Page last updated at 08:37 GMT, Saturday, 5 July 2008 09:37 UK

Labour man quits by-election race

george ryan
George Ryan did not turn up for the selection meeting

Labour has delayed selection of a candidate for the Glasgow East by-election after the leading contender failed to turn up for a party meeting.

Shettleston Councillor George Ryan has now officially withdrawn from the contest after missing the selection meeting on Friday for "family reasons".

The party will hold a meeting to choose a candidate on Monday.

The by-election on 24 July was triggered when Labour MP David Marshall stood down earlier in the week.

By-election results

It was one of the safest Labour seats in Scotland at the last election, with a majority of more than 13,500 over the SNP.

The constituency also had the highest Labour vote share in the city at the General Election.

However, the party faces a tough fight after disastrous by-election results at Crewe and Nantwich and Henley, as well as the resignation of Wendy Alexander from the leadership of the Scottish Labour party.

Mr Marshall, 67, is stepping down after almost 30 years in the House of Commons.

Mr Ryan said he was removing his name from the shortlist of potential candidates "with regret".

He said: "In the last 24 hours, I have come to recognise the pressures that this campaign would put on my family life, and I have taken the decision to put my family first."

Labour must choose a candidate before Wednesday's deadline for nominations.

It is thought Labour MSP Margaret Curran, who has been tipped as a possible Scottish party leader, could put herself forward.

The combination of these extraordinary factors means that Labour have forfeited any right to represent the people of Glasgow East
Alex Salmond
SNP leader

Scottish National Party leader and Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said Labour was in "complete meltdown".

He said: "This is their 'lost weekend' - they don't have a leader in Scotland, they don't have a candidate in Glasgow East, and they have a prime minister who refuses to come to the constituency.

"The combination of these extraordinary factors means that Labour have forfeited any right to represent the people of Glasgow East."

Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie said: "Labour is rudderless at Westminster, leaderless at Holyrood and treating the people of Glasgow with contempt.

"Labour's selection process has been a sham with one candidate walking away, two others ignored, a fourth, Stephen Purcell, apparently turning it down.

"And now rumours that Margaret Curran has been press-ganged into standing as Labour's reluctant and accidental candidate. You couldn't make it up."

Liberal Democrat campaign chairman Robert Brown said: "This shows that the Labour Party has entirely lost its way.

"Nobody knows what they stand for any more and therefore it is no surprise that they are finding it difficult to find a candidate."

Selection process

Scotland Office Minister David Cairns MP said: "We've seen in the past few weeks in Scotland that politics can take its toll on family life.

"It is for this reason that Councillor Ryan has decided to withdraw his name from our selection process, and we all understand and respect his decision."

Glasgow councillor John Mason has been chosen to represent the SNP.

Maths teacher Ian Robertson will represent the Lib Dems.

The Conservative candidate is Davena Rankin and the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) has chosen former MSP, Frances Curran.

Solidarity announced that firebrand politician Tommy Sheridan would not be standing.

There was speculation that the former MSP would be selected to fight the Westminster seat for the left-wing party which he founded.

But the party announced local woman Tricia McLeish had been selected unopposed.


SEE ALSO
In full: Glasgow East candidates
04 Jul 08 |  UK Politics
Campaigning starts in by-election
04 Jul 08 |  Scotland politics
New by-election after MP resigns
28 Jun 08 |  UK Politics
Alexander quits as Labour leader
28 Jun 08 |  Scotland
Labour fifth as Tories win Henley
27 Jun 08 |  UK Politics

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