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Unions complain over leadership ‘stitch-up’

Backing for Scottish Labour left candidate Findlay absent from ballot papers

EIGHT trade unions filed a formal complaint yesterday against the Scottish Labour Party after officials were accused of a stitch-up to help Jim Murphy take the party's reins.

Ballot papers and candidate statements delivered to Scottish Labour members list the members of the Westminster, Holyrood and European parliaments who cast substantive nominations for each candidate.

A large majority of parliamentarians affirmed their support for Blairite Mr Murphy and deputy leadership contender and fellow rightwinger Kezia Dugdale.

But unlike in previous contests, the materials do not list the supportive nominations announced by trade unions and constituency Labour parties (CLPs).

All but two unions - Community and Usdaw - are supporting leftwingers Neil Findlay and Katy Clark in the contests. CLPs are more divided, with several supporting centrist Sarah Boyack as well.

After concerns were initially raised, Scottish Labour acting general secretary Fiona Stanton pleaded that the election timetable had not allowed sufficient time for supporting nominations to be processed before the ballot materials were prepped.

But in a letter to Ms Stanton, eight leading Scottish union officers said this explanation was "unsatisfactory and does little to rectify (the situation)".

The trade unionists called for, "at the very least," an email to be sent out to members listing supportive nominations and apologising for "the failings of the original booklet."

The letter says: "Leaving aside that the party failed in the basic courtesy of telling CLPs and affiliates that their views would not be publicised, there is also the matter that the effort and expense gone to in organising meetings and consultations has largely been wasted.

"If all nominations were not to be included then none should have. We have three parts to the electoral college, all of equal status, so it's absurd to have favoured the elected members sections over the other two."

Mr Findlay said: "I'm not surprised by this action - the trade unions are right to complain of the discourtesy being shown to themselves and constituency parties and the departure this represents from agreed procedure.

"Their request that the party emails members with the information it has so far failed to provide is an eminently reasonable one."

Mr Murphy did not respond to a request for comment.

nLook out for an exclusive St Andrew's Day feature from Neil Findlay in tomorrow's edition of the Morning Star.

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