The situation of financial crisis, coupled with a hugely unpopular Westminster government that has found itself entirely incapable of coming up with any solutions beyond throwing more and more of our money at the banks, would seem a perfect opportunity for the SNP to make their mark and assert the need for an independent Scotland. With unemployment poised to reach two million and share prices continuing to fall at the SNP conference, Alex Salmond has been reduced to calling for the return of ‘Scotland’s money’ and blaming the collapse of Scottish banks on the Union. Supposedly independence will save us from such catastrophes in the future.
The unexpected by-election in the Glasgow East constituency has focussed the attention of the political parties and the media on a part of Clydeside which it has long been fashionable to ignore. At the general election Labour obtained a majority of 13,500 over the SNP candidate, gaining 60.7% of the vote. If ever Labour had a safe seat it was Glasgow East. This has led to the constituency being taken for granted and systematically neglected. In Greater Glasgow, life expectancy is below the national average at 70.7 years. In the Calton ward of Glasgow East it is just 53.9 years, a figure comparable with many ‘third world’ countries.