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Less than wonderful

Brian Taylor | 15:56 UK time, Wednesday, 19 November 2008

It is not, in truth, the direct responsibility of Iain Gray.

However, it's less than wonderful news for him, either. Business at his local Labour Party has been suspended.

It's all the result of a stand off between East Lothian Constituency and the party's National Executive Committee over the reselection of Anne Moffat MP.

For me, it also revives the issue of the internal voting system within the Labour Party.

You may recall my offering a few cheeky comments anent that topic at the time of the election of Mr Gray as leader.

To recap, briefly. Anne Moffat, it would appear, is not universally popular in her constituency of East Lothian.

As is customary, she was up for reselection in July last year.

'Anomoly' probe

The choice facing party sections was whether to endorse her automatically - or whether to back an open selection in which the sitting MP would be on the shortlist.

Only two branches out of six backed her for automatic endorsement. As I understand it, three branches wanted an open choice and the largest branch, Prestonpans, was divided 50/50.

Despite that division, she was adopted on the back of votes by affiliates, principally trades unions.

Following objections, an investigation was held by Lesley Quinn, then the party's chief officer in Scotland. She reported "anomalies" in the process.

The matter was referred to the NEC who upheld the selection procedure. Further protests ensued and the NEC has now decided that, pending resolution, the local party is suspended.

I am told from East Lothian that there is "great unhappiness" and a "lingering sense of injustice" that constituency opinion has, arguably, been ignored.

The alternative perspective is that it is standard procedure to suspend where there is a dispute - and that this will be settled in a comradely fashion.

We shall see.


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