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)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Life and Style
life
News
‘The Graduate’, starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, was directed by Nichols in his purple period
people
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

Argyll Scott International: FP&A Manager Supply Chain

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Argyll Scott is recruiting for a Permane...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property NQ+

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: COMMERCIAL PROPERTY SOLI...

Argyll Scott International: Retail Commercial Finance Analyst

Benefits: Argyll Scott International: Due to further expansion, a leading inte...

Langley James : Senior Technician; Promotion & Training Opp; Borough; upto £32k

£27000 - £32000 per annum + training: Langley James : Senior Technician; Promo...

Day In a Page

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines
Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?

What are Jaden and Willow on about?

Will Smith's children have made waves with a gloriously over-the-top interview, but will their music match their musings?
Fridge gate: How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces

Cold war

How George Osborne keeping his fridge padlocked shows a frosty side to shared spaces
Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

Stocking fillers: 10 best loo books

From dogs in cars to online etiquette, while away a few minutes in peace with one of these humorous, original and occasionally educational tomes
Malky Mackay appointed Wigan manager: Three texts keep Scot’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

Three texts keep Mackay’s rehabilitation on a knife-edge

New Wigan manager said all the right things - but until the FA’s verdict is delivered he is still on probation, says Ian Herbert
Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

Louis van Gaal: the liberal, the enemy and... err, the poet

‘O, Louis’ is the plaintive title of a biography about the Dutchman. Ian Herbert looks at what it tells us about the Manchester United manager