Richard Leonard accused of ‘stitch up’ over MEP candidate selection

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has been accused of “stitching up” his party’s candidate selection for the European Parliament elections.

The names of Scottish Labour’s candidates were revealed last night – including Mr Leonard’s parliamentary office manager and a constituency worker for one of his closest political allies.

Sitting MEP David Martin tops the Labour list in Scotland and is followed by Jayne Baxter, who used to represent Mid Scotland and Fife in Holyrood. She is now a constituency worker for Alex Rowley, the ex-deputy leader of Scottish Labour who was accused two years ago of sending abusive text messages to a former partner.

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Mr Rowley, who backed Mr Leonard for the leadership of the party, denied the allegations and the party’s internal investigation collapsed after the woman involved refused to “engage in the process”. Mr Leonard later reappointed him to his shadow cabinet.

Richard Leonard. Picture: John Devlin
Richard Leonard. Picture: John Devlin

Also on the list is Craig Miller, employed by Mr Leonard in the Scottish Parliament, and Amy Lee Fraioli who works for James Kelly MSP.

A former member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, her Twitter feed had been deleted last night but she is believed to be a former Yes voter and a supporter of Brexit. The final candidates are trade unionist Angela Bretherton - had also deleted her Twitter account - and Callum O’Dwyer who has previously stood for election in Aberdeen South.

A Scottish Labour source said: “Clearly Richard is not interested in anyone outside his inner circle which is just treating members with a real lack of respect.

“It feels like a stitch up. Some who applied to be candidates didn’t even get a “thanks, but no thanks” response. It’s the final nail in the coffin of his ‘real change’ mantra.”
The candidates were selected by the party’s Scottish Executive Committee, and revealed as all parties gear up for the coming European elections on May 23 - unless a Brexit deal is approved before then.

Richard Leonard said: “These elections may be unexpected but they are an opportunity for the people of Scotland to reject nationalism: both Scottish and British and to elect representatives to the European Parliament who will support the construction of a people’s Europe.”

Yesterday the Scottish Liberal Democrats also revealed its six candidates, including former councillors Sheila Ritchie, Clive Sneddon and Catriona Bhatia, former Edinburgh South general election candidate Fred Mackintosh, Vita Zaporozcenko, casework manager for MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton and John Edward who helped launch Scotland for a People’s Vote.

Leader Willie Rennie said: “We have a strong group of people who are committed to protecting our place in Europe. This election gives voters an opportunity to demand an end to the constitutional chaos we’ve endured for years.”

The Scotsman understands a former Scottish Labour candidate, Barrie Cunning, has applied to stand for the new Change UK party.