Former Monklands scandal councillor quits Labour over party 'elitism'

A Labour councillor, who was caught up in the 1990s Monklands scandal, has quit the party, accusing it of an “increasing prevalence of privilege and elitism”.

In his resignation letter, North Lanarkshire councillor Tommy Morgan attacked the new leader of Scottish Labour Anas Sarwar, and Labour members of the House of Lords.

Cllr Morgan said he was resigning after 42 years of membership because he “struggled to see how a political party, founded upon the principles of social justice, redistribution of wealth, and equality for all, can effectively defend and promote those objectives, whilst being led by privileged, privately-educated, millionaire-elites (some of whom have a history of questionable attitudes and actions towards the rights and conditions of ordinary working people)”.

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Anas Sarwar has been accused of being part of an "elitist" Labour Party.Anas Sarwar has been accused of being part of an "elitist" Labour Party.
Anas Sarwar has been accused of being part of an "elitist" Labour Party.
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But a Labour source dismissed his resignation as “a bitter attack” and said Cllr Morgan should resign his seat and trigger a by-election.

In his letter, Cllr Morgan said it was an “obscenity” that “Baron Jack McConnell” had campaigned for Mr Sarwar in the latest leadership campaign, and it would have had “Keir Hardie birling in his grave”.

He writes: "That is, an unelected member of the most obscene, elitist, and anti-democratic ‘club’, in British society (the House of Lords), preaching about politics, ‘for the 21st century’, whilst touting support for a multi-millionaire. What an absolute political obscenity."

Cllr Morgan said it was “repulsive” to see other former west of Scotland Labour politicians in the Lords, claiming they contributed to “the elongation of snobbery, elitism, privilege and inequality; the very societal structures that the Labour Party was created to eradicate”.

But a Labour source hit back, saying the letter was “a bitter attack” on the first-ever ethnic minority leader of any Scottish party.

"Thomas has made a living from the Labour Party for many years and the people of Airdrie North voted to elect a Labour representative, so he now should do the decent thing and stand down so there can be a by-election,” the source said.

Cllr Morgan has previously been embroiled in controversy, when he was part of a group of Labour rebels suspended from Monklands Council in 1992 during one of the most bitter internal disputes the party has suffered, thanks to a scandal that saw some councillors dubbed the “Monklands mafia”.

Allegations of nepotism regarding jobs, housing and contracts were made by the rebels, with claims more public money was being spent in Coatbridge than Airdrie.

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While the council denied the allegations, four councillors were suspended. Cllr Morgan spent almost a year outwith the Labour group.

The rebel councillors also picketed the-then Labour leader John Smith’s constituency office during the controversy as he refused to get involved, and the by-election that followed his death in 1994 was dominated by the affair.

Cllr Morgan’s resignation letter was sent to North Lanarkshire Labour group leader Cllr Jim Logue, who was also one of the Monklands rebels. Cllr Logue said: “Tommy has been a stalwart of our movement and an outstanding local councillor committed to improving the lives of his constituents for decades.

“Whilst we are saddened by his departure, we thank him for his service to the group and the party and wish him the very best for the future.”

A Scottish Labour spokesperson added: “We thank Cllr Morgan for his service.”

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