Scottish council elections: Why Glasgow is a key battleground

Gordon Matheson, the Labour leader of Glasgow City Council. Picture: Robert Perry
Gordon Matheson, the Labour leader of Glasgow City Council. Picture: Robert Perry
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Perhaps the biggest prize in Scotland today could be Glasgow - where both Labour and the SNP have been out in force. The result will be close. The Scotsman’s political editor Eddie Barnes looks at why the city is so important for both.

THE fight to control Glasgow, which has assumed totemic significance in these local elections, looks set to go to the wire tonight, with neither the SNP nor Labour calling the result today.

The latter, still haunted by its shock defeats in the city this time last year, has put in a Herculean shift over the last few weeks to pump up its vote.

Party managers remain bullish - and yet they fear the same reverse as last year when the SNP mopped up. Time for a Change - the SNP’s central message in Glasgow - is always a strong suit against a weakening incumbent.

Live blog: Scottish council elections

The result looks likely to boil down to a handful of seats, with neither party winning a majority. If so, a protracted negotiation with the smaller parties, most likely the Greens, will ensue.

Labour will have to bend over backwards to persuade these parties it deserves to stay on in power. Party sources say these efforts will, if needs be, include sacrificing the Council’s current Labour leader Gordon Matheson.

But with the SNP and the Greens playing foostie in recent days, however, Labour may not even get the chance.

If the SNP do get in, it will ensure the Nationalists are the face of the city in the 2014 Commonnwealth games.

It will also give Alex Salmond a new fortress from where to aim pot-shots at the UK Coalition government.

Lose, however, and the SNP’s independence bandwagon gets a puncture - while Labour’s demoralised troops finally get the kind of victory they have longed for ever since Alex Salmond usurped them in 2007.

The prize, and the stakes, are high.