Labour’s debt crisis sparks turmoil in South Lanarkshire

The Labour-led administration in South Lanarkshire is facing a backlash from its own councillors and opposition parties over its handling of the council’s finances. A local MSP has blamed Labour’s debts for the current problems in the region, while a leaked letter has revealed a “poisonous” atmosphere within the Labour group.

Labour accused of mismanaging council budget

The SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, Christina McKelvie, has accused Labour of mismanaging the council’s budget and leaving a legacy of debt. She said that Labour had borrowed £1.2 billion over the past 10 years, which amounted to £4,000 per person in South Lanarkshire.

She claimed that Labour’s borrowing had resulted in high interest payments, reduced spending on services, and increased council tax. She also criticised Labour for failing to invest in infrastructure, education, and social care.

She said: “Labour have been in charge of South Lanarkshire Council for 24 years and have left behind a legacy of debt and underinvestment. They have borrowed more than a billion pounds, which is costing taxpayers millions in interest every year. They have cut vital services, increased council tax, and neglected our schools, roads, and care homes. Labour have let down the people of South Lanarkshire and have shown they are not fit to govern.”

Labour group divided over leadership and culture

Meanwhile, a leaked letter from a Labour councillor has exposed a rift within the Labour group over the leadership and culture of the party in South Lanarkshire. The letter, written by East Kilbride South councillor Mathew Buchanan, was addressed to Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and complained about the “secrecy, fear and intimidation” within the local group.

Local MSP blames Labour debts

Buchanan wrote that the group was “kept in the dark” about many big decisions, instructed on how to vote on motions without seeing the wording, and punished for disagreeing with the group leader, Joe Fagan. He said that he had considered quitting his role over the “poisonous” atmosphere and warned that Labour would lose activists and candidates if the situation did not improve.

He wrote: “If we are to recruit and retain the best activists and candidates, then we cannot bring them into a situation where our local government groups are ran by secrecy, fear and intimidation. I nearly chucked it myself a couple of times. There will be disagreements and clashes of personality in all walks of life, but what is happening in [South Lanarkshire Council] is poisonous. I don’t expect any action to be taken. I simply want it on record that there is a problem with Labour in South Lanarkshire.”

Labour leader suspended over leak scandal

The letter also referred to the suspension of Fagan from his position as council leader in June, after he was found to have leaked confidential material to the media. Fagan was accused of breaching the council’s code of conduct by sharing a report on the council’s finances with a journalist, without the consent of the other councillors or the chief executive.

Fagan admitted to the leak and apologised, but said he did it to expose the “dire” state of the council’s budget and the need for more funding from the Scottish Government. He was suspended for two months by the Standards Commission for Scotland, which ruled that he had acted dishonestly and undermined public confidence in the council.

Fagan said: “I accept the decision of the Standards Commission and I apologise unreservedly for my actions. I take full responsibility for what I did and I recognise that it was wrong. I did it because I was deeply concerned about the impact of the council’s financial situation on the services and communities that we serve. I wanted to highlight the need for more support from the Scottish Government and to start a public debate on the future of local government in Scotland.”

Labour faces challenge from SNP in by-election

The turmoil in Labour comes at a critical time, as the party faces a challenge from the SNP in the upcoming by-election for Rutherglen and Hamilton West. The seat was vacated by former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier, who was expelled from the party after breaking Covid-19 rules by travelling between London and Scotland while infected.

The by-election, which will take place on October 14, will test the extent of Labour’s resurgence in Scotland under Sarwar, who became the party leader in February. Labour has selected Michael Shanks, a local councillor and trade unionist, as its candidate, while the SNP has chosen Katy Loudon, a teacher and activist.

Loudon said that she would campaign on the issues that matter to the people of Rutherglen and Hamilton West, such as health, education, jobs, and the environment. She also said that she would offer a positive vision for Scotland’s future, in contrast to Labour’s negativity and division.

She said: “I am honoured and delighted to be selected as the SNP candidate for Rutherglen and Hamilton West. This is my home and I am passionate about making it a better place for everyone who lives here. I will be a strong voice for our communities in Westminster, standing up for our interests and values. I will also be a champion for Scotland’s right to choose its own future, free from the chaos and corruption of Boris Johnson’s Tory government. Labour have nothing positive to offer voters – and that has been made clear by their refusal to commit to scrapping the two-child cap and rape clause, their alliance with the Tories and Lib Dems in South Lanarkshire, and their internal strife and scandals. The only way to secure a fairer, greener, and more prosperous future for Scotland is to vote SNP on October 14.”

By Axel Piper

Axel Piper is a renowned news writer based in Scotland, known for his insightful coverage of all the trending news stories. With his finger on the pulse of Scotland's ever-changing landscape, Axel brings the latest updates and breaking news to readers across the nation. His extensive knowledge of current affairs, combined with his impeccable research skills, allows him to provide accurate and comprehensive reporting on a wide range of topics. From politics to entertainment, sports to technology, Axel's articles are engaging and informative, keeping readers informed and up to date.

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