Could Glasgow City Council Be Changing Colour in 2017?

Glasgow City Council is currently under Labour’s control, and has been since 1980, even before that no party other than Labour has had overall control since 1970. Labour has had control over Glasgow but this may not be the case after the 2017 Local Election.

Glasgow-George-SquareJKZX.jpg
Red and Yellow, Symbolic of Labour majority with SNP opposition. Please note: the colours of the official logo are unlikely to be affected by election results.

In the 2012 Local Election Labour won the majority of Glasgow’s council seats, however a lot of things have changed in Scottish Politics since 2012, particularly in Glasgow. The biggest catalyst for this change was of course the 2014 Referendum on Scottish Independence, Scottish Labour came out in favour of a No vote during the referendum. In order to keep Scotland from leaving the United Kingdom they campaigned hand-in-hand with the Conservative party as part of Better Together. Glasgow was one of the few council areas in Scotland where Yes had a majority, Another being its bordering North Lanarkshire Council which is also under Labour’s Control.

In the Aftermath of the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum the SNP took all but 3 of the Scottish Seats in Westminster, this included Glasgow North East. Glasgow North East had previously been a Labour Stronghold, the seat had been held by Michael Martin from 1979 till 2009. From 2000 he was Speaker of the House of Commons, until he stood down during the expenses scandal, Labour’s Willie Bain won the seat in a 2009 by-election and won it again in the General Election the following year. Glasgow North East was the only constituency in Glasgow that YouGov predicted Labour would keep in 2015. However the SNP’s Anne McLaughlin took Glasgow North East with a record breaking swing of almost 40%, this makes it extremely clear that this part of Glasgow is no longer a Labour Stronghold.

Earlier this year the SNP took 59 of the 73 constituency seats in Holyrood, including all of Glasgow’s constituency seats, 4 of which had been Labour’s in 2011. The SNP also received the most votes in the regional ballot but received no seats. Will the local elections go the same way? Well in a recent by-election the SNP’s Chris Cunningham won the Garscadden/Scotstounhill ward, which was previously held by Labour. This also means that Labour now currently only have a one seat majority.

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One of the key issues that will effect the upcoming local elections is how the Labour-led Council chooses to budget because Glasgow City Council is having to make budget cuts as a result of the SNP-led Scottish Governments freeze on Council Tax. Council Tax is where Glasgow City Council got 11.5% of this year’s budget, but it could have gotten a large percentage of its budget from this (and therefore  a larger overall budget) had it been allowed to raise council Tax. The council have been unable to raise council tax to get more money as result of the SNP governments policy. Glasgow City Council has had to make budget cuts, and it has been up to the Labour-led Council to decide where the money is cut from. A head of the 2017 elections a senior source within Labour Party has already admitted that “It’s about managing expectations”.

The Labour-led Glasgow City Council are cutting £25m worth of jobs, they claim nobody will be made redundant and that they will achieve this through natural wastage – in other words they just won’t employ new people when employees leave. However, these cuts still look bad for the Labour-led council, and choosing to cut them from the wrong places may lose them votes which would threaten their chances of re-election.

Glasgow City Council has the highest funding pair head of any mainland council in Scotland, however the SNP have said that if they gain control over Glasgow City Council they will devolve £1 million a year to every ward in the city.

It is looking very likely that Labour will be lose control of Glasgow City Council to the SNP in the upcoming local elections. Even if the SNP don’t have win a majority, it is looking very unlikely that Labour will have a majority.

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