Discord among Labour ranks over selection of new candidate

Melanie Ward will stand for Labour at the next general election.
Melanie Ward will stand for Labour at the next general election.

The Constituency Labour Party (CLP) in Glenrothes has been hit by several resignations in the wake of the recent selection of its candidate for the General Election.

The Gazette has learned that at least three members have relinquished their posts following a row over the handling of the process to elect a candidate to replace MP Lindsay Roy, who is retiring.

Several long-standing members have also indicated they are considering withdrawing from the party all together because of ill-feeling over the way the election process was conducted.

The CLP declined to comment, but the Gazette further understands that a report outlining concerns has been submitted to Scottish Labour headquarters in Glasgow.

There had been ill feeling among some CLP members from the outset of the selection process, because of the announcement of an all female short-list, despite unanimously voting against it.

Within days of the selection process starting John Morton, treasurer of the Glenorthes CLP wrote to the Scottish Labour Party over concerns that there had been delays in informing members that the selection process had started, despite having already received election correspondence from at least one of the shortlisted candidates.

Former charity worker Melanie Ward was selected as the candidate having polled 62 of the 120 votes cast.

In the wake of the decision, one of the shortlisted candidates - Julie MacDougall - has repeatedly requested a breakdown of how the voting was conducted.

She said: “I have made a routine request to the Labour Party in Glasgow to receive information about the voting register and breakdown of votes in the internal candidate selection process held in May.

“I believe the candidates are entitled to this information. However, despite repeated requests it has not been forthcoming.”

In an email to Ms McDougal, Mike Crichton, Labour party director of audit, risk management and property said: “We do not make either the attendance register or postal votes/votes in person available post count, nor, frankly do I see any value in doing so.”

The process to decide a new candidate

The process of electing a Labour candidate to stand at the next general Election is a complex and time consuming one.

Three Labour Party branches within the constituency decided on their list of preferred candidates.

The listings were then forwarded to the CLPs eight-man ‘shortlist’ committee.

The committee then drew up a final shortlist of candidates from the branch lists put forward, this final candidate list would be the one that CLP members in Glenrothes and Central Fife would choose from .

Following a around six weeks of canvassing members voted on Friday, May 30, either by way of a postal vote or a vote in person at the hustings to decide the outcome.

The outcome was announced at around 10.00 p.m. with Melanie ward being announced the winner with 62 votes, Julie McDougal 34 votes and Kay Morrison 24 votes.