01 March 2007

West Dunbartonshire: a land of impeccable timing

In that the local Labour group on the Council, which has been riven with difficulties, appears to have finally pressed the self-destruct button. The Herald reports that four of their number have sided with the opposition to attack the new Leader, Martin Rooney, to keep the group's former Deputy Leader, Jim Flynn, in place as Housing Convener, and elect a number of opposition members to key positions.

The next move will take place within the next couple of weeks, as the SNP Group have called for a full Council meeting, and it's likely that a motion of no-confidence against Rooney will be tabled. According to the Herald, Rooney can only count on the support of six Councillors. There are sixteen in the Labour group: four have voted against him and the rest stayed away from the meeting.

But the rebels have another target in their sights: step forward one Jackie Baillie, the MSP for Dumbarton who criticised the former Leader and the way the Council was run. The Labour rebels want revenge and their aim is to force her resignation. They won't get it, and it'll have zero effect on her bid for re-election: it'll take a swing to the SNP of just under 12% to oust her (not likely), and even if an independent candidate emerges, a 50:50 split of her votes would see either her or the challenger elected.

Even if the Labour turmoil affects the Scottish Parliament poll, Baillie was an innocent party: she spoke out against the former administration following a damning report from the Accounts Commission and allegations that key spending decisions had been made in secret by a small group of Councillors, so any attacks on her can be viewed as an attempt to 'shoot the messenger', and she'll come out of the row in a fairly positive light, I suppose.

The Council poll, however, will be interesting to watch. Particularly as polling day is just nine weeks away.

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