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Mass deselection of Labour councillors in Glasgow

The Herald reports that so far 17 of Labour's 47 councillors in Glasgow have been deselected for the elections next year. Not quite clear if there will be more to deselections to emerge but given that there will also some standing down voluntarily it is clear that most of the current Labour Group will not be Labour candidates next time.

Certainly councillors, of any party, should not take being reselected for granted. But it is by no means clear that the deselections in Glasgow have been carried out for the right reasons. Apparently someone from London called Ken Clark has been carrying out the interviews and has been "brutal."

The report adds:

The Herald understands candidates are quizzed on their political guile, local activities and asked to describe “the Nolan Principles”, which govern standards in public life.

It comes as Labour faces the biggest challenge to its grip on the council in over 30 years on the back of the SNP’s buoyant performance in May’s national election.

But names are also emerging of potential replacements, including former MSPs Frank McAveety and Bill Butler, ex-councillor Chris Kelly, James Adams, an RNIB campaigns manager who works with Anas Sarwar, Soryia Siddique, a lecturer at Cardonald College, and Aileen McKenzie, another ally of the Sarwar dynasty.

A Labour spokesman said: “We have had huge interest from party members in Glasgow, with over 100 applying to stand for the council for Labour, so competition is tougher than in previous years.

“Labour will be fielding Glasgow’s finest in May but we are taking nothing for granted.”

Political guile is all very well but there is a case for having a mix of strengths in a group of councillors.  There might well be those with experience in residents associations or through their jobs (businessmen, teachers would be examples) which might well be practical beneficial to them as being effective councillors. But they might be less strong on making speeches or writing press releases. Should they be ditched? Not if there are others who can cope with the political cut and thrust.

Also if you are deselecting someone it should be done diplomatically and sensitively. Labour are the nasty party in trying to make it as unpleasant as possible. This ritual humiliation of asking councillors what the Nolan principles are is pointless. (Incidentally for any Labour councillors reading this who are yet to have their selection interview the principles are Selflessness, Integrity, Objectivity, Accountability, Openness, Honesty and Leadership.)

Talking of selflessness the councillor allowances in Glasgow and the other Scottish councils (imposed by Holyrood) are quite excessive. The basic allowance in Glasgow is £16,234. Furthermore 59 of the 79 councillors are paid an extra allowance of one kind or another. At the moment Labour have 49 councillors. In this context for them to have "over 100" people offering to be Labour candidates does not strike me as particularly impressive.


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