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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 April 2005, 16:44 GMT 17:44 UK
Broad church of Scottish politics
By Iain MacDonald
BBC Scotland

Back in 2001, "Good Morning Scotland" sent reporter Iain MacDonald off round the highways and byways of the country to document the Scottish Parliamentary election campaign.

As of this week, he'll be doing it again. Older - but not wiser - this is his weblog of the 2005 Tour of Scotland.

There's a problem with your reservation, sir.

Iain MacDonald
Iain MacDonald will keep a weblog of his campaign trail journey

Now I don't know if Sitting Bull heard that sort of remark frequently - but me, I've heard it enough to go straight to sinking feeling mode and trying to remember if I left my sleeping bag in the car.

But this was Glasgow - and I've hardly started, for God's sake.

And, yes, there really was a problem which left me scrabbling round the city looking for somewhere else to stay.

And I did find somewhere and it's all too tedious to relate, to be honest.

Tuesday, anyway, pretty much dawned at Glasgow's Central Mosque, debating the merits of religion being mixed with politics and whether the churches should have more of a say in what goes into party manifestos and the political process.

Religious differences

I made it okay, despite the pre-match complications, and so did John Deighan, the Catholic Church's parliamentary officer, Keith Charters, of the Secular Society, and Bashir Maan, long-term Labour loyalist, who quit the party over the Iraq war.

Oh, and Electric Eric, the man who knows where the switches are was there. And so was the radio car - a broad church, you might say.

And, apart from a brief moment when it decided to switch itself off just before we took to the airwaves, it worked.

This being Glasgow, it also started raining as soon as we were out in the open - but then it stopped. Things are starting to look up.

We do manage an unseemly, but entirely welcome, spat about Catholic schools and whether they are justified, either in principle or in number

None of those involved, no matter how strongly they feel about making their church's point, are planning their own parties any time in the near future.

None of them seem to regard George W Bush's polarised America as a land of milk and honey, either.

But we do manage an unseemly, but entirely welcome, spat about Catholic schools and whether they are justified, either in principle or in number.

There are, it's pointed out, no secular schools.

To which the reply is: there ARE. Nowt wrong with a bit of controversy is there?

Earlier, I'd tried my own unscientific survey of people in Glasgow's George Square.

Most of them didn't seem inclined to discuss either religion or politics and some of them claimed to be rushing for a train.

Looking ahead

One lady of advanced years didn't quite take on board the topic under discussion but told me: "I think he'll win it, that Blair."

Religion? "Na, son, I don't believe in a' that."

I LIKE Glasgow - I haven't been called son in years.

The next couple of days seem likely to be devoted to looking ahead and putting together reports.

Through the wonders of wireless, that will involve journeys as far west as the island of Lewis, as far north as the Caithness coast and as far south as Dumfries and Galloway.

Thankfully, most of that won't translate to actual road mileage.

But I'm taking nothing for granted. And I won't be leaving my reservation 'til I absolutely have to.

Start of long road to polling day
11 Apr 05 |  Scotland


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