Rebel Glasgow Labour councillors to set up new party

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By a Newsnet reporter

The rebel Glasgow Labour councillors who voted against the party’s budget last week have announced plans to form a new political party which will field candidates against official Labour candidates in the local elections in May. 

The new party plans that at least one candidate will stand under its banner in each of the city’s 21 council electoral wards, and hopes that they will attract support from traditional Labour voters who are disaffected with the party’s ruling group in the city.

By a Newsnet reporter

The rebel Glasgow Labour councillors who voted against the party’s budget last week have announced plans to form a new political party which will field candidates against official Labour candidates in the local elections in May. 

The new party plans that at least one candidate will stand under its banner in each of the city’s 21 council electoral wards, and hopes that they will attract support from traditional Labour voters who are disaffected with the party’s ruling group in the city.

Rebel councillor Tommy Morrison said that an application had been made to the Electoral Commission to register a new party, provisionally titled Glasgow Labour.  The new party believes it would do well to return 3 or 4 councillors, but this could be enough to hold the balance of power between Labour and the SNP.

Councillors Tommy Morrison, Stephen Dornan and Anne Marie Millar resigned from Labour before the vote on Thursday and were joined the following day by Andy Muir, William O’Rourke and Ruth Black.   

Mr Morrison told the Sunday Herald: “I’d like to see this new party give the citizens of Glasgow a wider choice in this election.  I believe it will contest 21 wards in the city. I think there will be 23 candidates, many standing on the banner of re-election.

“We are campaigning against £24 million in cuts.  That’s what Glasgow Labour wants to tackle.

“We’ll be called all sorts of things by Labour.  They will try everything under the sun to stop us.  But our party will be made in Glasgow, by the people of Glasgow, for the people of Glasgow.”

However there remain issues to be settled with the Electoral Commission about the new party’s name.  Mr Morrison said: “We have to wait for the approval of the Electoral Commission, which has one or two issues with the application.  Their difficulty is the word Labour.  The commission’s view is that anyone else using that word could confuse voters.  I think voters are far cleverer than that.”

The move is likely to split the Labour vote at a time when the party is already haemorrhaging support to the SNP, and will further reduce the party’s chances of clinging on to majority rule in the city.  Labour is currently returning its lowest polling figures in modern times, with only 23% of Scots saying they intended to vote for the party in the most recent poll of Holyrood voting intentions.  Gaining control of Glasgow is the SNP’s main target in May’s election.  

Glasgow has traditionally been viewed as a guaranteed power base for Labour in Scotland.  The city has been under a Labour administration for the past 31 years.  Loss of Glasgow Council would be a huge blow to the morale of the party and would seriously damage the authority and credibility of new leader Johann Lamont.   As an MSP for Glasgow Pollock, Ms Lamont is closely associated with the Glasgow Labour party.  Four of the six rebel councillors represent wards in her constituency.  Ms Lamont’s husband, Archie Graham, is Deputy Leader of the Labour run council.