McAveety to stand for council seat

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By a Newsnet reporter

The Glasgow Labour party has launched its campaign for May’s local elections with the announcement of its candidates’ list for seats on the city council.

The list of 45 candidates, headed by council leader Gordon Matheson, contains two former MSPs, Frank McAveety and Bill Butler, who lost their seats in the city during the May 2011 Holyrood elections.

23 candidates are existing councillors who survived a controversial and ill-tempered reselection protest which saw seven of their party colleagues resign from Labour within the space of a few weeks amidst considerable acrimony and allegations of bullying and intimidation.  One former Labour councillor, Irfan Rabbani, resigned to join the SNP.

Among the Labour candidates on the list presented yesterday is Gilbert Davidson, the councillor who was recently identified as the loyalist who allegedly intimidated rebel councillor Ann Marie Millar leaving her visibly upset and feeling “threatened” during tense negotiations during the city’s budget debate earlier this month.

Despite a promised investigation into the incident by Labour, nothing more has been heard.  Labour’s Scottish leader, Johann Lamont, and the party’s Glasgow leadership team have maintained silence on the issue.  

Ms Lamont’s husband is deputy council leader Archie Graham.  Mr Graham also successfully passed the reselection process and will be standing for reelection.

Ms Millar slammed the way that the party had handled the reselections, saying that they were controlled by Labour’s “inner circle”.  Fellow rebel councillor Andy Muir claimed: “This is London Labour running Glasgow Labour.”  Mr Muir asserted that the process was controlled by council leader Gordon Matheson and the party’s regional director, Ken Clarke, who was parachuted into the troubled Glasgow Labour party from Labour’s UK headquarters.

Former Labour councillor Tommy Morrison, who represents a ward within Johann Lamont’s Holyrood constituency of Pollok, said that Glasgow Labour was “being run by bullying, by intimidation, by harassment”.

Of the candidates who are not existing councillors, two are former Glasgow Labour MSPs who lost their seats during May 2011’s Holyrood election, which saw an unprecedented shift in the city’s voting patterns in favour of the SNP.

Labour’s former Holyrood spokesman on sport, Frank McAveety, will stand in the Shettleston ward, the area he also represented as MSP, until losing it on a 12.6% swing to his SNP rival, John Mason.

Mr McAveety was previously best known for controversy over his ‘battle bus’ and for having to apologise to Holyrood for wrongly informing Parliament he had been delayed by his attendance at an arts council awards event.  He had in fact been eating pie and beans in the Holyrood cafeteria.  In 2010 he was forced to resign as Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee after he was overheard to make inappropriate comments about the physical appearance of a female member of the audience.

Former MSP Bill Butler, who narrowly lost his Holyrood seat of Glasgow Anniesland by only seven votes, will also be standing for the city council.

The former Labour councillors who resigned from the party in protest over the reselection procedure have announced their intention to stand as a new party, provisionally titled Glasgow Labour.   Made up of disaffected and alienated former members of the Labour party, the new organisation hopes to field at least one candidate in every ward in the city.  

On joining the SNP, Mr Rabbani announced that he would not be standing as an SNP candidate.

Reacting to the news that former party colleagues had formed a new party to stand against him, Mr Matheson told the Scotland on Sunday newspaper:  “Every single one had been de-selected by the party. The motivation was simply about trying to wreak revenge.”

Speaking at the launch of the party’s candidate list, Mr Matheson said:  “This election is about the future of our city.  Glasgow has changed so much over the years, but we need to keep moving forward and giving chances to the next generation.”