Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont is coming under increasing pressure to address the growing chaos that has engulfed the ruling Labour group at Glasgow City Council.
It is now five days since a number of Labour councillors rebelled against Gordon Matheson’s ruling Labour group amid accusations of bullying and claims of interference in candidate selection by London.
Yesterday calls for an inquiry into the alleged threats made against Anne Marie Millar intensified after it emerged that despite promises of an investigation by Labour figures at the council, no-one had yet contacted Ms Millar.
Ms Millar, who resigned from the party last week, alleges that Labour councillor Gilbert Davidson tried to get her to support his party in a crucial vote by threatening the employment of her son who worked for a firm on whose board Davidson sat.
Speaking to the Herald newspaper Ms Millar, a former Labour stalwart said: “As I have not had any contact to date from the Labour Party or Glasgow City Council regarding this matter I have sent an email to the Lord Provost Robert Winters, Gordon Matheson, the leader of the council, and chief executive George Black formally asking that a full investigation is carried out by the city council and Labour Party as I think that four days after the incident having happened someone officially should have been in contact.”
She also criticised Labour Group leader Gordon Matheson for failing to speak out against bullying and added: “What is a disgrace and unforgivable is Gordon Matheson has failed to publicly address my claims of the pressure I was put under last week.”
On Sunday, Newsnet Scotland revealed that Davidson had been allowed back into the party after being investigated by police in 2010 when sexual harassment was alleged against the Labour councillor. The case was dropped due to a lack of evidence.
Yesterday, another former Labour councillor Tommy Morrison spoke of his anger at the silence from Johann Lamont, whose husband is the Deputy leader of the Glasgow Labour group, has yet to say anything about the growing scandal.
Speaking on Radio Scotland, Mr Morrison attacked Labour in Scotland for allowing London to “wield a scythe” to long serving councillors and accused current Glasgow group leader Gordon Matheson of threatening colleagues.
“A chap called Ken Clarke was sent up from London, he was the chap instrumental in removing these councillors.” he said and added:
“In the past four days since all this happened, the leader of the party in Scotland has been conspicuous by her absence – not one word said.
“And yet, during all this process, whilst the [Scottish] leadership campaign was being run, we never heard anything about the upsets in Glasgow, the difficulties that Glasgow was having because Gordon Matheson used threats and innuendos against councillors in order to keep them in line.”
Mr Morrison confirmed that moves were currently underway to create a new party called ‘Glasgow Labour’ in order to challenge Matheson’s group. Challenged on why he had waited until now to speak out, Mr Morrison denied the rebels had said nothing and insisted they had been speaking out for some time but had been marginalised.
“Labour has to change” he said “It needs to put Glasgow first”.
A senior Labour source said: “If Tommy Morrison thinks he’s the new Keir Hardie, he’s got another thing coming. These guys were deselected by their own party members, lost the vote on the budget, and are now away in a huff.”
The Labour group has been beset with problems ever since high flyer Stephen Purcell resigned in disgrace following drink and drugs revelations.
Media reports have uncovered evidence of misappropriation of funds involving Labour councillors as well as public cash finding its way into party coffers. Lucrative contracts have also ended up being won by companies owned by Labour party donors.
The election of Johann Lamont to the role of Scottish Labour leader was heralded as a new beginning for the party in Scotland, and Iain Gray’s replacement was given official authority over all Labour’s Scottish politicians.
Four of the six Labour councillors to resign were from Johann Lamont’s own constituency in Pollok. The longer the Scottish leader remains silent then the more it will appear that she has lost control of the party in Scotland.