The General Election survey results are in

At Common Weal North Glasgow, we believe that the most important role of a politician is to serve his or her constituents. We came up with the idea of talking to each candidate for the North Glasgow constituency in order to find out how they would address our concerns if elected. We hope to do this in the next few weeks and publish our conversations on this site. In order to find out what issues to discuss with them we created a survey which has been completed by 898 people.The survey is now closed but you can see the template here. In this blog we will detail our main results but you can view the raw data using the links below.

We should point out that the survey was open to everyone. So of the 898 people, 101 could be North Glasgow constituents. I say “could” because we asked for the first part of postcodes in order to minimise the amount of personal data collected . After we started collecting data we realised that this is insufficient information to accurately place a person in North Glasgow. This is an error we will learn from for the next time.This withstanding, when we compared the group likely to be from North Glasgow (G11,G12,G20) with the group as a whole, levels of concern and issues raised were broadly similar.

In the main part of the survey, respondents rated their levels of concern in relation to eight key national issues, on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 = not concerned at all; to 5 = very concerned). The results are summarised in the following graph and you can access the raw data here.

As you’ll see from the chart above, NHS privatisation was the most concerning issue for both North Glasgow and the whole group. In contrast, Immigration was generally reported as “slightly” or “not at all” concerning.

We also asked if there were any other issues that were of concern. As you can see from the raw data sheet here, we had a very broad range of responses. It was not possible to show 57 issues in a meaningful chart (many were only mentioned several times). However, it may be interesting to see the 15 most frequently raised issues in the chart below. You can scroll over the bars for more detail.

As you can see from the chart, the most frequently reported other issue was Constitutional Change. This issue encompassed a range of specific responses including “more local government”, “abolishing the House of Lords”, and “electoral reform”.

Robin McAlpine on the Future of Common Weal

Robin McAlpine on the future of the Common Weal.

Please read, share, and consider contributing.

The Latest ‘Cash-for-Access’ Scandal Reinforces Just How Broken Britain Really Is

This Little Earth

So now we know: it is “quite unrealistic” to expect MPs – the people elected to represent each one of us – to survive on a meagre £67000 salary. Consequently, we have no business questioning an arrangement where individuals can use the benefits of their public position in order rake in literally thousands of pounds a day in what amounts to yet another ‘cash-for-access’ scandal. Jack Straw is very sorry (that he got caught) and Malcolm Rifkind is simply outraged that members of the public (you know, the people he works for) would have the temerity to suggest that he has done anything wrong. Both have been suspended by their parliamentary parties and will not seek re-election in May, whilst Rifkind has resigned as Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. Despite all of this, there is no sense that anybody in the corrupt corridors of power really thinks that…

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The Common Weal General Election Survey

Part of our goal at the Common Weal is to encourage enhanced voter engagement, bringing politics to the local level and to normal people. Too often election campaigns are dominated by fear (vote for us because the others are worse), spin, and a procession of politicians telling us what we care most about. In the aftermath of the independence referendum, where people felt more engaged and empowered than ever before, this simply won’t do, so we’ve set out to do things differently.

We’ve produced a survey allowing you to tell us what you really care about, and we’ll be using the information your provide to guide material such as leaflets, articles and questions to representatives. You don’t have to be a Common Weal supporter or a Yes voter to participate – in reality, we want as broad a range of response as possible. After a few weeks we’ll collate the information and publish it, in full and for free, allowing the people of Scotland – and the political parties – to see what matters to local communities across the country.

We’re asking for your help to make this project a success – please complete and survey and share it as widely as possible with as broad a range of people as you can. With information like this we can end the ‘business-as-usual’ approach to politics and put the focus back on people like you, which is precisely where it should be.

Proposed constitution for Common Weal North Glasgow

As the group has begun to make progress on plans for CommonFest, General Election campaign activity and the establishment of a permanent physical location in the Glasgow North area it has become clear that a constitution is required. What follows is a proposal document which we are publishing to invite responses (which can be left as comments at the bottom of the page). The intention is to compile responses and agree a final document during one of our upcoming meetings.


Common Weal North Glasgow
Proposed Constitution

I. Common Weal is a non-profit distributing organisation which exists to promote progressive left approaches to government, governance and society more generally. Common Weal refers to the national organisation governed by the Common Weal Board.

II. Common Weal North Glasgow (henceforth referred to as ‘the group’) is a volunteer-led local organisation which is independent of, but affiliated with, the Common Weal group at a national level.

III. The group will not affiliate to any political party but is free to work with them differentially according to their political position and to comment on them freely (including in electoral periods).

IV. The group formed in the aftermath of the Scottish Independence Referendum of 2014. Although the group was initially formed by supporters of Scottish independence, the group itself is not a ‘pro-Yes’ organisation and seeks to welcome and work with any individual or group eager to pursue progressive left, ‘All of Us First’ politics.

V. The group will pursue its goals through activities including but not limited to research and policy development, campaigning and lobbying, writing and publishing, working with other organisations and grassroots campaigns, organising events and by establishing special projects.

VI. The group seeks to maintain a single-tier structure where decisions are made on a democratic and collaborative basis. Activity (including formation and activity of sub-groups) may be facilitated by nominated conveners acting on a voluntary and, if possible, rotational basis. Fortnightly meetings will be led by a rotating chairperson (who will be confirmed prior to the conclusion of each meeting).

VII. Membership of the group is on an entirely voluntary basis – no individual will receive any direct financial benefit from their work with the group. Members are not required to pay fees. It is expected that members will provide their contact details for inclusion in a central record of members, but this is not mandatory. Group meetings are open to all and anyone who regularly attends is welcome to consider themselves a member of the group.

VIII. Although members of the group agree to adhere to the standards of the Common Weal Code of Conduct (link), the opinions of members are not necessarily representative those of the group or Common Weal. Given that debate is an integral feature of the organisation, a statement made by any member should not be automatically regarded as agreed policy.

Common Weal Code of Conduct
(from Chapter 8, page 11, of Resource Pack)

1. To be involved in Common Weal is to be active in Common Weal in any way, including the following fields: Common Weal local groups, Common Policy, Common Space and The Commons’.

2. Those involved in Common Weal activity, whether it be online or offline, social media or meetings, are expected always to be courteous, tolerant, respectful and challenging of discriminatory behaviour of any kind.

3. Common Weal is not a space for part partisanship. Common Weal is about putting ideas before organisations – judge people on how much they are willing to stand up for Common Weal ideals, not what party or organisation they are from.

4. Common Weal campaigning efforts attempt to be inclusive of people from all backgrounds, regardless of political affiliation, and try to build broad-based support for ideas that are in line with Common Weal’s stated policy goals.

5. Common Weal will always attempt to maintain a positive ethos, focusing as much as possible on what we can do rather than what we can’t do, on successes rather than failures. Criticism should be fair and balanced and based on its merit, not on prejudices.

Labour (and the SNP) have missed the point on educational inequality

Last month I wrote a blog post (an edited version of which has also been published by TESS) in response to the SQA’s pronouncement that their new appeals process had been a success. I disagreed with this assessment, arguing that the new system would in fact exacerbate the issue of educational inequality in Scotland.

To my surprise (and I’m sure entirely coincidentally) the Labour Party’s deputy leader in Scotland yesterday attempted to go on the offensive over this very issue during First Minister’s Questions. Kezia Dugdale challenged Nicola Sturgeon over the huge drop in the number of appeals, arguing that the introduction of a fee for failed appeals had resulted in a system which benefits private schools and, consequently, disadvantages everyone else.

By all rights I should have been pleased to see this issue raised in our nation’s parliament but unfortunately – and unsurprisingly – political point-scoring (on both sides) was much more important than getting to the root of the issue. It became clear almost instantly, for example, that Dugdale doesn’t actually understand how the new system works or how it differs from the old appeals procedure, and Sturgeon’s answers suggested that she isn’t any more informed than her opposition counterpart.

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Inequality is entrenched in our education system, and the new ‘appeals’ process is just the tip of a much more challenging iceberg

The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) have, unsurprisingly, declared the new approach to exam appeals a success: the number of appeals has plummeted from 66’000 in 2013 to 8500 this year; successful appeals have dropped to just 2000 from 32’000 last year; and the costs to the (taxpayer funded) SQA have been slashed (having reached an eye-watering £750’000 in 2013).

On the face of it this all sounds fantastic for Scottish education – there has clearly been a massive reduction in what some term ‘speculative appeals’, ensuring a much more rigorous examination system and, if you choose to spin it this way, representing very high confidence levels within the teaching profession. What’s not to like?

Quite a lot, as it happens, because the reality is very different. Despite the toned-down descriptions of this change, the new system marks a radical and retrograde step from an organisation still struggling with the implementation of the new National qualifications.

Despite the understated descriptions of this change, the new system marks a radical and retrograde step…

The new system means that the SQA will ‘remark’ a paper, but as a consequence the award for the student in question could go up as well as down. As a result this option is incredibly risky for many students, especially those whose marks may be close to the grade boundaries or whose university offers are conditional upon certain specific grades.

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Elected representatives for Glasgow North

Westminster Representatives

Glasgow North: Ann McKechin MP (Labour)
Serving Acre, Cadder, Cleveden, Dowanhill, Firhill, Gairbraid, Hillhead, Hyndland, Kelvindale, Kirklee, Maryhill, Maryhill Park, North Kelvinside, Ruchill, Summerston, Partick, Woodlands, Woodside & Wyndford.

Member for Glasgow North since 2005; previously member for Glasgow Maryhill (2001 – 2005).
Interests include international development, economics, small businesses, higher education.
Previously Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland (2010 – 2011).

Voting record
Expenses 2013/14

154 Raeberry Street, Glasgow, G20 6EA
0141 946 1300


Glasgow North West: John Robertson MP (Labour)
Serving Anniesland, Blairdardie, Claythorn, Drumchapel, Garscadden, Jordanhill, Knightswood, Old Drumchapel, Partick (Meadowside and Thornwood), Peterson Park, Scoutstoun, Temple, Whiteinch, Broomhill and Yoker.

Member for Glasgow North West since 2005; previously member for Glasgow Anniesland (2000-2005).
Interests include international development, defence, work and pensions, Scottish affairs, communications, foreign affairs, music, nuclear energy.
Ordered to pay back £2975 of expenses in 2010 for cleaning costs and petty cash.

Voting record
Expenses 2013/14

131 Dalsetter Avenue, Drumchapel, Glasgow, G15 8TE
0141 944 7298


Glasgow North East: William [Willie] Bain MP (Labour)
Serving Milton, Ashfield, Keppochhill, Royston, Cowlairs, Springburn, Wallacewell, Milnbank, Dennistoun, Carntyne, Robroyston, and Gartcraig.

Member for Glasgow North East since 2009.
Interests include transport, economy, welfare state, climate change, constitutional reform, foreign affairs, human rights.
Previous Shadow Minister for Transport (2010), Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affaird (2010-2011) and Shadow Minister for Scotland (2011-2013).

Voting record
Expenses 2013/14

Flemington House, 110 Flemington Street, Glasgow, G21 4BX
0141 557 2513


East Dunbartonshire: Jo Swinson MP (Liberal Democrat)
Serving Milngavie, Bearsden, Torrance, Bishopbriggs, Lenzie and part of Kirkintilloch.

Member for East Dunbartonshire since 2005.
Interests include foreign affairs, political engagement, quality of life and wellbeing, climate change, allergy, body image.
Currently Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Employment Relations, Consumer and Postal Affairs & Women and Equalities.
Previously Deputy Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats (2010-2012)

Voting record
Expenses 2013/14

126 Drymen Road, Bearsden, G61 3RB
0141 943 1568


West Dunbartonshire: Gemma Doyle MP (Labour)
Serving Alexandria, Dunbarton, Bowling, Bonhill, Clydebank, Balloch, Renton and Old Kilpatrick.

Member for West Dunbartonshire since 2010.
Interests include employment, energy, defence, regeneration.
Currently Shadow Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans.

Voting record
Expenses 2013/14

11 Castle Street, Dumbarton, G82 1QS
01389 734214


Scottish Parliament reps and council reps to follow…