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Advance with gusto

Brian Taylor | 15:11 UK time, Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Do you live in the East End of Glasgow? Specifically, do you live in the Westminster constituency left vacant by the resignation of David Marshall?

Do you have a problem that requires attention? Do you have a pet project that needs support? You do? Then advance it now, with gusto.

Better get on with it, though. For the next three weeks, the people of Glasgow East can expect to receive close, loving attention from our political parties.

Indeed, Labour has, quite understandably, suspended its Holyrood leadership contest to devote every breathing moment to the by-election.

Equally, any initiative announced by any politician will be scanned for its Glasgow East content. Indeed, it's started already.

Labour says the streets of Scotland will be flooded with desperate criminals if/when the Scottish Government responds positively to the McLeish report on penal policy.

And you know what? It would appear these brutes will gather, in particular, east of Parkhead. That is, in Glasgow East.

Spirited debate

The SNP responds by suggesting that the good and sensible people of guess where are suffering from excessive fuel costs.

These are both reasonable hits: in each case, dealing with a policy in the hands of, respectively, the Scottish and UK Governments. That is, the SNP and Labour.

Perhaps, however, we might be spared the more hysterical attacks. Such as the suggestion from Labour that Angus Robertson of the SNP had compared Glasgow East to the Gaza Strip.

He did no such thing. I heard the discussion on Good Morning Scotland between Mr Robertson and Labour's David Cairns. A good, spirited debate it was too. If not good-spirited.

Mr Robertson used the Gaza Strip as a point of contrast: suggesting that it was unacceptable that the Glasgow East constituency had a lower life expectancy.

You may think the point of contrast was ill-chosen. But contrast it was. Just as Tony Blair was making a point of contrast - not comparison - when he said it would be wrong if the Scottish Parliament had less power to tax than the average parish council.

Stop it

Mr Blair did not say the Scottish Parliament was like a parish council. Angus Robertson did not say Glasgow was like the Gaza Strip.

Stop it, guys. And, before the other parties come over all saintly, stop and think. You're every bit as capable of such tosh.

It impresses nobody - least of all in Glasgow East where they want to hear answers to real problems, not linguistic tricks.


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