By a Newsnet reporter
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has come under fire after new revelations emerged over the behaviour of the Labour group in Glasgow Council.
Ms Lamont, who is due to give a keynote speech to party delegates today, is facing charges that she has lost control of Scotland’s largest local authority after it emerged that a female councillor at the centre of bullying claims was forced to appear before a board of a council controlled firm that employs her disabled son.
The Scottish Labour leader has faced criticism over her failure to act after several claims of intmidation and bullying were levelled against the Labour group at Glasgow council.
It has now emerged that Anne Marie Millar, who recently claimed her disabled son’s apprenticeship was threatened by Labour councillor Gilbert Davidson, was summoned to explain herself in front of the board of City Building – the firm that employs her son.
Despite the alleged victim – Ms Millar – being summoned to appear, Newsnet Scotland understands that Labour councillor Mr Davidson, a board member, was not.
Ms Millar had alleged Mr Davidson brought up her son’s employment with the firm moments prior to a crucial vote, in an attempt at persuading her to support the Labour group.
The alleged incident resulted in Ms Millar breaking down in a TV interview and brought a pledge from Glasgow Labour of a full investigation, however thus far no investigation has been apparent.
The situation has now been compounded after it emerged that another Labour candidate in the city is also the subject of allegations of bullying.
John Kelly – the election agent of Labour MP Margaret Curran – was selected as a candidate for Glasgow Council, despite being the subject of another complaint about bullying by a Labour member in Baillieston.
In a written complaint to Margaret Curran MP, Scottish Labour Secretary Colin Smyth and Cllr Jim Coleman, 61 year old Rosina Muir claimed Mr Kelly left her shaken after loudly haranguing her in an incident in Morrison’s store in Baillieston. Despite a written complaint from Ms Muir, Mr Kelly was announced as a late candidate for the Garscadden/Scotsounhill ward on 28th February.
In the letter Ms Muir wrote:
I wish to lodge a complaint against Labour Party member Mr John Kelly. On the 14th of December at approximately 17:30hrs, Mr John Kelly approached me at the checkout counter in the Morrison’s at Baillieston. He said to me from across the aisle, ‘I hope you are happy, you should be ashamed of yourself’.
He expressed himself loudly for everyone to hear and repeated the accusation against me several times. Noticing my obvious distress, my son Mark intervened and requested Mr Kelly to cease addressing me in such a fashion. Mr Kelly then said loudly to Mark that he also should feel ashamed of himself. After he left, the store supervisor came up to me asking why he had approached me in such a manner. Ms McCormack stated that only due to my son’s presence beside me, she didn’t call security. I felt highly embarrassed and extremely shaken by the entire incident.
I believe that I have only met Mr Kelly once before, at the Baillieston selection meeting two weeks ago. So in my opinion, it can only be this particular meeting to which he is referring. Mr Kelly was seeking nomination to become a candidate for the local government elections and unfortunately, he did not get selected. Perhaps it was through anger and frustration that he felt that he had the right to approach a woman of 61 years who had just finished a long day at work, and make these comments in a very public place…
The Labour party has been dogged by controversy in recent months after several councillors left the party amid acrimonious claims of intimidation and interference from London.
The Glasgow Labour group courted further controversy after former MSP Frank McAveety was promoted by Labour as one of its leading candidates for the local elections in Glasgow, despite being the subject of an ongoing police investigation.
The police investigation follows complaints last September by former Glasgow Labour councillor Andy Muir over Mr MacAveety’s expense claims when he was a Labour MSP.
Mr MacAveety hit the headlines last year after Newsnet Scotland revealed he had claimed over £14,000 of taxpayer’s cash for a so called ‘battle bus’.
Mr McAveety, then Labour MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, apparently used it from 2007 to 2009 to travel around the area meeting constituents. The silver and purple bus was decked out in livery identifying it as a mobile surgery for Frank McAveety, MSP.
When Newsnet Scotland questioned the Labour MSP over the costs, he claimed to have used the bus “primarily for community events and for access to and for constituents”. However Mr McAveety declined to reveal exactly what these ‘community events’ were.
MacAveety subsequently lost his Shettleston seat to the SNP.
James Dornan, SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, said today:
“Johann Lamont will address her first Labour conference as a leader without control or credibility, presiding over a party whose internal practices increasingly reveal it to be unfit for office.
“I have now written twice to Johann Lamont, asking her to take action following the alleged acts of bullying and intimidation against Cllr Anne Marie Millar, which were witnessed by myself and many others in Glasgow City Chambers a few weeks ago. She has not had the courtesy to reply and has said not a word publicly to condemn this behaviour by one of her party’s elected members.
“Not only that, the party has gone on to select yet another candidate against whom a complaint of bullying and intimidation has been made. And while over a third of their council group was prevented from standing again for Labour because they were deemed not good enough, a former MSP who is subject to an ongoing police investigation is apparently entirely suitable as a Labour candidate, as is Alistair “Taj Mahal” Watson”
“It’s quite clear that in Glasgow Labour there’s one rule for some people and one rule for others, and if you’re one of the favoured clique you can rely on Johann Lamont to stay silent, no matter how you behave.
“As Labour’s roll of dishonour grows ever longer, voters in Glasgow and across Scotland can clearly see that there is something rotten at the heart of the Labour party – and that its leader Johann Lamont apparently has neither the will nor the inclination to do anything about it.
“Glasgow and Scotland deserve better – if Ms Lamont is unwilling or unable to get her own house in order, how can she ever seriously be considered as a potential leader of the country?”