Sunday, February 19, 2012

Lib Dem Dingwall calls for decisive action on Labour intimidation allegations

Glasgow City Council was one of the few places Labour retained a majority administration in the Scottish local elections of 2007. Those elections were the first run using the Single Transferable Vote system, introduced for local government during the second Labour/Liberal Democrat Scottish Executive coalition. If the truth be known, there was not much love for the move on the Labour benches, but they had very little choice after the 2003 Holyrood election where they lost 6 seats while the Liberal Democrats had maintained their position and therefore increased their strength within the Coalition.

Today the Labour group in Glasgow is in meltdown. The hostile undercurrents which had been festering since the deselection of a number of sitting Councillors last year, came to a head,  during the debate on the Administration's budget. Six Labour Councillors voted with the opposition at the end of a dramatic afternoon which saw the Budget passed with a majority of just two votes.

Now, there's the possibility that the rebel group will formally contest May's elections as "Glasgow Labour"
On top of all that, allegations of intimidation during the Budget Debate have been made. Cllr Anne Marie Millar, one of the former Labour Councillors, says that Labour's Cllr Gilbert Davidson threatened her disabled son's job at a Council owned organisation if she voted against the Budget. Cllr Davidson is no stranger to controversy. Although no charges were ever brought, he was briefly suspended from the Labour group 18 months ago in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

It's also interesting that some of the rebel councillors come from Glasgow Pollok,  the constituency of new Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Alex Dingwall told Liberal Democrat Voice that he was calling for an urgent investigation into the allegations of intimidation:
"The allegation that a member of the Labour Council Group threatened the employment of Anne Marie's disabled son requires urgent investigation. It is completely unacceptable for such a threat to be made or for anyone to be placed under such duress. It was clear to everyone that Anne Marie was deeply distressed by this and as a Council committed to tackling bullying and harassment in the workplace Gordon Matheson must now lead by example and take decisive action on this matter."
It's not pretty to see an administration fall apart so publicly. It does, however, make the elections in Glasgow extremely interesting. What effect will a split Labour vote have on the SNP's ambitions to take over the City Council and the five Liberal Democrat Councillors who are defending their seats? The drama surrounding Scotland's largest local authority is set to continue.

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