By Jason Michael

According to the BBC reportage of the shock triumph of the Conservatives in Shettleston the people of Scotland can’t get enough of good ol’ Westminster rule – the social deprivation, the sanctions, and the foodbanks.

Shettleston in Glasgow has a 20 year old Tory councillor. It seems almost appropriate to leave this statement hanging here without further comment or analysis like in the late night ‘No Comment’ segment on Euro News. Thomas Kerr, a PR student at the City of Glasgow College, whose greatest achievement so far has been leaving secondary school, has become the posterchild of Scotland’s Conservative and Unionist revival, with the BBC proudly announcing that he managed to “nudge SNP candidates Laura Doherty and Michelle Ferns into third and fourth place.” Indeed he did, but the report failed to mention the inconvenient fact the both Doherty and Ferns exceeded the 1,512 vote quota before him – barring them from picking up transfers all the way to the eleventh count, as Kerr did.

Ballots that didn’t employ the tactic of “vote ’til you boke” made it possible for unallocated votes – unnumbered options on the ballot paper – to be redistributed over eleven count stages, ultimately securing a Shettleston seat for this remarkably mediocre young Tory. With no more than 1,368 first preference votes – just 17 per cent of the vote – the Tory “surge” arrived in Glasgow. Speaking to Nichola Rutherford of BBC Scotland Kerr said that his family were SNP supporters, that his friends – who knew he was “right-wing” – were “shocked” that he had joined the Conservative Party, and that his grandparents “were in tears when the results were announced” – I bet they were.

Toryism is not the first thing that springs to mind when we think of Shettleston. It is true that there are a few affluent areas in the ward; a fact that would help to account for a significant proportion of that less-than-whopping 17 per cent support, but in the main this is an area marked by serious social and economic disadvantage. It has the dubious distinction of being the only area in the whole of the United Kingdom where life expectancy is actually falling. Unemployment, poor mental and physical health, depression, and suicide are ranked among the highest in Scotland – not exactly the profile of a plummy Tory heartland.

Residents of Ferguslie Park in Paisley – another instance of this “Tory surge,” named Scotland’s poorest housing area last year, are far more likely to face benefits sanctions then to see Ruth Davidson and Theresa May campaigning on their doorsteps for the cameras. Its foodbank on Broomlands Street certainly does a roaring trade, one of the many foodbanks all over Scotland reporting increased demand on its services and frequent shortages. What a place to have a Tory councillor, given the record this Conservative government has in aggravating the income and attainment gap in every part of the UK. How fortunate the people of Shettleston are to have Thomas Kerr giving them “a hand up, not a hand out.” He’s going to need those PR qualifications he’s working towards in college, because God knows how long his constituents are going to put up with this crap.


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