Fraser Nelson Fraser Nelson

Glasgow East is Brown’s dirty little secret: a hideous, costly social experiment gone wrong

Glasgow East symbolises — as few other places in Britain can — the fact that the problem Labour faces is not just lack of leadership but lack of mission. What is to be seen in this constituency encapsulates and dramatises Labour’s abject failures to comprehend, let alone tackle, the nature of the poverty which grips our council estates.<br /> <em>For all the latest on the Glasgow East by-election, visit <a href="http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/">Coffee House</a></em>

Glasgow East symbolises — as few other places in Britain can — the fact that the problem Labour faces is not just lack of leadership but lack of mission. What is to be seen in this constituency encapsulates and dramatises Labour’s abject failures to comprehend, let alone tackle, the nature of the poverty which grips our council estates.
For all the latest on the Glasgow East by-election, visit Coffee House

When Tony Blair was Prime Minister he used to joke in private that his writ — like that of the Roman Empire — ended at Hadrian’s Wall. Beyond that lay Gordon’s land, a graveyard for Conservatives, home of the murky Scottish Labour party and a press corps whom Mr Blair once described with a phrase unprintable in this magazine. Scotland, everyone accepted, was Mr Brown’s personal fiefdom. As far as Mr Blair was concerned, he was welcome to it.

Like many of the myths swirling around Mr Brown, it is possible he believed this himself. If so, he will have been roughly disabused of it last weekend when Wendy Alexander resigned as leader of Labour’s Scottish Parliament group and David Marshall, MP for Glasgow East, stood down due to ‘ill health’. Mr Brown now faces a by-election fought by a leaderless party. Remarkably, he is expected — by the bookies — to lose this once-safe seat with its majority of 13,507.

If he does it will be, in what is a fairly hotly contested category, his worst disaster yet and show that the PM had made the phrase ‘safe Labour seat’ into an oxymoron. It would also suggest that the Scottish National Party can supplant Labour as the main party of the left-of-centre in Scotland, having soaked up former Tory areas long ago.

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