Concerns over Leadership ‘Proxy Battle’ in Glasgow South West

Activists have warned that the selection process for the next Glasgow South West candidate risks becoming a ‘proxy battle’ for last year’s Scottish leadership election.

The two frontrunners for the seat, Asim Khan, and Matt Kerr, are viewed as representing different wings of the party, with Matt Kerr gaining the endorsements of the major Trade Unions and Young Labour, while Asim Khan is seen as having the backing of ‘moderate’ figures in the Scottish Parliamentary Labour group. 

It comes after conflict over the date which marked the beginning of the contest, as party rules state that members must have joined six-months prior to any selection procedures. 

The Scottish Executive Committee came to the decision to use a local party meeting on March 21st as the start-date for the race, a decision which has been condemned by supporters of Asim Khan as disadvantaging their candidate.

The earlier freeze-date would mean those who signed up to vote in the Scottish Labour leadership election would not be able to vote in the selection panel.

Concerns were raised last year over some of the new members in Glasgow, with instances of members reported who appeared to be sharing email addresses and phone numbers, despite being registered at separate addresses. 

The Red Robin understands that Anas Sarwar had written to the Scottish General Secretary, Brian Roy, and Scottish Labour Leader, Richard Leonard to complain about the process, and warn of legal action over the SEC’s decision, in an attempt to lobby for the later cut-off date. 

Asim Khan, who is viewed as Mr. Sarwar’s favoured candidate, has now taken the party to court over what he described as “irrational” behaviour by the party over the contest. 

Party insiders have refuted this, pointing out that the decision was taken after independent legal advice was obtained that supported the earlier freeze date, and that the party was remaining compliant with its own democratic procedures. 

Supporters of the previous candidate for the seat, Matt Kerr have also drawn attention to the fact that Mr. Kerr strongly backed Richard Leonard for the party leader last summer, a decision that drew ire from those in Mr. Sarwar’s camp at the time. 

The ultra-marginal seat was lost by 60 votes to the SNP in 2017, ranking it highly amongst Labour’s targets for the next election. 

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