Labour rules suspended Aberdeen councillors can stand for re-selection

Nine Aberdeen councillors, suspended by the Labour party for entering into a coalition with Conservatives, have been told they can stand for selection as candidates for next year’s council elections.

Former MSP James Kelly is the new General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party.

The so-called “Aberdeen Nine” were were suspended in 2017 by then Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale for acting against her policy that all coalitions had to be approved by the party’s Scottish Executive Committee (SEC).

The councillors, including council leader Jenny Laing and the city's Lord Provost Barney Crockett, have been fighting to be reinstated ever since.

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But last year the party's National Constitutional Committee determined they would remain “administratively suspended” until May 1 2022 which would leave them out of any candidate selection process.

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However on Saturday, the SEC – being chaired by the new party General Secretary, former MSP James Kelly – voted to allow them to be considered for selection as a Labour candidates in the council elections next May. The party decided it should be down to local members to select the suspended councillors if they wished.

A report to the SEC stated: “The SEC believes that members in Aberdeen should be afforded the opportunity to select from a full range of candidates, including those councillors currently suspended by the Labour Party (subject to any decisions in respect of those suspensions made by the UK Labour Party's National Executive Committee), in order to give the Scottish Labour Party the best chance of success in next year's crucial local elections.”

After the vote – which is believed to have been 16 in favour, six against and two abstentions – a Scottish Labour spokesman said: “The SEC has considered the position of the Aberdeen Labour group and have determined that members in Aberdeen should have the right to decide who their Scottish Labour candidates are for the council elections next year.

“Our members in Aberdeen will now decide if they are worthy to stand to represent our party.”

Scottish Conservative MSP for the north east, Douglas Lumsden, who was previously council co-leader of the council with Ms Laing, said: “For years now, Labour have treated their Aberdeen councillors horrendously, simply because they kept the SNP out of power.

"Even now, these councillors are still expected to be apologetic for working with a unionist party.

"It looks like Labour HQ will still have the final say on any future coalition agreements and will they really agree to a deal with unionists?

"People will rightly be worried the strict conditions on these councillors' readmission to the party opens the door to Labour working with the SNP in future."

However SNP MSP for Aberdeen Donside Jackie Dunbar said: “Once again Scottish Labour are open to the idea of handing the keys of power to the Tories on Aberdeen City Council and making the people of the city suffer another toxic coalition.

“Labour keeping the door wide open to another Tory coalition goes to show that we still cannot trust Labour not to jump into bed with the Tories and betray the trust of the people of Aberdeen City – they have done it before and there is nothing to suggest they would not do it again.”

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