Friday, 11 July 2008

Glasgow East - A Battle For Hearts And Minds

Over the past week or so, Scotland's political elite have descended on the East end of Glasgow as never before. Having spent some considerable time there myself, I find myself contemplating all I have seen and heard in a by-election that could shape the country we live in forever.

If Glasgow East abandons the Labour Party and goes SNP it sounds as if it is highly likely Gordon Brown would be forced out of Downing Street. After all there are not too many Labour MP's with majorities of 13,500+ and given this basic arithmetic the Parliamentary Labour Party would surely rebel in fear for their own job prospects should Labour lose in the Prime Minister's own backyard.

Should the SNP win the Glasgow East By-Election I think this would also have a major impact on the mood and feeling in Scotland, with nowhere immune to the mantra of the separatist administration at Holyrood. David Cameron and the Conservative Party in England and Wales have shown that once you have positive momentum and an appetite for change amongst your electorate a lot of what you wish for becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Opinion polls move in your direction, your core vote become motivated to get out and vote and even people who traditionally vote for other Party's look to you as the place to lend your vote if you want to see change.

The truth in Glasgow East is that local people are looking for a candidate and a Party that can give them the one thing they believe they have been denied for generations - HOPE! They want to be able to drag themselves, and their area, up without government interference and they want to have a representative to the UK parliament who will be a positive force for change on the issues that really matter to them.

Unfortunately this is not the message our national media wants to portray. All they seem to want to talk about is independence, Iraq and Wendy Alexander. In contrast, the people of Glasgow East want to talk about their standard of living, jobs, tackling drug misuse in their communities and better policing of local streets to tackle crime and youth disorder.

I credit Annabel Goldie in particular for being one of a very few voices in this by-election campaign who is actually addressing the concerns of local people; and rightly so given her recent record at Holyrood.

After all it was Annabel, and her MSP group, who delivered a new drugs policy for Scotland based on abstinence, who delivered an additional 1,000 police officers and who ensured our small businesses benefited from lower Business Rates now, instead of at a much later date.

Annabel is leading from the front for the Scottish Conservatives at this by-election and is even phoning round Party activists to ensure every last door is canvassed. We have already delivered to every door in Glasgow East, at least once, and with twelve days left to campaign it is clear to me that it is the Scottish Conservatives who are speaking the same language as local people.

Politics is like football. It's a funny old game! On any given day anyone can beat a favourite and in Glasgow East it appears we still have no clear favourite. I never bet on politics, but if you asked me today for a prediction I would tip Labour to hold, despite an 8% swing to the SNP, and as I have yet to meet anyone who admits to voting Liberal I would make my bet a double predicting the loss of the Liberal deposit.

So on this occasion I am prepared to accept the reds will very probably beat the blues, (even though they don't deserve it). One thing is for sure, Annabel will come out of this by-election campaign with her reputation much enhanced having guided us through a difficult campaign with energy and determination!

No comments: