Let’s end schoolboy squabbles in council

New Labour leader Jim Logue, right, with his depute, Paul Kelly.
New Labour leader Jim Logue, right, with his depute, Paul Kelly.

North Lanarkshire Council’s new Labour leader wants colleagues to cut out the “schoolyard” squabbling and help restore the area’s image.

Jim Logue admits he “cringes” as the insults fly in the council chamber and says he wants standards to improve.

Councillor Logue is due to be installed as council leader at a special meeting this week. He took over from long-serving Jim McCabe as head of the authority’s ruling Labour group last month.

Having served as a councillor for 39 years, he has just 14 months in charge before next year’s council elections.

The SNP’s advances recently suggest they will take over the running of the council then, but Councillor Logue (64) rejected the idea Labour are living on borrowed time.

He said: “If you focus on the negative then you could say I have been handed a poisoned chalice. I see it as an opportunity and if a week is a long time in politics what would would you call 14 months?”

Councillor Logue wants to see less of the cheap political shots that often characterise debate. He admitted: “There’s been a tendency to indulge in personal, political smearing.

“It’s schoolyard stuff. Sometimes I sit and cringe at the personal attacks that come from all sides.”

The leader-elect was embarrassed by the recent committee vote - since overturned - to fly the Irish flag over council buildings to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising in Dublin.

SNP members pushed the initial vote through and Councillor Logue said: “It was wrong and I think there was an element of political mischief. Is that all councillors have to do - argue about a flag?

“I know council staff whose confidence is undermined by friends and relatives who say things like ‘What a bunch you are in North Lanarkshire’.

“Too much time and energy is spent on creating artificial differences between the parties and I’ve already had discussions with David Stocks, leader of the council’s SNP group, about how we can create more of a consensus.

“We represent the same ward in Airdrie and we have always had a good working relationship.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Logue’s depute, Motherwell West councillor Paul Kelly, is relishing the chance to move from the Labour backbench on to the frontline.

He said: “The council has an excellent record in providing services despite constant Government cuts. But I think people will now notice a change - a refreshing - and that we are more radical in terms of consensus politics.”