Labour to select Falkirk candidate

Messenger Newspapers: The controversial selection process for the Falkirk constituency has caused problems for the Labour Party The controversial selection process for the Falkirk constituency has caused problems for the Labour Party

Labour will today choose its candidate for the Falkirk constituency that has been at the centre of multiple controversies for the party.

Local members will choose from Pam Duncan, Monica Lennon and Karen Whitefield to replace disgraced former Labour MP Eric Joyce in the contest for the 2015 general election.

Joyce was kicked out of the party after committing an assault in a House of Commons bar, and now represents the constituency as an independent.

His ejection sparked a controversial selection process which became mired in allegations of vote-rigging, igniting a chain of events that ultimately brought one of Scotland's key industrial complexes to the brink of closure.

Earlier this year, Unite was accused of signing its members up to the Falkirk Labour Party to ensure the union's favoured candidate, Karie Murphy, was selected as the next general election candidate.

The union was cleared of any wrongdoing in an internal inquiry by Labour but the local party was put under "special measures", which meant that the power to draw up the shortlist was taken away from it, and was conducted centrally.

The councillor who blew the whistle on the claims of vote-rigging was subsequently snubbed in the selection process.

Former Falkirk Council leader Linda Gow, who alerted the party to allegations against the trade union Unite, said she was "disappointed" not to be on the final shortlist.

Meanwhile, Police Scotland chief constable Sir Stephen House is looking into separate allegations against Unite concerning alleged intimidation of senior members of Ineos staff.

The union was involved in an industrial dispute with the Grangemouth refinery, which was first sparked by the vote-rigging allegations.

Unite and site owners Ineos became embroiled in a bitter dispute, initially over the treatment of Unite convenor Stephen Deans, who was involved in the Labour selection row as chairman of the constituency party.

The dispute dramatically widened to threaten the future of the entire site, with Ineos warning that it would close without fresh investment and changes to pay, pensions and other conditions.

Unite accepted the changes, most of which are due to come into force in January, and the company has since announced up to 200 job losses in the ensuing cost-cutting drive.

The Labour election candidate selection will take place at the Hotel Cladhan, in Falkirk, this afternoon.

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