Labour selection row: Falkirk constituency party still looking for answers

Gray Allan, the new chairman of Falkirk Constituency Labour Party
Gray Allan, the new chairman of Falkirk Constituency Labour Party

The new chairman of beleaguered Falkirk Constituency Labour Party believes he is up to the difficult task in hand.

Librarian Gray Allan has been a party activist for over three decades and admits he has been here before as far as troubled times are concerned.

However, it is unlikely that he has seen such a level of media attention as there has been since early 2012. The punch swung by sitting Labour MP Eric Joyce may have floored a Tory in the Palace of Westminster but it also triggered a series of events that have left many grassroot party members wondering what is going on.

Mr Joyce announced he was quitting Labour on March 12 that year, days after admitting four charges of assault.

The process of selecting a new candidate should have been straightforward but events of the last six months reveal it has been anything but.

In a bid to increase the number of women MPs, party officials decided it had to be a female-only list.

However, that was quickly followed by allegations of a union signing up new CLP members, leading to an investigation into one potential candidate and a union official, who was also the CLP chairman and an Ineos employee.

What followed almost brought the petrochemical plant in Grangemouth to its knees as the company carried out its own inquiry.

Sunday’s annual general meeting of the CLP in Camelon Labour Club was seen by many as a chance for a fresh start.

Stephen Deans stood down from the chairman’s role and Mr Allan was elected.

Yesterday (Wednesday), he said: “On December 8, in Falkirk we will select a candidate to fight this seat for the next general election. The priority for us is to work to regain the trust of the people of Falkirk so that we can be confident of a victory in this constituency.”

Although he welcomed the news the Scottish and UK general secretaries are prepared to come and speak to local members, he said it was a priority that the report of the investigation be made public.

He added: “Understanding is everything and we need to know the facts.”