Today the good residents of Glasgow East constituency go to the polls to elect a new MP following the abrupt resignation of their Labour MP David Marshall. I visited the area last weekend to do some campaigning for our excellent Conservative candidate Davena Rankin, and I thought I’d post one or two reflections on my time there.
I was born in Lanark and lived in the Lanarkshire town of Carluke until I was eight years old, I was a relatively frequent visitor to Glasgow when I was a small boy. Despite this, other than passing swiftly through on a train (below ground in any case!) or in a car I’ve never had cause to visit the east end of Glasgow.
(That said, by strange coincidence, I was a Primary School classmate of the SNP Councillor for Calton and Parkhead who I’ve just discovered has a blog too. I’ve not yet decided whether there’s room on my blogroll for a Scottish Nationalist – perhaps if she asks nicely!)
I spent two days in Glasgow East – on the first day in Tollcross and Parkhead, and on the second day in the Shettleston area. Even within that short period of time I saw plenty of contrasts – from the old Georgian tenements in Tollcross through well-kept housing near Shettleston train station to a gleaming new estate just to the west of Celtic Park. However the concrete tenements and flats that resulted from Glasgow’s post-war planning and expansion are scattered across the constituency. The high-rise flats and big made-to-order estates like Easterhouse (which is in the constituency) and Castlemilk (which isn’t) have borne the brunt of the criticism over the years, but the influence of that style of building is evident across the whole area. The contrast between the new build in Parkhead (mostly houses with front doors) and the old tenements they had replaced was astonishing.
Fraser Nelson from the Spectator has written eloquently (see also here and the video below) about some of the problems facing Glasgow East. At the heart of my old classmate’s Calton ward, the life expectancy for an adult male is just 54. 85% of residents live in flats or tenements. Just 44% of those of working age actually work.
I’m under no illusions that Davena Rankin will be elected as the next MP for the area this evening, I am heartened that the Conservative Party are listening to local residents there. For decades, no-one has listened to them – Labour have admitted that they have no canvass data in one of their safest constituencies in the entire country. David Marshall probably never knocked on a door.
I’ll leave you with Fraser Nelson’s film for the Daily Politics. Something to think about: