Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds has urged Labour to deal with its suspended Aberdeen councillors and admits to being “very frustrated” by the impasse.
Ms Dodds, who is originally from Aberdeen, said she wants the dispute sorted out “as quickly as possible” when she made a trip north of the border.
“The situation is one I’m aware of. I’m frustrated by it. It does need to be dealt with. I have urged the party to deal with it,” the Shadow Chancellor said.
Aberdeen’s nine Labour councillors were suspended by then-Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale for forming a power-sharing pact with the local Tories in the aftermath of the 2017 local elections.
Since then the group, which dubbed itself Aberdeen Labour, has been sitting on the council while waiting for a decision on their future in the party from Labour’s ruling executive.
Are we in a difficult position in Scotland? Well, of course we are. Do I want us to have better representation? Absolutely.”
The dispute has proved long and fractious with Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard facing calls to back or sack the councillors.
Ms Dodds said the new Labour General Secretary, David Evans, was aware of the situation. She hoped the situation would be resolved “as quickly as possible” but said it would be wrong for politicians to interfere with the party’s dispute resolution procedures.
On a visit to Edinburgh, the Shadow Chancellor was also quizzed about Mr Leonard’s leadership of Scottish Labour, amid growing discontent over the party’s performance in Scotland.
Ms Dodds said Mr Leonard’s leadership was a matter for Scottish Labour and admitted the party was in a “difficult position” north of the border.
Her visit came after a YouGov poll this month suggested Mr Leonard had a popularity rating of minus 27, with 53% of Scottish voters not having an opinion of him after three years in charge of Scottish Labour.
Asked if she had confidence in Mr Leonard going into next year’s Scottish election, Ms Dodds said: “Of course. Richard Leonard was elected three years ago by a significant majority of Labour Party members in Scotland. I have worked a lot with him since then. I was a shadow treasury minister before I became shadow chancellor and I have done a number of events with him over the years and I think he has been working effectively with us.
“I think it is completely inappropriate for a Westminster-based politician to be dictating to Scottish Labour how they should run any of their affairs. Quite rightly, it was Scottish Labour members who decided their leader and I’m certainly not going to be, at any point, saying that decision incidentally should be taken by Westminster. I think that would be completely inappropriate.”
The Oxford East MP said UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was “determined” to rebuild Labour support in Scotland.
“Are we in a difficult position in Scotland? Well, of course we are. Do I want us to have better representation? Absolutely,” Ms Dodds said.
“We need to make sure we are putting those issues of importance to Scotland on the agenda. That is certainly something I have been very, very concerned to do, particularly from the beginning of my tenure as shadow chancellor.”