Sunday, 1 May 2011

Scotland Votes: Glasgow Part 2: Southern Glasgow and Rutherglen

This post covers the seats roughly in the Southern half of the city, and Rutherglen. Those seats roughly in the North of the city can be found here. The regional seats projection can be found here.

I've very roughly divided these seats down a North/South line so these seats are not all in what is, strictly speaking, the South of the city.

These seats don't really differ significantly from the Northern part of the city. Rutherglen, which is technically part of South Lanarkshire, is a town technically outside Glasgow, though it was in the Glasgow City Council area until 1996.




Swing Required

First Elected

Glasgow Cathcart

Charlie Gordon




Too Close

Glasgow Pollok

Johann Lamont




Lab Lean

Glasgow Shettleston

Frank McAveety




Lab Lean

Glasgow Southside

Nicola Sturgeon




SNP Lean


James Kelly




Lab Safe

Glasgow Cathcart is the seat of Charlie Gordon. Gordon won this seat in a 2005 by-election after the previous incumbent, Mike Watson, was convicted on arson charges. Since 2003 Labour has repeatedly failed to get 40% or above of the vote here which may represent a weak support for the party. However a large amount of this was also no doubt due to the strong performances of various third party and independent candidates. Particularly, the Scottish Socialist Party, on the one hand, and independents heading a campaign based around protecting a local hospital on the other. The SSP is now essentially dead or dying and the hospital campaign seems to have receded – at least there is no independent standing under that banner. There is one independent standing – John McKee, an independent campaign whose website seems to suggest he is far-left in outlook. This is Glasgow, so he might be able to get some traction, particularly amongst the ex-SSP crowd. Gordon was leader of Glasgow Council from 1999 until 2005, and a strong history in trade unionism. He is Labour’s Transport Spokesman and is heading up a campaign for better local buses. The SNP’s candidate is James Dornan, leader of the SNP group on Glasgow City Council. Based on current polling the SNP should double the 3.5% swing they require to take this seat but a lot depends on where former independent votes go (and to a lesser extent the squeeze on the Lib Dems). It’s also worth remembering that this is Glasgow, and the Labour Party vote is probably firmer here than in many parts of Scotland. I think this one is too close for the time-being.

Glasgow Pollok is Johann Lamont’s seat. Lamont was a junior minister in the Scottish Executive before Labour’s 2007 defeat and is currently the party’s deputy leader. She also has responsibility for housing, communities and equalities. Lamont’s seat is highly left-leaning as witnessed by the 2003 result when the then Scottish Socialist Party leader, Tommy Sheridan, stood here, getting 27.9% of the vote and coming second. Sheridan didn’t stand in 2007, however, and Lamont’s 2007 result was pretty solid. The SNP candidate is Chris Stephens, who also ran here in 2007. He works for Glasgow Council, and is an activist in UNISON. The 9.9% swing is not quite outside the SNP’s bounds based on the polls but suffice to say it’s unlikely they’ll get such a swing against Labour’s deputy leader. They also have far better targets in the city. A strong Labour lean.

Glasgow Shettleston’s Frank McAveety has held his seat since 1999, always getting more than half of the vote. He gained some notoriety when he had to resign from the public petitions committee over some unfortunate comments about a female audience member and has also been criticised for charging £14,000 on his expenses to hire a bus. The SNP’s John Mason is a strong candidate. He was MP for Glasgow East from 2008-2010 after a stunning by-election win in which he got a swing of 22.5%. The seat, however, returned to Labour in 2010, with the SNP not making much of an advance, so it may be better to take the by-election win as a sign of Glaswegians wanting to give the Labour Party a bloody nose more than anything else. Nonetheless, as a former MP he has much to recommend him on the doorstep. While McAveety has certainly provided some material to use to attack him over the last four years and I think Mason is a decent candidate McAveety still has a strong majority that should survive nonetheless, even with the strong SNP polling. However, while I would have normally made this a ‘Labour Safe’, this one goes down as a Lean.

A second deputy leader in this post, Glasgow Southside’s Nicola Sturgeon is the SNP deputy leader, Deputy First Minister and Health Minister in Alex Salmond’s cabinet. She is also probably the best known Scottish politician besides Salmond himself. A noted political talent Sturgeon was a contender for the leadership of her party in 2004 but backed down when Salmond entered the race at the last minute in exchange for his support for deputy creating a Salmond-Sturgeon joint ticket. As Health Minister she is responsible for about 1/3rd of the Scottish budget. She was initially a list MSP in Glasgow, starting in 1999 (when she was just 28) before she cracked the Labour party’s Glasgow stronghold in 2007 by taking the Glasgow Govan seat. Boundary changes have placed her in the broadly similar ‘Glasgow Southside’ which is the second most marginal seat in Scotland with a 27 vote majority in the favour of Labour. On paper then, this is a real battleground seat between Sturgeon and Labour’s candidate, Stephen Curran, a councillor and Glasgow City Treasurer. He is also a member of the party’s Scottish Policy Forum, which wrote this year’s manifesto, and is, therefore, clearly a bit of a rising star in his party. Nonetheless, he is battling against polls which are leaning heavily against Labour and in the SNP’s favour. A uniform swing would see Sturgeon returned with a sizeable majority. That said, it’s not impossible that Curran could take the seat, despite the polls. Polls have been wrong before, and he doesn’t strike me as a lightweight, but that said, the advantage is clearly with Sturgeon.

Finally onto Rutherglen. Rutherglen is the only seat in the Glasgow region not inside Glasgow Proper. It is part of the South Lanarkshire council area, as I mentioned above. Nonetheless, it is a fairly safe seat for Labour’s James Kelly, a computer programmer who has been involved in his local constituency party for some time acting as the constituency party chair and as election agent for local candidates. He is Shadow Minister for Community Safety. The SNP are fielding Jim McGuigan, a veteran SNP activist and local councillor. There is a decent Lib Dem vote in this constituency to squeeze – 19.2% in 2007, but the SNP would need almost all of it for Guigan to be elected. Kelly’s large majority makes him safe, in my view.


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