Friday, July 18, 2008

Crap By-Election Chat

Never having been one to miss a chance to crash through a quality threshold, I've been inspired by Labour's only unelected Scottish blogger of note to tell some tales of my own out of school:

Q. Which Labour Party Candidate for the Glasgow East by-election was heckled at the PCS hustings, before flouncing out only an hour into the debate?

Now, with that out of the way, a serious observation - I've been involved in every by-election campaign in Scotland since 1995 (with the exception of Falkirk West - I was on a ship in the Mediterranean at the time with a band). In all that time, I can't remember a more shambolic campaign that that mounted to date by Labour in Glasgow East.

Consider the evidence. First, their MP resigns unexpectedly, which prompts the party to cut and run to limit the time the SNP would have to campaign. Unfortunately, their preferred candidate elects not to turn up to his selection, so a 5th choice candidate is hoiked out of the Scottish Parliament to stand instead and seek a dual mandate.

They then get caught trying to re-write history, deleting every press release on their website which criticised Alex Salmond for being both an MP and an MSP. Next, the candidate claims she'll invite the Chancellor to the constituency to see the effects of rising fuel prices, but only once the election is over.

Cabinet Ministers refuse to make high profile campaign visits, presumably being smuggled in instead with blankets over their heads. The candidate then claims to have lived in the 'East End' all her life, despite the fact she lives in the South of Glasgow. Her campaign also writes to the SNP Candidate John Mason asking for his support as part of a blunderbuss constituency-wide mailing, and tries to canvass Nicola Sturgeon at home.

Perhaps after this, the Labour candidate was correct to describe a poll showing a 15% swing to the SNP as representing 'progress' for Labour. However, worse was still to come...

Her campaign 'blog' told the story of a 93 year old war veteran, beside a picture of a 67 year old Labour supporter receiving an MBE. They then wheeled out an actor from 'Taggart' as a high profile supporter who once - whoops! - appeared on the BBC's 'This Week' programme describing the Union as "the last vestiage of an empire on which the sun has well and trully set".

There's just under a week to go, and I must report that I've seen more Conservatives out than I have Labourites. Labour look as if they are still trying to canvass every door in parts to find out where their support is. And their candidate looks more and more shifty by the day - that much-vaunted phone call to the Chancellor has not yet materialised, it was revealed on last night's Newsnight Scotland debate. And what on earth do you make of an MSP who tries to claim that they don't know where the local MP (from their own party) had their constituency office? I'll credit the Labour candidate with having some basic competence and cunning, and assume instead that she simply wasn't telling the truth.

Anyway, enough chat. I've got doors to knock. Many of those undecided voters may be converting to the SNP by themselves, but every little helps :-)

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