for Shettleston there is only a 2881 majority to Labour.

    It may be more likely than we all think that the SNP could take this seat!

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  • 9. At 7:57pm on 30 Jun 2008, crazyislander wrote:

    The Tommy Sheridan thing is an interesting one. He has the charisma that might appeal to this constituency. However, is he not for one reason or another, damaged goods? I'd like to see him return to Parliament. He gives a voice to people who heretofore have had none and seems to care genuinely for the poor.

    Where are the LibDems I have to ask? They seem to have become a total irrelevance. Nicol Stephen is a total dead-weight who more and more sounds like a wee schoolboy playing with the grown-ups. The only one of them who has any real debating skills is Ross Finnie but he has had health problems.

    It would be nice however to see Labour gubbed. Then they'd know that their strangle hold over Scotland was well and truly over.

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  • 10. At 8:04pm on 30 Jun 2008, mugen1 wrote:

    being a staunch unionist for many years (no i'm not a rangers support for all the idiots) it's only in the last year that that i've have seen the SNP as an alternative. Mainly due to the fact i want away from Brown, as size 1 man in a size 10 job.

    If the voters in east of glasgow are like minded then labour are gone.

    Having said that if their enemployment rate is so high, why has no one asked why this is. Is it because they have no desire to work.

    Labour may adopt a free Bucky policy and win..

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  • 11. At 8:33pm on 30 Jun 2008, WebPendragon wrote:

    Call me an old cynic,but maybe this is one that,given that even the smallest margin of victory will save Gordon Brown's neck,the SNP may not want to win.Likewise,given that many of Brown's Cabinet colleagues apparently want rid of Him ,they may want the Labour Party to lose .

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  • 12. At 8:41pm on 30 Jun 2008, richglasgowprincess wrote:

    webpendragon: interesting theory , although I reckon the Labour party are in denial and will go all out, Losing in Glasgow is untenable.

    I note Brian didnt mention the possible other reason that David Marshall left, touted on the herald blogs all day.

    Dodgy expenses and paying family members figure being quoted was £220,000 claimed ....

    thats alot more than a house in shettleson will set you back.

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  • 13. At 9:32pm on 30 Jun 2008, oldnat wrote:

    While tennis is probably not a great interest in Easterhouse, if Murray wins his next 3 games will we get a "1966" effect in terms of Scottish sport and elections?

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  • 14. At 9:39pm on 30 Jun 2008, Nezavisimost wrote:

    The last time I was in Baillieston I experienced a major life changing thought. I was standing at a bus stop in a community which might as well have been in Sarajevo during the Balkan war. I looked around and saw such destitution, depression and lack of hope as well as physical and structural urban decay and destruction.

    How could I, I thought to myself, be standing in the biggest oil producing country in Europe and one of the top ten oil rich countries in the world? Labour’s condescending arrogant rhetoric on social justice in Scotland makes me feel physically sick and I truly hope every voter in Glasgow East looks around their area before they mark their X and see what 50 years of Labour unionist rule has brought to them and their families and community.

    Such devastating poverty among such plentiful natural and human resources. This must the much heralded union dividend manifesting itself once more.

    The incredibly depressing thing is that it will be so hard to oust Labour here, even in these strange times.

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  • 15. At 9:45pm on 30 Jun 2008, pattymkirkwood wrote:

    Sheridan's potential vote could damage either Labour or the SNP (or both equally - nullifying the effect). Thats one of the key elements that could influence the outcome.

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  • 16. At 10:08pm on 30 Jun 2008, minuend wrote:

    I see that Scottish Daily Mail are telling a different story to the BBC on why David Marshall is standing down now. The SDM is linking David Marshall's departure with the controversy surrounding MPs expenses at Westminster.

    It would seem the SDM is highlighting the comparison between what David Marshall has previously claimed in expenses and the constituency he has represented, Glasgow East, which is blighted by poor housing, child poverty, high adult unemployment and long term ill health.

    Surely that is the telling story of Labour in power in Scotland, especially Glasgow, where the gap between the poor and the well-off has grown wider.

    It is a pity that the BBC Scotland's evident Labour sympathies prevent it from telling that bigger story.

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  • 17. At 10:11pm on 30 Jun 2008, Langspune wrote:

    I would be surprised if labour lost this. Glasgow is labour heartland with a solid party machine .
    The main challenger, the SNP, would need to select a considerable candidate to come close to winning and put in significant campaign resources.
    would discount the Sheridan impact, he is politically damaged.
    Agree with some bloggers that labour record is less than impressive, although the local labour council can talk a good game on regeneration programmes

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  • 18. At 10:19pm on 30 Jun 2008, govanite wrote:

    To the good people of the East End, for over 100 years and in good faith, your fore-fathers voted Labour.
    Your reward for this loyalty has been to live with the worst poverty and crime in Western Europe.
    Many of you will be lucky to see your 65th birthday. Meanwhile your elected Labour representatives have built careers on the back of your support.
    You do not honour the memory of your fathers by betraying the future of their grandchildren.
    This July you will have the chance to make your voices heard loud and clear.
    You can join the people of Hamilton and Govan as among those who stood to say 'enough is enough'.
    Go ahead, bring it on.

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  • 19. At 10:47pm on 30 Jun 2008, scotstoun_voter wrote:

    oh how i laugh mr sherridan entering the race well yes let him he might do a impression of labour in henlay on thames- what was his result in 2007 wipe out so i dont think he has any chance here.

    Intresting battle is ahead over poverty and fear9vote you know who if you want to keep your hoose- it use to be said in glasgow) or hope and the future.

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  • 20. At 10:56pm on 30 Jun 2008, cynicalHighlander wrote:

    Having never been to the Eastend of Glasgow it seems to be a very run down and dreary area!

    This quote by the retiring politician...

    David Marshall said after the 2005 election: On his proudest achievement in parliament since 1997: "At parliamentary level, chairing the Scottish affairs select committee and producing the committee's authoritative, important and substantial report in poverty in Scotland. At constituency level, continuing to help my constituents in every way that I can."

    Good at writing reports not a lot else from the sound of it.

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  • 21. At 11:34pm on 30 Jun 2008, sacrebleu1 wrote:

    Male life expectancy is higher in some African countries than it is in Shettleston, thanks to Labour's many years of misrule and neglect.

    I hope the locals have the good sense to take this opportunity to make a difference.

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  • 22. At 11:35pm on 30 Jun 2008, EammonEccie wrote:

    I don't think we have the full story yet.

    Consider the undisputed facts.

    First, the very last thing Gordon Brown wants or needs is another by-election. We may safely assume that if he had a choice he would do all in his power to avoid having to contest this seat at this time.

    Second, Mr Marshall's apparent ill-health is said to be a stress related condition. There is no suggestion of any grave physical condition.

    Third, political parties of all hues habitually manipulate the timing of resignations for partisan advantage. Gravely ill MPs were literally carried into the chamber to vote in the last days of the Callaghan government, and pretty much every party works to the general rule that resignations in mid term are avoided unless there is absolutely no choice (cf the current nonsense with Jack McConnell).

    The conclusion from the foregoing is that if the only issue was Mr Marshall's health then a way could and would be found to avoid a by-election. He would take an extended period of sick leave. His colleagues would assist with the constituency business. He would stand down from any committees etc. They would either formally pair him with a Tory or just do without his vote. At an appropriate juncture he would announce that he would not seek nomination for 2010 and would stand down at the general election. At the very least the foregoing could be used to defer the by election significantly.

    I can see no reason whatsoever for having this by election now. Unless something will inevitably come out later in the year that will be even worse and the by election is truly the least bad option for Brown.

    Over to the media to do some digging. There is definitely a story in there somewhere and we are witnessing an attempt by Labour to close it down by rushing the resignation and by-election through.

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  • 23. At 11:41pm on 30 Jun 2008, GRhino wrote:

    This will be an interesting by-election, but honestly New Labour will win, with around a 4000-5000 seat majority on a reduced turnout.

    This is after all "ma da voted Labour so am voting Labour" teritory.

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  • 24. At 11:42pm on 30 Jun 2008, stouff wrote:

    I really hope the SNP don't select Lachie McNeill to stand against the cabbage with the red rosette. I suspect he was selected in the past to contest this seat as it was never considered 'in play'. I think if the Nats had a high profile candidate (like Nicola Sturgeon in Govan) that they could genuinely contest this seat with a view to winning it. Campaigning on local issues here will be a poisoned chalice for the labour candidate, as it's immediately obvious that the electorate here is taken for granted. I live in Garrowhill, and the lack of investment in the Baillieston area is a damning indictment of the contempt with which labour treats it's heartlands. Their only hope of victory is that the red tinted glasses brigade outnumber the disaffected. I hope that this isn't the case for once.

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  • 25. At 11:54pm on 30 Jun 2008, siberius1 wrote:

    I live in the constituency and can confirm that it is generally grim and with few bright spots. However, there is evidence of regeneration in several new housing developments and the prospect of the 2014 Commonwealth Games has brought some optimism. How many local people are working on these things though? Labour has treated the voters here with contempt for years and the only way they'll listen seriously to their supposed core vote is if they're kicked out at this by-election. At the last General Election they just didn't bother campaigning as they didn't need to!

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  • 26. At 00:57am on 01 Jul 2008, Chris Brown wrote:

    You guys are all just so 'on message' all the time. It’s real cool from a technical point of view. But it makes the debate a bit boring.

    I get that you support the SNP but must every anecdote involve a political epiphany. These bloggs are becoming a bit predicable we could get Brian to write our entries for us (it would save us all some time).

    O here’s my two pennies worth…

    I agree Labour may take a dubbing in this by-election and it will be good to see the SNP pay some interest to the poor for once (as opposed to giving away million to middle class students).

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  • 27. At 04:50am on 01 Jul 2008, scot2010 wrote:

    Labour have been peddling the same old drivel for years, ie "We are the only ones who care for the poor and the working man". Up until recently, a lot of people were taken in by this. The rank poverty, third world life expectancy, drug addiction (legal and illegal) and shear desperation of the lives of many in places like Glasgow East give lie to Labour's "caring" image. They have had 11 years in government to make a difference, but they would rather give tax cuts to the middle classes than invest real money and effort to tackle such issues. Being Glaswegians, I hope the people in this constituency say "aye right!" to Labour's lies and vote for the party of hope and vision, the SNP.

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  • 28. At 07:12am on 01 Jul 2008, Wansanshoo wrote:

    David Marshall employed not one, but two family members, he claimed a staffing allowance of £75,245 for 2006/2007. His wife and daughter have done particularly well at the taxpayers expense. Could this be the reason why he voted against transparency on MP's expenses ?

    There is more than a suggestion in London that Mr Marshall's suffering from no more than a double bout of ''expenses blues''

    Get Well Soon David, Wansanshoo.

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  • 29. At 07:47am on 01 Jul 2008, Topher Allan wrote:

    Quoting from yesterday's Herald:

    The SNP will select a candidate this week and campaign on fuel, the economy, the windfall from oil revenues and the 10p tax rate. Labour, whose likely candidate is local councillor George Ryan, think the key issues are knife crime and the consequences of the SNP's local income tax proposals.

    Interesting that the SNP will campaigning on issues reserved to Westminster, whereas Labour will be campaigning on issues dealt with at Holyrood, and thus irrelevant to this by-election.

    The BBC noted that Marshall was a strong opponent of replacing Trident. Here's hoping his replacement, from whatever party, is similarly minded.

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  • 30. At 08:36am on 01 Jul 2008, Wansanshoo wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 31. At 08:46am on 01 Jul 2008, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Could the King Of Swing Tommy Sheridan possibly get enough Labour votes to allow the SNP to snatch victory, I suspect not, however a vastly reduced majority victory for Labour would still be classed as unacceptable.

    Mr Sheridan will be confined ( if standing) to a third party onlooker, a position I'm told he is familiar with.


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  • 32. At 09:22am on 01 Jul 2008, EammonEccie wrote:

    Re Tommy Sheridan, I don't think it should be assumed that he would only take votes from Labour. Particuarly in a constituency like this he would provide a natural home for a significant body of what we might call old labour traditionalists and also a good numbe of protest voters. If he doesn't stand a good number of those might otherwise vote SNP.

    He won't win or come anywhere close to it, but with a low turnout to be expected the votes he would get could be decisive. I imagine that the SNP would be far happier without him on the ballot paper.

    Difficult call for the SNP this. They have to decide whether they really think they can win it, and if so whether they really want to. Its no secret that they did not want Wendy Alexander to resign and I imagine the same is true of Gordon Brown. If they go all out for a victory and then don't get it they lose momentum and Labour get a bigger bounce. There is a school of thought that the SNP would do better to target a close second.

    Either way I don't think Lachie McNeill will be the candidate .

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  • 33. At 09:40am on 01 Jul 2008, george wrote:

    Labour to campaign on local issues? More poverty, more unemployment, more bad health and housing? Would be funny if it wasn't so tragic for the people who live there. It would be nice to hear a resident of Glasgow East come on here with their views on what Labour has done for them. Having been born and brought up in Lanarkshire before finding a life and career elsewhere, i look back at the place i knew and remember the local Labour party who never did anything for anybody except the members of the local Labour Mafia. If you wanted a job with the Council or a council house, your chances were so much better if you were on terms with the family or familes who made up the local party inner circle. Remember good old Monklands District Council? They even managed to add sectarianism to the mix where if you came from Airdrie you were on to a loser. In the By-Election which followed the death of John Smith, Helen Liddle dismissed these allegation as ' tittle tattle ' but after knocking on a few doors in Airdrie and realising that nobody agreed with her, she then cynically called for a public enquiry which needless to say never materialised after people were duped into votinf for her. Would the SNP do anything to improve life for the residents of Glasgow East? I don't know. Could they make any worse? No? Could Labour improve things for them? They've had the chance to do so and they haven't so how can anyone be worse off by at least giving someone else a chance, what is their to lose?

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  • 34. At 10:06am on 01 Jul 2008, KWak22 wrote:

    I don't live in the East End of Glasgow so sadly I am not able to vote in this election, but living in another of Labour's scottish seats I would love to be able to have an oppertunity to send a message of "thanks" to Mr Brown for all that he has done for Scotland.... and that is the shame here. People are not looking at the strengths of the alternate candidates, nor are they debating the political aims and goals of the party they belong to - people simply want Labour out and seem to want to support anyone else who can do this, and that for me is tragic. It seems to me that the East End of Glasgow desperately needs someone who will fight their case and work to get them the resources they need to help them regenerate their community, but instead the election will be fought on different issues on a national stage with all the focus and media attention about whether Gordon Brown can survive another by-election humiliation. Perhaps the electorate should stay at home this time - send a message that you don't care about us - so really we don't care about you either.....

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  • 35. At 11:20am on 01 Jul 2008, DisgustedDorothy wrote:

    Glad you liked him Brian, now how about checking the rumour ,printed in the newspapers about his expenses?

    I feel there is more to come on that particular story .
    Call it curiosity but I'd like to know !

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  • 36. At 11:34am on 01 Jul 2008, Wansanshoo wrote:

    I beg to differ in respect of Tommy Sheridan taking any sizeable chunk of SNP votes in Glasgow East. The constituents I believe would look to the left of Labour, which of course brings into play that self acclaimed 'socialist and internationalist' Tommy Sheridan. One has to wonder if Rupert Murdoch considers himself an 'internationalist' too ?

    George Galloway is another who springs to mind, but I assume George would only give up the Westminster 'Gravy Train' for Holywood but not Holyrood.

    Red Ken Livingstone is also available, although he intends to go back to radio, surely not Tommy's old job ?


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  • 37. At 11:43am on 01 Jul 2008, lindsayg wrote:

    However nice he used to be when he was in London, he can't have been doing much for his constituents when he was up here.

    I know the Shettleston area very well, and if I lived there I'd feel *very* aggrieved at how badly the place has been left to rot; bricks and mortar and human beings alike.

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  • 38. At 12:01pm on 01 Jul 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    This is one of the better blogs. Even Thomas, #4, has got someone else to write for him.
    Surely the SNP can win this? One of Europe's most deprived constituencies, a long-serving and allegedly well-heeled MP who has made not a jot of difference, Labour in panic and disarray, no Lib-Dem or Tory with any hope, it's impossible to lose.
    Neither the SNP nor Labour appear to have anyone of stature prepared to risk humiliation, however. That's exactly what it will be for the loser.
    Tommy Sheridan? (a third party onlooker, standing - Wansanshoe - ouch!) does he really believe there's anyone left to give a toss about him?
    This will be the most interesting election in Scotland for decades... unless you live in Shettleston. Half the voters are unaware it's happening and the other half don't care.
    One thing is certain: party spokesman on all sides will have their post-match speeches written already. "It's a triumphant night for SNP/Labour" or "Everything was against us, but we almost made it." Nobody ever just loses.

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  • 39. At 12:11pm on 01 Jul 2008, Fit Like wrote:

    #38 - Steady on there with the cynicsm, John. You are in danger of putting me out of a job.

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  • 40. At 12:15pm on 01 Jul 2008, Soundseed wrote:


    Next to find yourself in some run down estate, having life changing experiences, remember this: Margaret Thatcher and thew tories got into power and wreaked 18 years of havoc on Scotland (and many other parts of the UK), as a direct consequence of the SNP withdrawing its support for the then labour government. So when you look at the legacy of destruction which labour has had to repair - remember that SNP short sighted narrow self interest was directly responsible.

    Trying to positively change a place like Easterhouse - or any of the thousands of poverty traps in the UK takes money, commitment, imagination and a lot of time. There is no magic wand that can suddenly change things for the better.

    I'm the first to agree that labour and both Blair and Brown have made mistakes, but lets be balanced here: 18 years of tory policies completely and utterly wiped out Scotland's industrial base... and the SNP gave them the keys. What in the past 11 years of labour government even begins to compare?

    Child tax credit, minimum wage, free nursery places, more teachers, more teaching assistants, doctors, nurses, smaller class sizes, child trust fund, all sorts of improvements in workers rights; huge numbers of children and pensioners lifted out of poverty, and oh... devolution for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland.

    I think its fair to say this a government that does care.

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  • 41. At 12:25pm on 01 Jul 2008, DisgustedDorothy wrote:

    Pensioners ROBBED.
    More deprivation and child poverty!

    You are deceiving yourself with the " caring Government " routine !

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  • 42. At 12:37pm on 01 Jul 2008, Ziggy_Stardust wrote:

    Soundseed #40

    Your point on Thatcher wiping out Scotland's industrial base - in my view this was caused by the low level of productivity caused by union strength in the 60's and 70's leading to inefficient working practices. Thatcher wasn't responsible for that.

    Yes Thatcher didn't help, but ultimately manufacturing went east because of high wage costs and low productivity. In my view Thatcher's relentless battle with the unions is what opened the door for the 14yrs of uninterupted growth we have enjoyed since 1994.

    The paradox in my view is that the stronger the unions are and the stronger employment legislation is, the higher is unemployment.

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  • 43. At 12:52pm on 01 Jul 2008, Anaxim wrote:

    "18 years of tory policies completely and utterly wiped out Scotland's industrial base..."

    Believe it or not, Scotland still has an industrial base making things like CPUs, contact lenses and pharmaceuticals. Remember Silicon Glen? That took a hit during the tech crunch in the first years of this century, but it's still there.

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  • 44. At 12:54pm on 01 Jul 2008, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:


    Are you saying that the 'Winter of Discontent' Government was fit to carry on to 1983???

    Labour have always been characteristically desperate to hang the blame for their recurring failures on any convenient hook other than their own - just witness Wendy's parting performance!

    If Labour's blinkered followers persist in regurgitating this 1979 myth over and over, can they at least join up all the dots for once and show both sides of their skewed picture.

    YES, the SNP withdrew support for the lame-duck Labour government - because Labour reneged on key pledges for Scotland which were critical deal-breakers - probably to further their own narrow self interest.

    In any case, there was never a chance of reprieve for such a self-imploding government.
    The public, and probably half of Labour's own MPs, were desperate to be rid of them.

    What we got, inevitably was Thatcher.

    Labour, meanwhile, spent 18 years in the wilderness as a largely irrelevant and completely ineffectual opposition - particularly where Scotland was concerned.

    Is any of that starting to look familiar??

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  • 45. At 12:55pm on 01 Jul 2008, CynicalAli wrote:


    Your assertion that Labour has been good for the Health Services of this country is frankly laughable. Speaking as a person close to a Primary Care the policies forced upon the provision of Primary Care are neither in the benefit of the Health Service professionals or improve the quality of care provided to the public, the converse is the case. The biggest tragedy is that the SNP have been the stooges doing Brown's work for him, the proposed extended opening hours being an example of this, there is no point in doctors being in surgery if there is no funding for nursing and ancillary staff required to perform the 9-5 duties.
    Please can somebody out there please stand up for the common man and provide a health service and a means to escape from poverty that the people of Glasgow East deserve.

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  • 46. At 1:12pm on 01 Jul 2008, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Soundseed, please copy and paste the link to your browser, it contains hundreds of sleaze, corruption, nepotism and illegal offences committed by this goverment.

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  • 47. At 1:12pm on 01 Jul 2008, hollygolitely wrote:

    Point 1. There is NOTHING in westminister or Scottish Parliamentary rules that forbids MP's from emplying family members. What is forbidden is paying a person for a job they are not doing. Something which I believe a Tory, not a Labour MP, was found guilty of. Can I ask how many SNP party members, MPs, or MSP's employ family members? Or would that be below the belt? The SNP seem to be very good at giving a kicking to someone when they're down (which to me really seems at odds with their new found caring, compassionate image), but I would ask whether they could take it if the boot was on the other foot?

    If there is a flagrant breach of an expenses system then by all means, be suitably outraged, but what these bloggers are indulging in at the moment has the nasty smell of witchhunt about it to me.

    Not content with driving a perfectly healthy party leader out of their job, the people on this blog are now hounding a man who is too ill to do his, and has already stepped down. Classy. Did you all run out of colleagues of your own to gossip about?

    Point 2: All this posturing about the working man of Govan rings a little hollow. Is it just me or is anyone else wondering whether the SNP are really all that bothered about irradicating poverty in Glasgow, or is their real agenda to use the constituency to score political points against Gordon Brown? The whole thing is eerily similar to George Galloway, Respect, and Tower Hamlets....

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  • 48. At 1:14pm on 01 Jul 2008, Wansanshoo wrote:

    Soundseed, please copy and paste the link to your browser, it contains hundreds of sleaze, corruption, nepotism and illegal offences committed by this goverment.

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  • 49. At 1:46pm on 01 Jul 2008, Baxota wrote:

    Labour are truly dreadful and their grip on power is slipping by the day. However the SNP are just as big a bunch of duplicitous goons as ever graced the political scene. The big difference is that they have yet to show their real face, at least not openly. They are up there with the worst of them. Mr Salmond, the arch political animal, lest anyone forgets, is in the process of trying to pull off a spectacular con trick and he will meet his political maker at some stage down the line. Giving Labour a kicking is now a national sport and heaven knows they deserve it but I think it wise, in Scotland, to look behing the smug smiles and nauseating arrogance of the SNP.

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  • 50. At 1:46pm on 01 Jul 2008, bawsupoantheslates wrote:

    I fully expect 'New' Labour to retain this seat in the by-election. My reasoning? BBC Scotland sent a reporter to an area with the worst mortality rates in the UK and asked the Labour supporters what they though of what was being done for the area. "They're trying their best", was the washing machine tries its best as well.

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  • 51. At 1:51pm on 01 Jul 2008, inmykip wrote:

    #47, hollygolightly, Point 2, in all the years Labour have controlled Glasgow they have single handedly failed to eradicate poverty and social deprevation from Glasgow, why?

    The SNP do not need to score political points against either Wendy Alexander or Gordon Brown, both these people are quite capable of scoring them against themselves and having people in their own party score them against them also. If you are looking to hang the blame for Labours troubles on someone then you should look within the party.

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  • 52. At 1:53pm on 01 Jul 2008, george wrote:

    You almost had me convinced for a moment that New Labour had actually achieved something, but, is there anyone, anywhere, who really believes that the NHS, Schools, Public Transport and Crime have become better under Labour? Tony Blair wanted to leave a legagy, he certainly did, he will be remembered as the biggest fraud ever to enter Downing Street. I'm still waiting for someone to come on here and say we should all vote Labour because of their honesty, integrity and transparency, their must be someone, somewhere, who believes this. Labour are in meltdown everywhere, and deservedly so, just a pity that Blair didn't stay on for the humilation, but i suppose going on free holidays is preferable to clearing up the mess he left behind or meeting the bodies from his illegal wars. Oh how i miss his little nuggets like ' Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime ' Perhaps #40 would like to tell me what he did to fulfill this as whatever he did,i missesit.

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  • 53. At 1:57pm on 01 Jul 2008, minceandmealie wrote:


    As Margaret Thatcher and her cronies destroyed the economies of traditional manufacturing districts such as the East End of Glasgow, the self-styled 'fighting fifty' Labour MPs sat on their hands and sacrificed the interests of their constituencies to protect the Union and the Labour party. Everlasting shame on them. The effect of their inaction can be seen in far too many parts of Scotland.

    Do you seriously believe that Shettleston, Baillieston, Garrrowhill, Airdrie, Coatbridge, Motherwell, Wishaw, Paisley, Coatbridge, Bellshill, Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, Rutherglen, Cambuslang et al are better off for being governed by London for the last thirty years, and from waving goodbye to the £230 billion that the UK treasury has recieved from North Sea oil in the last thirty years?

    If you do believe that, can I recommend Voltaire's "Candide" as bedside reading?

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  • 54. At 2:06pm on 01 Jul 2008, enneffess wrote:

    If Labour lose this then I think Gordon Brown is finished. But even if he is replaced I cannot see them even coming close to a general election victory.

    Saying that, the SNP have to be careful how they campaign. Patronisng styles will fall flat. Voters here want honest, straightforward answers.

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  • 55. At 2:13pm on 01 Jul 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    I'm torn apart between sympathy for the genuine poor and disgust for the opportunists in the "poverty industry" who have grown fat on their backs. If the by-election is to be fought on deprivation issues, I think we need a sharper focus than whether the SNP let Thatcher ravage Scotland. (Absolute nonsense, by the way. #44 is about right).
    Glasgow East had more spoiled papers than most last time. Why? It has more sick and disabled registered than almost anywhere in Europe. Why? Huge numbers unemployed. Why? More child poverty. Why?

    Spoiled papers: Despite the hullaballoo, the average 10-year-old could understand the voting system. Draw your own conclusions.
    Sick and disabled: Could fags and booze be involved? Drugs and poor food choices? (absolutely nothing to do with cost, by the way). And Labour shoved people on to disability allowance to get them off the dole figures, so opening loopholes that make anyone with a stubbed toe eligible.
    Unemployment: People with low horizons and few ambitions are insufficiently motivated to look further than their vast collection of state benefits, plus what they can fiddle on the black economy.
    Child poverty: The most vexing of all. So long as it's measured at 60% of average household income, then it will always be there, mathematically speaking. But it is actually very rare to see a child who really looks poor, certainly compared to world blackspots. We need a method of tackling it individually rather than statistically. Statistics lie.
    Outreach projects? Reaching out for money for nothing.

    Now, for the pedants and nitpickers, these points are generalisations. Not everybody is guilty of everything. But there is enough visible to any passer-by to make a generalisation. Of course help is needed, but let's hear about that rather than shooting messengers.
    I know I'll get slaughtered for this, but if one or two of the election candidates would confront these things head-on instead of pussy-footing, the East End might see the start of a fightback.
    And please, it sholdn't be party political.

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  • 56. At 2:24pm on 01 Jul 2008, inmykip wrote:

    #55, I'm shocked, for once I completely agree with the Brig.

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  • 57. At 2:28pm on 01 Jul 2008, Ziggy_Stardust wrote:

    #55, brigadierjohn - hear hear I say

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  • 58. At 2:37pm on 01 Jul 2008, bawsupoantheslates wrote:

    Can't see you getting slaughtered for that one brigadierjohn, unless of course if there's anyone who is against progression and common sense.

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  • 59. At 2:40pm on 01 Jul 2008, william1957 wrote:


    I am not a Labour supporter, but just what could they have done to eradicate poverty in Glasgow other than take more money of of taxpayer's pockets? The jobs have gone elsewhere, to other parts of Scotland, the UK, or further afield.

    If we want to eradicate poverty in Scotland perhaps, we should consider the following:

    1. Create an environment where businesses want to invest and expand;

    2. Attract the right kind of businesses and enterprise to invest in Scotland;

    3. Have a highly educated, flexible workforce;

    4. Allow those who are earning to keep as much as they reasonably can: do not tax the life out of us.

    The best way to eradicate poverty is to create wealth and jobs, allow people, within reason, to keep a fair proportion of what they earn, and let them spend or invest it the way they see fit;

    Sadly, politics in Scotland leans too far to the left to realise this.

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  • 60. At 2:41pm on 01 Jul 2008, Hituro wrote:

    I can only hope, that at a time when such unprecedented attention is being paid to an election in Glasgow East that a greater proportion of the people turn out to vote than the 43.7% last time around.

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  • 61. At 2:42pm on 01 Jul 2008, richglasgowprincess wrote:

    Brig , normally I disagree with pretty much everything you say, but on this your right.

    But how do we solve it.... and no I dont believe party politics is the answer.

    But we do need fresh thinking, not the same people who have been in control for years , feeding off the poverty industry.

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  • 62. At 2:50pm on 01 Jul 2008, Nezavisimost wrote:

    Dear Soundseed,

    Maybe I should have included the Tories, same difference to me – both have brutally maintained the warped decision making structures of Westminster which have such a detrimental effect on Scotland. As you point out being mercilessly de-industrialised by London, while at the same time being an oil producing nation with massive annual surplus funding the very economic ‘miracle’ of Thatcherism.

    The entire period which you describe the Labour, and Conservative, Party in Scotland knowingly lied, deceived and scared their own voters and constituents in order to maintain the very system that was of such detriment to our nation using every back handed technique possible.

    The UK Labour Government have had their achievements, no one can deny that, but if you think, looking at our neighbours in northern Europe, Scotland would not be a more socially just place as an independent country then you are suffering from the same poverty of imagination and ambition that is rife in the, rapidly shrinking, ‘Scottish’ Labour Party.

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  • 63. At 2:53pm on 01 Jul 2008, Nezavisimost wrote:

    William 1957

    Unfortunately, the powers which you describe are only afforded to normal independent countries.

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  • 64. At 3:10pm on 01 Jul 2008, Wansanshoo wrote:

    At a recent conference hosted by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, speakers were invited to offer their perspective on the government's pledge to eradicate child poverty, and its recent progress towards this target. While most speakers expressed scepticism about the possibility of eradicating child poverty - not even the most egalitarian of countries has managed that - there was widespread optimism about the government's pledge, and a general belief that poverty was being steadily reduced.

    These are the facts: the number of children living in poverty (defined as households with less than 60% of median income) has fallen by half a million since 1997 and now stands at four million. Good progress? Well, it's certainly a reversal of a trend of annually increasing child poverty rates that started in the 1980s and led to Britain having one of the highest child poverty rates in the western world by the early 90s.

    But since the early 90s, the story is more ambiguous. A steady decline in child poverty between 1992/3 and 1995/6 was interrupted by a sharp increase in 1996/7, and has continued to fall. So the real story is that, since 1990, child poverty has remained roughly constant, the current rate being about the same as it was 6 years ago.

    What's interesting is that the fall in the mid-90s was under a Conservative government with no particular predilection for reducing poverty. However, the fall since 1997 has been under a Labour government with a concrete pledge to reduce poverty, one which has substantially increased benefit levels, and overseen falling levels of unemployment.

    Looked at this way, the real puzzle is why poverty has not fallen at a sharper rate since 1997 as it did in the mid-90s. 1991/2 did see some increases in child benefit, family credit and child allowances. But they were nothing like on the scale of the reforms introduced since 1997 which, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies, have seen average spending per child through the social security system rise by a historically unprecedented 44% in real terms.

    So why is this? Well, the real explanation has to do with increases in incomes. Because the median income measure of poverty is a measure of the gap between low incomes and the rest, it is quite possible for the poverty rate to fall as a result of recession. During recessions, the gap between those on low incomes and the rest often falls because benefit levels are more robust than wages.

    The principal difference between the fall of the early 90s and the fall since 1997 is that the former occurred at the tail-end of a recession, but the latter occurred during and following a period of substantial economic growth. Between 1990/1 and 1992/3 median income was constant, before growing at a rate of about 2% per annum until 1995/6. But since 1997 median income has risen at an average of 3.5% per annum. This means that the poverty line, which was static or rising slowly during the early to mid-90s, has been rising fast since 1997.

    So, paradoxically, the fall in poverty during the Major years was relatively easy to achieve because of the economic failure of the early 1990s, while the Blair government has found it much harder to reduce poverty because they have managed to maintain strong economic growth. The lesson is that if the government wants merely to keep the child poverty rate constant, it had better (at the very least) index its key benefits to increases in median incomes. If it wants to reduce child poverty, it must consistently raise benefit levels above increases in median incomes.

    The new child tax credit introduced in April may go some way to achieving this, but recent work by David Piachaud and Holly Sutherland of the LSE has shown that it is unlikely to be sufficient to meet the government's ambitious target of reducing child poverty by a quarter by 2004. What's more, further increases are likely to be unpalatable in an environment of steeply increasing public debt.

    When, or if, the government's appetite to increase benefit levels runs out, the upshot will be that it will have to choose between either maintaining economic growth or reducing child poverty. It cannot have both.

    · Tom Startup is a researcher at the Social Market Foundation,,

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  • 65. At 3:13pm on 01 Jul 2008, Richard_the_Rogue wrote:

    #44 Dougie-Dubh is spot on, #63 Nezavisimost also, and I agree with #55 the Brigadier too, for once.

    Sadly though, many, many voters in Glasgow East will unthinkingly vote Labour because their fathers and grandfathers before them always did. It's like watching a puppy repeatedly return to the master that beats it.

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  • 66. At 3:32pm on 01 Jul 2008, Tom wrote:

    For once we all agree on something.

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  • 67. At 3:54pm on 01 Jul 2008, Blackivar wrote:

    Out of curiosity, how many people posting actually live in Glasgow East?

    From some of the comments, I'm guessing not many - we have people referring to Shettleston as if it were downtown Basra.

    It isn't.

    Baillieston is rough, in parts, even still it is not a warzone. True, Glasgow East takes in part some of Easterhouse, but even its reputation is overegged for the most part.

    And yes, Shettleston has one of the lowest life expectancies in Europe, but that has more to do with the hard living approach of the residents, than with poverty. There are more smokers per head of population there than there are in it's neighbouring consituencies - smoking's bad for you in case you didn't know.

    Not that that should stop a good old attack on the "what have Labour ever done for us?" argument.

    And there has been investment too, there are substantial new housing developments all over the area.

    Regardless, I just thought I'd speak out for the area.

    And on topic, Labour will win this, probably not by such a huge majority, but it will still be a clear win. Despite what some of the more enthusiastic posters seem to think, the SNP have not made great inroads into Glasgow - it is still and probably, unfortunately, always will be a Labour stronghold.

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  • 68. At 3:58pm on 01 Jul 2008, Red Lenin wrote:

    I think the reality of this is that Labour will hold the seat with a massively reduced majority. They will somehow attempt to 'spin' this into a victory-proper, look even more foolish and lacking in credibility in doing so (if that's possible) and continue blithely on their way to 2010's oblivion.

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  • 69. At 4:06pm on 01 Jul 2008, BoNG0_1 wrote:

    I will be voting SNP... Can't wait!!!

    Neo-Labour have done nothing for the East End of Glasgow in 50 years. If they spent more time (and money) caring for their own people rather than bombing the poor people of Iraq and Arghanistan (Illegally) to grab oil for their rich freinds in the South-East of England, maybe these Labour war criminals would be less despised.

    To all you Neo-con, Neo labour backers... In Bendy's own words...

    "BRING IT ON !!!"

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  • 70. At 4:22pm on 01 Jul 2008, Chris Morrison wrote:

    I agree completely with blackivar in #67. The east end isn't that bad.

    There is not a hope of the SNP winning this by election. The labour party could let a 3 year old stand for the seat and it would still win.

    The labour majority should however be slashed. For me a good result for the SNP would be to reduce the majority to around the 8000 mark. That would be a massive gain for one of the most labour seats in the country.

    Maybe the SNP would have a chance of winning if they had Elaine C Smith stand! Now that would be good banter!

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  • 71. At 4:23pm on 01 Jul 2008, william1957 wrote:


    Not necessarily, apart from setting tax rates, I think Scotland could have managed to implement the first three, albeit partially, had the will been there.

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  • 72. At 4:35pm on 01 Jul 2008, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Re #40 from Soundseed: I think its fair to say this a government that does care

    True - it cares a great deal about staying in power.

    There is precious little evidence that it ever thought about its "core vote" and they deserve a good kicking for that alone - perhaps two if David Marshall's dirty linen gets properly washed in public.

    I've been an expat since the darkest days of Thatcherism so no longer have a UK vote, but the SNP certainly seems the leastworst choice in this by-election for anyone who would have voted Labour before Bliar replaced Smith.

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  • 73. At 4:38pm on 01 Jul 2008, minceandmealie wrote:


    I don't live in the East End of Glasgow, but I have relatives who do. I recently drove doen Main Street Baillieston for the first time in a while and I was shocked at how knackered it is. Not Basra, sure, but it could be Belarus.

    Up on the Edinburgh Road it looks a wee bit nicer, until you realise that newish pub is also known as the 'diner of death' after a series of truly unfortunate events.

    The public aesthetic doesn't count for that much compared with the health and econimic statistics. That one about 'hard living' being the (strangely cheerful sounding) cause of the area having the worst health statistics of any parliamentary constituency in Britain is getting pretty close to black comedy. Reckless playboys! I remember reading a feature in the Herald a couple of years ago where they interviewed a doctor with a surgery in Shettleston Road...this is Scotland in the 21st century, and the shocking lifestyles and resultant death rates are morally indefensible as well as economically disastrous.

    Building a few clumps of newish yellow brick houses here and there is not fixing this. It has been going on long enough. Whatever happened to the GEAR project?

    And Thatcher is not innocent in this story, Tory posters. You would think from some of the praise above that no other country managed to deal with the inevitable technological and social changes of the last thirty years. Actually, most of them managed to do it without creating swathes of third generation unemployed Buckie drinkers. Try Holland or Germany for other models. Scotland had another political choice back in the 70s apart from red suffocation or blue violent assault. Actually, it still does.

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  • 74. At 4:52pm on 01 Jul 2008, Fit Like wrote:

    #70 - It's far worse than that. Labour could probably field Joeseph Stalin as their candidate and, his lamentable hum rights record and the fact that he's been dead for over 50 years aside, they could still reasonably expect to hold the seat.

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  • 75. At 4:56pm on 01 Jul 2008, Ziggy_Stardust wrote:

    Blackivar, although I don't live in the east end any more, I did live in Ruchazie for 2yrs between '88 and '90, and I currently live in another Labour heartland in Lanarkshire which faces similar social problems.

    I drive into work in Glasgow through London road most days and therefore still see what's happening in the east end, and there is some regeneration going on which gives some cause for cheer.

    The thing that bothers me the most though is the poverty of aspiration in many parts of Scotland.

    It strikes me that bigger benefit handouts are not the long term solution to getting out of the cycle of poverty, and that the real answer involves paid employment leading to greater self-worth and confidence.

    So how do we create more employment, and allow aspiration to flourish and be rewarded? The key as far as I'm concerned is business investment. Without business investment the cycle keeps repeating.

    That's why for me, the SNP are worthy of consideration because they 'get it' on business investment. As much as New Labour pretended to 'get it' on business investment down South, with all the talk of the Enterprise economy, the fact is that many many jobs have been created in the public sector rather than the private.

    How many here would say that the Labour party in Scotland has championed the private business sector as the real driver of growth and wealth for all?

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  • 76. At 5:03pm on 01 Jul 2008, william1957 wrote:

    Nezavisimost, re post 62.

    What would you have done? Rather than speak of the de-industrialisation of Scotland, it would be more accurate to speak of its re-industrialisation. The heavy engineering industries in Scotland died because they were inefficient due to under investment compared to other competitors. In addition, the unions held the shipbuilding, coal, and steel industries to ransom through demarcation and excessively high wage claims.

    Would you really have spent Scotland's oil revenue, had it been independent, on sustaining these industries? They were dying; the Conservative government of the time simply hastened their death. I watched pits close in Fife with more than a hint of sadness because I knew I was witnessing the passing of an era and the destruction of the mining communities. However, I was lucky enough to be working in one of the industries that had a future: electronics, computing, and IT.

    A better use of taxpayers’ money would have been to invest in this industry and other similar high-technology industries such as pharmaceuticals with all the necessary financial backing and research infrastructure to accompany them. Sadly, this did not happen. It would not have happened either had Scotland been independent and spent the revenue from the North Sea on dying and dead industries such as shipbuilding, coal, and steel.

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  • 77. At 5:24pm on 01 Jul 2008, Tom wrote:


    Honest words.

    The Conservative Government could of used our own oil wealth to replace these Industries but we of course did not witness this. (to an extent)

    Record levels of unemployment can prove that. For that reason, the Tories will never again gain anything major within Scotland.

    The only thing the Tories done well was limit the power of Trade Unions.

    Of course. I have to disagree with your last statment. If Scotland was Independent then I would suspect that our Government would of closed down these Industries eventually.

    Governments will look for ways to make money to increase their chances of staying in power. I find it hard to accept that even Labour would continue with failed Industries when it risks their position in Government.

    Once these Industries failed on their own terms Labour would be toast you see.

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  • 78. At 5:50pm on 01 Jul 2008, DrLecter wrote:

    #55 Brigadier!

    Ooh la la! Quite a commentary. I'm beginning to suspect you're actually one of my sparring partner colleagues! Eloquent and agreeable. Points well made. Brightened my tiresome end to the day.

    As for the East End of Glasgow, I've actually straw-polled there for research in past years during elections, as one of many constituencies, to determine the mood and reasons for particular votes. As with anywhere, there is solid and sensible reason to be found, but for the most part, and indeed like many areas of the West Coast of Scotland, many people I've encountered have no idea why they vote for a particular candidate, let alone understand the differences between the parties. Family history tends to be the usual unthinking ridiculous response to an inquiry, whilst a vacuous look is guaranteed when I've asked if those locals were aware of the consequences of their voting choice.

    I have family and friends from the East End, but I'm frankly baffled by the sheer collective stupidity of some social groups and their blinkered attitude to the responsibility that the right to vote brings. Education might be an answer, but ultimately, as with the old adage, you can always lead the horse to water...

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  • 79. At 5:56pm on 01 Jul 2008, I'm not Paranoid, they ARE all out to get me!!! wrote:

    At the time, people grew to revile Margaret Thatcher's government - but it is now all too clear the truth of the old adage about absolute power corrupting absolutely.

    When Maggie got into power, she had an agenda - smash the unions, privatise industry, etc. - but once those aims had been achieved, she (and Major) clung to power for power's sake even though they had no more new ideas.

    When Labour got into power in '97, Blair et al also had their (somewhat more modest) agenda, but - having pretty well achieved all of the targets set when in opposition - the party is now floundering and clinging on to power for power's sake.

    Only in Opposition - when they don't have any real work to do (running the country) - do politicians achieve "the vision thing."

    Is it any wonder, with so long to plan, that the SNP has taken so well to governing?


    Alas and alack for poor old David Marshall.

    From pity for his health problems to innuendo and backstabbing within 24 hours.

    Many have already opined to the effect that a sack of spuds draped in red rosettes would carry the day in Marshall's now former constituency; oh, how I hope they are wrong.

    But, even though Labour's supporters would probably rather have a more modern Labour (wo)man, it will be the unreconstructed activitists who dictate the banner-carrier - in all probability, middle-aged, balding, paunchy, and above all a MAN with roots in the trade union movement.

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  • 80. At 6:19pm on 01 Jul 2008, Blackivar wrote:

    cousteau669: "in all probability, middle-aged, balding, paunchy, and above all a MAN with roots in the trade union movement."

    You've met George Ryan then.

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  • 81. At 6:41pm on 01 Jul 2008, gurugordon wrote:

    Disagree about the SNP wanting to retain Broon as Labour Party leader at Westminster.

    It would seem to me that getting rid of him and his so-called Scottish Mafia will further alienate the Labour Party from their former power base in Scotland. Any new English leader is going to be much less sympathetic to Scottish issues and much more interested in Jock bashing with a view to rallying support from the growing anti-Scots faction in the South.

    What better recipe for SNP success in 2011 could there be?

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  • 82. At 7:54pm on 01 Jul 2008, DrLecter wrote:

    81 #

    In reference to the comment re' Jock-bashing; it's a growing phenomenon that's worryingly present amongst the English media.

    A quick perusal of The Times or Evening Standard will yield the tired "Scots are good at spending English money, but not so good at earning it" claptrap. This is no doubt a by-product of resurgent English nationalism, but I do expect much better from some of the broadsheets than to rely on such petty posturing. It has the intended wounding effect of stereotyping; the easiest way to educate the ignorant.

    It's a method deployed by all parties on both sides of the border, whether in the past or currently, and the challenge is to maintain the higher ground in any debate without resorting to the politics of fear.

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  • 83. At 8:11pm on 01 Jul 2008, william1957 wrote:


    You only have to look to France to see the lengths governments will undertake to preserve some industries. I think an independent Scottish government, had it existed, would have tried to preserve the shipbuilding, steel, and coal industries given the historical attachment to them in Scotland in the 1970s and 1980s.

    It would have taken a long time, but the forces that brought about the end of the shipbuilding, steel, and coal industries in Scotland would have done so eventually, whether they were supported or not.

    Nezavisimost's post @62 blamed the Conservative government of the day for the de-industrialisation of Scotland. Not so, it hastened the re-industrialisation of Scotland. However, this is no defence of the policy of that government. Although I could see the necessity of it, the consequences horrified me. In addition, the subsequent re-industrialisation was a serendipitous consequence of the decisions taken, I doubt whether it was planned.

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  • 84. At 8:34pm on 01 Jul 2008, william1957 wrote:


    Dead right, poverty of aspiration is a serious issue facing this country, but it will take more than business investment to sort it out. There is a cultural issue that needs addressing too. I lived in North Lanarkshire for six and a half years and was astonished at the lack of aspiration particularly among teenage boys - less so with girls. The issue was peer pressure: it wasn't 'cool' to get on.

    I grew up in a council scheme in the 1960's where boys from working class families were urged to get on. My mum and dad knew education was a way out for me and encouraged me all the way. I stuck at it, despite pressure from my peers.

    Economics is only part of it, something else is missing in this country and it has nothing to do with politics or who is in charge.

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  • 85. At 8:55pm on 01 Jul 2008, Chris Brown wrote:

    I’m always suspected the average middle class Scot is a Tory at hart. The sub text of many of these posts is the poor of East Glasgow only have them selves to blame. Very Victorian idea that the poor make their own poverty. Question, why should these people vote SNP given the obvious contempt the SNP has for them (at least if this blogg represents the real world in any way)?

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  • 86. At 9:18pm on 01 Jul 2008, Tom wrote:

    "Voters in the constituency are to go to the polls on 24 July, after Labour's chief whip Geoff Hoon moved the writ for the contest in the Commons."

    Looks like we have a date.

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  • 87. At 9:43pm on 01 Jul 2008, cynicalHighlander wrote:


    "Economics is only part of it, something else is missing in this country and it has nothing to do with politics or who is in charge."

    Might be self belief and that those in power are in the job for the good of the country not self promotion which seems to be the norm.

    #55 Brigadier hit the nail on the head.

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  • 88. At 11:48pm on 01 Jul 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #82 DrLecter

    Good comments re "Jock-bashing".

    I made the mistake of looking at the BBC UK blog "Have Your Say", which had multiple postings of people who thought it terribly clever to post "Wendy Who?", and others who suggested that the Scots should hurry up with the referendum to get "the Scots MPs out of here". (I agree with the Brigadier that is is one of the better blogs.)

    It rather reminded me of the anti_English comments common in Scotland in the 1970's (when I was in the SNP) and the 1980's (when I was in Labour for a few years). In other words, the irrational "lashing out" by people who feel that they have no control over their political future, and want to blame someone else.

    One hopes that this will pass, once the English have readjusted to the post-imperial age, and have their own Parliament, for their own affairs. Hopefully, this will simultaneously end their hatred of Europe.

    (I have this vision of Dr Lecter and Brigadierjohn sitting in adjacent offices in the University of ?, blogging to each other!)

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  • 89. At 01:20am on 02 Jul 2008, Chris Brown wrote:

    All these comments about how terrible the Glasgow Labour party’s record is and how useless they have been seem misdirected. Is this not just another case of Scots doing it Scots and blaming the English? Surely after independence the Glasgow Labour party will still be there with all the usual suspects doing whatever it is they do. Maybe their decedents will adjust to the “new post imperial reality” and join the SNP?
    My point is I do not see how independence will solve the problem of old firm politics in Glasgow?
    And is this not the core of the vacuous offering from the SNP? Their axiomatic approach to politics, that being if all problems are caused by the union therefore independence will fix all ills. Unfortunately I don’t think that this is so. Post Independence Scotland’s problems, including the poverty in East Glasgow, will still be there.

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  • 90. At 01:20am on 02 Jul 2008, rog_rocks wrote:

    The deprivation, poor housing, unemployment, poverty, lack of self confidence, poor health, high drug/alcohol dependency, high crime rates, etc seen in Scotland, including in the East end of Glasgow, are symptomatic of one thing; Oppression!

    It is not a matter of whether a Westminster political party leans to the left or to the right; it is a matter of;
    To which country, the government of this political party belongs.

    If a government belongs to any other country, other than our own, then that government will always rule us to that other country's own political and financial advantage.
    This will always mean to our disadvantage i.e. Oppression.

    Surely, the obvious answer to this situation is for the people of Scotland to vote for the government of Scotland, not another country, to rule Scotland.

    This would be positive!!!

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  • 91. At 01:39am on 02 Jul 2008, AmoebaJon wrote:

    In reply to postings like 82 and 88, perhaps an observation from someone that lives in England: Anti Scottish feelings are very common and vocal among almost every one of my friends and work colleagues. It has only come about in recent years and is not a minority thing at all. But to answer where it comes from is not hard.

    The English view the Scottish as rabidly, foam at the mouth anti English racists. Support for Scottish independence is much greater in England than it is in Scotland. English nationalism and the consequent flying of the St George’s flag has arisen purely as a reaction against perceived Scottish racism and the much reported inequities between the two nations. There is also huge resentment for the lack of English government and the (again) perception that unpopular laws are forced through by Scottish Labour MPs voting on English matters. Unfortunately there is a lot of truth in this, but is obviously blown out of proportion by the media.

    I hope this gives a little understanding from the other side, living among the enemy as I do!

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  • 92. At 07:17am on 02 Jul 2008, Mitch wrote:


    Also as a person who has lived in Scotland for the last 15 years (and would never return to England) I would like to agree in part with AmoebaJon's comment, however, I can fully understand the feelings of the Scots towards the English. It is thorugh utter ignorance and the poor media reporting that the English believe the stereotyping of the Scots. Yes I get ribbed mercilessly and fully expect to see football shirts worn of any team playing England but we should not be so precious as to take this as anything but deserved.

    Back to this thread, as far as my politics are concerned, I have voted SNP on the last two occasions; not because I want independance but because the SNP will do their best for Scotland and its people, whereas the Scottish Labour Party will do their best for the Labour Party.

    Give the SNP a chance at this by-election. Let's face it, Labour has been in power for so many fruitless years and by consensus there has been no improvement in Glasgow East during that time.

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  • 93. At 08:29am on 02 Jul 2008, WillieMor wrote:


    Your articles are usually well written and well researched.

    However, in relation to this by election I belive the BBC is being strangely quiet about the reasons and the timing of David Marshall's departure.

    It is of public concern that the Shettleston by-election is being scheduled for the middle of the Glasgow Fair - the peak time when Glaswegians go on hoilday.

    The election is also very sudden, especially when the member is not gravely ill, although stress can be a serious illness.

    There are also rumours that Mr Marshall is being investigated for expenses irregularities regardin payments of some 227,000 pounds to his family.

    These are serious issues that go right to the heart of democracy and I feel that the BBC has not covered these issues properly.

    Bias in an organ of Government, and that is what the BBC is very often is, is an insidious thing.

    So, if I could maybe make a comment, I trust you will use your good offices to a fair airing of the issues of which I have just commented. ( should your journalistic independence be allowed)


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  • 94. At 08:31am on 02 Jul 2008, Anaxim wrote:

    It would be instructive to look at Dundee, once a similar city to Glasgow in many respects, now striding forward quite confidently. Dundee was even more dependent on traditional industries than Glasgow, with the core ones being jute, jam and journalism. Journalism is still there, the rest are gone.

    Perhaps the fact that they are completely gone, and nobody plans to bring them back, is what has helped Dundee re-invent itself. In contrast, Glasgow still has the dregs of the traditional industries, and they get endlessly propped up. Some of our loopier nationalists on this blog want to use the oil money to prop them up even more.

    Culture was mentioned, with the suggestion that the inhabitants of Glasgow themselves are to blame. I'd say that's only half-true. Virtually all depictions of Glasgow are of a rotten, miserable dump, and the inhabitants are practically encouraged to see themselves in this way.

    Stop funding art, fiction or film which depicts Glasgow in this way, and have a word with the media about its relentlessly negative coverage. Add some positive stories.

    For example, the International Astronautical Conference is taking place in Glasgow on the 29th of September. Chances of this appearing as the lead item on the BBC Scotland news website? Practically nil.

    I expect it'll get pushed off by 'mystery hospital bug strikes again' or 'Celtic star loses wallet'.

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  • 95. At 09:26am on 02 Jul 2008, DrLecter wrote:

    Oldnat #88

    I've love to be sat around blogging to the Brig, but I've my suspicions he may be an English cousin, let alone a colleague! Besides I have a real world job and could never find the time to sit around every day with academics deabting the latest paper on some meaningless boring topic! I'd be arrested anyways for GBH within a short time frame I'm sure, as I have little patience for the academics types who choose to live in ivory towers.

    I do agree with many of your comments however. Much of the ludicrous anti-English bias amongst Scots past and present and the fool-born similar response from South of the border is simply lashing out at others for often no good reason. Introspection still seems lost on many fellow Scots (of every age group), and I lament that formative education still refuses to recognise that answers must be sought from within.

    #91 I agree with much of your commentary. As said, the English press are having a field day miseducating their own people, which is a tragedy of gargantuan proportions. It might sell the respective publishers their copy quota of newspapers, but I'd argue that central govt' has much to answer for by failing to constructively chair such a public and very dangerous argument.

    #91 Amoeba had commented rightly about the resentment detected in respect of Scots MP's forcing legislation upon English constituencies in recent times. I've heard many similar arguments in recent years, and the irony of the situation makes me chuckle. I could comment away feverishly all day about the historic imposition of English will and how it has usurped the Scots choice for decades. One only has to think beyond even the Thatcher years to the incompetence of Callaghan and dithering ( and now very public admission of lies and cowardice in respect of North Sea revenue) of Heath. A case perhaps of chickens coming home to roost?

    #93 Fabulous commentary. I'm very curious to see what response this elicits. I know of a similar research case which was presented in the late 90's to BBC Scotland regarding this sort of perceived bias. It met with a worldwide ban from all BBC offices for the individual who presented the work. Just when you thought absolutism might have died a death...

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  • 96. At 09:38am on 02 Jul 2008, jacquesmac wrote:

    re 93


    Don't hold your breath, on here The Herald or The Scotsman for any such balance.

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  • 97. At 10:45am on 02 Jul 2008, nursebill wrote:

    RE 93.It does make one wonder if the investigation was forestalled by the MP's agreeing to go and fall on his sword in agreement for no further action being taken.With things being arranged as fast as they were the issue of the by-election being held during the Fair came a long way down a short list.Or maybe as Mr Cairns said poorer people in this constituency don't go away at the Fair.But maybe that's me just seeing conspiracies everywhere!

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  • 98. At 1:14pm on 02 Jul 2008, delbossco wrote:

    I am rubbing my hands together in anticipation of a by-election in my area.

    Labour keeping it local, that’s a bad strategy. What will they speak about? The rights they have given to knifemen and criminals to ‘avoid jail’, the benefits they have paid out to the ‘lazy non-working classes’, the fuel poverty of working class families or the wars which consume the lives of our ‘local’ soldiers on foreign soil.

    I am no shroud political analyst but if I were in charge of the either SNP, Conservative, Liberals, Greens, Solidarity etc I would be looking to put up ‘one consolidated candidate’ on an anti-labour manifesto, with the sole purpose of delivering a resounded final-bell to Brown and his plastic population in Westminster.

    I grew up under the Tories, I voted Labour with at my first election, I am now seeking the alternative.

    Lets just hope the voting system works this time in Glasgow's East.

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  • 99. At 1:17pm on 02 Jul 2008, Blackivar wrote:

    Saintm: "Let's face it, Labour has been in power for so many fruitless years and by consensus there has been no improvement in Glasgow East during that time."

    Really? Again, I have do ask how many posters actually have any knowledge of Glasgow's east End?

    No improvement? A touch of hyperbole there. Even in the last ten years there has been dramatic change in the city and in the East End and I'm sorry to point out that this happened under labour.

    Everyone seems very quick to gerneralise and damn the East End.

    Now, I am no labour fan, honestly, (I know everyone says that, but io assure you I can never bring myself to vote for them) but there seems to be some very short memories here.

    Yes, Labour could have done more, but to say they have done nothing is ridiculous.

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  • 100. At 1:25pm on 02 Jul 2008, BoNG0_1 wrote:

    Aye, sure looks like David Marshall is another Labour crook...

    ... how many more are there, one thinks?

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  • 101. At 1:27pm on 02 Jul 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    DrLecter and Oldnat: Gonnae geezabrekk? No, I am not English. No, I have never been near a university. Although Higher English from my local school in 1962 probably equates to an MA Hons. today! Even so, Dr Lecter is miles too brainy for me.
    Incidentally, if you want to see Jock-bashing in the raw, take a look at the Guardianunlimited website and see readers' comments on Andy Murray.
    But let's have more on the by-election issues.
    Will we have shades of Margo and Jim in Govan, when the Labour minders would not let the candidates speak publicly for fear of exposing their ignorance to the voters?
    As a sideshow, the Tories and Lib-Dems might wish to field charismatic candidates doomed to lose their deposits, but capable of using the stage to score heavy propaganda points against the terror-stricken Big Two. It should be fun.

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  • 102. At 1:32pm on 02 Jul 2008, delbossco wrote:

    Further to earlier comments by myself... I DO live in the East End of Glasgow. It is a wonderful community to live, in the same way as Partick, Byres Road etc


    Changes, under Labour, to the geography of Glasgow's east end should not be taken as proof of changes to society in Glasgows east end.

    No matter the number of new homes, the new business, the bus lanes, the doctors surgeries, the colleges etc... the point is that society has not changed.

    You are still vastly more at risk of attack, robbery, ill health, poverty, educational dissadvantage etc etc because of where 'we live'.

    These can and are, Labour issues. The came to power on a manifesto for the working class family. They are now more representative of middle to upper class.

    Of course we are all sceptical of Gordon Brown, thats because he is a Scotsman draining the life out of Scotland in everyway he possibly can.

    Keep it local but always have one eye on the bigger picture please Glasgow East.

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  • 103. At 1:32pm on 02 Jul 2008, bighullabaloo wrote:

    "Will we have shades of Margo and Jim in Govan, when the Labour minders would not let the candidates speak publicly for fear of exposing their ignorance to the voters?"

    brigadierjohn - maybe we'll have Charlie Gordon telling us why it's "unappropriate" for him to make any comment.

    Give me strength.

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  • 104. At 1:35pm on 02 Jul 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    Blackvicar: You make fair points about improvements under Labour. However, despite an improved built environment, there seems little change in the mind-set of East End residents. I appreciate that this will take longer. Meanwhile, the grafitti spreads to the new buildings, as an outward sign of the problems within.

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  • 105. At 1:38pm on 02 Jul 2008, MalcolmW2 wrote:

    I concur with those who perceive a rise in "Jock bashing" (verbally only) in England, but having lived there for decades I can tell you that it only started post-devolution in any real sense. The English feel short-changed by the current settlement which gives Scotland a parliament but still sends down MPs who push through unpopular measures like university fees and foundation hospitals, and more recently changes to the planning laws, but for the English only. You can hardly blame them for feeling resentful. Scotland wanted and achieved control of her own domestic affairs. How does it benefit Scotland for her MPs to vote through such matters for England at Westminster? What would Scotland lose if her MPs were prevented from doing so? The answer in both cases is nothing.

    It doesn't help matters that some very public Scottish figures openly admit that they will support any sporting team against England. An unpleasant and juvenile postion to take. Sporting rivalry is fine, but not when it is used as an excuse to mask petty racism. Those who complain about the new-found nationalism south of the border should perhaps look to the behaviour of many of those to its north over decades for an explanation. Too many have confused political aspiration for their own country with a hatred of another.

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  • 106. At 2:01pm on 02 Jul 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    Bighullaballoo: #103 - I think we already know why it's "unappropriate" for him to show his face, never mind speak.

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  • 107. At 2:20pm on 02 Jul 2008, bighullabaloo wrote:

    brigadier john #106 - yes, we do but I think it would be "misapproriate" of me to mention it! ;-)

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  • 108. At 2:24pm on 02 Jul 2008, Wansanshoo wrote:

    105 MalcolmW2

    ''Scotland wanted and acheived domestic control of her own affairs''

    Since when I ask?


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  • 109. At 2:26pm on 02 Jul 2008, Jonathan King wrote:

    Labour will be returned in glasgow east, it is an unfortunate certainty as in many areas of scotland the labour candidate could be a chimp in a suit and the people would vote for it.

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  • 110. At 2:33pm on 02 Jul 2008, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:

    #95, #88, #82, etc.

    By all accounts, the types 'anti-Scottish' journalism that have a tendency to appear in so many sections of the press south of the Border is, surely, in sharp and bizarre contrast to anything reciprocal that would be deemed acceptable in Scotland.

    It is only right and healthy that we in Scotland have established, civilised outlets for democratic political nationalism in the Scottish independence movement, and its various bodies, foremost amongst which is the SNP.

    In the absence, or otherwise, of any such civilised movement, or outlet for any 'English nationalist frustrations', is it acceptable for English journalists, at any level, to indulge in such partisan, ignorant, often vitriolic and frankly irresponsible language against 'the Scots', or anyone else?

    In the real world, regrettably, press and broadcast media journalism may seldom be as impartial or well-informed as it should be.

    However, I would contend that, political bias aside, the Scottish 'quality press' on the whole maintains a healthy and broad-minded balance and approach – and I say that as an independence supporter who has witnessed systematic and often appalling cases of 'nat-bashing' in the Scottish press.

    Indeed, if anything, the tone of maintream Scottish newspapers can often be 'over-deferential' towards the values and sensibilities of the 'Home Counties'.

    If there were so much as a hint of the Scottish press appearing to mirror the kind of flagrant, narrow-minded and ignorant jingoism that seems to be freely used against us by (some) English journalists, sales figures would quickly plummet and the law suits might quickly follow.

    Such bias and abuse should no longer be tolerated as acceptable 'journalism'.

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  • 111. At 2:49pm on 02 Jul 2008, Dunroamin wrote:

    96. The overwhelming majority of the population is repeatedly shown to be against nationalism so naturally the media is against nationalism too.

    The SNP are a minority party with minority support, even when their main rivals are quite spectacularly imploding.

    The SNP and the nationalists actually need to be constantly reminded that they do NOT represent all of Scotland, but only a minority.

    I really don't know how many other ways there are of explaining this!

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  • 112. At 2:57pm on 02 Jul 2008, Roll_On_2010 wrote:

    #4 Thomas_Porter

    13,000 majority is incredibly difficult to defeat but the SNP have been given more then enough firepower from Labour themselves.

    Perhaps the SNP should use the infamous picture of Brown and Thatcher standing on the steps of number 10, on their posters and leaflets. That may help them!

    Possibly with the caption - Who is in charge or spot the difference?

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  • 113. At 3:04pm on 02 Jul 2008, Tom wrote:


    "The overwhelming majority of the population is repeatedly shown to be against nationalism so naturally the media is against nationalism too."

    You would need a referendum to prove your point.

    "The SNP are a minority party with minority support, even when their main rivals are quite spectacularly imploding."

    There has not been a political party who was supported by over 50% of the electorate for decades.

    "The SNP and the nationalists actually need to be constantly reminded that they do NOT represent all of Scotland, but only a minority."

    So would Unionism if you want to make a fuss about it. 50% of people who are able to vote did not vote in the Scottish Parliament. That would put support for the Union at 33% and Independence at about 17% and the rest don't actually care.

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  • 114. At 3:32pm on 02 Jul 2008, AmoebaJon wrote:

    I believe in independence because it is the right thing to do, not if the reasons are racism and greed. Alex Salmond is a very clever and capable man but he is stirring up xenophobia and is using antagonism towards the English as a political weapon. A very clever one that will undoubtedly get the result he desires but at what cost?

    When independence happens it should be on amicable terms. A messy, long, drawn out divorce will help no one.

    Racism is the bogeyman in the closet for us. I have an English accent (due to mostly living there) and have experienced the most unacceptable vitriol because of it. When visiting relatives in Buckie, I find the English are hated with a religious passion. In Oban I have been refused service because I am ‘English’ only to hear ‘It’s ok they are Welsh’ because I was accompanied by a Welsh friend. It is very common to hear English colleagues say I went to live/ work in Scotland and would not return or I went to Scotland British and came home English.

    Institutional racism of this kind is, quite rightly, no longer considered acceptable towards for instance black or Asian people as it was in the 50s. Which is not, I might add, the same as saying it doesn’t exist. Whereas towards the English it is not only unashamedly acceptable but is often the cultural norm.

    The problems of the Scottish DO have the sympathy of the English eg the poll tax when they are not kept ignorant of them. The English do not have it in for us. Should we still hate them for the past’s misdeeds? In the same way, should we still hate the Germans for what the Nazis did?

    For the English it is like their best friend has just kicked them in the ghoolies and ran away.

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  • 115. At 3:36pm on 02 Jul 2008, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:


    In life, we are ALL minorities for the most part.

    Scots are a minority in the UK - as are Londoners (although one could be fooled otherwise by the bias of the media).

    The 'British' are a minority in Europe, and Europeans a minority in the world.

    If democracy means anything, it is about recognising and protecting the interests of minorities - not simply being whitewashed by the majority view.

    Crucially, democracy should be about diversity and freedom of choice.

    People rightly have the choice to support democratic nationalism or not.

    I put it to you, however, that a Scotland without positive nationalism would be culturally neutered and politically toothless.

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  • 116. At 3:58pm on 02 Jul 2008, bighullabaloo wrote:

    Reluctant-Expat -

    How about explaining it this way: you don't have a clue what the "overwhelming majority" of people in this country want - and all you would be able to offer as "proof" of your opinion is the usual tosh cited from those carefully-selected opinion polls that appear to support your beliefs.
    I'm afraid such polls don't "repeatedly show" anything except maybe what's happened in the past. They tell you nothing at all about the future.
    I have some news for you: people come and go. The opinions of those who come isn't always the same as those who go. Times change, beliefs change, situations change, and those who insist on clinging to an unsustainable status quo are destined for extinction.

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  • 117. At 4:07pm on 02 Jul 2008, bighullabaloo wrote:

    thenumberten #109 - yes, and thanks to those ever so tasty expenses the chimp will soon be wearing an Armani suit.

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  • 118. At 4:35pm on 02 Jul 2008, Barbazenzero wrote:

    Roll_On_2010 #112:
    Perhaps the SNP should use the infamous picture of Brown and Thatcher standing on the steps of number 10, on their posters and leaflets. That may help them!

    Possibly with the caption - Who is in charge or spot the difference?

    Priceless. Thank you for making me smile on a grey day.

    I'd suggest "spot the balls" but that probably wouldn't play well locally. Your "spot the difference" should do nicely.

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  • 119. At 11:36pm on 02 Jul 2008, tvkev45 wrote:

    I'm no Labour supporter, but why do people keep blaming them for the East End of Glasgow's health problems? Labour didn't force people there to have bad diets, smoke, take drugs and drink copious amounts of alcohol. People do have minds of their own. It is time people started to take responsibility for their own actions instead of blaming the Government for their poor health.

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  • 120. At 11:59pm on 02 Jul 2008, Tom wrote:


    Labour should of done more to help the East End of Glasgow. It is true you can not rule out the individual but statistics show you also have to include collective responsibility.

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  • 121. At 9:49pm on 28 Dec 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:


    Court news. David Marshall has been appointed to the post of steward and bailiff of the Manor of Northstead.

    [Congrats to David Marshall on his new job...]

    ~Dennis Junior~

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  • 122. At 9:52pm on 28 Dec 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:


    Labour decline: [that happens when a government has govern a country for long time; look at the conservative government they have were in decline until the elections in 1997...and the Labour party came back into office....]

    ~Dennis Junior~

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  • 123. At 9:58pm on 28 Dec 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:


    Different question

    A comparable swing was achieved in Hamilton South in 1999 - yet the SNP fell short.

    Good example, says Labour. Proves that the SNP can be withheld. Plus that was a tougher contest because it was "unnecessary". (George Robertson stood down to take the top job at NATO.)

    Poor example, says the SNP. Labour was flying high, relatively speaking, in 1999. It's slumped since.

    So will Labour win? Different question.

    [Maybe, the Labour party could win; maybe with a lower percentage of winner status]....

    ~Dennis Junior~

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