By Martin Kelly
The Scottish Labour party is now nothing more than a puppet regime controlled by London the Scottish National Party has claimed.
The allegation follows claims in a Scottish newspaper that a confidential report into ‘irregularities’ over Labour party membership numbers in Falkirk has not been passed to the party’s Scottish governing body.
According to the Sunday Herald, Labour’s Scottish Executive Committee was by-passed by party bosses in London who are dealing with the internal warfare surrounding the selection of a candidate for the Falkirk Westminster seat.
Labour in Scotland are described as ‘virtual bystanders’ while the leadership in Westminster takes control, with a party source reportedly making clear that “London is now back in charge”.
The party are currently engaged in a bitter war of words with Unite over claims the union has flooded the local party with new members in an attempt at ensuring their own preferred candidate is selected to replace the disgraced MP Eric Joyce, something the union denies with their head Len McCLuskey accusing Labour of conducting a smear campaign.
An investigation was carried out by the UK Labour party, but the findings have been kept from officials north of the border.
The revelation comes as it is also reported that Scottish Labour’s former finance spokesman Ken Macintosh paid the price in Friday’s reshuffle for giving voice to the considerable disquiet that Johann Lamont’s infamous ‘something for nothing’ speech, and her public spending review dubbed the ‘Cuts Commission’, have caused.
Mr Macintosh is reported to have refused a demotion and was subsequently sacked by the Scottish Labour leader. His replacement is Ms Lamont’s predecessor Iain Gray.
Commenting, SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said:
“So much for an autonomous Scottish Labour party. It suggests that there is a real lack of faith in Labour’s Scottish Executive if they have been by-passed by party bosses in Westminster.
“Johann Lamont claimed that she was leader of all parts of the Labour party in Scotland, but this would suggest that her leadership is tenuous at best if Westminster is still calling the shots.
“And on her reshuffle and the sacking of Ken MacIntosh Johann Lamont’s now infamous ‘something for nothing speech’ continues to haunt her.
“By adopting Tory mantras and trying to abandon the progress that has been achieved with devolution, she has sown division within the ranks of her own party.
“The continuing fallout from this reshuffle shows that there is major internal disquiet with her leadership which has no doubt been exacerbated by disappointment about her failure to make progress in opinion polls or in the recent Donside by-election.
“With her grip on her party crumbling and open disagreements over the direction she is going in, the questions will only increase about Johann Lamont’s leadership over the Summer.”
The row between Labour and Unite, which is one of the party’s biggest donors, threatens to damage the party a former minister has warned.
Kim Howells has urged Ed Miliband to take action over the Falkirk civil war in order to prevent Labour being seen as a party of “vested interests”.
Mr Howells told BBC Radio 4’s The World this Weekend that the Falkirk row had exposed what he described as “special interest politics” which was part of what he called an “old order”.
He added: “if Labour’s going to win another general election and win cleanly, then it’s got to change its constitution and its way of selecting candidates”.
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