Scottish Labour in '˜race row' over candidate selection

Scottish Labour is facing legal action over a bitter selection contest to choose the party's candidate for a key target seat in Glasgow.

The row is a headache for Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard. Picture: Greg Macvean

Asim Khan, who is one of two members in the running to stand in the Glasgow South West constituency, claims dozens of his supporters have been denied the chance to vote for him in the party’s internal selection ballot.

Mr Khan wants a judicial review of a decision by Labour’s Scottish executive committee to stop members recruited during last year’s leadership contest from taking part in the selection, the Daily Record reported.

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Most of the members affected are from an ethnic minority.

The issue centres on a “freeze date” for the contest between Richard Leonard and Anas Sarwar, who both registered hundreds of new members during their leadership campaign.

There was confusion over whether a meeting on March 21 of a local party in Glasgow or an event on April 4 marked the cut-off point.

The earlier date would mean more than 80 new members, most of whom are Asian, would not get a vote - but after lobbying from both sides, the party opted for March 21.

A petition lodged at the Court of Session by Khan described the decision as “irrational, unreasonable, illegal and ultra vires” and is seeking an interdict to prevent the selection contest from going ahead.

A party source told the Record: “At its heart, the action taken by the party establishment has clear racist undertones. It’s no coincidence that nearly all the new members unfairly excluded from voting by this arbitrary decision have Asian backgrounds.”

Glasgow South West is a key target seat for Labour as it was held by the SNP’s Chris Stephens by just 60 votes at the snap general election last year