It's a common question. Why Smeaton? What gives John Smeaton the right to think he can stand as an MP? How does his role in the events at Glasgow Airport equip him to represent 80,000 people?
The answer's obvious really. It's not so much his actions - I don't think John did any more than most of us would have done given the opportunity, it was the voice he gave to a nation the morning after when a camera crew grabbed him for a quick interview.
Let's not forget the sense of shock in Scotland at the time. We pride ourselves in being different from the rest of Britain, that we are a happy-go-lucky nation comprised of people loved the world over. Terrorism is something that happens everywhere else, not in Scotland. But as those images of a burning car at the airport filled the news-stands and the flames flickered repeatedly on tellys in shop windows it hit home that maybe the world doesn't really love us. Maybe Jocks are as vulnerable as anyone else and any one of us could have been engulfed in tragedy just by going to an airport to fly out on holiday.
As we collectively held our breath, up stepped a glaikit ginger Weegie babbling excitedly and swinging his arms in the air, descibing what he did and more importantly coming out with a line that caught the imagination - "This is Glasgow - we'll set aboot ye".
The relief in us all was tangible. Across the nation people laughed and said "Good for you son". Suddenly, we were back in our rightful place. Jocks are different after all. The terrible evil that was almost perpetrated by religious fanatics intent on burning holidaymakers to death had been thwarted by Scots. A tale of heroism was being told to us by a baggage handler - who was quick to downplay his own role and point out that others did as much, if not more.
That's why John Smeaton deserved his medal. Not for saving Glasgow Airport but for saving a nation from doubt and self-pity. He took away our fears and made us smile again. The immediate fear amongst the Muslim Community in Glasgow was that there would be an unfair backlash against them. That there wasn't can largely be put down to John Smeaton puncturing the pontificating terror "experts" who flooded our tv screens with dire warnings about the "enemy within". All nonsense of course and a nonsense that we Scots instinctively knew, but it took the excited tones of John Smeaton to help us see through that.
John Smeaton is the everyman for our times. His Sun column regularly strikes a chord with the public in a way that more highbrow, more educated, more academic tomes fail to. He doesn't make any claim to being better than anyone else, he just tells it as he sees it, just as he did outside the airport in July 2007. It's that refreshing straightforwardness that endears him to thousands of his readers and so infuriates rival newspapers.
And it's that same welcome gauche approach that makes him an ideal candidate for Westminster. We know that if we send John Smeaton to Westminster, we're going to get some more straight talking answers. Somebody wrote that John wouldn't be smart enough to fiddle his expenses - well he's smart enough to know that taking money that isn't yours is theft, something that a few hundred MPs failed to recognise so he's ahead of 50% of them right away.
Sending John Smeaton to Westminster might be the smartest thing Glasgow has done in ages. Who can doubt that the media circus will descend upon Glasgow North East if Smeaton leads them. As an Independent untainted by the machinations of Scottish politics he can point to Labour and SNP failures equally and cry "enough". He can embarass the sitting governments in Holyrood and Westminster into finally doing something in the constituency. And be sure of this, after such a slap in the face, if Labour regain the seat in the future they will never neglect it again.
In July 2007, John Smeaton made us proud to be Scots. On November 12th, he can make Scots proud of Glasgow.