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The County You Live, Work And Play

Labour Heart Under Attack In North Lanarkshire


02/03/15


Labour quickly became the party of the industrial working classes and the factories, mines and steelworks and over the years have provided a stream of politicians and activists.

In the modern era politicians like Helen Liddell, John Reid, and First Minister Jack McConnell have all come from North Lanarkshire constituencies.

Nowhere has Labour had its roots firmly planted, than in, Lanarkshire.


The Labour party's founder Keir Hardie was born near Motherwell.


At the last Holyrood election when the SNP were sweeping up seats in Labour territory the dyed red areas of Motherwell, Coatbridge and Bellshill stood firm. Only Alex Neil dented Labour pride taking Airdrie and Shotts.

In the four North Lanarkshire seats Labour has won consistently and won big at General Elections with around 60% of the vote normal. But now, the old guard has gone, Mr Reid and Ms Liddell no longer represent the area, Rosemary McKenna in Cumbernauld stood down five years ago but veteran Tom Clarke remains MP in one of the safest Labour seats in the UK.

He faces a challenge from Phil Boswell of the SNP who were 20,000 votes behind in Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill in 2010.


In Airdrie and Shotts, Pamela Nash was the youngest UK MP in 2010 with a 12,000 majority over the SNP who have Neil Gray standing this time.

In Motherwell and Wishaw former Ravenscraig steelworker Frank Roy has been MP since 1997 looks to hold off the challenge from Marion Fellows of the SNP looking to make up the 12,000 vote deficit.

Greg McClymont in Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East has an equally large 13,000 plus majority. Mr McClymont is a rising star in the Labour party with a shadow government position on pensions. He is challenged by Stuart McDonald of the SNP.


In the referendum North Lanarkshire was one of just four council areas to vote yes, leaving Labour with some serious soul searching to find out if it still holds the same values as its traditional supporters.

If the party's No campaign alliance with the conservatives is going to be taken as a betrayal then it is in the very heart and birthplace of the Labour movement where it will hurt most.


The referendum is not the only issue Labour has to contend with.


One party domination, the status quo for decades, North Lanarkshire Labour has often resorted to fighting among itself.

As the party goes into the General Election the division rearing their head again with old rivalries from the days of Monklands District Council flaring up.

With so many councillors working for MPs and each election campaign dependent being able to count on the support of the entire party machine, in-fighting is a gift to opponents.


The SNP doesn't have its troubles to seek in North Lanarkshire either

The selection process for this May's election led to two councillors resigning from the party amid allegations of intimidation and a climate of fear.


North Lanarkshire Councillors Alan Beveridge and John Taggart left a stinging criticism of the party hierarchy when they quit the party last month.

Mr Taggart accused party HQ of drawing a "dark veil of secrecy" over the process of selection after he failed to win the nomination.

Mr Beveridge said he was alarmed by the "climate of fear, intimidation false allegations" which operate in the local party.

Labour, despite tearing itself apart in recent decades still managed to control Lanarkshire at council Holyrood and Westminster levels.