I wrote this in 2009 after Michael Martin, Labour MP for Glasgow North East and the Speaker of the House of Commons had announced his decision on the 19th of May to resign, to forestall the imminent historic humiliation of being the first Speaker in history to be forced out by a vote of no confidence. I really believed that the electors of Springburn, a district I had known well all my life, would awaken from their fantasy that Labour was on their side.
Not only was I wrong in November 2009 at the by-election, but wrong again at the 2010 General election in May 2010.
Despite all that has since happened, including the ignominious defeat of the hapless Gordon Brown Government, leaving us with the nightmare of the Coalition, the Ashcroft poll shows that Springburn is still set to do it again, lemming-like.
But the SNP has a strong candidate in Anne McLaughlin this time, and perhaps the electors will finally learn the lesson that the rest of Glasgow has – Labour is no longer the people’s party.
Don't get fooled again, Springburn!
The 2009 Moridura blog
FRIDAY, 22 MAY 2009
I wondered just how long it would take for Alf Young of the Herald to decide that a general election would be a bad thing right now, and here he is on cue today saying just that.
For those of you unfamiliar with Alf's deeply coded messages, let me translate - if a general election was announced swiftly, Labour would be wiped out at the polls, the Tories would win in England, and the rickety United Kingdom would have a Tory government, making it completely unrepresentative of the will of the Scottish people.
The new Westminster government could not then deny the Scottish people a referendum on independence, which would happen around the time of the Scottish Parliamentary election in 2011, with the SNP being returned with a decisive working majority. The likely outcome would be a decisive vote for the freedom of Scotland.
This must not be allowed to happen. In the fantasy world of the Herald, the Scotsman and the Scottish Unionist, the general election must be deferred as long as possible, giving Gordon Brown's corrupt, incompetent, indecisive and rotten administration time - time to recover credibility over the next few months, aided by the full weight of the Scottish unionist press, more defence jobs bribery, more judicious patronage, as many distorted scare stories as can be mustered, and ideally a nice popular, winnable war against some far off country - the Falklands Factor.
But there's a worm in Alf and Labour's apple - it's called Glasgow North East, better known as Springburn, and a by-election is imminent. How imminent?
Well, it could be July, but if Alf's logic is applied, it could be deferred till September or October, and this would sit well with Gordon Brown's electoral cowardice and reflex procrastination instincts.
A recent Channel Four News report covered Springburn and Labour, gained great moral force by being presented by Sarah Smith, the daughter of Labour's lost Leader, John Smith.
Here are a few facts.
Under Labour for generations, and in recent times while its Labour MP, Michael Martin was one of the most powerful politicians in the land, Springburn has
about two and a half times the national rate of unemployment.
life expectancy 12 years lower than more prosperous parts of Scotland.
almost 12% more smokers, and 5% more deaths from smoking than the Scottish average
widespread deprivation and urban decline
The Channel Four documentary quoted an old Springburn joke - "You can't join the Labour Party in Springburn - it's already full!"
But most of the Labour voters questioned said bluntly that that old reflex loyalty could no longer be relied upon.
What Sarah Smith devastatingly stated as "the breach of trust between the party that is supposed to fight for the underprivileged and the people who need it the most" will be in the forefront of Springburn voters minds when they go to the polling stations.
Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University caught the echoes of the questions from last year's Glasgow East campaign - "What has the Labour Party ever done for this constituency? It's still as impoverished as it ever was ..." Glasgow North East is even more impoverished.
What was Michael Martin doing? He was living in a palatial palace as Speaker, and he was implicated in an expenses system where MPs were making claims related to luxury items of home furnishing when people in Glasgow North East were struggling to get basic, essential items, such as cookers and fridges.
Don't get fooled again, Springburn.
Don't be fooled by politicians who make snap appearances at old ladies's lunch clubs, smile and twinkle, then disappear in a chauffeur-driven hired limousine to grand civic functions and expensive dinners.
Don't be fooled by little successful interventions into small grievances when the main structural decline of your community and your life is accelerating unchecked.
This is not the Labour you knew for so many years, in opposition, fighting against the evil Tories, who could be blamed for everything - this is Labour who have been in government for 12 years, yet have frittered away the resources of the nation and the lives of Scottish servicemen and women in foreign wars, the party that is cutting the Scottish budget for essential services by £500 million pounds while spending fifty times that - £25 billion pounds - on outmoded. irrelevant weapons of mass destruction.
Don't get fooled again Springburn!
Vote for the party of your ain folk, the Scottish National Party.