Claims that new recruits to the Labour party have been used in order to influence a selection process in another Scottish constituency have surfaced after a national newspaper highlighted concerns involving Labour’s Westminster candidate in East Dunbartonshire.
According to the Sunday Times, the selection process that resulted in Amanjit Jhund winning the Labour candidacy was swung after a “late influx of new members”.
The Sunday Times reports that Labour party sources have confirmed that dozens of new members were signed up just days before the cut-off point and that these new members belong to a small number of local families.
The new members, it has been claimed, may have been crucial in allowing Mr Jhund to defeat his main rival, Alan Moir, who is deputy leader of East Dunbartonshire council.
Originally from Glasgow, Mr Jhund is now based in London and only joined Labour in October 2008 after being angered by the expenses scandal and finding out his local Labour MP had flipped his second home address in order to maximise expenses.
He has already attempted to become an MP in the last general election after being selected to stand for Labour in Windsor, coming third behind the Conservative candidate Adam Afriyie. He had pledged to move to Windsor if he won.
Whilst campaigning in Windsor he described his home city of Glasgow as having “some nice parts” that he said tended to be “very well hidden”.
His selection for the East Dunbartonshire candidacy led one senior party source to admit that “eyebrows have been raised”.
The selection appears to have split those in the Labour party in Scotland with the newspaper quoting one party source as having contrasted the lack of concern shown by the party over the new members in East Dunbartonshire when compared to the UK Labour leadership’s reaction to the situation in Falkirk.
“If this had been the trade unions recruiting a bundle of members just before the deadline people would have been jumping up and down calling for an investigation,” said one source.
However a Labour spokesman told the newspaper that the party was, “confident that the selection process was sound and there was no impropriety”.
The concerns over Mr Jhund’s surprise victory follows the situation in Falkirk that led to claims that the Unite union had tried to influence the selection process by signing up new Labour members in order to bolster the chances of its favoured candidate.
The claims led to the suspension of Unite official Stevie Deans from Labour and the situation then spilled over into Grangemouth, almost leading to the closure of the plant.
Local Labour members in Falkirk have urged Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont to speak out as the crisis in Falkirk refuses to go away. Ms Lamont’s silence on the situation that affected one of the most important industrial plants in Scotland, has been criticised.
Ms Lamont recently signalled that the Labour party should resurrect its original investigation into the Falkirk scandal after Grangemouth plant owner Ineos handed Deans’ emails to a national newspaper. However UK leader Ed Miliband has thus far refused to commit to a new inquiry, despite coming under pressure to do so.