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by Andrew Learmonth
20 April 2021
Constituency profile: Glasgow Southside

Queen's Cafe on Victoria Road is a popular local landmark

Constituency profile: Glasgow Southside

Nicola Sturgeon and Anas Sarwar are going head-to-head in one of the country's most diverse constituencies

GLASGOW Southside should be a shoo-in for the SNP.

At the last election, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon more than doubled her majority, winning with 45 per cent of the vote.

What makes this seat worthy of a profile is that at this election, local boy Anas Sarwar is also standing.

It’s the first time two of the main party leaders have gone head-to-head like this in a Holyrood vote.

However, both Sturgeon and Sawar are placed second on their party’s respective lists, and it’s highly unlikely that either will miss out on the first First Minister’s Questions of Holyrood’s sixth session.

The constituency is one of Scotland’s most ethnically diverse – at the last count there were around 88 languages spoken here. 

It’s also one of the country’s most economically disparate.

According to recent analysis by the city council, the Southside Central ward – which forms a substantial part of the constituency – has an above-average level of child poverty, with 44 per cent of children living here experiencing its effects.

But there’s money here too. It’s only a 20 minute walk from Govanhill – one of the most deprived areas in the city – to the mansions of Pollokshields West – one of the least deprived areas in the city.

The history of the constituency reminds you that Scotland can be quite a wee place.

Before it was known as Glasgow Southside it was Glasgow Govan, a historic seat with emotional resonance for both Labour and the SNP.

The last Labour MSP to win the seat was Gordon Jackson, the QC who defended Alex Salmond at his 2020 criminal trial.

The lawyer won the seat in 1999, beating Nicola Sturgeon with a majority of just 1,756.

The two were far ahead of the Conservative candidate, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

She, of course, later went on to be an SNP MP. She’s now the lead candidate in Central Scotland for Alba.

Sturgeon won the seat in 2007 and has seen her majority increase substantially at each subsequent election. In 2016, she took 61.4 per cent of the vote.

As one veteran activist told me many years ago, windows can’t vote. That said, if they could, the windows of Glasgow Southside would be overwhelmingly backing the incumbent.

On my regular jaunts around the constituency, it’s nearly exclusively SNP posters on display, with the occasional Green, Labour or Alba.

There are eight candidates up for the seat, including the enigmatically named Greg Energyadvisor. He’s calling for a referendum on bringing the electricity grid under national control.

But it seems hard to see victory going anywhere else other than to Nicola Sturgeon.

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