Jack points the Scots in the right direction - by David Callam
12th November 2009
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THE VOTERS of Glasgow North East go to the poll on Thursday.

The by-election is caused by the resignation of former House of Commons speaker Michael Martin, a casualty of the MPs’ expenses scandal.

I was surprised to learn from a BBC report that the constituency is very down-at-heel, even by Scottish standards, with little or no prospect of work for young people or those made redundant by the demise of heavy industry.

It seems Mr Speaker Martin did not look after his constituents as well as some of his illustrious parliamentary predecessors. In particular, I’m thinking of Jack Weatherill, who was MP for Croydon North East during the whole of his time in the speaker’s chair.

By tradition, the speaker does not take part in debates in the House, but I remember Mr Weatherill saying that such a minor impediment never stopped him representing the interests of his constituents.

Indeed, he maintained that his position actually enhanced their prospects. He was always able to find another MP who would make the case on his behalf and he was able to use his considerable influence to press a case with ministers and others outside the chamber.

During his time as deputy speaker and subsequently as the successor to Mr Speaker George Thomas, Jack Weatherill did a great deal for constituents in particular and the borough of Croydon in general.

One of his many accomplishments was to bring together a group of major local players – including the banks, Allders and Debenhams department stores and the borough newspaper – to found Croydon Business Venture in Cherry Orchard Road.

The not-for-profit business is still going strong and has helped thousands of would-be entrepreneurs over the past quarter of a century. Who knows how much the experience and skills of its volunteers have contributed to the local economy in that time?

Maybe Mr Martin’s successor would consider taking a leaf out of Mr Weatherill’s book. It would certainly be better for the people of Glasgow to help themselves than to wait for this or any future government to do so.


David Callam is a freelance journalist and the former business editor of The Croydon Advertiser. For more examples of his work and to see what he could do for your business please visit www.callamedia.co.uk

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