Page last updated at 09:23 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 10:23 UK

Labour's Scots bedrock unbroken

Margaret Curran
Margaret Curran retook Glasgow East for Labour

As Labour lost seats elsewhere in the UK its bedrock of support in Scotland stood firm - no where more so than in the west of the country.

This was illustrated perfectly in Glasgow East where the party overturned a by-election gain for the SNP.

And in East Renfrewshire, Labour even increased its majority in the face of an expected Conservative surge.

With Britain potentially on the cusp of change with a hung parliament, the picture in Scotland remains the same.

The first seat to declare in Scotland - Rutherglen and Hamilton West - set the tone for the west of Scotland and the country as a whole.

What is clear is that the Conservative Party across Scotland is going nowhere and in many senses the SNP are going backwards
Jim Murphy MP
Scottish Secretary

Labour's Tom Greatrex won the seat with 28,566 votes, a majority of 21,002.

The former advisor to Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy replaced Tommy McAvoy, who stood down after 23 years.

Red began to spread across the electoral map as Labour held the two neighbouring seats which were the second and third to declare in Scotland

Frank Roy held Motherwell & Wishaw with a 16,806 majority, while Michael McCann held East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow.

For Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy, the result in his constituency of East Renfrewshire, was a huge personal success.

The Conservatives believed the seat, which was once their safest in Scotland, could go blue again.

'Magnificent result'

But Mr Murphy won comfortably with 25,987 votes and increased his majority to more than 10,000.

He hailed it as "a magnificent result for Scottish Labour" and claimed to have "again confounded the pundits for a fourth election victory".

Mr Murphy told supporters at the count in Barrhead: "No-one expected this scale of victory, and it's partly about our achievements over the years."

While he acknowledged the prospect of working with opponents in a hung parliament he was still in no mood to be over generous.

Jim Murphy
Jim Murphy increased his majority in East Renfrewshire

"What is clear is that the Conservative Party across Scotland is going nowhere and in many senses the SNP are going backwards," he said.

"A party that sought to achieve 20 seats in this election is struggling to achieve 20%."

The SNP's failure to achieve any sort of breakthrough in Scotland was, perhaps, best illustrated by its inability to hold Glasgow East.

In 2008, John Mason caused, in the words of SNP leader Alex Salmond, a "political earthquake" by taking the seat from Labour.

But the Labour's defeated candidate, Margaret Curran, already an MSP in the Scottish Parliament, returned on Thursday to poll 19,797 - well ahead of Mr Mason, who came in second on 7,957.

The result was gleefully seized upon by Scottish Labour leader, Iain Gray.

Local scandal

"When the SNP won the by-election in 2008, the SNP claimed the result was a political earthquake that was 'off the Richter scale'," he said.

"This time round, the SNP's campaign didn't even register."

"The people of Glasgow East had a hard message for Labour two years ago and this result proves we have learnt lessons from that and are back speaking for Scotland."

Labour also demonstrated that in Scotland, its electoral fortunes can withstand local scandal.

The party's Christopher Hughes won the by-election sparked by the sudden resignation of Steven Purcell as leader of Glasgow City Council.

At the time, Mr Purcell said "stress and exhaustion" was behind his decision but it later emerged that he had used cocaine and had been warned by police that he could be open to blackmail.

As the dust settles on the 2010 General Election, no seats have changed hands in Scotland from the 2005 election results.

That all points to business as usual but with the uncertainties of a hung parliament, Scotland's unchanged political landscape could play a crucial role in redefining Britain.

A political culture which has shown no sign of change could yet be instrumental in bringing about the most profound transformation of Westminster politics.



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