IN a secret location in Parkhead in the east end of Glasgow, in front of a packed crowd of a dozen Labour employees bussed in from party HQ, some people invited from the press, and the last member of the Glasgow East Labour constituency party who isn’t Magrit Curran or one of her relatives, Gordie Broon came to save the party. Again.

You can tell two things when Labour trots out Gordie. Firstly, there’s a vote in the offing, and secondly, polling shows they’re going to lose it unless they make promises they have no intention or ability to keep.

It’s the official start of the election campaign, and Labour’s in deep deep doo doo. Hence the Gordathon.

Once, Labour could call a public meeting in the east end and thousands of punters would come on a cold March morning. They’d wave and cheer. There would be bunting. Gordie’s secret behind-closed-doors, invitation-only meeting is the closest Labour dares get to a public meeting in the east end now.

This is because when Labour lets members of the actual east end public get close to their elected representatives, the public expresses incredulity at Labour’s policies with phrases starting “get tae ...” and ending, for the politer ones at least, with words like “ya muppet”.

When the SNP pull stunts like this involving Alicsammin, they get asked why Alicsammin is speaking for the party and not Nicla, and wondering is done about who is pulling whose strings. No-one accuses Gordie of pulling any strings: no strings are long enough to reach from planet Earth to wherever it is Gordie lives.

When Labour do it, it’s Gordie being a respected elder stateman with the immense advantage of not being Jim Murphy. This is of course not the only difference. For one thing people actually like Nicla.

However, a more salient difference is the SNP do actually invite members of the public to public meetings, and can do so safe in the knowledge that the public will not spend the meeting yelling “Burn the witch!” and enquiring if any shops at the Forge have special buy-one-get-one-free offers on pitchforks, tar, and feathers.

Gordie was here to remind us east end folk he’s a big hitter who’ll hit big things. That is when he can be bothered to divert his attention from his speaking career and thon vow. Mostly the big thing he hits is the fee he charges for public speaking. He’ll be hitting big now that he’s officially retiring.

Gordie took the obligatory swipe at the SNP. They’re in cahoots with the Tories and he’s the paperwork to prove it. It was leaked to him by an obliging Treasury civil servant, so it must be true and above board. The SNP has signed up to Tory austerity, said Gordie. Just like Ed Balls, he didn’t add. Only one of those propositions is not really true, and it’s not the one about Ed Balls.

When he wasn’t attacking the SNP, Gordie came to make another vow. Or in this instance a pledge, presumably shinier, with a nicer polish, and yet to be tarnished by reality. He’s going to guarantee if Labour get into power there will be an extra £800 million for the Scottish budget to spend on nurses and bandages and finding jobs for all the redundant Labour MPs.

The NHS is of course a devolved matter, and it makes no difference how many Labour MPs we vote for: Holyrood still has the final say. Labour is hoping we haven’t noticed. Perhaps it’s just slipped Gordie’s mind.

After all, he’s forgotten and Labour have forgotten Gordie is a retiring backbench MP who has no power to pledge anything . They’re hoping we haven’t noticed either, blinded as we are by Gordie’s polish. Mind you, just the other week Jim Murphy was promising there was going to be £1 billion in extra funds for the Scottish budget, so already £200 million is missing. The new pledge is devaluing even more quickly than the Vow did.

There’s going to be a lot more of this over the next month. But it won’t make any difference. Magrit’s still toast. Just ask the real east enders, the people Labour hasn’t been listening to for the past few decades and who don’t get invited to Labour’s public meetings in their own community. That’s precisely why Labour is in so much trouble.

Five weeks and counting, Magrit. Then it’s the east end’s turn not to invite you.