Page last updated at 21:12 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 22:12 UK

By-election race nears the line

By-election map
The Glasgow East by-election will take place on 24 July

Parties contesting the Glasgow East by-election have been out and about on the penultimate day of campaigning.

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon said she was "extremely optimistic" about her party's chances in Thursday's vote.

Labour's Margaret Curran said she would never "talk the east end down" during a visit to an employer.

The Tories said voters could choose them over Labour failure "or the risk of the SNP". The Lib Dems focused on their environmental credentials.

Ms Sturgeon said she was confident the SNP's John Mason could win the seat as voters were switching from Labour.

"Our support is strong and motivated and it's growing by the day," she told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme.

"We detect in Glasgow East a very strong mood to send a message to Labour - a message that says people are very unhappy with a London Labour Government that is deeply out of touch and is doing absolutely nothing to help individuals with the rising cost of living."

The Scottish Government under the SNP does not want to grip the thistle and commit to the new prisons we need
Annabel Goldie
Scottish Conservative leader
On the campaign trail, Mr Mason was joined by Braveheart actor James Cosmo and comedian Elaine C Smith during a visit to a shopping centre.

Labour candidate Margaret Curran visited a hi-tech employer in Glasgow East with the aim of promoting a positive vision of the area.

"I will never, ever talk the east end down," she said.

"The people in this community are sick and tired of being talked down - from the Nationalists comparing the area to the Gaza Strip to sneering Tory commentators deliberately ignoring the improvements of recent years.

"What we need to do is get more people off benefits and into work at places like the one I am visiting today."

Activists from the Scottish Conservatives canvassed voters on the cost of living and crime, while reinforcing their message to reject separatism.

Family emergency

Scottish leader Annabel Goldie said her party was making sure voters realised they did not have to settle for "the failure of Labour or the risk of the SNP".

Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme she also said the SNP was soft on law and order.

"The Scottish Government under the SNP does not want to grip the thistle and commit to the new prisons we need," she said.

Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat candidate, Ian Robertson, questioned the environmental credentials of the other main parties after "near-constant driving" during campaigning.

The SSP is fighting this election on a clear socialist programme as opposed to Labour who are lined up with the Tories in attacking benefit claimants and the unemployed
Frances Curran
SSP candidate
"We must encourage more people to use public transport," he said.

"We must make sure that this is a cheap, safe and reliable alternative to using a car.

"However, we must lead by example and not have double standards, which only serve to lessen the impact of a very important environmental message."

Elsewhere, the Scottish Green Party launched a plan for community health promotion.

The party's candidate, Dr Eileen Duke, said: "What we really need to see is proper support for community projects, led by local people who know exactly what works and what doesn't.

"The vision is there, the ideas are there, but the money and the support comes and goes."

'Curran confusion'

Solidarity candidate Tricia McLeish ripped up a giant cheque for 2,431, made out to Gordon Brown.

This was to signify the amount her party said every Scot contributed to the Treasury from North Sea oil last year.

SSP candidate Frances Curran moved to dispel any confusion between her and Labour's Margaret Curran.

Party workers distributed leaflets across the constituency with the message: "Vote for the left Curran not the right Curran."

Frances Curran said: "The SSP is fighting this election on a clear socialist programme as opposed to Labour, who are lined up with the Tories in attacking benefit claimants and the unemployed."

Thursday's by-election was sparked by the resignation of Labour MP David Marshall on health grounds.

Labour is defending a majority of 13,507 over the SNP.



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