A few weeks ago I offered all candidates in the Glasgow by-election the opportunity to answers some questions set by readers of this blog. John Smeaton of the Jury Team has now supplied his answers.
Q How would you exclusively prioritise the reserved Westminster issues in a manner that you think will improve the lives of Glasgow North East constituents?
A Prioritize the economy, vote on issues/be strong on encouraging investment in Glasgow North East by businesses - take up reduction in employment like the closure of the Diago distillery - targeting unemployed benefit for those who really deserve it.
Q What advantages will your reserved priorities have over Michael Martin's electoral promises and influence to improve the quality of life in Springburn?
A Michael Martin tried his best and is still respected in the constituency. Many think the reason Michael Martin couldn't do as much as he wanted to was because he was held back by party politics. I can vote (the speaker can't) and I will not be constrained by party politics - this already puts me miles ahead in terms of advantage.
Q Should the government take more control of the partially-funded UK banks?
A I would be willing to listen to what the economists and academics have to say and, with fellow MPs, reach a consensus as to the best way forward.
Q What is your opinion regarding the incapacity benefit changes proposed by the Tories and Labour?
A It's all tough talking, but I worry that the people who will suffer are the ones in real need. I think we should punish the cheats, but we should be realistic and accept that maybe that's the price we pay for a humane system of caring for the sick and inform. Saying that though, we should have a proper system of medical panels (but not make people jump through hoop after hoop) to decide whether people are really incapacitated and unable to do any job. For all those who are able to work in some way, they should be given proper training to help them to get a job.
Q Why do you think the socio-economic and health/quality of life indicators in the constituency are so poor?
A With the removal of the very successful manufacturing businesses from the area fifty years ago, nothing was done to replace the employment - unlike in areas where car factories or steelworks were closed. There was sudden massive unemployment with a large group of skilled people being thrown into unemployment. The city council Labour party knew it could depend however on the votes of people in Glasgow North East and therefore helping them has not been a priority as councils tend to always put resources in wards where there are close results and floating. Like in the West of Glasgow here there has been lots of investment.
Benefit payments and weak or low work expectations are trapping people when they are supposed to be helping.
Q What will you personally do to be a catalyst for change?
A I think just being elected will be a high change, not just in Glasgow North East but in the whole of the country. It'll be a high wake up call for the Labour Party and every party that thinks it's sitting on a safe seat will have to sit up and take notice. People won't be taken for granted anymore. People are better informed now and they've had their eyes well opened. Voting for me will change politics in this country forever because the parties will have to go back to representing the people that vote for them.
Q Do you believe Scotland should be given more powers?
A Scotland has had about 10 years of devolved government and it is clear that it is still learning how best to use the powers it already has. Most services directly affecting people are already run from Holyrood and the recent banking crisis has shown that Scotland needs to be part of a larger economic power.
Q What are the reasons you think Paul Martin has chosen not to stand for election as an MP and wishes to remain in Holyrood as MSP for Springburn?
A You'd really have to ask Paul Martin that.
Update 22:32 I've just come across these pictures of Glasgow North East. Please look and see what Michael Martin has done for the area in recent years. Not pleasant viewing.