27 Apr 2012

A revolution on Clydeside?

Glasgow seems to be undergoing something of a revolution.  Long-standing, once unassailable institutions look to be under severe threat.

Nobody knows if and how Rangers Football Club will survive after more than a century of glory.  And now Labour could lose power on Glasgow City Council for the first time since the late 1970s.

Who would have thought it? Rangers, and Red Clydeside.  Both appear to be crumbling.

All eyes of the political community will be on the mayoral election in London next week.  But in reality, events in Glasgow could be more significant politically.  If the SNP topples Labour in Scotland’s biggest city it could be a huge boost to Alex Salmond’s independence drive, and a reminder to Ed Miliband that Labour can no longer depend on Scotland.

Ed Miliband is in Glasgow today to try and shore up the Labour vote.  Tonight, in the wake of Labour’s shocking defeat in the Bradford West by-election, he’ll be visiting a mosque to launch a new group Muslim Friends of Labour Scotland.

It’s not looking good for Labour here.  Today’s visit by Ed Miliband is overshadowed by news that a prominent member of Labour’s leading Muslim family in Scotland has switched his support to the SNP.  Mohammad Ramzan, a Glasgow businessman, is the brother of the Labour former MP Mohammad Sarwar, and uncle of Anas Sarwar MP, the deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party.  Mr Sarwar is the organiser of  Miliband’s visit to the mosque.

The SNP mocks Miliband’s presence here by saying that in the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, Labour lost every seat which had been blessed with a visit from the Labour leadership.

Labour actually lost outright control of Glasgow Council a few weeks ago, when six councillors who been deselected by Labour, defected to form their own party, Glasgow First.  There’s a sense among some of the Glaswegians I’ve spoken to that’s it’s time for a change, and to give someone else a chance, even if they don’t necessarily agree with the SNP on independence.  Miliband does not impress many people here.  “He’s a wimp,” one woman told me, “and unmanly”.

The Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has said she expects the SNP to get more seats in Glasgow.  But under the STV system of proportional representation which operates in Scottish local government these days, the SNP may struggle to win an outright majority in Glasgow (but then we said that before the Scottish Parliament elections last year, and the SNP did win a majority of seats).

But the other parties could be power-brokers in the event of a hung council.  The Conservatives, who once ran Glasgow (just as they also ran Liverpool and Manchester), have just one seat here.  The Lib Dems will be very lucky to hold onto their six seats, while the Scottish Green leader Patrick Harvie pretty much indicated to me today he’d be happy to hold onto their five councillors.

The dilemma for the Lib Dems and Tories (or single Tory) is that helping the SNP take over Glasgow City Chambers might boost the Nationalists’ push for independence, ahead of the proposed referendum in 2014.

A full list of candidates and parties is below:

Scottish Labour Party

Scottish National Party

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Green Party

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party


UK Independence Party

Glasgow First

Scottish Anti-Cuts Coalition

Scottish Socialist Party

Scottish Christian Party

Scottish Unionist

Pirate Party Scotland


Chris Creighton – Independent

Colin Deans – Independent

Anne-Marie MIllar – Independent

Thomas Rannachan – Independent

Ruth Simpson – Independent

Phil Jarvis – Independent

James Trolland – Independent

Joe Chamber – Independent

John Flanagan – Independent

Gary Barton – Independent

13 reader comments

  1. Scottish Lass says:

    Personally I am not sure how it will go. SNP have a mountain to climb to combat the media in Scotland. We are bombarded with negative anti SNP stories on a daily basis from most of the mainstream media including (and in particular) from the BBC. I am not a member of any party – I just want unbiased facts to enable me to make an informed choice. Channel 4 is to be commended on articles such as these.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      No doubt that we’ve remained wealthier than UK for 50+ years & that 5 million of us could be self-supporting. Unbiased facts are simply the unknowns:
      * EU policy since 1993 requires ALL new members to adopt economic & monetary union. SNP claims exclusive exemption for us. How come?
      * Adopting Euro means control of economic policy & tax/spend/national borrowing transfers to Frankfurt. Is that good?
      * Rumours that our defence to remain part of UK forces & retain NATO bases incl. Faslane. Do we, UK & NATO agree?
      * What share of UK sovereign debts to remain with us? Barnett % or population % ?
      * Suppose EU & NATO terms are settled, what’s left for MSPs to do?
      * Can we afford our current renewables subsidy?
      We’ve waited since 1970s for the answers. Yes, it’s time to let us know.

  2. LIPPYKIDS says:

    The SNP climbed that mountain last May. People in Scotland want change. The media is up against the internet and the internet bloggers are winning.

    Bye Labour. You’ve sold Scotland down the river for long enough.

  3. Andrew Dundas says:

    Scotland’s local election system is so complicated and quirky it isn’t surprising many people – especially working class and the frankly bored – don’t vote these days.
    What other country would have an election system where some people get three representatives and others get four at the same election? What other country provides electors with three or four councillors despite only counting two or three of their electors’ ‘preference votes’. It probably doesn’t comply with the UK’s human rights treaty.
    The big winner in Glasgow on the 3rd May will be the big increase in the non-voters. Their increased stay-at-home preferences are the winning bet.

  4. Michael says:

    Totally agree with first post, bbc behaves like iran or syria when reporting snp stories! hope channel 4 will do a story on the bbc being used as a propaganda machine to throw the election.
    How can the Brittish broadcasting company be trusted when the reports are so one sided that they seem to be about something different when compared to the same stories on other news shows.

  5. Niall says:

    It’s time for a truly devolved Scottish media. There is so little coverage of Scottish sports, politics and culture on our televisions, it’s surprising that any of it manages to flourish at all.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      How much would that ‘devolved Scottish media’ cost us?

  6. Sean says:

    Michael Crick is correct that Glaswegian Lib Dems and Tories may hesitate to do a deal with the SNP for fear of further legitimising independence – although they do sit in coalition with the Nats in other councils up-and-down the country and collaborated on the alternative budget which recently nudged Labour in the city to near self-destruction.

    If, as is likely, there is no overall majority next week the smaller parties will have to do a deal with someone and it is difficult to overestimate the extent of bad feeling towards the Glasgow Labour party generally, and their councillors in particular, from activists in all other parties.

    For years, decades, Labour councillors have treated their opponents with contempt and disdain. There was little, if any, recognition that people outside the Labour party, left or right, had any legitimate role to play in the Kremlin on the Clyde. Labour will have to face the consequences of that legacy of bitter division and in order to lead a coalition they will need to convince other parties they are able to change and agree tangible policy concessions. I suspect that Labour are institutionally incapable of making that transition.

    In my opinion, the most likely outcome is an SNP minority administration with a confidence and supply agreement with everyone except Labour.

    This is only the second local government election with PR and I will include Labour in my choices – but around four or five out of eight – I cannot imagine why people stuck with FPTP for so long!

  7. Michael says:

    Totally agree with first post, bbc behaves like iran or syria when reporting snp stories. Hope channel 4 will do a story on the bbc being used as a propaganda machine to throw the election.
    How can the Brittish broadcasting company be trusted when the reports are so one sided that they seem to be different stories when compared to the same stories on other news shows ?

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      “…bbc behaves like iran or syria when reporting snp stories”.

      Do you really mean this? Or is this remark just the sort of thing that earns the separatist cause such widespread scepticism?

  8. Scottish bloke says:

    Agree wholeheartedly with Scottish Lass, although today we see an extremely rare oversight, the Scottish version of the Express have ran this story today about a Labour member wishing Salmond’s father would die.


    Strangely, Alastair Campbell is noted as being a member of the group, yet this morning his name is missing from the membership list…

  9. Crazytonic says:

    Scottish lass: I couldn’t agree more. My only criticism of Channel 4 news with respect to Scotland is the lack of Scottish coverage. Whereas most of the media in Scotland seems to be completely anti-SNP even standing up for the other parties when they are clearly wrong. We need decent debate for healthy politics and currently we just don’t have that!

  10. uglyfatbloke says:

    Scottish Lass makes a good point. Whether you like the Gnats or not, their treatment at the hands of the media is appalling. An example? We are often told that the GHolyrood system was designed to prevent any party from winning an overall majority. This is simply not true. As Jack McConel told us at the time, it was specifically designed to prevent the SNP from winning a majority,

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