Glasgow East? I wouldn’t live there says Margaret Curran

July 24, 2008

In what can only be described as the mother of all gaffes in her gaffe-torn Glasgow East campaign, the Labour candidate has refused to consider moving to the constituency once elected.

The Scotsman sums it up like this:

“But the news story was surely the refusal of Margaret Curran, the Labour candidate, to promise to live in the constituency if she wins on Thursday.”

She was asked on the Radio Scotland show Good Morning Extra by a caller if she would consider moving to the constituency if elected. She pointedly refused to answer the question instead calling her ‘I have lived in the East End all my life’ speech as just a slip of the tongue. She has lived in a £600 000 villa in the fashionable Newlands area in Glasgow’s Southside for many years.

The Scotsman article also follows on with this reasoning:

‘Must an MP live in the constituency? No. So why is this an issue? For two reasons. As the First Minister, Alex Salmond, said yesterday, it’s an issue because Ms Curran had “told fibs” about her home address.

The second reason is that Ms Curran has vowed to be a “fighter” for the East End. That’s more easily done when you are witnessing its problems on a daily basis, not on a once-a-week trip to the community centre for a weekly surgery with constituents on a Friday.

To make matters worse for Labour, Ms Curran’s SNP rival, John Mason, does live in the constituency. Predictably he reminded listeners of this fact.

Asked who he would vote for if he could not vote for himself, he said: “I live in this constituency. I’m voting for myself. I’m the candidate who lives here.”‘

On the eve of polling day, a refusal to live in the constituency must be seen as a huge slap in the face to the Glasgow East locals.

No doubt some of them would like to move into a swanky Southside house themselves but it hardly resonates either with those who are happy there or those are stuck there with no funds to move. Is this what she means when she says she doesn’t want to talk the area down?

Another Scotsman page numbered the activists in the Labour and SNP camp.

SNP 1000+
Labour 200 (The 2000 listed the paper admitted was a typo.)

That got me thinking of the membership bases of Scottish Labour and the SNP.

The BBC reported that the Labour Party in Scotland has 17000 members (2007 figures).

The SNP reported their membership figures of 14183 at March this year.

Given the bigger membership you may have expected Labour to have more activists in place in Glasgow East. In fact, as we know some of those 200 were English Labour MPs and the odd Swaziland journalist.

The Labour membership is sinking so fast that the SNP is predicted to be the largest Scottish party by 2010.

But using the figures quoted:-

Activist / Membership ratio of Labour is 200 / 17000 or 1.1%
Activist / Membership ratio of the SNP is 1000 / 14183 or 7.1 %

So an SNP member is 7 times more likely to be an activist than a Labour member.

It really does emphasise my point yesterday that the SNP message has Gladwell’s ‘stickiness’ quality and that the unionists are bereft.

The SNP campaign has been a triumph for their activists, win or lose.

Even if they don’t take the seat such dedication can only stand the SNP in good stead for the future. Many a safe seat will fall in Scotland with such an organised army of followers on the doorsteps.

I can’t wait to see if Labour’s vote is as soft as I think it is.