06 November 2009

The Negative-o-meter: 5-6 November

In the week running up to the Glasgow By-Election, and to analyse in greater detail accusations of negativity, I thought I'd look at the candidates' pieces for The Steamie, and flag up the positive and negative comments. The positive shall be marked in green, and the negative in red. Relatively neutral comments (or ambiguous points which could be positive or negative depending on how you look at it), agenda points and party-based fluff will be left alone. I like to think my readers are a pretty sharp bunch: you can interpret the situation as you wish.

Willie Bain

I'm pleased to be taking part in this great idea by The Steamie to get people engaged with this by-election online.

Although I know not everyone uses the internet to access their news - I know lots of Glaswegians who are increasingly using it to find out what's going on and keep in touch with friends and family. I hope that by writing on here that I can help some of them understand more about me and my plans.

Despite a late night in the Newsnight studio I'm keen to hit the ground running this morning - talking to voters and hearing their concerns. I've lived in this area all my life - I think I'm the only candidate that can (honestly!) say that. I'm not a politician and I've never stood for election before but I'm proud of this area and I want to do my best for it.

The issue that people constantly raise with me on the door is their anger at the way the SNP is ripping off our city. Despite the SNP's budget going up by £600m this year they are giving extra money to some projects - but shortchanging Glasgow. It's amazing how many times people raise this when you speak to them. So I'm going out and about in the constituency today - knocking of people's doors and letting them know who I am and what I believe in.

I'm also meeeting with Andrew Adonis to tell him about the importance of good transport links to the Glasgow economy and the shockingly short-sighted decision of the SNP to cancel the airport rail link at a cost of 1000 jobs.

The other issue that people keep raising with me is about the SNP candidate fibbing about where he was born. Look, at the end of the day the real issue in this story is about trust. People's trust in politics is at an all time low. We have to start trying to restore that trust and that starts with people being able to believe the people that seek to represent them.

I've been clear with people what my top priorities are:

* stopping the SNP ripping off Galsgow [sic] and dishing out the money elsewhere
* cracking down on crime and anti-social behaviour - I've been running a carry a knife go to jail petition to get automatic jail sentences for knife criminals
* helping glasgow pensioners through tough times and fighting to protect jobs
* campaigning for better shops, better homes, and better buses

Thanks to everyone who is supporting me in this campaign. If you want to get in touch with me then you can email me at willie@williebain.com.

Best wishes

Willie Bain
Labour's candidate for Glasgow North East

Ruth Davidson

Well done the Steamie for coming up with this idea. I’ve been blogging on this campaign for sometime and I’m glad now the other candidates won’t be able to run away when I ask them a question!

During the five months that this campaign has been running it has become clear that the issues in Glasgow North East are not that different from those across Britain. People are worried about their jobs, worried about Labour's recession, worried about public services, and worried about crime.

MP's from all parties have betrayed the trust that the public had placed in them. That is why David Cameron apologised as soon as the details of MP's expenses claims came out, because it was wrong and the people of Britain deserved an apology. It was then that he said he wanted a new type of politics - which was when I decided I should put myself forward as a candidate. I am not a career politician, but I do believe that politics needs new people to get involved, get stuck in, and try and change things for the better. As candidates we all need to work to restore the public’s trust in politics.

That is why the very first thing I did following selection was to promise to run a clean campaign - which I invited all the other candidates to join. I have kept to that - the Conservatives won’t use personal attacks in order to get votes. That is why I have pledged to be open about my expenses if elected. Simple things, not exploiting expenses, discussing the issues not the personalities, but I think that they help people to believe I will keep my word if elected.

David Cameron and the Conservative Party believe the same thing. That is why we have been honest about the problems with the public finances. Instead of pretending nothing needed done, the Conservatives have told the truth that there will have to be savings in Government spending. We don't want to reduce spending, but we have to be realistic and tell people the harsh truth that Labour have spent all the money – and it is up to the next Government to repair the damage.

That’s why in the Scottish Parliament we have identified ¼ billion pounds worth of savings. Take Scottish Water out of public ownership, stop this nonsense of free prescriptions and free school meals for people who can afford to pay. Some things in life are not free – we have to accept that, especially in this current climate.

This election is about which party can bring the change that is needed to Glasgow North East, and to Britain. The Conservatives have the policies that will create jobs, repair the public finances, and help to fix our broken society. Most of all, we are the party that will be open and honest with the public – that’s what is needed to help rebuild trust in politics.

David Kerr

Welcome to the Steamie's by-election coverage. It's great to be taking part in this new way of covering a by-election, putting my campaign direct to you the voters.

In the next few days I’ll use this blog to tell you about some of the amazing people and inspiring projects I have met and seen in the constituency and the kind of MP I will be if the people in Glasgow North East vote for me.

Five months after Michael Martin resigned we are now into the last seven days of the campaign and it's turning out to be closer than many people thought. Despite the lengthy delay voters haven’t forgotten the expenses scandal that caused the by-election or the five school closures in the constituency that left Labour so scared the vote was delayed for five months.

Those issues have many people, who had always voted Labour, questioning the party they have supported and looking toward the SNP.

I'll be out campaigning today with John Mason MP, in Carntyne where Glasgow East meets Glasgow North East.

John's political earthquake demonstrates the difference an SNP MP can make. When it came to school closures – Labour didn’t dare put forward any closures in John’s constituency but they took people in Glasgow North East for granted.

Residents of Glasgow East had been let down by their MP - with no constituency office and no one to vote for their interests. John has set a new standard for Glasgow MPs - accessible, available and putting his constituents first.

In Glasgow North East constituents have been in the same position - with no office for the local MP in the constituency and decades of being taken for granted by Labour in Westminster and in the City Chambers.

People in Glasgow North East deserve the same level of representation their fellow East Enders have in the neighbouring constituency. This constituency deserves an MP whose priorities will be constituents priorities and that’s what I will deliver if elected next week.

Eileen Baxendale

I think this is a great idea from the Steamie. I would love to see more newspapers and media outlets adopt innovative approaches to help get more people engaged in politics.

I want to say right from the start that I think it was simply outrageous that the Labour party have allowed the people in Glasgow North East to go without an MP for so long, well over 125 days now. This just shows that the Labour Government has lost touch with the people it serves.

Since this campaign kicked off all those weeks ago, I have been working hard, knocking on doors and listening to people right across the constituency.

The message that I am getting again and again is that people are fed up being overlooked and ignored and that they want change. They want their politician’s focus to be on sorting the economy, creating more local jobs and tackling local crime.

I believe that it is Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats that have the policies and ideas to make a real difference on these issues.

To really tackle these problems we need more than just sensationalist, headline grabbing soundbites. We need a new approach.

On the economy and banking, it is Vince Cable that has been the voice of reasoned authority over recent months. It was he who first warned about the impending economic collapse. Labour were too slow to act and the Tories were simply nowhere on sorting out the economy.

On tackling crime and creating jobs, Liberal Democrats believe that this is best done at a local level. We are committed to putting the heart back into our communities and giving local people a greater say over their own affairs.

Locking everyone up and sending our young people to prison is not the best way to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour. We need more community based initiatives that tackle the root causes of why young people in our society get involved in crime in the fist place.

Labour’s recession has led to tough times for all of us. The Liberal Democrats want to sort out the tax system to give a boost to those on low and middle incomes. We want to raise the income tax threshold so those on less than £10,000 a year don’t pay tax. This would put around £700 a year back into the pockets of those on low and middle incomes.

It is the Liberal Democrats who are the only party offering real progressive change to our society. Unlike the SNP it is the Liberal Democrats who can make a real difference at Westminster and stand up for the people of Glasgow North East.

Willie Bain

Just back from the STV studios where the four main candidates cross–examined ourselves in heated spirits.

In a slightly peculiar manoeuvre, the SNP man decided to throw a two-pound coin at me. I was thinking a question might be more likely, but there you go.

Amazingly, he vigorously defended the decision to scrap the airport rail link and the loss of up to 1,300 jobs. I thought he’d want to stand up for Glasgow, but he seems he wants to be Salmond’s man in Springburn.

Earlier, I met with Andrew Adonis, the Secretary of State for Transport, to discuss the importance of good transport links to and from Glasgow. He got the train from the centre of town up to Springburn.

Like me, he was angered by the SNP’s decision to cancel the rail link. If elected I will do all I can to fight the SNP’s decision and stop them ripping of Glasgow in the future. I oppose the cuts in housing and regeneration in the SNP’s draft budget for next year and I believe that Glasgow should get a metropolitan supplement, as Edinburgh does and is proposed for Aberdeen. The SNP cannot continue to rip off Glasgow. It isn’t a by-election slogan as the SNP try to brush it off: it is a tragedy for our city.

Harriet Harman also joined the campaign this evening and was out knocking on doors with me – first with the cameras, and then just the two of us later on. We stopped for a quick coffee in Dennistoun.

It really was all hands on deck today. Tomorrow I’ll be out and about again from first thing to late.

David Kerr

Less than a week to go and the SNP campaign is in full swing.

SNP activists are out across the constituency - with more coming to join the campaign this weekend - including a visit from the Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.

Today I'll be joined on the campaign trail by Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop to meet some of the young people that are benefiting from the SNP's investment in education in this constituency.

A few weeks ago we visited Glasgow North College and today we'll be heading to John Wheatley's campus. These colleges have received record levels of investment from the SNP and with help from the Scottish Government are providing extra places to support people during the recession.

That's the kind of investment we need to bring opportunities to this constituency, to ensure a bright future for our young people.

There's another sign of the SNP's commitment to Glasgow today. In the face of serious budget cuts from Labour in London the SNP has had to take some tough decisions over how we allocate Scotland's budget. I'm proud of the fact that the SNP's priorities are health, education and making our communities safer.

Today Nicola Sturgeon will announce the next step toward a new £840 million Southern General - built entirely with public funds - as the contracts are signed. Alongside it will be a new children's hospital for Glasgow.

That's the kind of investment I want to see across the city - and that's the kind of investment the SNP will continue to put into Glasgow.

David Doherty

Over the last few years, Glasgow has become one of the Greenest parts of Scotland, and Glasgow North East is no exception.

Glaswegians are represented at Holyrood by Patrick Harvie MSP, and the city has returned five Green Councillors, one of whom, my colleague Kieran Wild, represents Canal Ward here in Glasgow North East.

In the Euro-elections Greens came third in Glasgow North East, ahead of the Conservatives and the Lib Dems, although it'd be dishonest to put out a leaflet saying "only Greens can win here".

It's not hard to see why Glasgow's increasingly backing the Greens. Our major campaign at Holyrood over the last year has been to try and insulate all of Scotland's homes, cutting bills, boosting jobs, tackling fuel poverty and beating climate change all in one go. As a volunteer I'm on the board of a building renovation charity, and I'm only too aware of the problems in this area across the city. The parties who've governed Glasgow, locally and nationally, should be ashamed of themselves for letting people continue to suffer in damp, unhealthy and expensive homes.

What's more, Labour and the SNP may be bickering about GARL, but only the Greens have consistently opposed the M74 currently being bulldozed through the South East of the City. We could have had Crossrail built by now for a fraction of the cost of this motorway, but sadly only Greens continue to make that case.

Finally, Glasgow's economy has taken a serious blow from the credit crunch and the recession, and people are understandably reluctant to back any of the parties who celebrated the risk-takers, backed the deregulators and handed over vast amounts of our money to the bankers. Pretending it all never happened isn't a long-term response to this crisis, nor is it a sustainable one.

So, let me be the first candidate to admit this election isn't in the bag for us, but we are part of the world's fastest-growing political movement, and we have confounded the naysayers who said we couldn't get MSPs, MEPs or Councillors elected. Sometime soon I'm confident we'll make that Westminster breakthrough, and people in Glasgow North East can be the first to deliver that radical change.

Willie Bain

I was delighted to welcome the Prime Minister to the constituency this afternoon.

Gordon and I visited North Glasgow College – a shining example of what Labour has achieved in the area. I’m proud that Gordon was so impressed with the building, and the opportunities that the college provides for people in my area.

It’s sad that some people want to talk down our community, but I think the college is a great example of the changes I have seen in my life here.

I’ve put some more information up on my website. The man in the photo with the Prime Minister is my dad (also Willie). He was really proud to meet the Prime Minister.

It was taken inside our campaign centre, which is in the old college building over the road from the new one. The building was opened by a former in 1909 by Earl Rosebery who was Prime Minister in the 1890s. The foyer contains a moving and sobering war memorial to the college students who died in the First World War.

So, after Days 1 and 2 of this endeavour, that's where we are:

Three posts by Willie Bain, one of which laden with ambiguous comments and innuendo which I can't properly brand as either positive or negative, one of which was basically a hatchet job, and the third fairly anodyne;

Two posts by David Kerr, one of which offering a point/counterpoint format - a negative point balanced by a contrasting positive one - followed by one that was mostly good news;

One post by Ruth Davidson, which was generally positive with the occasional dig;

One post by Eileen Baxendale, which was broadly positive with slightly more frequent digs;

And one rather bleak post by David Doherty, which seemed to identify a number of key problems but, to me, looked light on actual solutions.

Let's now see what the weekend brings...


subrosa said...

I see my idea for having a blog specific for candidates views has been pinched.

Quite a compliment. :)

James Mackenzie said...

It's an interesting concept, this analysis, but I'd have drawn the green and red a little differently. Some of the green against Mr Kerr seems particularly dubious, but hey, political blogging's usually about partisan perspectives.

Incidentally, you can tell that the Kerr campaign aren't reading your blog (which is their loss): check out this morning's diatribe of negativity.

Will said...

Subrosa, consider yourself a pace-setter - never a bad thing to be!

James, you're right, positivity and negativity are (largely) in the eye of the beholder and whatever someone might imply when they say something, they can't control what their audience infers: this is drawn on my inference which I'd like to think is about 90-odd per cent in line with how others would read it. To be honest, asking a bunch of people to do this would make for a brilliant sociolinguistics experiment and if I'd thought of it five years ago instead of doing a god-awful dissertation on consonant length in Shilluk, I might have graduated with more than a 2:2. :)

And I can't argue with the recent post - depending on what else gets posted on The Steamie today, I'll either break it down tonight or tomorrow night - being negative. It's a grim piece but at the same time, an open goal given the running Labour have made on GARL. That's not to excuse it though: I tire of politicians offering us problems - we already know what they are, thank you - when it's their job to offer solutions.

Incidentally, I think it's rather cheeky to link to the Herald from a Scotsman page. ;)