Lamont’s leadership already under pressure as local party troubles emerge

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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
New Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont’s leadership credentials are being questioned after claims she has neglected her party at local level were made in a Sunday newspaper.
 
According to the Sunday Herald, members of Ms Lamont’s local Pollok branch have accused Iain Gray’s replacement of spending most of her time at Holyrood and of never being available in her constituency.

The paper quotes one local party source as saying: “She’s never here.  If you ask people around Pollok who their MSP is you’ll find it hard to get an answer.

“She’s always busy at Holyrood.  She flies into local party meetings, gives a report, then flies out again.”

The signs of unhappiness have coincided with revelations that seven of the local Labour councillors in the ward have been prevented from standing in May’s local council elections after being deemed unelectable by the party.

The seven councillors include William O’Rourke, who was sacked from several council positions after making shocking comments at the personnel appeals committee hearing the case of a care worker dismissed for allegedly having sex with a child.

During the appeal O’Rourke suggested the girl “wanted it to happen” because no force was used and that she was not a “typical innocent nine year old.”  He also made bizarre comments about promiscuous children and the need to lower the age of sexual consent.

Other councillors rejected by Labour include Ruth Black who is still under suspension from the party after serious financial irregularities were uncovered at a gay and lesbian centre she ran and Shaukat Butt who is facing allegations that he assaulted his wife.

The situation has led to the local Labour party being described as “dysfunctional” by the SNP’s James Dornan.

Commenting on the situation, Mr Dornan, SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart and himself a former Glasgow councillor said:

“Increasingly, the people of Glasgow are fed up the Labour Party, never mind their squabbling factions.  This just shows how much Labour have taken Scotland and Glasgow for granted for too long.

“It also begs the question; if the new Labour leader presides over a dysfunctional local party, how can she provide leadership at a national level?

“With just four months before the next local council elections Labour’s internal problems are piling up and Glasgow deserves so much better.

“While Labour fight amongst themselves, the SNP will fight for the priorities of people in Glasgow, delivering the jobs and investment that the city deserves.”

Johann Lamont won the contest to replace Iain Gray as Scottish Labour leader with the help of support from Unions and affiliate members.  The result was controversial after it emerged that the second placed candidate Ken MacIntosh had actually won the support of most of the party members.

According to media reports, many in the party believe that she will be replaced by her current deputy Anas Sarwar before the independence referendum.

Speaking to the Sunday Herald, a Labour insider claimed that Mr Sarwar is just waiting for something to happen to Ms Lamont, who he said has “bought herself a whirwind” and is incapable of taking on Alex Salmond.