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23 January 2023

Disgraced former minister withdraws from Labour selection contest

Party members raised concerns over Frank McAveety’s sexualised comments about a 15-year-old girl.

By Zoë Grünewald

The former Holyrood minister Frank McAveety has pulled out of the joint race to become the Labour parliamentary candidate for Glasgow East or North East following concerns about his past behaviour and reports that the local party had fixed the shortlist.

Four candidates had put themselves forward for the Westminster seats: McAveety, a former minister in the Scottish government and former leader of Glasgow City Council; Maureen Burke, a councillor; Shona Thomson, a trade unionist; and Declan Mclean, an activist. The local party’s executive blocked Thomson and Mclean from standing, however, reportedly saying that Thomson did a poor interview and Mclean, 24, was “too young”.

Many were unhappy with the decision to keep McAveety in the running. In 2010 he was forced to resign as convener of a Scottish Parliament committee after making inappropriate and sexual comments about a 15-year-old girl in the Holyrood public gallery. On the announcement of his candidacy, Labour Women’s Network released a statement saying it was “extremely disappointed” to learn that a “man on record making deeply inappropriate sexualised and racial remarks about a 15-year-old girl of colour has been shortlisted for selection by Scottish Labour”.

There have been many allegations of interference in Labour’s candidate selection processes in recent months, which have angered many on the left.

Last week it was reported that Scottish Labour had judged that the rules had not been correctly followed in the Glasgow contest and it had suspended the process. Jackie Baillie, the Scottish Labour deputy leader and chair of its general election sub committee, said the move to block Thomson and Mclean candidates had “undermined Scottish Labour’s commitment to fair choice in selections”.

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The Daily Record has now said that it was told there was involvement by the UK Labour Party over the prospect of McAveety being the candidate.

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McAveety, who remains a local councillor, said: “I have been proud to represent my community, Scottish Labour and the people of Glasgow over many decades. Standing up for the people of the East End and for Labour values remains my focus. Glasgow deserves better than this failed SNP council and this out-of-touch Tory government. While I will no longer seek selection in the Glasgow East/North East contest, I remain dedicated to fighting for my community, my city and my party.”

[See also: Rishi Sunak must sack Nadhim Zahawi to retain any credibility]

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