Why the SNP have bottled Glasgow North East…

The ghost of defeat in Glenrothes haunts the Glasgow North East By-election for the SNP, and means they won't be taking it seriously, in public at least!

The ghost of the defeat in Glenrothes haunts the Glasgow North East By-election for the SNP, and means they won't be taking it seriously, in public at least!

Political onlookers will be wondering why the SNP appears to have decided not to seriously contest the by-election in Glasgow North East.

Despite the impressive victory the party achieved in Glasgow East the party appears to be still licking its wounds after the Glenrothes contest, which Labour hung on to comfortably.

The margin of victory for Labour in Glenrothes surprised Scottish academics, journalists, politicians and voters.

Despite some progress by the SNP in Glenrothes, Labour actually increased its share of the vote and polled over 55% of the vote with a popular local candidate.

So, you might think, this explains why the SNP are fighting shy of a fierce contest in Glasgow.  But, the SNP are not the sort of people to let electoral mathematics get in the way of their mission, so there has to be another reason.

Michael Martin held the seat with over 53% of the vote at the last election, standing as Speaker, and the SNP came a dismal second with 17.7%. But, by-elections have been won from more difficult positions, indeed Glasgow East was won from a more difficult position than this.

The SNP, like any government, is starting to have to make some genuinely tough decisions, and it knows that Labour is succeeding in painting the party as being Edinburgh-centric.  Labour has exemplified this, through the SNP’s withdrawal of funding from the Glasgow Airport Rail Link.  The SNP knows that if they look like they are trying, and lose heavily, as they will, Labour will be able to say that the electoral tide has turned back in Scotland, in its favour.

The SNP will want the cloak of respectability of denying they were ever mounting a serious campaign. 

The one thing about the by-election that Labour will be very keen to make sure we all realise, beyond Glasgow, that this by-election, assuming they win, will be a gain for Labour for the first time in this Parliament, and probably the last gain they will have for a very long time.

The Guardian has more on Alex Salmond talking down his chances  here.

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