John Egan meets Glasgow Springburn MP Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons.

THIS week sees the next in our popular Wednesday People feature - when we turn the spotlight on local people in the news. And with the help of our Getting To Know You file, our featured personality tells us a little more about themselves. This week, Herald reporter John Egan meets Glasgow Springburn MP Michael Martin, Speaker of the House of Commons.

SPRINGBURN MP and Speaker of the House of Commons, Michael Martin, is one of the United Kingdom's best known political figures.

Michael has been involved in politics since 1973 and has been the elected representative for the Glasgow Springburn constituency since 1979.

Born in 1945 in William Street, in the Anderston area of the city, Michael was one of five children in the Martin family home.

From there he moved to Springburn where he married his wife Mary 1966. He has two children, Mary and Paul, who is the MSP for Springburn, and a five-year-old grandson, Ryan.


Despite his long and illustrious career in the world of politics, many of Michael's fondest memories are from his childhood in the 1950s.

He said: "It was a very tight-knit community with gran and gran's sister staying up the next close and my aunt staying in the single-end next door.

"There was always a sense of security with this great extended family nearby and there were a lot of kids around, so you can imagine there was never a quiet moment.

"I went to St Patrick's Boys School, which was run by the Marist Brothers, and they had a great influence on my life.

"There were at least 400 boys in the school and the head teacher, Brother John, looked after us all in one way or another, seven days a week.

"Even at a very young age, it showed me that there were people in the world who were prepared to do things for others, with little consideration for themselves."

The Martin family moved to Royston when Michael was just 14-years-old, where he would find his first job and meet Mary, who he later married in 1968.

Michael said: "My father was a merchant seaman, so my mother was really mum and dad when he was at sea, and she was very strong on me getting a trade.


"I left school just days before my 15th birthday to get a job. I remember the stretch of road from Townhead to Keppochill Road being full of small factories.

"Eventually after working my way up the whole road, which took about 14 days if I remember rightly, I was offered an apprenticeship as a sheet metal worker in a factory called Heatovent.

"It was in that factory that I met my wife Mary, who worked in assembly. To this day, I still meet people in Springburn who worked there, which is nice."

Soon after starting his apprenticeship in 1960, Michael joined the trade union movement before embarking on a career in the world of politics.

Since joining the Labour Party in 1968, he has represented the people of Govan, Springburn and Balornock as councillor and Springburn MP.

In 1979 Michael was one of five members of the Springburn Labour Party who fought it out in a selection contest to be Labour's candidate in the general election.

And although he says he didn't think he would win the vote, he did, and the rest as they say is history, with six general election victories now behind him.

He said: "I was absolutely stunned when the national agent came in and said that I would be the candidate for Springburn, I just about collapsed.


"I remember walking along Springburn Road thinking 'How am I going to tell Mary?' because she would be faced with a husband who would be away from home.

"But it has been an absolute privilege to represent the people of Springburn as their Member of Parliament, and it is something that I will always be proud of."

In May 1997 Michael became Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, before becoming the first Roman Catholic Speaker since the Reformation, in October 2000. He is only the third Scot to hold the post.

He said: "I have enjoyed being Speaker and I think the people of Springburn are very proud of the fact that one of their own is Speaker, and that is important to me.

"I remember one Friday after my election and I was in Springburn. I had an aunt who wasn't keeping too well and I thought I'd get her some flowers.

"It took me about an hour and a half to get through Springburn Way, with people stopping and congratulating me and that was great."

Getting to Know You

Name: Michael Martin

First record you remember buying: Dusty Springfield, Island of Dreams

First car: Ford Popular

Favourite holiday destinations: The Ayrshire Coast and Santa Ponza in Majorca

What is your favourite TV programme: Coronation Street, my favourite characters are Jack and Vera.

What book are you currently reading: John Grisham The King of the Torts

Which famous person would you most like to meet: Nelson Mandela