THE bid by the leader of Glasgow City Council to become Scottish Labour's deputy leader has faced a backlash, with no city MSP backing him and city colleagues supporting other candidates.


Party sources revealed Gordon Matheson's move is viewed by some in Labour as treading on the toes of current MSPs seeking re-election next May.

Others have accused him of using the post as a "lifeboat" out of local government.

Nominations closed for the leader and deputy contests at midday yesterday with Mr Matheson up against MSPs Richard Baker and Alex Rowley.

Paul Martin, Provan MSP, backed Mr Baker a north east MSP, while Glasgow List MSPs Hanzala Malik and Anne McTaggart both former city councillors backed Mr Rowley from Fife.

The other three, Patricia Ferguson, Johann Lamont and Drew Smith did not nominate a candidate.

Meanwhile, a group of around half a dozen Glasgow councillors, including Holyrood candidate for Glasgow Shettleston Frank McAveety and prominent local politicians George Redmond and Alistair Watson backing Alex Rowley. The move to publicly back a rival is the first sign of open defiance from within against the council leader in several years. 

If Mr Matheson wins he could automatically take top spot on the Glasgow list, making it more difficult for Mr Malik and Ms McTaggart to be re-elected.

Earlier this week Mr Malik said his own situation would have a bearing on who he supports as he looks to protect his list placing.

Sources claim his refusal to follow the lead of Rowley and Baker and ruling out using the deputy's role to top the regional list has caused resentment amongst some parliamentarians.

Others have accused Matheson of using his profile as a council leader and the importance of local government in his pitch to become deputy whilst simultaneously using it to plot his exit.

One source said: "Several within the council have been biting their tongues for years. But we're dealing with the future, if not the survival, of Labour in Scotland here. Whatever the question the answer isn't Gordon Matheson."

Another said: "People believe this is Gordon's escape route & in not following Rowley and Baker he's not endearing himself to anyone at Holyrood. Even within the council a lot of those backing him are doing so hoping to see the back of him." 

Mr Matheson has the backing of more than 90 councillors from across Scotland, including many several senior councillors in Glasgow including city treasurer, Paul Rooney, and former Lord Provost Liz Cameron.

Jim Coleman, Jon Findlay, Malcolm Cunning and Archie Graham also backed Mr Matheson.

MSPs John Pentland and Richard Simpson are the only to supported Mr Matheson.

For the leadership contest Kezia Dugdale is up against Ken Macintosh.

Ms Dugdale has the backing of the majority of Labour MSPs including Jackie Baillie former leader Iain Gray and two of the deputy contenders Mr Baker and Mr Rowley.

Mr Matheson has not declared support for either contender, focussing on his own campaign.

He said: "When I look at what I've got to offer, I am a strong candidate for deputy leader. I am the candidate of experience and change."

The ballot opens on Monday July 20 until August 14 with the winners announced the following day.