Labour activists fear SNP win in Smith seat

LABOUR activists in John Smith's Monklands East constituency warned yesterday that the party's decision to impose an outside candidate to fight the forthcoming by-election could hand victory to the Scottish National Party.

Constituency supporters, who are due to meet tonight to elect a candidate, are angry that leaders of the Scottish Labour Party, who drew up the final shortlist, rejected local officials.

They accused the leadership of 'punishing' local activists for their decision to speak out over allegations of corruption, nepotism and sectarianism, which have dogged the Labour-controlled Monklands District Council.

Last week Labour's Scottish national selection committee passed over three local nominees: Jim Logue and Peter Sullivan, both councillors, and Eddie Rooney, an activist, who have campaigned against the council's 'mafia' leaders - in favour of three candidates from outside the constituency.

Helen Liddell, the Scottish party's former general secretary, who lives in Renfrewshire, is the favourite to win tonight's vote, beating off challenges from Tom McCabe, leader of Hamilton District Council and Ian Smart, a solicitor from Cumbernauld. In the Eighties, Mrs Liddell, 44, worked as director of personnel and public affairs for the disgraced publisher Robert Maxwell and is the author of Elite, a political thriller in which a female politician with 'a shrewd and ruthless mind' uses her 'image and rhetoric to gather a huge popular following'.

Publicly, local officials say they will support whoever is elected, but privately they express 'grave anxiety' that voters in the constituency - which lies 10 miles east of Glasgow and was held by Mr Smith with a majority of 15,712 at the 1992 election - will reject the Labour candidate in favour of a local Scottish National Party figure.

One leading activist said: 'People think the leadership have insulted residents of Monklands by excluding local officials from the shortlist. Many councillors and party members have worked hard to expose the rotten practices of the 'mafia', in an effort to re-establish Labour's credibility in Lanarkshire. Now, it seems, the party leadership is taking its revenge, punishing them for airing Labour's political dirty laundry in public.

'The selection decision has completely soured the atmosphere in the area. Two weeks ago after John Smith's death even nationalists said they were considering voting Labour as a mark of respect to a good constituency MP. Now, Labour voters say they will either spoil their ballot papers or vote for the SNP. If Helen Liddell is elected, there is a real chance that Monklands will be transformed from a safe Labour seat to a marginal one or, worse, that we will lose outright to the SNP.'

The nationalists made an important political breakthrough in last month's regional elections when they won the Airdrie South seat, which lies in Monklands East and party managers say they are confident they can mount a strong challenge to Labour.

Jack McConnell, general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party, yesterday denied that local officials were rejected because they had criticised council leaders. 'Our sole concern was to guarantee effective representation for the people of Monklands. We have every confidence that the shortlist will do just that,' he said.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect