Scottish Political


THERE was a big turn-out of Scottish politicians and trade unionists

yesterday for the funeral mass for Glasgow Central MP Mr Bob McTaggart,

at St Mungo's Church in Townhead.

Over 600 mourners packed the church, in the main ordinary

working-class people from the constituency, paying tribute to an MP who

died while travelling back from Westminster for an Easter break with his


Mr McTaggart, 43, was a former Govan Shipbuilders shop steward and

Glasgow district councillor. The funeral mass was attended by Shadow

Scottish Secretary Mr Donald Dewar, and most of the Scottish Labour

parliamentary group.

All the main political parties will now immediately set in motion the

task of selecting their prospective candidates for what promises to be a

tough battle following on the Govan by-election contest.

Labour's director of organisation, Ms Joyce Gould, or her deputy, and

Scottish organiser Mr Jimmy Allison will meet the Central constituency

executive next week.

Only last month Mr McTaggart, who had been sponsored by the

Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunication and Plumbing Union, claimed

that in a coup at the agm his local constituency party had been taken

over by a grouping intent on mounting a challenge to him at


Ms Ann Henderson, the new convener and a delegate of the National

Union of Railwaymen, is expected to bid for the candidacy. Other names

linked with the seat are Mrs Ann Maguire; district Councillor Charles

McCafferty; Manufacturing, Science and Finance Union official and

Scottish executive member Mr Mike Watson; and former MP, now Strathclyde

Regional Councillor Mrs Helen McElhone.

Under new selection procedures the National Executive Committee of the

Labour Party will ensure that the candidate who emerges will be capable

of withstanding fierce media exposure. At Govan two Militants were

removed from the leet.

The Scottish National Party started its procedures last night at a

meeting of the agenda committee in its search for a candidate capable of

repeating Mr Jim Sillars' stunning success in the contiguous Govan


Considerable pressure has already mounted within the party for his

friend, Mr Alex Neil, to give up his candidacy for the Glasgow Euro-seat

to pursue the by-election trail.

Hamilton lawyer Mr Andrew Brophy, who was short-leeted at Govan and

who fought Glasgow Garscadden against Mr Dewar at the General Election,

is regarded as a certain runner along with Motherwell District

Councillor Mrs Kathleen MacAlorum.

Despite all its recent public discussion on the wisdom of pacts the

SDP in Scotland meets tonight and is almost certain to decide to put up

a candidate. It is likely that one of two former west of Scotland

parliamentary candidates will be selected.

Mr Ralph Leishman said: ''My own view is that unless we can reach an

agreement with other centre ground parties then on this occasion we

should fight. Central will provide an ideal opportunity to put forward

the party line and there has been interest expressed. So we have the

resources in terms of people interested and determination.''

The SDP did not stand at Govan and although the Democrats lost their

deposit their candidate, Mr Bernard Ponsonby, proved an excellent

debater and captured much publicity. If the SDP stood aside a second

time it would add fuel to gibes that they are almost non-existent on the

Scottish scene.

The Democrats will meet in Glasgow next Tuesday. Mr Ponsonby, now

their press officer, said that ''in the absence of formal approaches we

will go ahead as per constitution towards a selection''.

The Democrats will send 20 leading party members to the first meeting

of the Scottish Constitutional Convention when it meets in Edinburgh

tomorrow. The party will include all nine MPs, six executive members,

and four women.