Tuesday, 22 July 2008
Swing High Sweet Chariot
.... Coming Forth to Carry Me Home.... and Dry!
Lab 60.7% (18,775)
SNP 11.9% (5,268)
LD 11.9% (3,665)
C 6.9% (2,135)
Turnout: 48.2% (30,939)
Severin Carrell, Scotland correspondent guardian.co.uk, Tuesday July 22, 2008
The Scottish first minister, Alex Salmond, has admitted that Thursday's byelection in Glasgow East will be a test of his own popularity as well as a test of strength between two governments. As campaigning entered its final phase, the Scottish National party leader again claimed his party was on the brink of a "political earthquake", by snatching one of Labour's safest seats. The SNP need a 22% swing to win Glasgow East, which Labour held at the last general election with a 13,507 majority.
But for the first time, Salmond acknowledged that voters were also passing judgment on his own performance as first minister, an admission that his own reputation is partly at stake in the poll. Speaking as he campaigned at a shopping centre near Easterhouse with the SNP candidate John Mason, Salmond said: "It is a test of strength between two governments ... This is a tale of two governments and people are passing judgment on the Labour government and the SNP government in Scotland ... that's what people are entitled to do."
With the SNP increasingly popular among voters across Scotland, Salmond desperately wants to match his party's famous byelection victories against Labour in Hamilton in 1967 and Govan in 1973 and in 1988. Salmond has banked heavily on his own popularity by spending 12 days campaigning in Glasgow East since the sitting MP David Marshall stood down last month. He believes that the widespread unpopularity of Gordon Brown's government, combined with sharply rising food and fuel prices, will lead thousands of Labour voters to support the SNP. The SNP's private polling is said to show it is only a few thousand votes behind Labour.