Politics: Labour hides relief at Paisley result

Labour yesterday struggled to put a gloss on its narrow victory in the Paisley South by-election. Stephen Goodwin reports on a campaign which left both Labour and the Scottish National Party with awkward questions.

"There are no prizes for second place in politics," Douglas Alexander, the relieved Labour winner said, resorting to a truism as he tried to claim the party's share of the vote had held up in Paisley.

Labour's share was "almost identical" to that achieved on 1 May, he told a press conference yesterday. But that was not quite the full story. While the party's share of the vote at 44 per cent was just under the general election share across the whole of the UK, it was well down on the 57 per cent it took in Paisley South. The Edinburgh lawyer had been caught out being economical with election statistics and his party minders were clearly irritated.

Mr Alexander, 30, won with a majority of 2,731 compared to the 12,750 secured by Gordon McMaster, whose suicide in July caused the by-election. The 42.98 per cent turn-out was so low that Mr Alexander's vote was less than his predecessor's majority. Mr Alexander secured 10,346 votes; Ian Blackford (SNP) 7,615; Eileen McCartin (Lib Dem) 2,582; and Sheila Laidlaw (Con) 1,643.

Voter fatigue at a third visit to the polls in seven months was accepted by all parties as the main reason for the dismal turn-out - the lowest at a by-election in Scotland for 30 years. But cynicism over the behaviour of politicians in the Paisley area was also a factor.

The Labour leadership is conducting an inquiry into the running of the party in Renfrewshire. Neighbouring MP Tommy Graham, who was attacked in Mr McMaster's suicide note, remains suspended along with two councillors.

Though SNP leaders were expressing "delight" at having got so close in a Labour heartland seat, privately questions will be asked about the lack of bite in the campaign. Issues such as student tuition fees, spending cuts and cold weather payments did not capture interest.

Sleaze was also a double-edged weapon for the SNP. The party's councillors have a reputation for disrupting meetings and one, Richard Vassie, was suspended for his involvement in a newspaper story alleging Mr McMaster had a relationship with a 17-year old youth. None the less, the SNP were able to take some comfort from the result. Mr Salmond said the swing to the SNP of 11 per cent would deliver more than 40 seats in a Scottish Parliament.

There was scant comfort in the result for other parties. The Liberal Democrats gained a 6 per cent swing in a area of Scotland where they never do well, but the numbers were tiny. And for the Conservatives there was still no sign of any revival north of the border. Full result: Douglas Alexander (Lab) 10,346 (44.15%, -13.36%); Ian Blackford (SNP) 7,615 (32.49%, +9.11%); Eileen McCartin (LD) 2,582 (11.02%, +1.65%); Sheila Laidlaw (C) 1,643 (7.01%, -1.66%); John Deighan (ProLife Alliance) 578 (2.47%); Frances Curran (Scottish Socialist Alliance) 306 (1.31%, +0.92%); Charles McLauchlan (Scottish Independent Labour) 155 (0.66%); Christopher Herriot (Socialist Labour Party) 153 (0.65%); Kenneth Blair (Natural Law Party) 57 (0.24%). Lab maj 2,731 (11.65%); 11.24% swing Lab to SNP; Electorate 54,573; Turnout 23,435 (42.94%, -26.18%). 1997: Lab maj 12,750 (34.14%) - Turnout 37,351 (69.12%).

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Employment Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little