LABOUR Margaret Curran, 49, is MSP for Ballieston and previously served as Social Justice Minister in the Scottish Executive. She has proved to be an asset for Labour in the constituency while its national profile is in the doldrums, but she exaggerated her claim to have lived all her life in the east end - she actually lives on the south side. If she wins, Gordon Brown owes her his political career, but she would rule herself out of a bid for the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party, a contest that follows on from tonight's vote. She would continue to serve as an MP and MSP for the foreseeable future.

SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY John Mason, 51, is originally from Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire, and has lived in Glasgow's east end for 18 years. He is the biggest challenger to Labour in the seat. The SNP's longest-serving Glasgow councillor, he was elected to Glasgow City Council for the Garrowhill ward in a 1998 by-election and held the seat in 1999 and 2003. He has led the SNP group since 1999 and was elected in 2007 as councillor for the new ward of Baillieston. An accountant by training, Mr Mason is portrayed by Labour as a hardline nationalist and has been closely supported by the SNP leadership in the campaign.

CONSERVATIVE Davena Rankin, 35, has fought for the Conservatives in Glasgow Kelvin during the 2001 General Election and Glasgow King's Park in the 2003 council poll. A union activist, she sits on Unison's national women's committee, national black members committee, higher education service group executive and chairs the Scottish women's committee.

LIBERAL DEMOCRATS Ian Robertson, 30, is a maths teacher at Bellahouston Academy in Glasgow. He was a candidate for the Scottish Liberal Democrats in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West constituency in the 2005 General Election and has proved an articulate campaigner in the by-election hustings. Mr Robertson served as president of Strathclyde University Student Association in 2003-04.

SCOTTISH SOCIALIST PARTY Frances Curran, 47, is one of the founding members of the SSP and joint national spokesman with Colin Fox. She was one of six socialist MSPs elected for the West of Scotland at the 2003 Holyrood election, but the party was wiped out in the 2007 vote after its split with Tommy Sheridan. Socialism, independence and internationalism are her campaigning slogans. Labour fear voter confusion over the surname she shares with their candidate.

GREEN Dr Eileen Duke, 60, is Scottish Green Party co-convener for Glasgow and the west of Scotland. A native of Dundee, she has lived in Glasgow since 1979. She worked as a doctor in the city for 23 years. Dr Duke was a LibDem activist for many years but joined the Greens in 2005.

SOLIDARITY Tricia McLeish, 44, from the party's Shettleston branch, has been an active socialist for more than 20 years. Suspended from the Labour Party for her involvement in the Anti-Poll Tax Federation, she became a founder member of the Scottish Socialist Alliance, the Scottish Socialist Party and then Solidarity. Born and living in Shettleston, she has taken a holiday from her work for Glasgow City Council to campaign. She was shop steward in the housing department for 15 years and is fighting against privatisation and Labour's welfare reform proposals.

CHRIS CREIGHTON Anti-monarchist Chris Creighton lives in Glasgow's south side and is a mature student studying politics at Glasgow University. A by-election veteran, he was one of nine candidates who contested the Glasgow Cathcart seat in 2005 after the resignation of Labour's Mike Watson. He came eighth, polling 59 votes.

FREEDOM 4 CHOICE Hamish Howitt, a publican from Blackpool, was the first landlord in England to be prosecuted for allowing customers to light up and has been fined twice by the courts. Mr Howitt was one of 26 candidates to contest the Haltemprice and Howden by-election. He came 13th with 91 votes. He is a non-smoker who is pro-choice.