22 August 2010

The Return of the Selection Box: Central Scotland and Glasgow

Despite the hysteria over the 100-day of the Coalition, and the excitement over Charles Kennedy doing nothing, the Scottish political parties are in the midst of selecting their candidates for next year's elections. So, inspired by Malc's post on retiring MSPs, I thought I'd take a look.

In Central Scotland, all eyes are on Motherwell & Wishaw, not because there's a vacancy (yet), but because there's pressure on Jack McConnell to stand down after taking a peerage. It should be noted that McConnell is the fifth MSP Peer: Lords Douglas-Hamilton, Foulkes, Steel and Watson all went before him and Lord Watson (despite his fall from grace) provides something of a precedent in that he too was a Constituency MSP, and successfully sought election and re-election as a Peer of the Realm. However, McConnell is the first to become an MSP while sitting in the Scottish Parliament (normally the reverse is the case), and he is the first one to consider keeping a foot in both camps after 2011. This is significant for the Kelly Review, which proposed the end of dual mandates from the date of the next devolved elections. Now, the review referred only to "Westminster MPs", which suggests that only membership of the Commons was considered, but combining a working peerage with the Scottish Parliament would be dubious in the spirit of Kelly if not the letter. He may, therefore, end up feeling pressured to stand down. We shall see.

In Glasgow, keep your eye on Glasgow Shettleston, where John Mason (of the Glasgow East By-Election) has been selected for the SNP. Now, Mason is not seeking a place on the Regional List, and does require an 11.22% swing to win the seat. Of course, that's a considerable increase on the swing he achieved in Glasgow East in the General Election in May, but it's only about half what he pulled off in the By-Election in 2008, so it's not completely beyond the realms of possibility. But of course, this will have a knock-on effect for the List, and assuming that Nicola Sturgeon takes #1 billing, then none of the sitting Regional MSPs will want to come fifth.

Meanwhile, for Labour, a pressure has been eased with Margaret Curran's transfer to Westminster: they are no longer trying to fit nine MSPs into eight notional seats, and have already selected Stephen Curran as their candidate for Glasgow Southside. Then there are the Tories, who find themselves with a vacancy at the top of their List given the retirement of Bill Aitken. Malcolm Macaskill has been chosen as his replacement for the Glasgow Anniesland candidacy, but the actual list is yet to be determined. It's still possible that Ruth Davidson might enter the fold, but I understand that the Tories' one Councillor in Glasgow, David Meikle, has been selected in Southside, so he is one to watch.

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Alia Khan said...
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