Just driven back from Springburn, in Glasgow, where I was alerted to Dave Maddox of the Scotman’s point that the Falkirk West by-election of Christmas 2000, where I was the beneficiary of a quite brilliant Labour campaign, was the highest ever turnout in a by-election. It made me think of two things.
The SNP actually recorded more votes in the by-election than it did in the subsequent General Election. That’s not a slur on the SNP, more of a testimony to parties’ abilities to get the vote out when it matters. It’s a striking statistic. In fact, my by-election was held a few days before Christmas and the relatively high turnout is all the more amazing for it.
In addition, David Kerr, who was my opponent in 2000 and whom I think has probably lost again tonight (Springburn is very Labour and Willie Bain is a very strong, local, candidate) surely deserves a list MSP seat for the SNP in 2011. I found him to be a thoroughly decent man and his successful career at the BBC was not a small thing to pass over (for the second time) in order to take on another task always likely to be beyond the reach of the SNP. Again, I don’t mean to disparage the SNP; it’s simply a comment on David Kerr’s personal sacrifice for his cause. It’s the wrong cause, of course (!) and he’s chosen to take the risk on, but the fact is that it’ll be hard for the BBC to take him back again and folk who stand up for something they believe in deserve a bit of support from those who can help.