I'm sorry, were we watching the same by-election?
I can hardly see a slightly-reduced majority in a constituency that's such a Labour stronghold they could shave a monkey, stick a rosette on it and still win as a ringing endorsement.
With a turnout of 32% - the lowest in Scottish electoral history - the only thing endorsed by this result was apathy. The Returning Officer could have announced the winner of this non-contest was N O T Above of the Disinterest Party.
And dramatic? See above. Even scaremongering and the appearance of Gollum in the constituency couldn't motivate people out to vote. My morning bowel movement was more dramatic - and coincidentally has greater substance than Labour's claim to any sort of mandate from this result. They may appear to have gained some momentum - but it's only momentum in the same way that if you kick a dead dog downstairs, it'll carry on till it reaches the bottom.
59% of 32% voted Red, meaning that the Labour share of the potential vote was a staggering 19.75%, there or thereabouts. Less than 1 in 5. Hardly a landslide, despite their bouyant claims of the same. All it actually shows is that the average voter is now totally disillusioned by the whole political process - and that Labour are so desperate for some good news - ANY good news - that they'll latch onto a foregone conclusion and try to spin it into an 'against-the-odds' story to rival David and Goliath. When in fact the only similarity is Willie Bain's height.
Any signals for the impending General Election? Well, not in terms of vote share - the Conservatives doing well in Glasgow North-East is about as likely as Labour winning Richmond, Yorks. The big signal, though, is in the turnout. Politics in general is now so degraded and so detached from the average voter that they are, largely, completely disinterested. I've heard tell that some people will even go to the lengths of watching Eastenders rather than vote. If this turnout were repeated, then Mr N O T Above will have his work cut out representing an enormous number of constituencies.
What's to be done? I wish I knew. I don't believe in making voting compulsory - we have the right to vote, not the obligation - and in some ways, those who don't vote are choosing to make their own statement.
We could have a 'none of the above' tickbox - but the problem I see there is that it would make the system unworkable in a FPTP system, because you've have to re-run the election if NOTA won. So to implement NOTA, you'd need PR - which hasn't shown itself as conducive to stable Government in other countries, because of the need to form coalitions.
We need something that forces politicians of all colours to work together, that helps restore trust and that forces the implementation of good law rather than ideologically-based legislation squeezed through by Parliamentary majority. We need, I believe, a Hung Parliament.