Gordon Matheson to resign as Glasgow City Council leader at next AGM


Rumours of rankling in Glasgow Labour ranks

GORDON MATHESON has said he will step down as leader of the Labour controlled Glasgow City Council at the next annual meeting, set to be in February.

Matheson is standing to be deputy leader of Scottish Labour, but he said that he would be stepping down regardless of whether he wins the deputy leadership.

He made the announcement at a meeting of the council administration on Thursday [25 June] evening, and the National and the Herald have both reported that many inside the council want to see him gone before February, with increasing divisions developing in Glasgow Labour ranks. (Click here to read more).

The councillor’s decision, unlike other deputy leader candidates, not to rule out using the deputy leader position to secure top of the regional list in Glasgow for the 2016 elections is said to be the source of much of the tension. No Glasgow MSPs have backed Matheson’s bid for the deputy leadership.

Hanzala Malik, a Labour MSP in Glasgow, has backed Alex Rowley, MSP in Fife, for the deputy leadership, and Malik told the National that Matheson would be better off remaining as a councillor.

Malik said: “If he was seriously interested in coming to the Scottish Parliament he should have shown that interest [in standing in a constituency] and he clearly hasn’t.

“Perhaps he hasn’t thought it out as clearly as many of us think he should have. I am an old friend and at least he should have the courtesy of speaking to me about it and weighed his options and discussed it.

“I think he is a fine leader and should stay in the council where he is doing good work.” (Click here to read more).

Labour are expected to struggle to take any constituency seats in the 2016 elections with the SNP currently polling at 60 per cent. A battle is therefore taking place for top of the list on the regional seat.

The 2017 council elections is also likely to be a momentous challenge for Glasgow Labour. The party has controlled the local council for over half a century, but is expected to lose it to the nationalists in two years’ time.

The party held on to the council in 2012 despite a tumultuous period culminating in the resignation of council leader Steven Purcell in 2010, who Matheson took over from.

Labour lost all its MPs in Glasgow in the General Election, retaining just one MP in the whole of Scotland as the SNP won 56 out of 59 seats.

Picture courtesy of Number 10