If you’re a Labour party member feeling despondent after the by-election defeat in Glasgow East you could do worse than to watch Margaret Curran’s concession speech. Whilst still taking in defeat after a hard campaign, she showed real passion and commitment to continue fighting for the East End of Glasgow. I found her recognition of the need to listen to voters’ message whilst holding firm to Labour values especially reassuring:
“I regret that I did not win this for Labour tonight and I do believe the Labour party has to listen and has to hear the message from the people of Glasgow East, but let me say to you, as a continuing elected representative of the East End of Glasgow, that my commitment to them is undiminished. I said at the beginning of this campaign that I am in politics because I am driven to tackle poverty, to tackle inequality and to liberate the people of Scotland and Great Britain from those great injustices and my commitment to that remains as strong as ever”.
Margaret Curran reminds us that we cannot afford difficult times to diminish our commitment to Labour’s core values, or to allow ourselves to be battered by events or the media into thinking Labour cannot be proud its record.
Let’s not forgot that the last time the Tories were in power they used Scotland as the guinea pig for the poll tax. Over the last 11 years Labour has done much to put good the damage done to Glasgow by 18 years of Tory misrule. Since 1997 unemployment has halved and investment is improving Glasgow’s social housing. In 2014 Glasgow will host the Commonwealth Games, something that wouldn’t have been imaginable under the Tories. At the same time, Alex Salmond no longer has the luxury of shouting from the sidelines and claiming if only things had been done his way they would have turned out so much better. He is developing a record that can be judged.
Margaret Curran rightly put jobs and opportunity centre stage in her campaign, and Labour will still work hard to deliver for Glasgow. Not least through Glasgow’s Labour Council’s groundbreaking scheme that will mean every Glaswegian school leaver who wants an apprenticeship will be offered one. 2,000 construction apprenticeships will be on offer, with Glasgow Council paying £30 million towards apprentices’ wages. It is policies like these - firmly based on Labour values - that we must keep developing to maintain our fight against poverty and inequality.