Conference set to transfer Labour control

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DELEGATES at Labour’s UK conference will tomorrow vote to hand the Scottish party the responsibility for running its own affairs.

One of the first items on the agenda in Liverpool will be allowing Labour in Scotland to decide its own rules for choosing a replacement for departing leader Iain Gray, who addresses the conference on Monday.

An internal review has already recommended the job should in future be the leadership of the whole party in Scotland, not just the MSP group. And it said MPs and MEPs should be allowed to stand for the post as well as MSPs. A special conference of the Scottish Labour Party is scheduled for October 29 to approve the changes and launch the leadership contest.

The three declared candidates – deputy leader Johann Lamont, education spokesman Ken Macintosh and MP Tom Harris – are expected to use the conference to drum up support.

Candidates have also been announcing their interest in the deputy leader post, with MSPs Lewis Macdonald and Elaine Murray and MP Anas Sarwar the names known so far. Some Labour insiders have suggested the party should have two deputies – one at Holyrood and one at Westminster, but no decision has yet been made.