Well, I've been having a fantastic time campaigning in the Glasgow East by-election, and many a tale to tell. Too many in fact, so I'll just make a few observations.
The photos above were taken at the lunch time rally we had outside the SNP campaign rooms today. I arrived back from a spot of canvassing to find Alex Salmond and then John Mason addressing hundreds of SNP activists - and that was just the people on their lunch break! There were many more out chapping doors and delivering leaflets.
One of the things that I've noticed in this particular by-election has been the number of people very disillusioned with politics, and I've had a number of conversations on the doorsteps that are more than a little similar. The pattern has usually involved me knocking on a door, speaking to some one and them growling back at me about how all politicians are useless. (Shall I resist the urge to say, 'that's because they've all been Labour politicians...'?) But then when I've asked them what makes them think that, it is usually because they are disillusioned specifically with Labour - the party they have traditionally supported. It has also been on a few occasions specifically because of their experience of their Labour representatives, and often because of their inaction. I find it really frustrating that the Labour party has turned so many people off politics - the democratic process that is a vehicle to improving their lives. But, after speaking to people, and taking a note of the issues that they want dealt with - to pass to an effective SNP representative - I haven't quite changed their minds about politicians, but hopefully that will be happening as their SNP councillor or MSP gets in touch to help sort out their problem.
I have also noticed that there is a substantial group of traditional Labour voters who either voted SNP at the last election and plan to do so again on 24 July, and a lot who will be voting SNP for the first time in this by-election. Also very heartening is the level of support for independence, and a curiosity and open-mindedness in others. I have spent a lot of time so far talking to people about independence, and answering any questions they may have.
In fact, one of the last people I spoke to tonight was a lady trimming the hedge in her garden. She was very interested in independence, and felt that there was a lot of negativity about independence from the other parties - but not a lot of substance to back it up. Anyway, she remarked that I must consider her to be a social oddity because she was doing her garden on a Saturday night. I suggested to her, that a woman walking the streets with a clip board speaking to people about politics was in no position to judge! She agreed.