Scottish by-election deals Labour savage blow

Issue 

The British Labour Party and beleaguered Prime Minister Gordon Brown were dealt a new, savage blow in the Glasgow East by-election, which Labour lost to the Scottish National Party (SNP), according to a July 25 British Independent article.

Glasgow East was previously an extremely safe Labor seat, however the SNP's John Mason received 11,277 votes, while Labour's Margaret Curran received 10,912 votes.

As left-wing Scottish blogger Liam Mac Uaid noted, "Winning a by-election by 365 votes is normally nothing to get to excited about. Unless you manage to overturn a majority of 13,507 and get a swing of 22.5% in your favour. That's what the Scottish National Party managed in the Glasgow East by-election."

"A similar swing in a general election would lose Labour 150 MPs' seats", he point out. "The appalling Des Browne [secretary of state for Scotland in Brown's cabinet] has already been traipsing round the studios saying that the government must 'hold its nerve'. Coming from the man with day to day oversight of the imperial adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan it's pretty clear what he means.

"He could have thrown in some detail about bringing the private sector into the NHS, a winter of fuel poverty for millions and below inflation pay rises for public sector workers but decided not to."

Mac Uaid argued that the SNP has positioned itself to the left of Labour, ("Not a major hurdle"). The SNP administration in the Scottish parliament has made decisions such as reducing prescription medicine charges "to £5 in April and it is
intended to abolish them completely by 2011". Mac Uaid noted "Scottish students no longer have to pay tuition fees and SNP leader Alex Salmond has established a profile for the party as combative and willing to take on London".

As a result, despite not reversing many of Labour's neoliberal policies in Scotland, the SNP "is picking up lot of working class support".

The Scottish Socialist Party came fifth in the by-election, receiving 555 votes, while Solidarity, which split from the SSP in 2006, received 512. A combined socialist vote would have beaten the Liberal Democrats, who came fourth.