A MAJOR exodus from Glasgow's ruling Labour administration is set to deepen rifts within the authority, with almost half the party's female councillors expected to quit politics.

It is understood that six female politicians, including Lord Provost Sadie Docherty, have signalled they will not to seek re-election amid claims of a "macho culture" within the council.

Mrs Docherty is the only one of those standing down next year to have served more than one term of office, the others having only entered frontline politics in 2012.

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Senior sources have revealed long-term unhappiness at the lack of opportunities for female councillors amongst the most recent intake.

Much of the disaffection predates current leader Frank McAveety's tenure, with the number of female councillors on the decision-making executive committee rising from one to three during his 10 months in charge.

Women currently comprise around one third of the council's Labour group.

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But in recent months there have been reports of splits in the administration over the leadership's commitment to gender balance, with the Lord Provost publicly directing "disappointment" at both Cllr McAveety and deputy leader Archie Graham over the handling of the issue.

One of those who has decided to quit, Judith Fisher, is understood to have told her local Labour branch she could not continue as a councillor with "in good conscience" as she did not believe "the current leadership is operating in the best interests of the people of Glasgow".

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A senior councillor said: "It's like a mirror of Blair's Babes from 1997. We had a rush of keen and committed women who came through the door in 2012 replacing mainly old guys. But after one term, like Blair's first, the numbers plummet."

Another councillor said: "Some females complain of a macho culture, an unpleasant environment to work in.

"One has even described it as like entering a time warp to the 1970s."

A further prominent source said: "The reasons are varied but I do think some of the 2012 intake were led to believe that things would be easier than they are.

"Some expected to walk straight into jobs on the exec, which, if you're told you're the 'A' team, may be understandable. The gender balance argument is certainly there.

"The over-arching thing is that being in power when our budget is being decimated isn't much fun, and many feel they didn't sign up for that in 2012."

Sitting councillors are expected to signal by Friday whether they intend to stand again as the first part of the process in selecting candidates for 2017. Some are expected to potentially drop out or face de-selection at the interview stage.

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Several of Labour's old guard are also understood to decided to stand down, along with a number of younger councillors who have held very senior positions in recent years, including Jonathan Findlay, who is heading transport quango SPT for asecond time, and ex-Police Authority chair and City Treasurer Paul Rooney.

Women councillors predicted to leave include Pauline McKeever, a successful businesswoman who represents Hillhead in the west end, and Helen Stephen, who has told friends she wants to return to England.

East end councillor Yvonne Kucuk is currently suspended by Labour pending a police investigation into embezzlement claims at the community centre she runs. That is unlikely to be completed in time for her to be considered for re-election.

Cllr Maureen Burke, who has been employed at Ms Kucuk's Dalmarnock Hub and inherited a major crisis at the council's jobs' quango, is also understood to be giving serious consideration to standing down.

Leader of Glasgow City Council, Cllr Frank McAveety said that during his tenure more women had been appointed to senior positions "than under any other leader in this council's history".

He added: "There are a number of reasons why people are stepping down and we wish them all well for the future. It is tough being a councillor given the workload, responsibilities and budgetary pressures.

"Glasgow Labour is committed to fielding a strong, diverse team for the biggest battle in Scottish local government history. Central to delivering this will be a continued effort to promote gender equality and encouraging women to run for local office."