Labour big gun joins battle for by-election

SHADOW chancellor Ed Balls joined Labour's Inverclyde by-election candidate on the campaign trail yesterday.

Mr Balls visited Port Glasgow with Iain McKenzie ahead of polls opening tomorrow.

He said: "The Tory-led government's cuts go too far, too fast.They are creating a vicious circle in our economy which is hitting people in Inverclyde hard.

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"We need a plan which puts growth first to create jobs and help small businesses.

"That's why Labour is proposing a temporary cut to VAT, which would give the economy in places like Inverclyde an invaluable boost.

"I am taking the fight to the Tory-led government in Westminster, doing all I can to protect people in places like Inverclyde from their savage cuts."

First Minister Alex Salmond was also in the area, with SNP candidate Anne McLaughlin.

Meanwhile, the SNP faced calls to apologise after one of its MSPs suggested he would need "jabs" following a visit to Greenock.

Paisley MSP George Adam made the comments on social networking website Facebook following a day of campaigning alongside Ms McLaughlin.

After mistakenly referring to the forthcoming vote as the "Greenock and Inverclyde by-election", one Facebook user suggested Paisley "Buddies" needed passports to exit the town. Mr Adam responded: "And jabs."

Greenock and Inverclyde MSP Duncan McNeil has called on Ms McLaughlin to "apologise for these remarks and distance herself from them". He said: "It seems the SNP can't help but talk this area down."

Labour has a majority of 14,416 in Inverclyde at Westminster but the party holds the Scottish Parliament seat of Greenock and Inverclyde by only 511 votes.