One of the safest seats for the Labour Party, it has voted Labour since the 1930s. It achieved national prominence in 2008, when a by-election saw the Scottish National Party overturn a majority of over 13,000 votes to take the seat. At the 2010 general election, Labour's Margaret Curran won the seat back from the SNP, with a renewed majority of over 11,000 votes. The seat is notable for receiving the lowest percentage of votes for the Liberal Democrats for any constituency at the 2010 general election, and for being one of only two constituencies across the whole United Kingdom where the Conservative Party polled under 5% of the vote.
Glasgow East is one of seven constituencies covering the Glasgow City council area. All are entirely within the council area.
Prior to the 2005 general election, the city area was covered by ten constituencies, of which two straddled boundaries with other council areas. The East constituency includes the area of the former Glasgow Baillieston constituency and parts of the former Glasgow Shettleston constituency.Scottish Parliament constituencies retain the names and boundaries of the older Westminster constituencies.
Baillieston has always been represented by the Labour Party, as was its predecessor Glasgow Provan from its creation in 1955. Shettleston was won by the Labour Party at every election from 1950 onwards (in 1945 it was won by the Independent Labour Party). In 2008, the Scottish National Party succeeded in winning the seat from Labour in a by-election on a very large swing. Prior to the by-election, it had been one of the safest Labour seats in the United Kingdom. At the 2010 General Election, the constituency was re-gained by Labour from the SNP's by-election victor John Mason by more than 11,000 votes by Margaret Curran.
The Glasgow East constituency contains part of the M8 motorway and main railway lines into the city centre; the home ground of Glasgow Celtic football club is within the constituency.
It is one of the most deprived constituencies in Britain. Nearly 40% of adults smoke, and on average there are 25 drug-related deaths a year. Average male life expectancy is 68, five years less than the Scottish average, while in the Shettleston area it is 63. A 2008 World Health Organisation report gave the average male life expectancy in Calton as 54.
On 28 June 2008, David Marshall MP announced he would step down because of a stress-related illness and was appointed Steward of the Manor of Northstead on 30 June 2008, thus effectively resigning from the Commons. Although the seat represented Labour's third highest majority in Scotland, they faced a strong challenge from the SNP, hot on the heels of Labour's disastrous performance in the 2008 Henley by-election. Nominations for candidates closed at 4pm on 9 July, and the election took place on 24 July.
On 25 July 2008, and after a recount, the SNP candidate John Mason won the seat with a majority of 365 votes over the Labour Party candidate Margaret Curran.