FROM the banks of the Clyde to the borders of the city, Glasgow North West stretches across diverse neighbourhoods.

With Great Western Road running through it, the constituency takes in Drumchapel and Jordanhill, Yoker and Scotstoun, Whiteinch, Broomhill, Anniesland, Netherton and Knightswood.

Like neighbouring Glasgow North, it’s a constituency of contrasts. But one issue regularly rears its head: Universal Credit.

The roll-out of the UK Government’s controversial benefit has had a “major impact” in Drumchapel, where it arrived last ­December.

Figures from the constituency’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau show it gave advice on 12,789 occasions in 2018/19. Benefits was by far the largest area where residents required help, with 7581 instances, while debt came up nearly 1500 times.

Drumchapel Money Advice Service provides free welfare advice across the North West constituency, running clinics at Whiteinch Community Centre, Yoker Housing Association, Heart of Scotstoun Community Centre and Drumchapel Citizens’ Advice ­Bureau among others.

An adviser estimated the service is visited by between 30 and 35 people per day, helping them with benefits appeals, filling in forms and making phone calls.

They also help with IT skills, which the adviser said has been a barrier to accessing the benefit for many.

“I think because it was so unexpected people didn’t know how to deal with it,” she said.

“This area is known for poverty and deprivation, it puts stresses on our clientèle’s households, their personal relationships. We’re referring a lot of our clients to the foodbank.”

Earlier this year, Drumchapel Food Bank said it was facing its “worst food shortage” due to a ­severe lack of donations and a rise in usage. Just this month, it ­revealed it had needed to enlist the services of a mental health charity because people are coming to them suicidal.

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Benefit changes and delays were cited as a reason for the ­increase in visitors.

Another local foodbank, the Glasgow NW Foodbank, stated in its annual report that referrals were up by nine percent last year, with 4661 recorded.

The total number of food parcels handed out to adults and children was just short of 10,000.

Facilitated by Blawarthill Parish Church of Scotland, the foodbank, part of the Trussell Trust Foodbank Network, has been running since May 2013. Parcel hand-outs have more than doubled since 2015.

“Over the years there have been several factors for the continuing increase in demand for our services,” the annual report states.

“In 2018, the largest influences have been asylum seekers, some of whom received minimal support from the government and others that receive no support.

“Universal Credit was rolled out across Glasgow, however, the impact of this could be felt more in 2019, unless there are significant improvements to how it is rolled out to new claimants.

“Benefit delays resulted in 25.8% of referrals, low income 17.6%, benefit changes (including sanctions) 16.1%.”

It is an issue which is going to be high on the agenda for constituents come the general election on December 12.

In comparison, the North West contains more affluent areas like Jordanhill, where Jordanhill School, the only publicly-funded mainstream secondary in Scotland not under council control, regularly tops exam league tables.

The constituency is held by the SNP, with its candidate Carol Monaghan having represented its residents in Westminster since 2015.

It had been a Labour seat since its formation in 2005, when parts of Glasgow Anniesland and Glasgow Kelvin were combined.

John Robertson won comfortably in both 2005 and 2010, taking 49.2% and 54.1% of the vote respectively.

In that 2010 election, Robertson had a 13,611 majority but just five years later Monaghan took the seat and a 10,364 majority, with 23,908 votes from a turnout of 43,854.

It was much tighter in 2017 despite the Labour vote remaining much the same, rising from 13,544 to 13,947 or 30.9% to 35.9%. With a lower turnout and an almost 10% rise in votes for the Tories, the SNP held on to the seat but with a majority of just 2561.

Two years on from that vote, Labour is represented by a new candidate, Patricia Ferguson. She is promising her party will lift people out of poverty, hitting out at the SNP and Tories for years of cuts.

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Tory candidate Ade Aibinu believes the election is an opportunity to push back against another independence referendum. He accuses the SNP of wasting time and wants to support teachers, improve bus services and invest in community-based NHS care.

The Liberal Democrats came second in Glasgow North West during its first two elections but candidate James Speirs received the least votes in the 2017 contest.

He’s in the running for the seat again this year and says he will resist Brexit and Scottish independence. He also wants to improve mental health services and the city’s transport system.

The SNP is campaigning on rejecting Westminster austerity and escaping Brexit.

Monaghan blames the Tories for Universal Credit and welfare cuts, saying they have pushed families in the constituency into poverty.

And she says her party is the party of workers’ rights after it an equal pay deal was agreed with Glasgow City Council workers earlier this year.


Carol Monaghan | SNP | 16,508| 42.5%

Michael Shanks | Lab | 13,947 | 35.9%

Christopher Land | Cons | 7002 | 18%

James Speirs | LibDem | 1387 | 3.6%

Meet the candidates

Carol Monaghan, SNP: “Next month the people of Glasgow will have the opportunity to shape Scotland’s future in the most important general election in modern history. A vote for the SNP is a vote to reject Westminster austerity and escape the chaos of Brexit that puts local jobs and incomes on the line. It’s been the honour of my life to serve the people of Glasgow North West, and I’ve fought hard against cuts and austerity every step of the way.”

Ade Aibinu, Conservative: “This election is a crucial opportunity to push back against another divisive independence referendum. It is clear that only the Scottish Conservatives are unequivocal in their commitment to keeping the United Kingdom together and therefore return the focus solely on domestic priorities.”

James Speirs, LibDems: “I have spent most of my life in Glasgow and have worked mainly for a charity, helping people with disabilities and mental health problems. I have been actively involved in campaigning for the Scottish Liberal Democrats since 2009. If elected I will work hard for the people of North West Glasgow, in particular I will resist a damaging hard Brexit and work to keep Scotland as part of the UK.”

Patricia Ferguson, Labour: “Since being selected as the Scottish Labour Candidate for Glasgow North West over a year ago, what has surprised me most is just how much goes on in our local communities. From coffee mornings in Drumchapel and Yoker to Christmas Fairs in Knightswood and Jordanhill, the people powering our communities are truly a force of nature.”

Voices on the street

WE asked people in Glasgow North West their views on whether the upcoming General Election would challenge the UK union and their opinion on independence.

Pat Macartney, Anniesland: “Well, I am not really sure to tell you the truth because it depends. They are all the same, they just work for themselves and they decide what they want.”

Cathy Hannon, Anniesland: “Yes, maybe they should, but I think they will.

I was very against independence on the instinct level, my husband is a yes campaigner and after Brexit I have to say, he cannot see the independence argument after Brexit. It is very sad.”

Douglas Ferrier, Anniesland: “I am not really sure. To me, sometimes the European government makes a lot of decisions that I don’t agree with. I don’t know about independence for Scotland because we never had it.”

John Roselli, Scotstoun: “Nobody knows what is happening to them. Independence is one of the best things that could happen to Scotland.”

Eddie Smith, Scotstoun: “I am not for the independence of Scotland but if we get power in Europe, I will vote independence.”

Angela Knox, Scotstoun: “I think they will challenge the UK union. I would say no to independence, because I am a no leaver.”