1979, Blantyre Politics


Local elections approached on 3rd May 1979, and in Blantyre there was just one thing on everybody’s mind. Redevelopment of Glasgow Road!

Redevelopment of Blantyre was THE major talking point and political campaigns set out to win on the point. By April 1979, work had already started on the Phase 1 of ASDAs new development, three new housing complexes were planned, as well as the sports centre. Each party had their turn to convince the people of Blantyre that THEY each had the interests of Blantyre folk at heart. Here’s what reporters published on their responses.

Labour’s Maurice Miller said, “A marked reduction in unemployment in Blantyre is welcomed and housewives will be pleased to see the Prices Commission being given extra powers. Conservative party’s taxation policy only helps the rich. Labour has promised a facelift in Blantyre and although it’s been more difficult than imagined to implement this transition, it is coming very, very soon. We aim to keep to that promise.”

Conservative Bill Hodgson didn’t mince his words in a reply, adding, “Do we continue going down the path with Labour short changing Blantyre and unable to provide what they promised, or do we turn away from Industrial Chaos and put faith in the invigorated, healthy and caring Conservative party? People should ignore Nationalists. Support for them has dropped so this election is shaping up to be a 2 horse race between Labour and our party. Join the rest of the Nation and vote Conservative, for the sake of your children’s future.”

Communist Candidate, Bill McDowall said the matter was not just about shops, but also housing, adding, “People are angered by the lack of council homes being built in Blantyre. Cuts are being made to National Health care as well, and those living in Blantyre have a right to be outraged. Labour neglecting Springwells especially to the extent it has done is  despicable. Our party will put that as a priority, amending housing problems. We need to introduce socialist values again to Blantyre, give people homes and protect our elderly.”

Gordon Murray, the SNP candidate hit out, “Labour has been trusted before in Blantyre and we all see how that’s turned out. Boarded up shops, people forced to leave homes they’ve been in for generations. No guarantees for their future. Delayed projects like the sports centre, outdoor sports playing facilities removed by planners. It’s 1979. Where’s the facelift Blantyre was promised all those years ago? Labour even voted down a planned new RC Secondary School, denying a rising population of Blantyre Catholics to be schooled in their very own town. Resources are there to transform Blantyre, but people need to break from a Labour/ Conservative tradition and vote SNP, if change is ever going to happen.”

[Source: Hamilton Advertiser April 1979]

What do you think? Has anything really changed in 40 years?

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