Thomas Kerr: Shettleston councillor: growing up poor in Glasgow made me a Tory
His view of politics in Glasgow is warped and confused. Some of his quotes:
“Beforehand, when you were working class, you went into the mines, or the shipyards,” he says.
“Margaret Thatcher opened up a big inbox for working class people to say well, actually, if you want to be something, then go and do it.
Her impact has changed this country for the better.”
Comment: So the managed decline of industry in Scotland orchestrated by Thatcher was a gift to the working class people of the east end of Glasgow.
“Labour and then the SNP did nothing for the area for years”.
He shows me some of the local shops, the empty units, the decay, and the litter.
It’s lunchtime at the school and a pupil dumps the plastic lid off his takeaway meal onto the ground without a second thought.
“People think because you stay in the east end, it doesn’t matter,” says Kerr.
Comment: Labour has run Glasgow City council for over 70 years and responsibility for the poor environment in the east end of Glasgow rests with them. The SNP presence in Glasgow as a political force is recent.
Asked if he thinks the traditional Orange vote in the east end had anything to do with his election, he said no.
“I’m not saying there wasn’t a big Orange vote, but I had nothing to do with that kind of thing.”
Comment: In the course of the campaign, Ruth Davidson and the Tories first re-established then actively promoted Tory links to the unionist Orange order.
And yet hailing from from a hard line “Orange” family he knew nothing about it. Get real.
Thomas Kerr, 21, grew up in a high rise in one of the most deprived parts of Glasgow.
His parents, born in the 1970’s were “Thatchers” children who, surviving in the east end of Glasgow suffered the full wrath of the Tory party asset stripping of Scotland.
Thomas, born in 1996 at the tail end of the Tory years of austerity had no direct experience of Thatcher and supported the Labour party, up to the financial crash of 2008 (which he blamed on Labour) and the return of the Tories in 2010. He was 14y old.
His father, a staunch Orangeman, deserted infant Thomas and his mother and went on to survive a miserable existence as a heroin addict until he died in 2016 aged 46y.
Adding insult to injury his mother was and still is a heroin addict, although she attended rehab in 2010 after the birth of her daughter she still medicates on methadone which is not good.
From the age of six, Thomas cared for his mother rather than the other way around.
It was a hard life, barely supported by ever reducing state benefits , living off burgers and little else.
Starved of love and good guidance he turned to his grandparents, who stepped up and providing him a stable upbringing ensured his schooling was secured allowing him to enrol at Glasgow College to study media affairs.
In May 2017 Thomas achieved the impossible when he was elected Conservative councillor for Shettleston.
What? the reaction in Shettleston. But a closer look at the result is revealing.
Scottish Council Elections
Election of local councillors is achieved through use of a single transferable vote, proportional representation system (STV).
Voting is straightforward but it can be time consuming since voters are required to select for any number of the candidates on the ballot paper (the list can be in double figures).
Voters can select as few or as many as they wish and should mark a 1 against their favourite, a 2 against their second favourite and so on adding a number to one, two, three or all candidates listed.
Establishing the “Quota”.
The total number of valid votes cast are divided by the number of seats to be filled plus one. One is then added to the total. Candidates achieving the “quota” of first preference votes are elected.
Candidates failing to achieve the “quota” are subjected to a vote transfer procedure with the purpose of identifying anyone capable of achieving the “Quota”:
The candidate with the fewest first preference votes is eliminated.
That candidate’s second preference votes are then looked at and are added to the totals of the other candidates.
Any who reach the magic number are then elected.
If seats still need to be filled, the person with the second fewest first preference votes is eliminated and their second votes are transferred to the remaining candidates
Any who reach the magic number are then elected.
If there are still seats to be filled, the person with the third fewest first preference votes is eliminated and their second votes redistributed and so on, and so on.
Shettleston Ward, 2017 Elections Preference Vote Transfers
Lab: Frank McAveety 25.17%: 1,902
SNP: Laura Doherty 17.95%: 1,356 1,364+8 1,368+4 1,370+2 1,379+9 1,384+5 1,387+3 1,477+90 1,600+123
Tory: Thomas Kerr 18.10%: 1,368 1,381+13 1,390+9 1,394+4 1,399+5 1,409+10 1,448+39 1,462+14 1,468+6 1,469+1 1,671+202
SNP: Michelle Ferns 10.23%: 773 778+5 779+1 782+3 785+3 785+0 786+1 811+25 1,377+566 1,453+76 1,597+144
Note: preference votes to the Tory candidate: 13 Lab, 9 Ind, 4 SD, 5 TUSC, 10 LibDem, 39 UKIP, 14 Green, 6 SNP, 1 SNP, 202 Lab. Total: 294
The 215 labour votes ensured a Tory win over the second labour councillor
Labour: Anne Simpson 11.54% 872 1,162+290 1,164+2 1,173+9 1,184+11 1,214+30 1,238+24 1,275+37 1,278+3 1,289+11
SNP: Alex Kerr 09.58% 724 729 731 736 739 743 751 774
Green: Kevin Campbell 02.94% 222 225 231 234 249 265 274
UKIP: Jamie Robertson 01.39% 105 110 111 120 122 129
LibDem: Tim Pollard 01.09% 82 87 88 94 96
TUSC: Jamie Cocozza 00.79% 60 63 67 69
SDem: Steve Marshall 00.67% 51 54 56
Ind: Paul Corran 00.54% 41 41
Electorate: 21,134 Valid: 7,556 Spoilt: 326 Quota: 1,512 Turnout: 37.3%
Voting Out-turn 2012:
The Labour party in Shettleston gained 62.50% of the popular vote and got 3 councillors.
The SNP posted a respectable 30.90% and got 1 councillor elected.
The Tories managed to get 294 votes, 4.20%.
Voting Out-turn 2017:
The Labour party in Shettleston performed badly achieving 36.71% (a drop in support of 25.79% over 2012) getting 1 councillor.
The SNP posted 37.76% (an increase of 6.80% over 2012) gaining 2 councillors.
The Tories managed to get 18.10% (an increase of 13.90% over 2012) and gained 1 councillor.
First preference votes showed a major collapse in the Labour vote, the Tory candidate being the main beneficiary.
Labour “Orange” Unionist voters transferred their allegiance from a party on the brink of collapse to the Tories.
The performance of the Labour party was so appallingly bad that the last of their preference votes were given over to the Tory candidate at the sacrifice of a second labour councillor seat.
Adding to the count, the preference votes of UKIP and the LIBDem’s were also transferred to the Tory candidate.
Green party voters, to their credit, supported the SNP with their preference transfers.
Media Reporting of the Election
The BBC and the entire Unionist media in Scotland trumpeted the stunning appointment of “still wet behind the ears” student, 20yo, Thomas Kerr, the Tory candidate, to the post of Councillor in Shettleston.
Stunning? Hardly. Unionist voters in Shettleston have, for the last 70+ years, comprised the bulk of the voter base.
The traditional voter split (until the establishment of the Scottish Parliament) was: Labour 80%, SNP 10%, Tory 5%, LibDem 5% and Others 5%.
From 2000 Catholic voters became disillusioned with the Labour party and started transferring their support to the SNP.
By the 2012 council elections the SNP share of the vote had increased to 31% and in the 2017 elections the total was 38%.
But, if the BBC and Unionist media was to be believed, Ruth Davidson and her disciples were apparently well able to walk on water, all the way to taking up the reins of the Scottish government at Holyrood.
Stretching credibility to the absolute limit the BBC etc “shouted from the rooftops of Glasgow” that voters in Shettleston had displayed in their votes, their trust in the Tory party, no matter the red-herring rumour mongers of the SNP and their constant moaning about Scots suffering from the introduction, by the Tory party government, of Universal credit, rapidly increasing use of foodbanks, bedroom tax, social and economic deprivation, unemployment, benefit sanctions, suicide and early death rates the highest in the UK, etc.
Kerr Has Solutions in his grasp
Just 20 years old, touting his victory in the press and on BBC, Kerr claimed in his acceptance blurb he would make a difference, bringing about a fresh Tory outlook in Shettleston improving the lot of the electorate, through his possession of a wealth of local knowledge gained from visits from neighbouring Cranhill to his SNP supporting aunt who is not best pleased her nephew has wrapped himself in the “Butchers Apron”. Time will tell.