If you haven’t already noticed, I try to keep politics out of this blog as much as possible. Sure, there are occasional lapses in this tendancy, but that is because I LOVE POLITICS. I am a politics geek and I am not afraid to admit it.
Anyway, due to my political geekiness, I have watched the Glasgow East byelection campaign with foam coming out of my mouth; unable to eloquently express my joy at being able to watch such an important political event right at my front door (or at least through my bathroom window if I was to squint a little bit and ignore the trees, since I am actually about 8 miles away from where the election was being held. Thrilling, nonetheless).
The election was held yesterday – July 24th 2008 – in the Glasgow East constituency after the retirement of Labour MP David Marshall. The seat has long been a Labour stronghold, and many expected the seat to land back in Labour’s lap, regardless of the party itself falling apart at the seams. However, the battle for the seat was seen as neck-and-neck between Labour and the ever-strengthening SNP from the beginning. I won’t go into all the details of the campaign – look them up on the net. The views of Gordon “Prime Ministers don’t do byelections [regardless of contradictory precedents]” Brown and Alex “I visited 12 times during the campaign” Salmond are particularly delightful.
All you need to know is that the SNP candidate John Mason rightfully won the seat, with a majority of 365 votes. This should have massive repercussions for the Labour government both in Scotland and in Westminster, possibly even leading to the resignation of one Gordon Brown.
Anyway, I had my own theories on this election. As far as I could see, Labour were up to their old, underhand tricks. I’m really sick of their bullshit. Their entire campaign during the general election (in which their arses were kicked) centred around how the SNP will have us all hanged, drawn and quartered instead of working as an effective government. During the byelection, Labour did not seem to have the same doom-mongerer’s voice, and I genuinely think that Margaret Curran put up a good fight; promising to give Glasgow East a voice. However, Curran is already already an MSP and although her Holyrood constituency is located within her proposed MP constituency, I disagree with any politician who believes they can do both jobs at the same time.
I was also dismayed at Labour’s choice of candidate – Margaret CURRAN – after the Scottish Socialist Party chose Frances CURRAN as theirs. Was the Labour campaign team actually trying to confuse the electorate? Evidently, yes they were! Labour had released flyers making sure that the voters of Glasgow East knew to tick the third box down for the Labour candidate, not the second box with Frances Curran’s name. This tactic I agree with – prevent any Labour own goals; however,the cynical side of me thinks they were trying to gain as many SSP own goals as they possibly could.
However, I watched the announcement of the winner on television lastnight (which overran by about two hours), and there were parallels with the general election results; particularly the demand for a recount due to spolied votes. Spolied votes in this instance, seemed to be a term coined by the Labour party referring to the hypothetical situation of the aforementioned Labour own goals. Margaret Curran’s team – unhappy with the number of votes which went to the SSP – sugested a recount to make sure that no ballot papers which were meant to land in the M. Curran pile had ended up in the F. Curran pile.
The whole thing just seemed littered with underhand tactics. I think that watching votes come in is a very uneasy feeling. It could have just be nerves or apprehension or full-on excitement, but I have felt very uneasy when watching any election results – particularly this byelection and the Holyrood general election last year. Politics is important to me, and who we vote into power can have huge repercussions on our daily lives. Keep in mind that Hitler’s national socialist party was voted into power. These are very different circumstances to 1930s Germany; and even though I give my support to Alex Salmond’s socialism-friendly nationalist party, I refuse to turn a blind eye to the party – just in case.
In closing, I must mention what a joy it was watching Nicola Sturgeon sitting next to Douglas Alexander (Wendy’s brother), with live interview footage interspersed with live footage from Central Quay, where the results were being announced (thank you, BBC Scotland). King Sturge was on top form, ready for a fight, whereas Alexander, much like his sister (and most other Labour politicians) had no spine and not a leg to stand on. I’m not even sure how he managed to prop himself up in his chair.