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%).

News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsSchool leaver's YouTube video features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show
tvBig Bang Theory filming delayed by contract dispute over actors' pay
Sport
England celebrate a wicket for Moeen Ali
sportMoeen Ali stars with five wickets as Cook's men level India series
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Travel
travel
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
News
i100  ... he was into holy war way before it was on trend
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
Life and Style
food + drinkVegetarians enjoy food as much as anyone else, writes Susan Elkin
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
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
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain