‘Everything has been so tribal’: Glaswegians reflect on Labour’s clean sweep

The sense of schadenfreude about the routing of the Conservatives was palpable as a rare burst of sunshine broke through the clouds over Buchanan Street, Glasgow.

“Liz Truss. That was a happy moment for me,” said the pensioner Louise McGregor. “They cost this country billions.”

The reversal of the Labour party’s fortunes was spectacular in Glasgow, where it had a clean sweep across deprived and affluent constituencies, snatching all six seats from the SNP in the city and many in the surrounding areas including East Kilbride and East Renfrewshire, one of the wealthiest areas of the region.

For Alan, 42, on a lunch break in the central office district, the SNP wipeout was an opportunity to finally end the “tribalism” between Scotland and London and give people a voice in a national government.

“For many folk even if the Tories did something for Scotland it would be portrayed as bad. I think Labour MPs will give Scotland a stronger presence because Keir Starmer will be more compelled to listen to his own MPs,” said Alan.

There was no doubt there were “hard-working SNP MPs” he said, singling out the party’s home affairs spokesperson, Alison Thewliss, who was one of the city’s highest profile casualties on Friday.

Alan, who did not say how he voted, said: “She is genuinely passionate about her job and that shines through. But everything here has been so tribal. People need to take a step back and look at delivering and stop seeing their parties as kind of infallible.”

Robin Green and Shannon Wright like many young people support the Greens but voted tactically for SNP and Labour. Photograph: Lisa O’Carroll/The Guardian

Shannon Wright, 21, a visual arts student at Glasgow University, gave a tactical vote to Labour “because they are better than the Tories” but her heart was with the Greens, who won sizeable votes in Glasgow, though not enough for a seat.

While SNP MPs were wiping away tears near the stage at the vast count centre in the Emirates Arena at 5.30am on Friday, the Greens were sitting on the floor at the other end of the hall cheering and laughing, delighted their support was still strong.

“In a perfect world I would have voted Green to win so there would be more focus on global warming and living conditions for humans and nature,” said Wright.

Priorities for her boyfriend, Robin Green, 20, who works in publishing, were the NHS – he is diabetic – job security and housing but also immigration.

“We need workers. The NHS is understaffed, places offering the minimum wage like call centres can’t get the staff,” he said.

He voted SNP though he also supports Labour, thinking the nationalists had a better chance of representing his interests.

“Much as I support Labour and the SNP, they are far too civil. I think they don’t fight hard enough. The other parties have the benefit of telling blatant lies and I would hope they were more aggressive about progressive policies.”

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William and Louise McGregor were delighted the Conservatives were defeated Photograph: Guardian/Lisa O’Carroll, The Guardian

William and Louise McGregor were typical of many who didn’t vote, putting a plague on all politicians’ houses. “They are all as bad as each other. I tell people every day all politicians do is lie. I don’t vote. It is a complete waste of time,” says William, a pensioner from Glasgow North West, one of the six seats in the city that switched from SNP to Labour.

His wife didn’t vote either, but they both detest the Tories – particularly Liz Truss.

William said: “Look what she and Kwasi Kwarteng did in just days. The cost of living is too much. There are parents who can’t afford to feed their children.”

On the broader front the annihilation of the SNP was not a vote against independence but a vote against the Tories.

Sam, 25, from Glasgow West, said he voted SNP, as he would have liked to give John Swinney, who was just two months into the job, “a chance”. But he has mentally decoupled the party from independence.

“I’m all for independence but not at the cost of everything else,” he said.

The first-time voter Alasdair Hamilton, 21, is from the East Renfrewshire constituency, where Tory hopes of success were also dashed by Labour. He also opted for the SNP although the “Greens are the party” he “most agrees with”.

The baton is now in Labour’s hands, including those of Labour’s new MP for Glasgow East, Maureen Burke, a former factory worker from Easterhouse, another deprived suburb in the east of the city.

Through tears she said: “The idea a working-class woman like me could ever achieve a thing like this is only possible in our Labour team. I promise I will never forget my community and the trust you have put in me.”

The Guardian

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