Glasgow East was a disaster for Labour. But amidst the Party’s despair and back-biting a small ray of light has been overlooked: the by-election actually tells us that people are not yet truly ashamed of the Labour Party. What’s the evidence for this? Well, I was chatting the other day to a Labour member who was canvassing up there on the weekend before the vote. And he told me that he had gone to around 150 houses, and only 4 of the families he spoke to said that they were voting SNP. The rest assured him that they were solidly Labour. And his experience was shared by other canvassers and, it would seem, by much of the media. Now this tells us of course that people lie to canvassers. Big deal. But the important point is that people felt they needed to lie. They were clearly uncomfortable telling a Labour Party canvasser that they wouldn’t be backing the Party. Compare that to the Conservatives in 1995 or 1996 (when they were losing by-elections like Littleborough and Saddleworth on a similarly huge swing). At that stage voters were delighted to tell canvassers – and anyone else who would listen – that they wouldn’t vote Conservative. The Tories were totally distrusted, despised and reviled. (In fact I’m told by people who canvass for the Conservatives now that in many constituencies there is still a guilty reluctance on the doorstep to admit that you might be a Tory, despite that nice Mr Cameron.) So maybe things are not so bad for Labour – at least it looks like they are hated less than the Conservatives were just before their meltdown in 1997. And so maybe, just maybe, with a change in leader and a bit of a fresh start there is still time to turn their fortunes around. Don’t bank on it, but at least it’s a straw to clutch at.