ANGER was mounting within Labour last night as officials attempted to patch up the embarrassing row that led to London party chiefs suspending the constituency party of Iain Gray, the Labour leader in Scotland.
Labour figures are brokering a behind-the-scenes peace deal to settle the dispute between the National Executive Committee and grassroots' members, who have fallen out with the sitting East Lothian MP, Anne Moffat.
Many in Labour are irate that Moffat and the NEC allowed the disagreement to escalate, with London eventually suspending the East Lothian Constituency Labour Party – an act that reflected badly on Gray, who represents the equivalent Holyrood constituency.
"People realise they should have been a bit more sensitive about the party suspending the local constituency like this. A lot of things have been smoothed over since the start of the week," one Labour source said.
"She (Moffat] is in a strong and influential position with the NEC but people didn't take enough cognisance of the views of the local party. It seems they have taken the wrong view that these were rough, working class men giving a woman a hard time. The fault is more on Anne's side."
Another source said: "Basically, what happened was that after getting selected, instead of building bridges, she antagonised the local branches who didn't back her even more. That was when they started to try to deselect her again – which led to the NEC taking them over."
Gray, who has been keen to distance himself from the fall-out, was said to be furious by the development, which allowed the SNP to portray him as London Labour's man in Scotland with the UK party taking charge of his constituency.
One Holyrood Labour source said: "You couldn't imagine the NEC doing this in Gordon Brown's or Alistair Darling's constituency."
The local party in East Lothian had wanted to open up the selection process so that Moffat could face competition to continue as candidate.
Although the general membership of the constituency party voted in favour of this, Moffat survived unchallenged on the strength of union votes.
The local party refused to accept this outcome and its protests led to its suspension.