Thursday, 29 October 2009

Massacre in Glasgow North East?

As we enter this Halloween season, and British Members of Parliament continue to struggle to redeem public confidence in the institutions of government brought about by the 'MPs Expenses Scandal', the ghoulish scepter of the former Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, will once again haunt the political landscape and cause nightmares at Labour Party Headquarters.

Speaker Martin, who handled the initial stages of the scandal so badly that he was forced to resign on June 21, also resigned as a Member of Parliament the following day.

The by-election for his vacant seat of Glasgow North East, will take place two weeks from today, on November 12. In the 2005 election, Martin won the seat for Labour in the newly created constituency, with a majority of 10,134 votes.

The nightmare for the Labour Party however is more likely to come from the Scottish National Party than the Conservatives. In all 59 Scottish constituencies, the Conservative Party hold only one seat, Dumfreisshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale, where David Mundell has a 1,738 majority. The swing change required in this seat is 2%.

In the last by-election in Scotland on July 25 of this year, Labour suffered a humiliating defeat to the SNP in Glasgow East, losing the seat which they held in the 2005 election with a 13,507 majority. After a recount, the SNP candidate, John Mason, was elected with a majority of 365 votes, a 22.54% swing.

Running for the Labour Party in Glasgow North East will be William Bain, a law lecturer and Constituency Labour Party secretary.

His SNP opponent will be David Kerr, (35) a television journalist and active member of the Nationalist Union of Journalists. In a by-election in 2000 Kerr contested the Falkirk West seat where the Labour majority was reduced to 700, a 16% swing from Labour to the SNP.

It is tradition that a sitting Speaker is unchallenged, so the Conservative Party did not run a candidate against Martin in the 2005 election. Their candidate in this by-election is a 30 year-old local, Ruth Davidson, a journalist and former member of the Territorial Army.

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