McMahon stays coy on leadership issue


Uddingston and Bellshill MSP Michael McMahon says he hasn’t considered launching a Scottish Labour leadership bid, but refused to rule anything out.

Following the SNP’s victory in last week’s Scottish Election that saw Labour lose a total of seven MSPs and suffer defeat in 20 constituencies, current leader Iain Gray has announced he will step down in the autumn.

Mr McMahon held off the fierce challenge of Bellshill SNP councillor Richard Lyle to be returned to Holyrood for the fourth time.

The former steel worker maintains strong links with the GMB union and has been heavily involved in the running of the Labour party at the Parliament for a number of years.

In 2002 Mr McMahon became a ministerial parliamentary aide to then First Minister Jack McConnell and replaced current leadership favourite Jackie Baillie as chief whip in 2007.

At the same time he became Labour’s deputy business manager at Holyrood and took over the position a year later before joining the shadow cabinet in 2009 as spokesman for local government.

Mr McMahon has been given odds of 16/1 at bookmakers Ladbrokes to replace Mr Gray, but says at the moment he is concentrating on discovering why his majority was cut from 4,865 to 714.

He said: “I haven’t given any thought to putting myself forward for the leadership because at the moment the vacancy doesn’t exist.

“We are now in a new Parliament so who knows what the future might bring and since becoming an MSP I have taken on a number of jobs I would never have thought I had the ability to do so I’d never rule anything out.

“Right now though my 100 per cent concentration will be finding out why people decided to vote for the SNP.

“There are a number of factors why my majority was cut - a lower turnout, Mr Lyle’s strong local support, the collapse of the Liberal Democrat vote and no independent candidates in Uddingston and Bellshill - but, going forward we have to make people feel Labour are still best placed to look after their needs.”

There was better news for Mr McMahon as he became a part of history with his daughter Siobhan also being elected to the Scottish Parliament on the Central Scotland regional list.

This is the first time a father and daughter have been elected to serve at Holyrood and only the second time a parent and child had been elected together following Winnie and Fergus Ewing.

The Ewing ‘dynasty’ is well known in Scottish politics and Mr McMahon joked he might be starting one of his own.

He said: “It’s great that Siobhan has been elected to Parliament, it’s just a little unfortunate that it is not in the circumstances that either of us wanted.

“We had hoped that she would be elected on the regional list without the need for the Labour party to lose seats and worked hard during the election campaign to make that happen.

“However, together we have to fight to help the Labour party regain it’s standing and following in the footsteps of the Ewings maybe this is the start of the McMahon dynasty.”

Miss McMahon worked in the Labour policy unit prior to the election and while looking forward to moving into the chamber admitted she has mixed feelings.

She said: “I had hoped to be elected just from the support on the regional list and it’s hard to be truly happy that it has come as a result of so many good friends losing their seats.

“This is the first time we’ve had list MSPs in this area and we’ve still to discuss how we will work but this is a chance for us to represent the people in a different way.

“I’m very proud that I’ll be working alongside my dad who I’m sure I’ll learn a lot from.”

Election round-up on pages six and seven