Labour’s Glasgow East chaos

What is happening with the Labour candidate process for the Glasgow East By-election?

First of all we hear that Gordon Brown has phoned Stephen Purcell, the Glasgow City Council Labour leader, 4 times asking him to stand. Purcell has repeatedly turned the Prime Minister down.

Then, Gordon Brown phones Lesley Quinn, Labour’s former Scottish General Secretary, and asks her to stand. Again, Quinn declines the Prime Minister’s offer.

The Daily Mail reports that Gordon Brown phoned 4 party loyalists in total asking if they would stand.

These 6am calls have got to stop, Gordon! Caller ID boxes will be bought all over the Barras this weekend!

So Labour introduce their candidate shortlist on Friday:-

George Ryan
Irene Graham
Doug Maughan

with East end councillor George Ryan, the odds-on favourite to be nominated.

However, the councillor does not show up at the selection meeting for “family reasons” and pulls out of the running.

Labour then announce the selection process will now be postponed till Monday.

So that means a weekend of more phoning and pleading for Gordon Brown. Will he yet convince Purcell or Quinn? I very much doubt it.

John McTernan has been suggested by the Telegraph as a potential candidate. Probably his involvement with the cash-for-peerages row rules him out though.

And what does it mean about the calibre of the other two hopefuls on the shortlist? If Labour considered them serious challengers for the nomination then surely the selection meeting should have just continued on Friday choosing either of them.

Will they now stand again on Monday? If they’re deemed not good enough on Friday, why would they want to stand on Monday? That’s a terrible position to be in, and I think they would both be perfectly entitled to stand down from the selection process too.

And now stories are surfacing about the real reasons George Ryan quit the selection process:-

The internet is awash with rumours that some journalist or other has some dirt on Councillor Ryan.

Perhaps it is related to The Times story of housing benefit fraud claims.

Perhaps it may be the story surfacing on Guido Fawkes site about a run-in he had with a political editor after a Cathcart by-election where the police were nearly called.

Perhaps it may be the story that the councillor is none too impressed with the Union Flag – he deemed sectarian – or the National Anthem God Save the Queen – he deemed offensive. Instead, Ryan wanted the saltire and the Flower of Scotland to be used in their place. Could it be that the councillor is none too fond of the Union between Scotland and England? In which case his nomination would just play into the hands of the SNP anyway. The story is on the BBC and in The Times.

Perhaps it has to do with the GHA and funding. Residents of Glasgow East may not be too keen on the councillor if GHA take over their Local Housing Associations with compulsory purchase orders.

Perhaps it was the fact that Councillor Ryan and 10 other Labour Glasgow City Councillors – including Stephen Purcell, that also may explain his reluctance to stand – are being investigated by the Standards Commission over dodgy dealings in an attempt to obtain the land of Paddy’s Market in the East End.

Whatever the reason for his withdrawal, family reasons or not, Labour’s Glasgow East campaign is already in disarray.

Details of the real reason the sitting MP David Marshall resigned won’t help the perception that the Labour Party is mired in sleaze.

Now the BBC are saying that Margaret Curran, the Baillieston MSP, is intending to stand for Labour as a candidate! That would be unbelievably farcial given Labour’s griping about Alex Salmond holding a job in Holyrood and Westminster (though Alex is merely following convention set by Donald Dewar and Jim Wallace, and has announced that he intends not to fight his Westminster seat at next election).

Of course, due to boundary changes at the next Scottish General election, the Baillieston seat will disappear. Maybe this forced her hand.

Fair play to her for offering and trying to pull Labour out of their self-dug hole, but that would just leave Labour open to more ridicule.

What if she was to lose? She would still remain MSP for Baillieston but her leadership challenge would be crushed. She would be seen to no longer have the confidence of the people who elected her in 2007!

Perhaps she thinks that if she managed a good campaign in front of the media then her positioning as potential Scottish MSP leader would be improved. A sort of MSP leadership campaign head-start before the other rivals formally start their bids after the by-election. What does Cathy Jamieson, Iain Gray et al think of this move?

In the meantime, the Solidarity Party has named its candidate for Glasgow East. That honour goes to Tricia McLeish from Shettleston.

Tommy Sheridan had nominated her.

So Tommy Sheridan will not be standing for the Glasgow East constituency. That leaves the SSP and Solidarity splitting the socialist vote as expected, and the two main players, Labour and the SNP free to campaign without Tommy Sheridan’s profile stealing the election spotlight.

I’m sure Tricia will do a good job, but I imagine Tommy, as leader of the party, would have collected more votes.

It seems Solidarity would be happy with a SNP win in the election to try and force out Gordon Brown. Tommy Sheridan commented “We have got no problem with the SNP winning this election. Solidarity will be pleased to see the demise of Gordon Brown.”

Given the recent polls a lot of people will feel the same way.

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