13 July 2008


Glasgow East is mainly Glasgow Shettleston, which was an Independent Labour Party stronghold for nearly 40 years, represented by John Wheatley (MP 1922-30) and then John McGovern (MP 1930-59). Wheatley was an extraordinary character, the one successful minister of Ramsay MacDonald's first administration and the man who got the Catholics of Glasgow to vote left. McGovern was a lesser figure, but still notable for his stands in the 1930s against the Stalin show-trials and for the revolutionaries in Spain (even though he went off the rails at the end of his life). Since his demise, however, it's been downhill all the way. The MP from 1959 to 1979, Myer Galpern, was an old ILPer more interested in the ermine than the workers, and his successor, David Marshall, spent nearly 30 years representing the constituency without anyone noticing. Now Labour is on track to lose or come close to losing the by-election caused by Marshall's resignation on grounds of health. OK, the place has changed rather a lot since 1922. But this is potentially seismic.

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