When the burd and Anon Anorak got together for an election blether the other week, neither of us could believe how little chatter there had been about the Gorgeous one’s potential return to Scottish politics. So I
telt asked politely if AA would oblige by redressing the balance and work out if Galloway had a cat in hell’s chance of election (sorry couldn’t resist…)
When George Galloway announced that he planned to stand for election to the Scottish Parliament in November 2010 I foolishly wrote off his chances and dismissed him out of hand. After all, he had lost his seat at Westminster and had seriously dented his credibility after the famous “cat” incident on celebrity big brother a few years ago.
A day before the election, I am now pretty convinced that he will gain the votes he needs on the Glasgow list in order to become an MSP.
Looking at the way the election stacked up last time, it seems that about 12,000 votes (about 6% of the second vote) will be enough to be in with a chance of a seat. Glasgow has 8 constituency seats up for grabs and 7 list seats. Unless we have the kind of night that the SNP can only ever really dream about, Labour should win at least seven of those constituency seats and the SNP one – Glasgow Southside for Nicola Sturgeon.
Using the 2007 list result as a basis for next Thursday, you can start to see how Galloway can do it. If the Lib Dems drop its share of the vote, as expected, you would expect that SNP to take the first three list seats, leaving 4 up for grabs with the Lib Dems, Tories, Greens, SNP and Galloway genuinely fighting it out.
Looking at recent poll results the Tories seem likely to lose some votes (they secured 13,700 votes last time), but hold enough to be close to 12,000 votes; same with the Lib Dems (who secured 14,700 votes last time); the Greens just scraped enough votes to secure the 7th seat with just over 5% and 10,000 votes, and they will certainly need more this time if they are to keep that seat.
If Nicola Sturgeon had lost her constituency race in 2007, then the SNP would have won the last Glasgow list seat and denied the Green Party a Glasgow MSP. The Greens are polling high (at around 8%) at the moment and could well push beyond the 10,000 votes they secured at the last election, putting them close to the 12,000 figure too. It would seem unlikely that the SNP, with their push in the polls, would lose out on a fourth list seat, so they too will be close to 12,000 votes after all their penalties for winning their other seats in the race for one of those final 4 seats. If Galloway pushes the 12,000 mark then it will be a really hotly contested race to the finish.
If Nicola Sturgeon somehow loses Glasgow Southside, then it would be very likely that the SNP would get 5 out of the 7 lists, leaving Lib Dems, Tories, Greens and Galloway fighting over two seats, an even tougher prospect, but one that Galloway can surmount.
So how will Gallloway get enough votes to finish ahead of the others in the race to one of those list seats?
For starters he should secure most of the 8,500 Solidarity votes that were cast in 2007, as Tommy Sheridan’s party has withdrawn from the Glasgow list in order to back Galloway. He was a very popular MP in Glasgow for many years, and despite everything in recent times he is still a popular figure on the left of the Labour Party, many of whom you will find in Glasgow. In 2007 Labour received close to 80,000 votes on the Glasgow list, which returned no MSPs thanks to their success in the Glasgow constituencies. If just 5% of that vote (a conservative estimate I think) switch to Galloway that will translate into 4,000 votes, which would go quite nicely with the 8,500 Solidarity votes he should get. His left wing credentials and high profile may see him draw support from the range of other left wing political groups on the list in Glasgow, such as the SSP (2,500 votes in 2007) and the Socialist Labour Party (2,500 votes ion 2007) who may see him as a more likely winner than their own candidates and someone they would like to see stirring up the establishment in Holyrood.
About 20,000 of 31,000 SSP supporters from 2003 switched to the SNP in 2007 following the divisive split of the SSP into two parties as well as the superbly ran Alex Salmond for First Minister campaign. There is clearly an opportunity for Galloway to tap into some of that vote too, although this may be slight harder for him with his pro-unionist stance, but even a few hundred would help. Some of the Green Party vote may also be open to switch too (although how much I am not sure). The Green Party has dressed itself up as an anti-cuts, left of centre party during this election with very similar lines to many sprouted by Galloway. With most of the main parties offering a green agenda, some Green Party backers primarily interested in the anti-cuts agenda might prefer to back Galloway over Harvie in a personal vote.
Galloway’s own personal charm and charisma, and his knack for winning makes him a formidable candidate. He is certainly, without any disrespect to other politicians in Glasgow, a cut above in terms of debating and articulating his point of view. He won a Westminster seat outright standing as an independent, which is very rarely done and should not be dismissed. He has taken his campaign in Glasgow very seriously and has been pressing the flesh hard. He has, by several accounts, a strong campaign team that has worked the areas of Glasgow where he most likely to get good support. With his profile and personality, he could genuinely take votes from all of the political parties as well as those potential votes outlined above.
Finally Glasgow has form. In 1999 and 2003 it elected Tommy Sheridan with a considerable share of the vote. If the left hadn’t split so badly and publicly in 2007 they would almost certainly have beaten Patrick Harvie to the last list seat.
George Galloway MSP, I reckon is not only a good bet, but a pretty certain one. I reckon he’ll clear 12,000 votes with ease and more likely end up with 15,000+. I think he’ll finish 4th on the list result, with the SNP 5th, leaving the Lib Dems, Tories and Greens to fight it out for the last 2 spots.