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July 7, 2008

Candidates begin campaigning for Glasgow East by-election

Candidates begin campaigning for Glasgow East by-election

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Monday, July 7, 2008

In Scotland, candidates have begun campaigning for the Labour-held constituency of Glasgow East, at which a by-election is due to be held on July 24 on account of former MP David Marshall’s resignation due to stress-related health problems. There are currently 7 candidates in the running to be elected for the Westminster seat. The deadline for nominations is on Wednesday, July 9.

The SNP, who lead a minority administration in the devolved Scottish Parliament, has attacked Labour for Glasgow East’s citizens’ average life expectancy being lower than the Gaza Strip’s.

At the last general election in 2005, Labour won with 60.7% of the vote, holding a 13,507-vote majority over runners up the Scottish National Party (SNP), who gained 17%. However there were delays in their candidate selection process when the frontrunner, George Ryan, dropped out for family reasons. Their nomination consequently went to Margaret Curran, MSP for the Scottish Parliament seat of Glasgow Baillieston and health and wellbeing spokeswoman for the Labour Party’s Scottish arm. Set to start campaigning on Tuesday, she said she is determined to fight poverty and expressed her confidence in the party, claiming that “Labour’s fightback starts right here, right now.”

UK newspaper The Independent has claimed that it has information from MPs and a senior member of the Labour government, which states that they will seek to replace prime minister Gordon Brown if the party do not win the by-election. Labour MP Ian Gibson, who held a majority of over 5,000 votes in his constituency of Norwich North told the paper that “the by-election in Glasgow is crucial. If he cannot win in his own backyard, things are desperate. I think he might go voluntarily.”

Glasgow East by-election
Party Candidate
Scottish Socialists Frances Curran
Labour Margaret Curran
Scottish Greens Dr. Eileen Duke
Solidarity Tricia McLeish
Scottish Nationals John Mason
Conservative Davena Rankin
Liberal Democrat Ian Robertson

Scottish first minister and SNP party leader Alex Salmond began the party’s campaign today alongside candidate John Mason, who is a councillor in the city. “There’s a political earthquake on the way in Glasgow East,” Mr. Salmond told reporters at a community centre in the constituency earlier, claiming that the area’s below-average statistics were a “condemnation of 50 years of Labour Party representation and Labour Party failure”. Mr. Mason also attacked Labour, saying that “Labour MPs are so out of touch they voted to increase tax by another 10p.” He is basing the SNP campaign around acting on rising energy costs.

Scottish newspaper The Herald reported that the by-election is “expected to be a two-horse race between the Nationalists and Labour,” but other parties have also been out campaigning:

The Liberal Democrat Party, third-place in 2005, have selected mathematics teacher Ian Robertson as their candidate. He will begin campaigning on Tuesday. Meanwhile the Conservatives, who came fourth at the general election with 6.7%, are aiming high, party leader David Cameron visiting the constituency today to launch his campaign which is themed on “social decay”, and trying to “repair the damage” of Britain’s “broken society”. He said the party would solve problems like knife crime and poverty by “treating not just the symptoms, but the causes too.”

Also vying for the seat are Solidarity, who selected council worker Tricia McLeish, the Scottish Socialist Party, with former MSP Frances Curran, whose campaign begins on Tuesday, and the Scottish Green Party whose Eileen Duke, a retired GP, will fight the election.



Sources

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May 4, 2007

Party supporting Scottish independence from UK wins elections

Party supporting Scottish independence from UK wins elections

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Friday, May 4, 2007

Debating chamber in Scottish Parliament building
Image: Pschemp.

The Scottish National Party (SNP), which supports Scottish independence from the UK, has pulled off a historic, albeit narrow, victory in yesterday’s Scottish elections.

In the third Scottish election since the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the left of centre SNP beat the ruling Labour Party by a single seat. It won 47 seats, while Labour won 46, down from the current 50.

It is the first time since the parliament opened that Labour has been beaten, and the first time in fifty years that they have not had a majority of Scottish constituency seats in any election.

SNP leader Alex Salmond declared: “Scotland has changed for good and forever.” He added that the Labour Party had “lost the moral authority to govern Scotland.”

The current First Minister of Scotland, Jack McConnell of Labour said: “While I recognise that the SNP are the largest party by the narrowest of margins, Alex Salmond must himself recognise that he does not have a majority in the Scottish Parliament or anywhere near a majority of the vote.”

It is believed that many factors caused the Labour vote to slump and the SNP vote to rise, including the war in Iraq and the renewal of Trident, which are both unpopular in Scotland.

The election also raises a serious dilemma for the Labour party’s Gordon Brown, a Scotsman widely tipped to succeed Tony Blair as the next prime minister of the United Kingdom. Brown is vehement in his support of the Union, and is a Westminster (London parliament) MP for Kirkcaldy. An SNP government in Scotland will find itself facing the very Labour party it beat in power in London.

Turnout was up 2% on the last Scottish election.

Controversy

The election was highly controversial, not least for having three separate systems, running in tandem –

  • A constituency vote, which was “first past the post”, and for a candidate.
  • A regional list vote, which was additional member system, and was for a party.
  • A local authority (council) vote, which was Single Transferable Vote, and in which parties could field more than one candidate in a ward.

The three systems, along with difficulties with electronic counting meant that maybe as many as one hundred thousand ballot papers were “spoiled”. In addition, there was also huge problems with the postal vote.

Due to the extensive computer problems, votes had to be cancelled early on Friday morning, and postponed to later in the day.

Many other problems beset the election, with a helicopter from the Western Isles constituency being held up by fog, and a boat carrying ballot papers from the Isle of Arran, breaking down in the Firth of Clyde.

Other parties

In addition to the SNP and Labour, the other parties results’ were as follows –

  • Conservative and Unionist – 17 members.
  • Liberal Democrats – 16 members.
  • Scottish Greens – 2 members.
  • Independent – 1 (Margo MacDonald, formerly of the SNP)

The Scottish Socialist Party, Solidarity and the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party were all wiped out.

In order to establish a majority in the Scottish Parliament, the SNP must form a coalition with one or more of these parties. The Liberal Democrats, who were in coalition with the Labour party in the first two terms of the Scottish parliament, are a possibility.

Other parties that campaigned for seats in Holyrood included the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the British National Party (BNP), the Scottish Unionist Party, the Scottish Socialist Labour Party, the Christian Peoples Alliance and the Scottish Christian Party.

Gains and losses

The Scottish National Party, while not gaining the landslide it had wished for, made breakthroughs in Glasgow (Govan), Edinburgh (Edinburgh East) and also took both seats in Dundee.

The Liberal Democrats gained seats in Dunfermline West, but their losses mean the number of seats they hold is unchanged.

Wales and England

While the Scottish election was going on, the Welsh were also having their election for the Welsh Assembly. Plaid Cymru gained a seat from Labour at Llanelli. The Conservatives had their best showing since the Assembly began.

The final results show that the membership for the new assembly will be:-

Labour 26 -4 Plaid Cymru 15 +3 Conservatives 12 +1 Liberal Democrats 6 – Independent 1 –

In England, the elections were more minor, dealing only with local authorities. However they can be an important indicator of how battleground seats might go in the General Election, expected in 2-3 years time. The Conservatives made the greatest gains, but did not make the breakthrough in Northern England that they would have hoped. The Liberal Democrats did not make the advances that they had hoped, and stayed at more or less the same level. Elsewhere, Cornish regionalists Mebyon Kernow gained an extra seat bringing their total to seven, and the Eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and Liberal Party (not to be confused with the Liberal Democrats) gained seats in several areas of England.

Sources

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August 22, 2006

Scottish Socialist Party to split as Sheridan launches new party

Scottish Socialist Party to split as Sheridan launches new party

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The crisis in the Scottish left has intensified as former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan has announced his intention to launch a new left wing party.

Sheridan, currently an SSP Member of the Scottish Parliament, was forced to resign as leader after the News of the World accused him of frequenting sex clubs. Sheridan successfully sued the newspaper last month, and was awarded £200,000 in damages. Eleven leading members of the SSP, including 3 MSPs supported the newspaper’s allegations against him and testified against Sheridan in court.

Sheridan had intended to attempt to reclaim the leadership of the SSP but has instead decided to found a “new party of the left” leaving what he described as the “colossal train wreck of the SSP” which is divided between two factions, the pro-Sheridan “SSP Majority” and the anti-Sheridan “United Left”.

Colin Fox, the current SSP leader, has urged Sheridan to abandon his plans. “I disagree with Tommy that the SSP has ‘reached its historical limits’. The SSP has huge potential still ahead of it. Hundreds of thousands of people wish to see it survive and thrive and take the socialist project which it uniquely promotes, still further forward…There is no basis for two socialist parties in Scotland with indistinguishable political programmes,” said Fox in a statement.

Two major platforms within the SSP, the International Socialists (CWI) and the Socialist Worker Platform (IST) support Sheridan’s call as does the SSP’s South of Scotland regional committee.

Sheridan claims that several leading Scottish celebrities including actors and directors Peter Mullan, David McKay and Martin McCardie, support his call for a new party.

“I predict hundreds, maybe thousands, of ordinary, everyday workers will fight for equality and justice. The war is with inequality, not with fellow socialists. And Scotland is big enough for more than one socialist party, ” said Sheridan.

“The atmosphere a faction in the SSP has created is poisonous and unacceptable. It’s obvious that those who are involved with the faction, which has hijacked the SSP and all its apparatus, have hatred for me as their motivating factor. The SSP have been bastardised, they’re now a grotesque caricature of what we had hoped. It’s time for them to fight among themselves. It’s time to make a clean break. The new party will share some of the political ideology of the old SSP and the internal regime will be one of tolerance, friendship and genuine solidarity,” said Sheridan in an interview with a Scottish newspaper.

The SSP executive has issued a statement declaring that Sheridan is “on the road to oblivion” accusing him of engaging in an “act of political irresponsibility which can only delight the enemies of socialism in Scotland.” The statement continues “Tommy Sheridan has decided to run away from the SSP and wreak as much damage as he can in the process.”

Sheridan replied to the statement saying “I can’t win either way. If I stay I am a problem according to my SSP colleagues who say they will not work with me again, but if I go I am splitting the socialist cause. Frankly, the SSP has been distorted by the faction which has hijacked its apparatus and the internal regime is now longer conducive to building a socialist party”. He added there is an “unstoppable momentum building up” for the creation of a new party.

Sheridan and his supporters plan to hold a meeting on September 3, 2006 to plan the new party. The SSP, meanwhile, will hold an event the day before to rally its support.

The SSP currently has six MSPs in the Scottish Parliament, two of whom, Sheridan and Rosemary Byrne are supporting the new party.

Related news

  • “Sex scandal rocks Scottish politics” — Wikinews, July 12, 2006

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July 12, 2006

Sex scandal rocks Scottish politics

Sex scandal rocks Scottish politics – Wikinews, the free news source

Sex scandal rocks Scottish politics

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Scottish flag.

The Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh.

A controversial defamation court case is continuing today in Edinburgh after hearing fresh allegations against one of Scotland’s most influential politicians. Tommy Sheridan, a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) and convener of the Scottish Socialist Party, is pressing ahead with the case despite claims of orgies and other sexual acts by tabloid newspaper The News of the World.

Since the case began over a week ago, the courtroom has heard allegations from several journalists, MSPs and colleagues of Mr Sheridan, with witnesses telling of scandals varying from extra-marital group sex to “threats that someone would pull out a tongue”. The case began after The News of the World printed several pieces in 2004 and 2005, making allegations regarding Mr Sheridan’s personal life. The newspaper stands by the articles as true, despite the MSP claiming £200,000 in damages.

Many of the original articles centre around the former market researcher Helen Allison, who claims that, in 2002, she was invited to a Glasgow hotel by a friend to attend a “VIP party.” Upon arrival, she was taken up to a suite where she saw Tommy Sheridan “having sex with a female at the bottom of a bed and another man sitting at the side of the bed putting a condom on.” It was alleged by The News of the World that this woman was a prostitute. It was after selling this story to the newspaper that Miss Allison received threats that her tongue would be removed.

The courtroom has also heard testimonials from another witness, 38 year-old journalist Anver Khan. Miss Khan told the court that she had visited a “Swingers’ Club” in Manchester with Mr Sheridan. She has also told of threats and attacks by individuals associated with the MSP, who is currently married to Gail Sheridan. In a show of unity, the couple have been arriving at court each day hand in hand.

The trial is set to last for two weeks in total.

Sources

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February 10, 2006

Poll embarassment for Blair

Poll embarassment for Blair – Wikinews, the free news source

Poll embarassment for Blair

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Friday, February 10, 2006

A By-Election in the Scottish constituency of Dunfermline & West Fife has seen a once safe Labour seat won by the Liberal Democrat party, despite a series of scandals rocking the UK’s third party during their search to find a new leader.

The poll was called to replace the MP Rachel Squire, who died last month, and saw the Liberal Democrats’ candidate Willie Rennie overturn a Labour majority of 11,562 to defeat the Labour party candidate, Catherine Stihler (currently an MEP) by 1,800 votes. The result will come as a blow to Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, who lives in the constituency and represents the neighbouring area of Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath.

However, the result was also viewed as a blow for other parties: the Scottish National Party, who came third in the General Election, could only increase their share of the vote by 2% and remain in third place, despite claiming that they were a close second during the campaign. Meanwhile, the Conservative Party, buoyed by the election of David Cameron as Party Leader, saw their vote fall by 2.5% The Scottish Socialist Party were also hit, registering a slight fall in their vote despite fielding a high-profile candidate in John McAllion, the former Labour MP and MSP for Dundee East.

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