I was delighted to learn that Sir Alex Ferguson has decided to endorse my campaign for Glasgow North East.
As a Glasgow man himself, Sir Alex knows how the people of Glasgow think and feel. Despite his success, Sir Alex has always stayed true to his roots.
He knows that people need help now to get through these difficult times.
I think Sir Alex’s endorsement is a real boost my campaign. He is well respected by people here – and he knows a thing or two about running a good campaign.
You can head over to my website to see what he has to say. This is me at Petershill FC last week - in the rain.
Labour's by-election candidate.
Perhaps the biggest theme of the campaign has been how many people have come to me worried about Labour’s jobs crisis. There are 4,212 people in the constituency who have to claim unemployment benefit. That’s up nearly a thousand (989) in just a year and gives Glasgow North East the highest claimant rate in Scotland. That’s Labour’s legacy to Glasgow, unemployment and a jobs crisis.
Labour’s record in Glasgow shows a worrying complacency. Labour closed one Job Centre in Glasgow North East and replaced much of the face-to-face contact in the other with a mere telephone helpline. That isn’t going to help people get jobs. Labour have claimed in this by-election that they care about getting people back into work – but their actions in government don’t back that up. Broken promises and a broken economy, that’s all we get from Labour.
The Conservatives are different. We want to help people get into work because we realise how important jobs are for people. The Conservatives have the policies to bring new jobs, help the unemployed retrain, and tackle Labour’s debt mountain that threatens to hamper investment.
So we will provide tax breaks for new companies who provide new jobs. We will free up credit to help businesses. And we have a radical welfare plan that will help people who are out of work to get back into employment by providing the individual support they need, as well as providing incentives for providers who can help those in the most difficult circumstances get back into work.
This sounds like a tough message – as if we are forcing people to work. But in reality there is nothing compassionate about the current situation where people are left isolated outside society. We need to integrate people into work, support them, and help them. Most people don’t want to be on benefits, but the current system forces them there and then abandons them. That’s not progressive, and it’s not what the people of Glasgow North East need.
These are the Conservative plans to get Glasgow working again. But the only way that can happen is if you vote for the Conservatives at this by-election, and at the upcoming General Election. Only Labour or the Conservatives can become the next Government, and therefore the choice is between this failing Labour Government, or a fresh government, with real ideas to tackle the jobs crisis and recession, led by David Cameron.
Five months ago when Michael Martin resigned there was a more local issue dominating the news in this constituency. School closures.
Today schools are back on the agenda. The SNP has dug up papers, produced last week by the council showing how many teaching posts Labour have cut over the summer months.
The figures, tucked away in a staffing report show that since June Glasgow's Labour council has let an astonishing 150 teaching posts go.
Even more astonishing, when I looked back at the figures for last September they show that Labour have let over 300 teaching posts go in the last 12 months.
In the summer Glasgow's Labour council shut five local primaries in this constituency over the wishes of the community. Holding off on the by-election, even voting against it in Westminster, might have helped Labour get the issue out of the papers but as I have met parents from those five schools through this campaign it is clear they have not forgotten Labour's betrayal. The loss of 300 teaching posts, that could have been used to cut class sizes - starting in Glasgow North East - is a further sign that Labour's commitment to education in this city is not what it should be.
Labour have no excuses here - Glasgow's Labour council receives more money from the SNP for every resident than any other mainland council, but it spends less of it's money on education than any of Scotland's other 31 councils. Labour cannot escape that fact.
This morning I will join Nicola Sturgeon at the site of one of those schools with local parents. Their concerns have not gone away and nor has their fighting spirit. Their children now have a difficult and dangerous walk to school and this morning those parents will be highlighting those concerns.
My commitment to the parents, children and teachers of this constituency is that if elected on Thursday I will not keep quiet while Labour shut schools, cut teachers and increase class sizes. Labour may not be spending the money Glasgow receives on Glasgow North East's priorities, but the priorities of constituents will be my priorities if I am given the honour of representing this constituency. I will take the fight to the City Chambers and I will stand up for parents when Labour rips them off.
Yesterday I was joined by Nick Clegg and Tavish Scott on the campaign trail.
We were campaigning at the ASDA in Robroyston where we heard how local people are suffering as a result of Labour’s recession.
It is this issue that has dominated this by-election and it is the concern that people have raised with me most often on the doorsteps.
People in Glasgow North East are looking for something different in this by-election. They are fed-up being overlooked by a tired old Labour party.
People in this area want their new politician to hit the ground running with fresh ideas, working hard to create jobs and put more money back into hard working people's pockets.
Liberal Democrats are the only party that are offering new ideas and new hope for Glasgow North East. We are Scotland's second largest party at Westminster and we are the real alternative for local people.
One of the most worrying aspects of Labour’s recession is that it risks leaving the poisonous legacy of a jobless generation.
Instead of pouring money into the ineffective VAT cut, Liberal Democrats have called for a paid internship scheme for our young people.
We want our young people to not go more than three months without a right of access to a place in work, training or education.
Rather than allowing someone to sit at home on benefits, young people would gain invaluable skills and experience in an actual workplace.
This is a win-win situation for both employers and those looking for work. It means that when we do finally come out of this recession our young people will have gained essential work experience.
Liberal Democrats are the only party with the practical ideas offering hope to people in Glasgow North East who are struggling through Labour’s recession.
Polling day is just two days away, and my campaign is gearing up for a final push to persuade local people that I will work hard for everyone here if they choose me to represent them.
I will continue to disregard the speculation and bookmakers' predictions about how this by-election will end - it will be a close battle and I am fighting for every vote. The vast majority of people have not yet cast their vote and I want to talk to as many of them as possible.
My focus over the next few days will be to encourage my neighbours and others who live in the constituency to make that trip to the polling station, because I want to see a good turn-out.
What drives me is the chance to make the area where I grew up and still live today a better and fairer place to be. I will fight for jobs and more opportunities for young people, and that is the message I took to John Wheatley College today as I met with staff and students at the fantastic new campus on Haghill Road.
Tackling crime, and in particular knife crime, is also one of my priorities. I welcomed Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Baker to the constituency today and I am pleased that he backs my 'carry a knife, go to jail' campaign. We need a stronger deterrent to stop people carrying a blade and using weapons to attack people.
As polling day gets closer, I hope I have worked hard enough to convince people in my area to put their trust in me - but we are still 48 hours away from polling and there are thousands of people still to speak to.
Labour's by-election candidate
Polls close, of course, in less than fifty hours. Labour are posting frequently, but saying very little: most of their posts have been anodyne. The SNP has gone in heavily and hit hard at the plan to axe the East Coast services to Glasgow, and the school closures. The other parties, when they criticise anyone, appear to be criticising Labour, and in particular, 'Labour's recession'.
So what we need in the next day is, to my mind, two-fold: we need a Labour post defending itself against the attacks they've been hit with - the SNP responded to criticisms regarding GARL and defended itself against them, remember, so it is fundamentally in Labour's interest to justify its own position (a point left undealt with is a point still standing); by contrast, we need a positive SNP post: we've heard enough reasons not to vote Labour, but the other parties are supplying them as well. Consequently, it is self-defeating to stay on the attack line as there is more than one anti-Labour option, and the vote could be split amongst them, allowing Labour in again.
With the attacks focused on Labour, and no sign as yet of Labour responding to them, the floor is open to David Kerr to supply positive reasons to vote for him: the others aren't attacking him at this time and a positive approach would present something distinctive. It's not enough to simply not be Labour: David Kerr is one of twelve candidates who are not Labour so he needs to move to the stage which completes the argument.
10 November 2009