When friends fall out …
All pals together, but it’s now turned into a stairheid row between Jean Anne Mitchell and Alan and Hazel Sorrel. That’s Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, back left.
By Bill Heaney
The Labour Party in West Dunbartonshire is falling apart following its most recent bloody nose at the General Election on Thursday.
And there is some fierce faction fighting going on between members of the Dumbarton and Clydebank branches, who have never been really comfortable in each other’s company.
This antipathy goes back to the merging of the two branches and a row about thousands of pounds in the David Kirkwood Fund which Clydebank, instead of allowing it to go into the merged bank account, wanted to retain it for their use only.
The latest episode involves centre right Jean Anne Mitchell, who failed to poll enough votes to retrieve the seat from the SNP’s Martin Docherty Hughes.
To Labour’s great dismay, he pulled in a stunning 30,000 votes against Gemma Doyle in 2015.
And took the seat again by a margin of around 10,000 votes, while laughing all the way to the House of Commons.
The post-election row, which has had significant attention on social media, involves Jean Anne Mitchell and Alan Sorrell, who ironically was pictured with his wife Hazel, in a pre-election publicity shot for Labour taken with Jean Anne Mitchell on the doorstep of their home in Balloch.
Alan and Hazel Sorrell are on the left of the Labour Party and would be widely perceived by the electorate as supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, on whose shore the main responsibility for Labour’s disastrous defeat has washed up like a tsunami.
Ms Mitchell wrote on Facebook: “It has come to my attention that @Alan Sorrell has said on his Facebook page that ‘Our candidate was desperate to be elected, which is good.
“But she began to ignore the advice given by her Agent [Duncan Robinson] and rebuffed the counsel offered by a long serving Labour MSP [Jackie Baillie].
“Our candidate not only failed to listen to those who had the Party’s best interest at heart. She then began to make some critical mistakes… It’s all downhill from then on in!”
Jean Anne added: “I’ve shortened this however have screenshot of the entire post. I am shocked at this.
“I have no idea what he is referring to. What advice and what counsel was ever offered?
“However, I will be speaking with my solicitor on Monday a.m. I don’t know about you, but surely this level of false news is completely unacceptable?
“Opinion dangerously positioned as fact.”
Sympathy from colleagues began to pour in, but predictably, in the dirty game that is politics, Paul Kelly posted faux commiserations before inviting Ms Mitchell to join the SNP.
He wrote: “Jean Anne, that’s awful and in fighting amongst your party clearly going on. You were brave enough to stand for your party and should have enjoyed the support from those around you.”
Karin Finnegan said she was “shocked” – “At least you had a great team around you. People always looking to blame others. “
And Arthur Gent said: “It’s politics Jean Anne. Dirty game and very little truth involved. And close to no honesty.”
Jean Anne replied: “Sadly, I ran an anti- austerity campaign and really tried to make a difference! Was that really so bad?”
Paul Kelly told her: “Not at all Jean Anne. In fact, and of course, commendable. Wish you would come over to SNP.”
Lauren Hair said: “I have just went (sic) and read the full post and utterly disgusted. You have went (sic) above and beyond and done a job that many couldn’t even dream of being able to do. The endless hours that you and your team put in was absolutely outstanding.”
Karin Finnegan added: “Just think how [much] less stress she could have had with support from the Labour hierarchy, but I guess that your face has to fit with the old guard. Such a shame I think the in fighting has ruined Labour. That’s what they need to fix.”
Sheena Maclachlan said: “Jean Anne, this was my first time at the count and was privileged to be part of your team.
“However I was totally shocked at the lack of support you received from senior members of the Labour party. I was disgusted at their treatment of you. You had worked so hard out every day for months/years. I hope you get good advice from your lawyers”
Alan Sorrel has now apologised unreservedly to Jean Anne Mitchell for the comments he made on social media “A post I made commenting on the election campaign caused some offence and hurt. I apologise unreservedly to anyone who found my comments hurtful or unacceptable and I have removed the post.”