Purcell did consider standing for Glasgow East

Tony Grew July 8, 2008
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The leader of Glasgow City Council has confirmed he did consider putting his name forward as a candidate for a parliamentary by-election in the city.

There had been intense press speculation about who Labour’s candidate would be in the July 24th by-election in the Glasgow East constituency.

Yesterday MSP Margaret Curran was selected to fight the seat.

Veteran Labour MP David Marshall stood down from the Commons last month citing ill health.

Steven Purcell, who is one of the most influential gay people in Scotland, was tipped as a candidate.

As leader of Glasgow City Council, he controls 32,000 staff and an annual budget of £2.5 billion.

In a statement today he said:

“I did consider standing for the nomination in the Glasgow East by-election, but when I heard Margaret Curran was going to put her name forward I knew straight away that she would be a fantastic candidate.

“She is a phenomenal woman and has a proven track record of serving the east end of Glasgow.

“I will continue to work for the party by leading Scotland’s biggest city.

“This is a job which I thoroughly enjoy and which will continue to provide me with terrific opportunities to serve the people of Glasgow, particularly in the run up to the 2014 Commonwealth Games.”

A councillor since 1995, Mr Purcell was elected, unopposed, as Leader of Glasgow City Council in May 2005 at the age of 32.

Since coming out in 2006, his sexuality has never been an issue either with voters or political opponents and it is rarely mentioned.

A Labour source told that reports Mr Purcell decided not to put him name forward for the Glasgow East by-election because of concerns that his homosexuality may become a campaign issue as “pure fantasy.”

Despite ruling himself out of running for Glasgow East, Mr Purcell’s record as leader of Scotland’s largest city means he is perennially tipped as a future First Minister.

On paper Glasgow East is a safe Labour seat – Mr Marshall was returned with a 13,507 majority in 2005, just over 60% of the vote on a 48.2% turnout.

However, there is real concern that Labour could lose to the Scottish National Party in the July 24th by-election, which could have implications for the Prime Minister.

The party lost the “safe” seat of Crewe and Nantwich to the Tories two months ago, while in last month’s by-election to replace Boris Johnson as MP for Henley they were pushed into fifth place, behind the Greens and the BNP.

The Labour party in Scotland is having trouble adjusting to the realities of opposition, while the SNP’s minority government is popular with voters.

Wendy Alexander stood down as Labour’s leader north of the border last month, after less than a year in the job.

The party had difficulty in finding a candidate for Glasgow East. Front runner Councillor George Ryan failed to turn up to the selection meeting last Friday night.

It was announced on Saturday that MSP Margaret Curran would throw her hat in the ring and she was formally selected yesterday evening.

List of candidates in the Glasgow East by-election:

Scottish Socialist – Frances Curran

Labour – Margaret Curran

Scottish Green – Eileen Duke

Solidarity – Tricia McLeish

SNP – John Mason

Conservative – Davena Rankin

Liberal Democrat – Ian Roberston

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