Kezia Dugdale: My generation must step up for Labour

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Just seven months ago, I ruled myself out of the Labour leadership in this very newspaper. A sidekick rather than a superhero was how I described myself. At the time I meant it. I was happy for others to step up while I played a supporting role. But I think it’s fair to say a lot has changed for Scottish Labour since October.

Namely, we got hammered at the election earlier this month and it’s turned politics upside down in this country.

Well, I am still no superhero but I know it’s time for things to change. I feel sure it’s time for my generation – and for me – to step up and take responsibility for changing our party.

So – in true politician’s style – I have performed my first U-turn and put myself forward to replace Jim Murphy as our party leader.

People might ask why anyone would want to take up the reins of Scottish Labour right now. I know we have a mountain to climb but it’s a challenge I am now ready for.

Encouraged by the support of my Labour colleagues, my friends and my family, I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get on with changing our party.

I recognise this is a rare opportunity to change the way my we operate and how we speak to people. I want to bring forward a revitalised Scottish Labour Party with fresh faces and new talents.

Labour will have been out of government in Holyrood for almost a decade by next year’s election and could be there for a while longer but that does not mean we cannot contribute to improving the lives of people all across our nation.

By holding the government to account, helping them where we agree and offering an alternative when they get it wrong, Labour 
values still have a big part to play in Scottish politics as we rebuild. If I am successful in becoming Scottish Labour leader, I know it is not going to be an easy task and there is no magic wand or policy that is going to turn us around quickly. It’s a rebuilding job that will take more than just a year or two.

I am clear that this is a long-term project but the challenge of refreshing and renewing our party and once again making Labour values relevant to modern-day Scotland is one I believe is worth taking on.

At the age of 33, perhaps I am crazy to be taking on this mammoth job against all the odds. But I know that I would regret it if I didn’t step up when I was so confident it was my time. Despite our difficulties, I know that Labour has plenty of talent and ideas waiting to get their chance. I want to to help bring through that talent and those ideas.

We know Scottish Labour has to change. I believe I can be that change.