Never before in the 22 years of the Scottish Parliament has two leaders of the main parties gone up against one another in a constituency seat.

Tomorrow, voters in Glasgow Southside will have the choice of Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister and leader of the SNP and Anas Sarwar the recently appointed leader of Scottish Labour.

They are not the only choices, there are another six candidates seeking votes in Southside.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats who are the only other parties standing in all eight Glasgow seats are joined by candidates from the Freedom Alliance, Liberal, and two independent candidates.

But the contest is Sturgeon versus Sarwar.

Nicola Sturgeon is defending the biggest majority in the city. Last time round, in 2016, she was 9593 votes ahead of Labour.

Glasgow Times:

Sturgeon scooped a whopping 61% of the vote with more than 15,000 southsiders backing her to Labour’s five and a half thousand for Fariha Thomas.

This time there should be more of a challenge, with the full weight of the party machine behind Sarwar and a strong local network built up over many years.

Nicola Sturgeon has been contesting elections in the south side of Glasgow since before the Scottish Parliament was created.

She first stood in the area in 1997 against Mohammad Sarwar, Anas Sarwar’s father.

She lost that by 2914 votes but increased the SNP vote by 7%.

She contested Glasgow Govan at the first two Holyrood elections in 1999 and 2003, losing narrowly to Labour’s Gordon Jackson before finally winning the seat at the next election by 744 votes.

Glasgow Times:

Since then she has been unstoppable, winning in the new Southside seat with a majority of more than 4000 before more than doubling it to 9593 in 2016.

It is a far cry from her first foray into elections in Glasgow.

She lost in 1994 to Labour in the old Strathclyde Regional Council in Ballieston/Mount Vernon wining 2140 votes and the following year in Bridgeton to Glasgow City Council winning just 252 votes.

Anas Sarwar has won an election in the area before too.

He won Glasgow central Westminster seat in 2010 when he took more than 50% of the vote in 2010 winning a majority of more than 10.500. Five years later the seat was lost to the SNP with Alison Thewliss turning the tables taking a more than 50% share.

One year later he was in Holyrood as the number one candidate on the Labour list.

The Glasgow times spoke to both Nicola Sturgeon and Anas Sarwar during the campaign.

Nicola Sturgeon said: “Glasgow is my home it’s where I represent, the southside of Glasgow and it’s a privilege to do that and I hope to continue to do that.

“What I’m saying to people in all parts of Scotland is vote SNP firstly to continue with the strong leadership the country needs to get us through the rest of the pandemic. We’re not out of it yet and we need to have a First Minister and a Government that is serious about steering us through and is focused on steering us through.

“And vote SNP because I think we put forward the boldest, most transformative manifesto to kickstart and drive recovery and when the crisis is over to give people the choice of independence and I think a majority of people in Glasgow want Scotland to become independent and want that choice. The other parties, certainly Labour, the Tories and Liberals, they think politicians should decide Scotland’s future. We think the people should decide the future.”

Anas Sarwar said: “I’m standing in Southside, its Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency but it’s my home.

“I live there, I’ve been brought up there, I’m bringing up my children there.

Glasgow Times:

“I didn’t want to be as some leaders often are, parachuted into constituencies in different parts of the country to where they were brought up or where they live.

“I want to build the Labour Party across Scotland I want to start by rebuilding support and trust in the Labour Party in my own community. I’m up for the challenge.”

He said it is ideal to live in the constituency but it should not be a rule.

He added: “There are reasons for practical circumstances it doesn’t end up being the way it is but I think in principle people should have a personal stake and input in the community they represent.”

He highlighted what he sees are the problems, adding:”Child Poverty is massively on the rise.

“Almost 50% of children in Glasgow Southside live in poverty.

“We have the constituency of the First Minister having one of the highest child poverty rates on any in the country. That’s not good enough.

Glasgow Times:

“Huge housing challenges, challenges around youth unemployment and unemployment generally. We’ve seen in previous economic downturns where people have lost work and never gone on to work again in their lives, we can’t have a lost generation.”

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are also contesting the seat.

Kyle Thornton, Scottish Conservatives, said: “The election on Thursday is a chance for voters in Glasgow Southside and across Scotland to put an end to the division and focus on re-building Scotland. If pro-UK voters unite around the Scottish Conservatives, we can stop an SNP majority, and their push for indyref2.

Glasgow Times:

“Every vote for us, especially on your peach party list vote will ensure that the next Parliament is 100% focused on moving Scotland forward and putting the divisions of the past behind us.

“Our manifesto outlines how we will rebuild Scotland, by hiring 3,000 more teachers, building 60,000 homes, including 40,000 for social rent, putting victims at the heart of our justice system and delivering fair funding for our councils.

“As someone who was born and brought up locally in Kinning Park, I know the challenges we face in the Southside. That’s why I want our Parliament to be fully focused on rebuilding our communities and not a referendum.

“I want to focus on improving our schools, getting our streets cleaned up, supporting our local NHS services and protecting local jobs and livelihoods.

“Cast your votes on Thursday- especially your peach party list vote- for the Scottish Conservatives to stop an SNP majority and focus on recovery over a referendum.”

Carole Ford is the Liberal Democrat candidate.

Glasgow Times:

The Liberal Democrats said: “Carole was born in Glasgow and lived here most of her life. She had a long career in education, culminating in 14 years as Head Teacher of Kilmarnock Academy.

“The SNP government has failed Scotland’s young people with a declining education system. They have failed to build ferries, build a new hospital within years of its completion date or alleviate childhood poverty. Social justice has been far down their list of priorities.

“The Scottish Liberal Democrats will deliver a bounce back programme for schools, tackle the health backlog and create a vibrant economy to deliver quality jobs for young people. As an MSP representing Glasgow, Carole will put recovery first, concentrating on the issues which will improve people’s lives.”