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Political editor Brian Taylor
"There are old concerns in this constituency - health, transport, jobs and pensions"
 real 56k

Thursday, 16 November, 2000, 13:29 GMT
Pensioner power has its say
Pensioners graphic
Are the parties winning over the pensioners?
The district of Knightswood in the constituency of Anniesland has one of Europe's biggest concentrations of people aged 65 and over.

Could the pensioner vote prove the key to the successors in the forthcoming Anniesland by-election?

BBC News Online Scotland's Deirdre Kelly visited the Knightswood Community Centre where dozens of senior citizens gather each day.


The community of Knightswood has its origins in the mid-1930s when Glasgow's growing population was shipped out of tenement flats elsewhere into new and bigger properties.

Many of its older residents speak fondly of being moved from their old homes in Maryhill and Govan and into the "fresh air of the countryside".

"It was a good community, strange at first, but I'm pleased my family settled here," said Marion Hanlan.

The 69-year-old tells a typical tale.

Posters
Parties are fighting for votes
The people of Knightswood worked in the then burgeoning shipbuilding industry, a stone's throw from where they lived.

Their children went to the newly-built schools, they shopped locally and received medical care at the thriving Knightswood and Blawarthill hospitals.

Almost 60 years on, things have changed. The area has suffered and one of its hospitals has been knocked down and the land earmarked for building.

The other faces a constant threat of closure.


I think Donald just grew into the community without us hardly noticing

Jean Glen
Like Glasgow as a whole, the area's population is in decline.

Knightswood's residents have aged to such an extent that it has one of the biggest concentrations of pensioners in Europe.

Many who are not natural Labour Party backers voted for Donald Dewar.

Jean Glen, now 80, would consider herself a Conservative supporter, but when it came to last year's Scottish Parliament elections she voted for the late first minister.

'Don't know Butler'

She said: "I can't remember the 1978 by-election which Donald won, but he had a presence. I think he just grew into the community without us hardly noticing."

Her husband John agreed.

"Donald was a familiar face around here, as a person he was important. We still can't get over that he is gone.

John Glen
John Glen: Dewar supporter
"What worries me is I don't know much about the Labour MSP candidate William Butler.

"I know I should try and find out a bit more about him. Maybe we should give Butler a chance, he is as unknown now as Donald was all of those years ago."

Ilene Broadley has lived in Knightswood for several decades. She votes Labour and is a paid-up member of the Labour Party.

She met Mr Dewar when he campaigned to win his by-election seat, then called Glasgow Garscadden.

"Like most in the constituency, I didn't know him. But he soon grew into the role and everyone liked him."

Promises, promises

She hopes and expects Labour to win, but she believes the party has to promise Knightswood that it will not fail them on issues such as health and transport.

"The closure of Knightswood hospital did not go down well here and people are fed up with the inadequate bus services in the area," said 75-year-old Mrs Broadley.

Donald Dewar plaque
Knightswood Community Centre remembers Donald Dewar
Mrs Hanlan, 69, respected Mr Dewar, but she never voted for him.

She added: "I have always been a Tory voter. My parents were Conservatives and I have remained loyal to the party.

"I'll be out there on election day and I won't be voting any different."

Winifred Monaghan, 73, has lived in Knightswood for more than three decades and believes the candidates should say what they plan to do for the young people of the area.

"Youngsters have nothing to do around here, they are our future and the politicians should be doing more," she insisted.

"I'll be voting on Thursday, I was a big fan of Donald Dewar who was very much a part of the community, but this time I'm keeping quiet about who gets my support."


The full list of candidates is:

Westminster

  • Dorothy Luckhurst, Scottish Conservative

  • William Lyden, Family Action Movement

  • Charlie McCarthy, Scottish Socialist Party

  • Christopher McGinty, Scottish Liberal Democrats

  • John Robertson, Scottish Labour

  • Grant Thoms, Scottish National Party

Scottish Parliament

  • William Butler, Scottish Labour Party

  • Thomas Chalmers, SNP

  • Judith Fryer, Scottish Liberal Democrats

  • Rosie Kane, Scottish Socialist Party

  • Kate Pickering, Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

  • Murdo Ritchie, Socialist Labour Party

  • Alastair Whitelaw, Scottish Green Party

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