Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A Look @: East Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire

East Dunbartonshire and North Lanarkshire are the two local government areas on the East and North East of Glasgow. Our old friend constituency boundaries that cut across local government boundaries makes another appearance here. East Dunbartonshire covers most of the East Dunbartonshire council and Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintolloch covers the rest with a bit of North Lanarkshire thrown in for good measure. The other seats are all entirely in North Lanarkshire. As you can probably already see from the table North Lanarkshire is prime Labour heartland. Since the introduction of the quasi-proportional Single Transferable Vote system in 2007 North Lanarkshire is one of only five of thirty two councils in Scotland where a party or group has an absolute majority, and one of only two where Labour is that party or group (in the other three grouped independents are in control). Labour has 40 seats on the council on 49.6% of the vote, to 23 SNP on 31.7%, 5 independents and a single Lib Dem and Tory who each got 1.4% each. East Dunbartonshire is a more mixed area. On just 18.2% of the vote the SNP secured the largest number of seats at 8, on 25.9% Labour got 6 seats, the Conservatives got 5 seats on 21.5%, the Lib Dems got 3 seats on 17.9% and the East Dunbartonshire Independents Alliance got 2 seats on 11.4%! For the odd result regarding the SNP I can only hazard a guess that the Lib Dem and Independents Alliance voters primarily preferenced towards the SNP.




Swing Needed



Airdrie and Shotts

John Reid




LAB Hold

Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill

Thomas Clarke




LAB Hold

Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintolloch East

Rosemary McKenna




LAB Hold

East Dunbartonshire

Jo Swinson




LD Hold

Motherwell and Wishaw

Frank Roy




LAB Hold

Airdrie and Shotts is the constituency of former Home Office Minister Dr. John Reid, the 'hard man' of Blairite Britain. One of Reid's favourite sayings is said to be "better a broken nose than a bended knee". At one point considered to be Gordon Brown's main competitor for the position of Labour leadership Reid opted to support Brown in the leadership election but announced he would resign from the cabinet, and from Parliament. Rumour has it that the two men do not exactly see eye to eye. Reid is now Chairman of Celtic FC. Labour's candidate is Pamela Nash, who at 25 must be in with the chance of being Baby of the House (the youngest member of the House of Commons). Nash was Reid's parliamentary researcher. She is no doubt ambitious and motivated but questions must be asked about her age, experience and how qualified she is for the job. Nonetheless SNP candidate Sophia Coyle, a local councillor, would cause one of the greatest upsets in British electoral history if she was to gain the 21.3% swing needed to win this seat! Labour hold.

Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill is the constituency of Thomas Clarke. With a massive 19,519 vote majority Clarke holds the largest majority of any MP in the UK. Clarke has been a MP since a 1982 by-election and has been a hard-working MP who has gained attention for his work fighting for disabled people. With a clean record on expenses and a massive majority SNP candidate Frances McGlinchey, a councillor who has previously stood for the SNP in nearby Stirling, will find it almost impossible to unseat Clarke. Labour hold.

Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintolloch East MP Rosemary McKenna is standing down this year. She was not particularly spotlighted in the expenses scandal though she was overpaid expenses for rent (which she promptly paid back). Labour candidate Gregg McClymont is fairly young at only 31 and has written speeches for John Reid. Of the four Labour constituencies here this is the least safe, nevertheless SNP candidate Julie Hepburn will have to incredibly well to prevent McClymont's victory. A Labour hold.

East Dunbartonshire is the only constituency here not held by a Labour MP and also features the smallest majority. It also has an odd electoral history. In October 1974 the SNP came from third to beat the Tories. In 1979 Labour came from third to beat the SNP. In February 1974 the Tories gained this seat from Labour despite losing nationally, while during the landslide defeat of 1979 Labour gained this seat from the SNP. East Dunbartonshire is the only constituency to have been represented by all four main Scottish parties. At only 25 years old MP Jo Swinson was Baby of the House when elected in 2005, and is the first MP to have been born in the 1980s. Swinson first campaigned for elected office in 2001 standing against John Prescott in his Hull East constituency and managing a 6% swing. Now relatively over-the-hill at 30 Swinson's career in the Liberal Democrats includes chairing the Lib Dem's gender balance task force, and the Culture, Media and Sport, Scottish, Communities and Local Government, and Women and Equality frontbench positions. She is currently Foreign Affairs spokeswoman. Swinson is clearly a force to be reckoned with; being young, talented and highly motivated. She has also launched a high profile local campaign – against the building of a prison in her constituency. Nonetheless, considering the odd electoral history of the constituency a victory by Labour candidate Mary Galbraith would not be out of character! Nonetheless, I think the smart money is on Swinson. Lib Dem Hold.

Motherwell and Wishaw is held by Frank Roy. Frank Roy was the first MP from Motherwell and Wishaw to represent the constituency, with his prior job being a Steelworker. Frank Roy's own expenses were not particularly bad but it may have been a mistake to defend MPs accused in the scandal by saying that MPs were "not criminals". Among the candidates running against Roy is John Swinburne, the leader of the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party. Swinburne was a member of the Scottish Parliament from 2003-7 when he was elected on one of the proportional seats. He is also a director of Motherwell Football Club. A high profile third party candidate, Swinburne will not win the seat and will probably not even threaten the main parties, but he will get a reasonable slice of the vote. In the closely equivalent Scottish Parliamentary seat (seat of then Scottish First Minister, Jack McConnell) he got 6.5% in 2007. The greatest threat to Roy though is SNP candidate Dr. Iain White. Nonetheless, with Roy's local credentials, and a huge majority White's chances have to be next to none. Labour hold.


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