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What are the chances of upsets in the Scottish by-elections?

September 26th, 2005

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    Will the Iraq situation affect voting in Robin Cook’s old seat?

After seeing themselves safely home by holding the Hartlepool by-election in the same week as the Labour conference a year ago party officials have adopted the same tactic for the Livingston Westminster by-election and the one at Glasgow Cathcart for the Scottish Parliament.

During conference weeks parties get much more broadcast coverage than usual and Labour officials clearly felt that this was extra insurance just in case there was the possibility of a shock.

In Robin Cook’s old seat at Livingston Labour are fielding the former MP’s agent, Jim Devine and his main challenge looks set to come from the SNP’s Blackburn-born Angela Constance, above, who secured 21.6% of the vote on May 5th – a massive 30% behind Cook. Even allowing for a personal vote and the difficulty Labour might have in getting its supporters out it is very hard to see anything other than a Labour hold with a much reduced majority.

The generally down-beat nature of the media coverage of last week’s Lib Dem conference won’t have helped the party who were in a reasonable third place last time.

Because the outcome has seemed a foregone conclusion there has been no online betting market and almost no coverage in the national media. It is hard to know what has been going on.

    The main political impact could be the way a bad result for Labour will be interpreted. Given that this is Robin Cook’s old seat and the deterioration of the situation in Iraq it will be seen as further evidence of the political price Labour is paying for going to war.

The SNP’s campaign has possibly been hurt by Labour’s decision to hold the Cathcart by-election for the Edinburgh Parliament on the same day. This is the seat made vacant after the incumbent MSP, Mike Watson, was sent to prison last week after pleading guilty to a criminal charge of wilful fire-raising at a hotel.

If anybody has information about the campaigns then please let us know?

Mike Smithson






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