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’ll be going for the Greens. They won’t win, but it’s an important protest vote and none of the others will ever do anything about anything,‘ said one Paisley local. nineteen years old and already thoroughly disillusioned by the Scottish political establishment. The Greens, working with meagre financial backing as they implore the electorate to ‘think globally, act locally’, have progressed well beyond the point of pressure group politics but they know that come polling day on 29 November. the main challenger in Scotland’s largest town is likely to
be the SNP.
Labour, who romped home at the 1987 general 1 election with majorities of 14,442 (Paisley North) and 15,785 (South), have campaigned as a party poised on the threshold of government, wheeling in Roy Hattersley and Donald Dewar to deliver a series of lunchtime ‘Labour Agenda’ talks to the party faithful. The message is that while others weep and wail and gnash their teeth, it is only Labour who are in a position to exercise political power. But their own electoral success — representing Paisley at district, regional and parliamentary levels — has made it easy for their opponents to lay every problem from Renfrew ' housing waiting lists to the decline of local
industry at the door of the People’s Party.
The SNP came fourth in both seats in 1987, but since then they have relegated the
self-combusting Conservatives to third place in polling for the district councils in 1988, the European Parliament in 1989, and the regional councils earlier this year. There has also been the Govan victory, which had an obvious effect on the SNP’s confidence and momentum. Set against the background of redundancies at Clydesdale and Ravenscraig in Lanarkshire, the Nationalists’ Independence in Europe strategy could find more favour. Jim Sillars needed a swing of 27 per cent
and got 33 per cent in Govan. In the Glasgow Central by-election, the SNP needed 27 per cent and
On November 29, the inhabitants of both Paisley constituencies will go to the polls together. Patrick Small discovers that recent political wrangles have
made the town a testing ground for all parties.
got 15 per cent. In both Paisley constituencies, they need a 21 per cent swing (exactly midway between the previous two by-elections).
Labour’s candidate for Paisley North, Irene Adams, is the widow of Allen Adams. whose death caused the by-election. With twenty years experience as a local councillor, she has built up her own credentials as a politician and should command solid support.
Gordon McMaster, Labour’s man for Paisley South. looks potentially vulnerable. It cannot be easy to offer yourself as replacement to a Parliamentary figure of Norman Buchan’s standing, and McMaster also faces a formidable opponent in the Nationalist’s candidate. the bear-like Iain Lawson. ‘Gordon was until recently a lecturer in horticulture’ the lobster pink Labour party candidate’s profile tells us. A political bruiser like Lawson could stomp all over Gordon’s garden, but much of that will depend on Labour’s success in highlighting his past membership ofthe Conservative party. Lawson says the voters will decide who is the Tory between them, pointing to Labour’s record on the poll tax, nuclear dumping. Trident missiles and the steel industry.
Paisley Conservatives must privately wish Lawson had never left them. Wrong footed by the Heseltine leadership bid, local Conservatives had to change overnight from championing Thatcherism to ‘um and er-ing’ about the politics that any one of her possible successors might pursue. On the day ofTarzan’s visit to Paisley, their candidates bungled press questions on his proposed changes to the poll tax. Ewan Marwick, candidate for the South constituency, said with a straight face, ‘The poll tax is working very well in Scotland’. With Labour highlighting Malcolm Rifkind’s refusal to turn down a building application for an industrial waste incinerator in Renfrew, the Conservatives look capable of recording at least one lost deposit.
For their part, the Liberal Democrats have concentrated on Labour’s local record and the SNP’s poll tax non-payment campaign. pointing to increased poll tax bills caused by non-payment. ‘I accuse the SNP of sacrificing local services on the altar of political expediency.’ said Jim Bannerman. candidate for Paisley North. Like all the opposition parties, the Democrats pointed out that Heseltine voted for the introduction of the poll tax in Scotland but not in England. Despite Eastbourne. they need to hold on to the second place they achieved in the Paisley 1987 elections to show that they are still the second force in Scottish politics.
Two convincing wins will enable Labour to talk even more confidently about being the government-in-waiting. Ifthe SNP steal a seat or substantially increase their vote in both constituencies, they will claim that Alex Salmond’s election as leader is already bearing electoral fruit. A Nationalist win might bring some comfort to the government simply by inﬂicting a humiliating defeat on Labour. But whether the victors of Paisley, whoever they are. do anything about anything is another thing entirely.
4 The List 23 November — 6 December 1990
‘indeed, it some at my tanner colleagues are to he believed, i must be the iirst minister in history to resign because he was in full agreement with Government goiicy.‘
Sir Geoitrey Horse’s iirst speech irom the backhanches alter leaving the Cabinet;
“it vras not that he was cruel. lie inst wanted to mate them do as he told them.’
[Michael Heseitine’s annt on her nephew’s childhood penchant tor chasing cats.
‘We‘re not looking tor tucking gaps or niches. We're looking tore ham-knedrieiight.’
Steve Sampson, editor at the iorthcoming David Murray Sunday tabloid. describes the gentle an at ioornaiism.
"the aim of the merger . . . is to give greater viewing cholee.‘
888‘s managing director 8am Chisholm explains the heneiits at cutting down tram nine channels to live.
‘i never saw any sign of elective democracy . . .er, sorry. dictatorship.’ Nicholas Ridley lets silo about his six-year experience of lite in the Cabinet.
‘Theprocedurehastodovriththe leadership. nothing to do raid! the prime ministershio. And i do not think Michael lieseltine wider-stands that. Being dyslexic, he wouldn’t anyway, would he?‘
Nicholas Fairoairn in The Scotsman.