A cliffhanger is reported for next Thursday’s Glasgow East by-election, with the Sunday Herald reporting Labour four points ahead of the SNP and only 1,000 votes separating them. Ironically, with the SNP on the rise, the by-election climax offers yet another opportunity for London papers like the Sunday Times to eclipse the Scottish based Herald and Scotsman stables. The spin of the Sunday Times story has the SNP poised to win, in contrast with the more cautious Herald. The Times’s report that the independence referendum is being set for St Andrew’s Day 2010 also plays to the SNP agenda.
Just to show that the thrust is not all in the SNP’s direction, the Times (like the Herald), highlights the report that local income tax, a prime SNP policy, is a non-starter.
In contrast, Scotland on Sunday relegates the by-election as a quiet story during the Glasgow Fair holiday.
Most fascinating is the backgrounder by Geoffrey Wheatcroft in the Independent on Sunday, on the political struggle between Catholics (Labour) and Protestants (Conservatives). Wheatcroft concludes:
“..while Labour hangs on to its residual affiliation with probably more Labour-voting “Catholics” in Glasgow East than go to Mass the Tories have been gravely damaged by the eclipse of political Protestantism.
That didn’t stop the Tories winning more votes than Labour at the last general election (another neglected fact), and it is almost certain that they will win more English seats at the next. If they fail to gain a parliamentary majority because of Labour’s Scottish-Catholic hard core, might not “Orangeism” yet return in new guise? “
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London