Scottish Labour facing crisis as leader’s constituency at heart of Glasgow meltdown

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
The seriousness of the situation within Glasgow Labour is threatening the stability of the Scottish party after it emerged that four of the six rebel councillors represent wards within leader Johann Lamont’s Glasgow Pollok constituency.
 
The four councillors – Ruth Black, Stephen Dornan, Tommy Morrison and Willie O’Rourke – voted against Labour’s budget last week and almost ended Labour’s decades’ long stranglehold on the city.

A relieved Gordon Matheson saw his party scrape through by 40 votes to 38 after a nail biting day that witnessed sick councillors taxied in to support the ruling Labour group.

Former Labour councillors have been speaking out against the party, revealing the depth of distrust and disaffection within what was once regarded as an impregnable bastion of Labour’s strength.

Ex-Labour Cllr Stephen Dornan, who resigned from the party shortly before the budget debate, decried the influence London Labour and a small clique within the Glasgow party. 

Mr Dornan said:  “The fact is the Labour Party’s lost its way.  When it gets rid of the heart of its membership, i.e. when it ignores the branches in relation to selections and doesn’t give them the choice to pick its candidates, and leaves that up to officials from London and individuals from Glasgow … then that’s not right.”

Ex-Labour Cllr Andy Muir, representing Baillieston, agreed, saying:  “I don’t believe a lot of what the Labour party are doing in Glasgow is for the best interests of Glasgow … I blame London Labour, because let’s be honest this is London Labour running Glasgow Labour.  I blame [Gordon] Matheson, I blame the regional director who’s up here – a guy called Ken Clarke.”

Ex-Labour Cllr Tommy Morrison, who represents a ward within Johann Lamont’s constituency, lashed out at the bullying and intimidation at the heart of Glasgow Labour. 

Mr Morrison said:  “What makes this important is the way in which the Labour Party in Glasgow is being run.  The way that the Labour Party in Glasgow is being run is it’s being run by bullying, by intimidation, by harassment … I believe that 30 of the 40 members that voted today would not vote for the Leader, or for senior members of the administration.”

Immediately after the city’s budget meeting on Thursday, former Labour councillor Anne Marie Millar reported to STV that she had been approached prior to the meeting by a Labour councillor, who had made what Ms Millar believed to be an implied threat against Ms Millar’s disabled son.

Scottish Labour leader Lamont has made no public statement about the allegations of bullying and intimidation within the Glasgow party, despite her high profile campaigns against bullying in the workplace. 

In her 2009 speech to the Scottish Labour conference, while still Deputy to Iain Gray, Ms Lamont called for action to be taken to combat “anti-social behaviour and the bullying and intimidation that goes with it”.

The travails of Glasgow Labour reach into Ms Lamont’s own household.  Ms Lamont’s husband is councillor Archie Graham, Deputy Leader of Glasgow Council and a councillor for neighbouring Langside. 

Despite Ms Lamont replacing Iain Gray as leader in Scotland, the party have continued to haemorrhage support .  According to the most recent poll, carried out by IPSOS Mori at the end of January, only 23% of Scots say they would vote Labour at a Holyrood election. 

This figure respresents a historic low for the party, and if repeated at an election would see Labour suffer an even greater defeat than their humiliating performance last May, when the SNP secured an unprecedented absolute majority.

Commenting Humza Yousaf, Glasgow SNP MSP, said:

“How can Johann Lamont hope to run the opposition when she can’t even stop the civil war in her own constituency party?

“Ms Lamont’s own constituency is the centre of Labour’s meltdown.  No wonder under Ms Lamont’s leadership Labour in Scotland have sunk to an all-time low of 23 per cent.

“Ms Lamont has been the MSP since 1999, and was deputy leader of the party for three years – she has to accept personal responsibility for Labour’s shambles in Glasgow.

“What an embarrassing mess the Labour Party have become – Glasgow deserves so much better.  Pollok is formerly a Labour heartland but there is now no such thing, anywhere across Glasgow.

“Labour has taken this city for granted for too long, and the people will have their say at the local authority elections in May – when I trust they will put their faith in the SNP, who have a first class team of councillors working night and day to move Glasgow forward.”