Result that broke political mould

Kilsyth Labour councillor Helen McVey on polling day
Kilsyth Labour councillor Helen McVey on polling day

Labour supporters in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth are out to reclaim lost support after the referendum saw North Lanarkshire become one of four areas to vote “Yes”.

Despite high profile visits to the constituency by leading Labour figures, including former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former Scottish secretary Jim Murphy MP, the one-time Labour stronghold was a local success story for the independence campaign.

Allied to the results in Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire the vote sent out a clear signal that many west of Scotland traditional Labour voters were minded to forget past allegiances and vote for independence – at least for this particular contest. It could also be argued that some of the Labour misery, in an otherwise successful national vote for the Better Together alliance of Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, was down to a protest vote.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s positive performance at a packed meeting in Kilsyth may also have helped.

Labour reported a largely positive campaign locally, although according to a report in The Economist Cumbernauld and Kilsyth MP Gregg McClymont was subjected to foul-mouthed racist abuse by one resident.

While party activists pore over the detail of a campaign which somehow went badly wrong the Yes camp, and the SNP, are talking about how they can build on qualified success.

The Cumbernauld branch of Yes Scotland is urging voters to back a pro-independence party at the forthcoming General Election - giving them a choice of Scottish National Party, Scottish Socialist Party or Scottish Green Party.

Buoyed by a hugely successful local campaign which delivered an emphatic “yes” – although only in strictly local terms – activists aim to build on the success over the next few months, while at party level the SNP reports a huge surge in new membership (reportedly reaching 17,000 new applications nationally).

The rival camps are upbeat about the capacity of local politicians to work together for the common good, even if they disagree about independence.

Kilsyth SNP councillor Alan Stevenson and Labour councillor Heather McVey, speaking on polling day, both said one of the biggest positive outcomes of the referendum was the large number of people engaged in the political arguments for the first time.