The new Glasgow Labour leader has insisted a family medical emergency in Seville forced him to miss his flight home from Rangers Europa League final defeat.
George Redmond joined the first council meeting of the new term remotely, meaning he wasn’t in the city chambers despite being put forward for council leader – a vote he lost to SNP Cllr Susan Aitken by 46 votes to 35.
After the meeting the SNP said Cllr Redmond, who was only elected as Labour group leader on Monday, had shown “his responsibilities to his constituents, to his group and to the city are ditched the instant he has a better offer”.
Cllr Redmond was in Seville for the Europa League final, which Rangers lost on penalties to Eintracht Frankfurt.
He said he missed his connection due to a family medical emergency in the stadium, understood to have been caused by the extreme heat during the match.
He said: “Nobody is more disappointed than me that I had to miss this first meeting. The life of someone in public service often means you don’t put your family first, I had no choice. I’ve got a responsibility in a situation like that.”
It is understood the Labour group was told yesterday that the leader had a “prior engagement” but he was expected to attend the full council meeting in person today.
Cllr Redmond did manage to dial in to the meeting to vote, but councillors reported hearing noise from the airport in the background of his call.
An SNP source said: “There had been lots of rumour since Tuesday that Cllr Redmond wouldn’t be at the meeting today. He’s a huge Rangers fan and no one was surprised to hear him dialling into the meeting from what sounded to everyone like an airport.
“There were unmistakable tannoy announcements in the background. You’d think three days after he utterly ruptures his group and the day he makes his bid to become council leader he’d prioritise showing up. Clearly George has other priorities. Which won’t surprise anyone.”
The Calton representative, who has returned to the city chambers after five years out, was elected as Labour group leader on Monday after challenging Cllr Malcolm Cunning.
Glasgow Labour’s business manager Frank McAveety said Cllr Redmond had “a duty of care” as a family member needed treatment, and added: “Anyone who tries to attack him should be ashamed of themselves.”
An SNP spokesman said: “George Redmond today publicly announced his intention to be leader of this great city yet can’t even be bothered to turn up to the actual meeting where the voting takes place.
“Just three days after he split Glasgow Labour in two in his quest to become leader, he’s clearly got other priorities. Cllr Redmond’s decision to be somewhere rather than this crucial meeting shows his responsibilities to his constituents, to his group and to the city of Glasgow are ditched the instant he has a better offer.”