Inside Scottish Labour selections: Glasgow East
In today’s column, we profile the tight selection battle in Glasgow East.
In the second-most marginal seat in Scotland for Labour, with a mere 75 votes between Labour and the SNP in 2017, Glasgow East will be at the forefront Labour strategists’ attempts to obtain an outright majority government next election.
Although historically a strong Labour stronghold, Labour’s loss of the seat in 2008 to John Mason of the SNP put the party on notice in Glasgow six years prior to the independence referendum.
Previously contested in 2017 by Kate Watson, Glasgow East saw the SNP’s majority drop by over ten-thousand votes, on a 12.6% swing to Labour. Formerly Natalie McGarry’s seat, McGarry was forced to quit the SNP benches after charges of fraud and embezzlement relating to the ‘Women for Independence’ group she helped found were brought against her.
Kate Watson was previously the director of operations for the Better Together campaign in 2014, and former staffer for Bono’s anti-poverty foundation. Speaking to the Robin, Watson said:
"I was honoured to fight for Labour in Glasgow East last year - it's where I live and I've spent more than a decade campaigning for Labour values across the seat. I was proud of our campaign, our bold and radical manifesto and proud that we slashed the SNP majority from 10,387 to just 75 votes but I was also disappointed we couldn't get over the line. That's why I'm putting myself forward for selection - to finish the job."
"People in the East End need a Labour Government and Jeremy can kick the Tories out if we win back seats like Glasgow East. I think I'm the best local candidate to build on what we achieved last year, to deliver real change in the East End and help Labour become a Government for the many not the few"
An opponent of Jeremy Corbyn, Watson also signed the open letter demanding that Corbyn step aside during the leadership challenge of 2016, tweeting that Corbyn was “destroying the party I love”.
Seen as close to the leadership under Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale, Watson is facing a local challenge from the left by Linda Croker, a council worker and stillbirth charity campaigner.
Croker has so far secured supporting nominations from Unison, Unite and the CWU in her bid for the seat:
“I’m proud to have picked up so much support from local members, activists and trade unionists already. Every trade union branch affiliated to our two Constituency Labour Parties has backed me, including Unite, Unison and the CWU.”
In a high-profile endorsement Unite’s General Secretary, Len McCluskey, backed Linda for the seat:
“Linda's record as a Labour and Trade Union activist makes her a formidable candidate to challenge the SNP in Glasgow East. She is a local, working class woman who doesn't simply talk the talk but walks the walk, delivering for her community day in and day out.
I am proud to endorse her to contest this seat, and I am confident she will make an excellent representative for the people of Glasgow East, and all working people, in Westminster.”