Labour selects Karen Whitefield as Falkirk candidate

 

Karen Whitefield, a former Labour MSP, has been selected as the party’s 2015 general election candidate in Falkirk, the constituency at the centre of multiple controversies.

She fought off the challenge of Pam Duncan and Monica Lennon to win the backing of local members as the replacement for the disgraced MP Eric Joyce.

Mr Joyce was kicked out of the party after committing an assault in a House of Commons bar, and now represents the constituency as an independent.

His ejection sparked a controversial selection process which became mired in allegations of vote-rigging, igniting a chain of events that ultimately brought one of Scotland's key industrial complexes to the brink of closure.

Speaking after her selection, Ms Whitefield conceded that the party will have to work hard to regain people's trust following Mr Joyce's crimes and the fraught selection process to replace him.

"I am delighted and greatly honoured to have been given the opportunity to work for the Labour party and serve the people of Falkirk in the run up to the general election and I hope they will put their trust in me," she said.

Earlier this year, Unite was accused of signing its members up to the Falkirk Labour Party to ensure the union's favoured candidate, Karie Murphy, was selected as the next general election candidate.

The union was cleared of any wrongdoing in an internal inquiry by Labour but the local party was put under "special measures", which meant that the power to draw up the shortlist was taken away from it, and was conducted centrally.

The councillor who blew the whistle on the claims of vote-rigging was subsequently snubbed in the selection process.

Former Falkirk Council leader Linda Gow, who alerted the party to allegations against the trade union Unite, said she was "disappointed" not to be on the final shortlist.

PA

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