ANAS Sarwar has refused to back Labour’s leader in Glasgow City Council ahead of an attempt to oust him after just a year in the job.

Opposition boss George Redmond is facing a challenge in a secret ballot tomorrow from former Lord Provost Philip Braat.

Mr Sarwar is seen as close to Mr Redmond, who was recently criticised for his approach to the council budget.

However the Scottish Labour leader said bluntly: “It’s not my job to intervene.” 

Mr Redmond’s business manager, former Scottish Government minister Frank McAveety, is also facing a challenge for his job from councillor Stephen Curran.

Glasgow is run by a minority SNP administration with 37 of 85 seats, backed by ten Greens.

If Cllr Braat won, it could in theory open up a possible deal for Labour, which has 36 seats, to rule instead with the Greens, who are averse to working with Cllr Redmond.

If Cllr Redmond wins, he could yet be in trouble if his ally Cllr McAveety loses to Cllr Curran, as Cllr Curran and Cllr Redmond are understood to dislike one another intensely.

READ MORE: Glasgow Labour council chief faces leadership challenge

A Labour source said it was “disappointing” that the challenges had come just as the SNP was under intense scrutiny over its internal problems, and predicted both incumbents would win “comfortably”.

Cllr Redmond, whose power base is in the east end of the city, was a councillor from 1999 to 2017 before stepping away from the City Chambers, but returned in 2022.

Once back, he swiftly challenged then Labour leader Malcolm Cunning, winning 24-11.

In February, he controversially refused to propose an alternative budget for 2023/24, which split his group and led to it being accused of lacking ideas.

At the time, Mr Sarwar endorsed Mr Redmond’s argument that it was not Labour’s job to help the SNP locally by proposing cuts caused by under-funding by the SNP at Holyrood.

Mr Sarwar told the Herald at the time: “George Redmond told me that was his view. I said I absolutely agree with that. I think he's absolutely right.”  

But asked by the Sunday Herald who he was backing in Monday’s contest, Mr Sarwar refused to take a side and appeared to cut Mr Redmond adrift.

He said: “It’s a decision for Glasgow Labour councillors. They’re free to vote in whatever way they prefer. That’s local democracy.”

Reminded that he had supported Mr Redmond’s decision not to put forward an alternative budget, Mr Sarwar said: “Any councillor I’ve spoken to has agreed with that strategy, because we’re not in it to manage decline in local communities, we’re not there to manage decline in Glasgow. 

“We’re there to stand up and fight for Glasgow, and every single Glasgow Labour councillor is doing that.”

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Pressed on whether he was standing by the incumbent goup leader, Mr Sarwar said: “It’s a free choice. I think our Glasgow Labour councillors are doing a great job. I’m sure they’ll continue to do a great job.”

Asked if he would be happy with Cllr Braat as the new leader, he said: “It’s a decision for local democracy. It’s not my job to intervene.”

A source close to events said: “Anas Sarwar is responsible for putting George Redmond in as leader. The fact that we could be looking at a third Labour leader in a year tells you his playing with the council has failed. 

“He’ll either accept that and leave them to fight among themselves or try to save face by privately supporting George. That could be what saves George in the end.”

Cllrs Redmond and Braat were approached for comment.