'Bad press' Labour MP Ann Moffat facing deselection

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A Labour MP was facing deselection today amid claims by local party members she does not work hard enough in her constituency.

A Labour MP was facing deselection today amid claims by local party members she does not work hard enough in her constituency.

Activists in East Lothian voted to oust Anne Moffat at a meeting last night.

The MP, who has held the seat since 2001, has until Monday to lodge an appeal with Labour's National Executive Committee.

If Ms Moffat accepts the vote then Labour said it will move quickly to allow members to select a new candidate for the forthcoming general election.

Chairman of the East Lothian Constituency Labour Party (ELCLP) Willie Innes said the MP had not attended a constituency meeting for two years and had been attracting "bad press".

Last night's vote in Haddington followed a row about her re-selection in 2008 when the constituency party was temporarily suspended.

Opposition parties said Labour is in "turmoil" and "disarray".

Mr Innes said: "I think what the vote did was lay to rest our MP's claim that it was only a small cabal that was opposed to her.

"The defining points were that the MP was continually attracting bad press and a lot of people thought the MP wasn't working hard enough in the constituency.

"She publicly stated recently that the local Labour Party was low on her priority list and I think members resented that.

"Now we are keen to take the party forward and to campaign on the real issues facing East Lothian."

A Labour Party spokesman said: "The local Labour Party is now determined to win back the trust of the people of the county and unite to ensure Labour wins the general election."

Ms Moffat attracted criticism after claiming £40,000 in travel expenses between 2003 and 2004 - more than any other MP.

Party members voted for her deselection by 130 votes to 59.

They will now seek a new candidate for the seat which is held at Holyrood by Labour's Scottish leader, Iain Gray.

Liberal Democrat candidate Stuart Ritchie said: "In Iain Gray's back yard the Labour party are weak and discredited.

"Gray, Moffat and the local Labour party should have been concerned with the proposed closure of the Cadet school in Haddington, the state of East Lothian town centres, and potential ward closures in East Lothian hospitals.

"Instead for the last three years all they have been interested in is their own personal feuds and egos."

Conservative candidate for East Lothian Michael Veitch said Labour was "in turmoil".

He said: "In less than 50 days time, voters have a clear choice.

"Five more years of this weak and divided Labour Party or change with David Cameron and the Conservatives."

An SNP spokesman said: "After this debacle, it is only the SNP who is offering the people of East Lothian a local champion, whilst all the Labour Party offer is local disarray."