The Labour party is facing more questions over the appointment of a former Labour MSP to a £50,000 role in Glasgow City Council after it emerged Council leader Gordon Matheson was consulted on the MSP’s application before interviews took place.
The SNP has accused Labour of taking the people of Glasgow for granted after it emerged that the council leader Gordon Matheson knew about the application of former Labour Minister Tom McCabe for a non political role at the council.
Last month it emerged that Tom McCabe, a former Finance Minister in Jack McConnell’s Holyrood administration, had been appointed policy advisor to Land and Environmental Services in Glasgow City Council.
Critics hit out claiming party allegiances looked to be at work, after Mr McCabe was recruited to the ‘non-political’ role just over a year after losing his seat and salary as an MSP. The former MSP played a key role in Glasgow Labour’s council election campaign and was recruited to the new role despite the position apparently being wound down in May.
McCabe was one of several Labour casualties following the Scottish elections on May 5, 2011, losing his seat to Christina McKelvie of the SNP in the newly formed Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse constituency.
New reports in the Sunday Herald have now escalated the row with revelations that Labour’s Council leader, Gordon Matheson was briefed by Chief Executive of Glasgow City Council, George Black, on Mr McCabe’s potential appointment before the interview stage.
James Dornan, SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, said:
“This information clearly shows that there was special consideration being made of Mr McCabe even before the vetting process began. It is imperative Black and Cllr Matheson reveal what was discussed during their chat regarding Mr McCabe’s application.
“Glasgow City Council also has to reveal why this appointment was required so soon after the post appears to have been previously deleted. At a time of widespread pay freezes and redundancies, this £50,000 appointment to a Labour crony is a slap in the face to the people of Glasgow.
“When you take into account Mr McCabe’s background as a former Labour minister and spearheading Labour’s council election campaign, his appointment to a post that is supposed to be politically neutral is deeply worrying.
“It certainly appears that once again Glasgow Labour is using council taxpayers’ money for party political purposes.
“This smacks of another case of jobs-for-the-boys from a labour group that has taken the people of Glasgow for granted for so long.”
According to the Sunday Herald, McCabe beat 53 other hopefuls for the position.
Following questions by the SNP, Annemarie O’Donnell, executive director of the council’s corporate services, who was also one of those who interviewed Mr McCabe, said: “I understand that Mr Black informed the leader of the application during one of his regular meetings. No [councillor] was informed of the appointment until after we had offered and Mr McCabe had verbally accepted the post.”
Speaking to the Sunday Herald, a council spokesman said: “It is the responsibility of the chief executive to inform the leader of the council about matters which may attract the interest of the media.
“He also briefs the leaders of the opposition groups in similar circumstances. Mr McCabe was appointed solely on the basis of his application after an open and transparent process and no elected member played any part in that process.”
Gordon Matheson replaced disgraced former Council Leader Steven Purcell as leader of the council’s Labour group. Following the demise of Mr Purcell, the local authority has been mired in claims of sleaze and cronyism.
The ruling Labour group has withstood allegations of misuse of public cash, awarding contracts to Labour party donors and corruption involving Labour councillors – some resulting in police investigations.
In 2011, after the SNP won the Scottish elections, a controversial scheme that allowed councillors to earn tens of thousands of pounds sitting on the boards of so called arms length organisations was ended by Finance Minister John Swinney.
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