Voters in Glasgow North East are heading to the polls today for a by-election triggered by former speaker Michael Martin's resignation in the wake of the MPs expenses scandal.
Political analysts have placed significant importance on the vote due to Labour's precarious standing in the polls and the fact the by-election will probably be the last before next year's general election.
Labour candidate Willie Bain received support from Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson this week, while members of the Cabinet have also visited the region during the last few days in an attempt to drum up support. Chancellor Alistair Darling and home secretary Alan Johnson both made the trip to Glasgow this week, while Gordon Brown visited last week. Scottish national party (SNP) candidate David Kerr has also welcomed party leader Alex Salmond to the region.
Thirteen candidates are standing in today's election, including Charlie Baillie from the British National party and former MSP Tommy Sheridan. Other 'celebrity' figures are also standing for election, including John Smeaton the baggage handler who became known around the world after confronting one of the Glasgow airport bombers, and Big Brother runner-up Mikey Hughes.
Labour heads into the election with a majority of some 10,000 votes from the 2005 general election. Lord Martin was effectively forced out as Speaker following the Daily Telegraph's explosive exposure of the lavish expenses claims made by some MPs earlier this year.
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