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Labour MP condemns ‘rigged purge’

A SENIOR Labour MP has condemned his party's clearout of "dead wood" councillors in Glasgow as a rigged purge which could boost the SNP.

Ian Davidson, the chairman of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee at Westminster, said he was “appalled” at the way hard-working councillors had been treated in the city.

He suggested some had been rejected because of internal machinations, rather than merit, saying “other agendas” were at work, with “selective leaking” used to undermine people.

Almost half of Labour’s 47 councillors in Glasgow face de-selection after a ruthless vetting process last month designed to weed out poor performers and introduce new talent to the City Chambers.

The party insists the changes are needed to improve the candidates on offer to voters in next May’s elections, when Labour could lose control of Glasgow to the SNP.

However, many of the de-selected claim the vetting was unfair, legally unsound and biased.

All those who failed vetting will have appeals heard by senior party members next weekend.

Mr Davidson, MP for Glasgow South West, will appear in support at the appeals of two local councillors, Tommy Morrison and Stephen Dornan.

He told The Herald: “I’m appalled at what has happened with the vetting of sitting councillors.

“Labour faces a very difficult election in Glasgow in May given the SNP was well ahead in the Scottish Government elections, and I don’t believe the answer should have been to form a circular firing squad.

“I don’t believe Labour can purge its way into power, and I think there’s obviously other agendas operating when good, hard-working and conscientious local councillors are being dumped from the panel [of would-be candidates].

“There should not be top-down, centrally imposed control in this way, with favourites being allowed through and others being rejected.”

Mr Davidson is considering whether to stand for the deputy leadership of the party in Scotland.

The current frontrunner is Anas Sarwar, although MSPs Lewis Macdonald and Elaine Murray have also put their hats in the ring.

“It is simply bad practice to have an important election like this carved up before any ordinary members or trade union members have an opportunity to express an opinion.”

Councillor Graeme Hendry, the SNP whip on the council, said Mr Davidson’s comments showed “a clear breakdown of trust” within Glasgow Labour.

“The chaos reflects the lack of local leadership. Labour say their recent review will bring the party together, well good luck with that,” he said.

Mr Sarwar said: “The selection process needs to take its course. Whatever happens we need to have a strong group of candidates.”

A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “Being a labour councillor is not a job for life, and party members in Glasgow – who select the candidates to field –want change.

“Those people who do not get selected have the right of appeal but no-one should underestimate our determination to field the best possible set of candidates.”

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