I really hope people are going to describe the result of the Glasgow North East By-Election properly…


When describing the result tomorrow TV pundits should remember how to describe the result properly!

No doubt BBC News and Sky News will be broadcasting live from a public building tonight and into tomorrow morning to give us the result, and subsequent comment, about the by-election in Glasgow North East.

I have been impressed by the level of media coverage in Scotland about the by-election, which many are saying might be the last before Gordon Brown eventually goes to the polls next year.

I have been involved in many elections, but one of the things that I have never been unsure of is how to describe the result when it came.

‘Speakers’ normally retire at General Elections, become ennobled, and then retire to the relative obscurity of the crossbenches in the House of Lords, but Michael Martin has joined the upper house midterm, as did his predecessor, Betty Boothroyd

I was exasperated when Sky News announced, with all apparent seriousness, that ‘Labour have failed to win the Henley By-Election!’ as part of their coverage of that result, which to be fair was one thing that could be predicted at any point in the last hundred years.

So, why my concern about how to describe the result in Glasgow North East? Anyone who looks at the area will assess that it is working class and what might be considered a ‘Labour heartland’, but for the past nine years it has not been represented by a Labour MP, but by The Speaker. 

Bearing in mind The Speaker is not standing at this election any result has to be described as ‘a gain from The Speaker,’ whether this is a Lib Dem gain, an SNP gain and, most importantly, a Labour gain.

If Labour win the by-election there will be one extra Labour MP in Parliament and their parliamentary majority will go up, therefore I will be watching out for this to be correctly described as a ‘Labour gain from The Speaker,’ rather than a ‘Labour hold,’ if they manage to clinch the result tonight or, more likely, tomorrow, as it was when Betty Boothroyd retired in 2000.


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.

Glaswegian translators required at £140/day, is it for David Cameron’s trip to the Glasgow North East By-election?

A tranlation company is looking for people who can translate Glaswegian for their customers!

A translation company is looking for people who can translate Glaswegian for their customers!

In this time of economic austerity perhaps those seeking gainful employment should look at The Herald for a new job at £140/day.

According to an advert in The Herald companies are looking for fluent speakers of Glaswegian to translate for them. If you want to apply there are apparently lots of applicants already, of which many have applied in Glaswegian!

Am I the only person who finds this a little odd? But then it made me wonder if it had anything to do with the imminent Glasgow North East by-election, which will replace Michael Martin next month. 

Could it be anything to do with David Cameron, and the rest of the Tory shadow cabinet, needing to come North of the border, does he need translation services when he knocks on doors in Springburn?

I attach the link from the BBC where I found this story. There’s also a very helpful list of words that it might be useful to know if you plan to apply.

David Cameron would do well to learn a few!


It even made it on to the Today programme – http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8308000/8308448.stm

Why Speaker Martin is joining the very crossbenches!

Michael Martin should ignore the convention and sit with his Labour peers

Michael Martin should ignore the convention and sit with his Labour peers

Michael Martin today took his seat in the House of Lords as Lord Martin of Springburn. We’ve all heard the story of Sir John Trevor, who was the last speaker to be unseated, in 1695, who was deposed by Parliament for taking a bribe of 1000 guineas, which in today’s money would be in excess of £1.5 million.

Lord Martin joins the cross benches in the Lords, which includes senior law lords, former generals as well as many former diplomats and now non-aligned politicians.

His joining the cross benches is one of those parliamentary conventions that I just do not understand. Michael Martin joined the Labour Party when he was 21, was a shop steward for the AEEU at 25, was a councillor in Glasgow at the age of 28 and was elected to Parliament for over 20 years, as a Labour MP, before taking on the role of Speaker.

It seems odd that in his semi-retirement, in the Lords, that Michael Martin cannot take the Labour whip, and has to sit with crossbenchers who have a wide range of political views, and none, from people like the former Liberal MP, David Alton to royal photographer the Earl of Snowdon. One of the main problems that has blighted Parliament has been its yearning to retain its traditions and conventions.

This is one that just seems old fashioned and illogical. Lord Martin should sit with his Labour colleagues, and friends, and break this meaningless convention.