A VETERAN Labour Party member has crossed the divide to join the SNP.
After 20 years as a member of the party, Irfan Rabbani, who has represented the Glasgow Pollokshields ward as a city councillor since 2007, made the switch after being de-selected by the party in a major shake-up last year.
The 49-year-old claimed Labour’s negative stance in the debate about Scotland’s future was the reason behind the switch.
He said: “I am simply not prepared to be part of a group that seems intent on talking Scotland down rather than making a positive case for what they believe in.
“For some time now I have been coming to the conclusion that Scotland will be better off as an independent country — deciding for ourselves what is best for our country, our families and our communities.
“Labour has been in power for too long in Glasgow and have become complacent.
“There is too little transparency in the way Labour is run and that can also be true of the administration in Glasgow”.
The arrival of the councillor, who will not be standing in May’s elections, prompted praise from big names in the SNP.
Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaff told The Extra: “I’ve always had an enormous amount of respect for councillor Rabbani. He is well liked for his hard work within Polloksheilds and for the city of Glasgow.
“He will be a huge asset for the SNP in both the local elections and referendum campaign.
“Labour has ruled the city of Glasgow like a fiefdom for decades and continually treated the citizens of Glasgow as an afterthought”.
Cathcart MSP James Dornan added: “I welcome Irfan to the SNP group in Glasgow. I look forward to working with him over the months and years for a better Glasgow and an independent Scotland”.
However, according to a Scottish Labour spokesman, the party are not mourning the loss of the councillor.
He said: “Mr Rabbani was de-selected by the Labour party on the basis that he was not good enough as a councillor.
“This is not a job for life and we are raising the bar significantly to put forward a new team of first-rate candidates.
“Only a few months ago the SNP were vigorously attacking him for his excessive mobile phone bills. If the SNP are reduced to fielding people rejected as not being good enough for Labour, that shows how desperate they are.
“This causes more of a headache for the SNP: Labour already deselected him but now Nicola Sturgeon’s party machine has to parachute him in, even though it has already chosen all its candidates”.