Support for Kezia Dugdale as Labour leader grows

Scottish Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale. Picture: John Devlin
Scottish Labour deputy leader Kezia Dugdale. Picture: John Devlin
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LOTHIAN MSP and deputy Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale is expected to announce if she will stand for the party leadership by the end of the week.

And former leader Iain Gray today added his voice to those backing her for the job.

Ken Macintosh, a veteran MSP and the party’s social justice spokesman, has already expressed an interest in standing for the leadership.

Labour MSPs yesterday held their first group meeting at Holyrood since Jim Murphy announced his intention to resign as leader next month.

Afterwards, Ms Dugdale said: “I am going to make a decision in the next couple of days.”

Asked if she would make an announcement by the end of the week, she said: “That’s the plan.”

Mr Macintosh said the process for the leadership election had not yet been agreed. But he added: “I have certainly indicated to some of my colleagues already that I am interested in putting my name forward.”

Senior Labour sources said there was no sign of other candidates coming forward. Ms Dugdale is seen as the favourite if she does decide to throw her hat in the ring.

New rules are expected to be brought in for the contest, making it one member one vote rather than the current electoral college system which gives three groups – members, parliamentarians and trade unionists – a third of the votes each.

Mr Macintosh, 53, stood unsuccessfully for the leadership against Johann Lamont in 2011.

His supporters at the time included Ms Dugdale. He is seen as a close ally of Mr Murphy and the pair shared a constituency office until Mr Murphy’s defeat at the election.

Mr Gray, MSP for East Lothian, who led Scottish Labour from 2008 until 2011, said: “In my view the time has come for Labour to move on a political generation and I think Kez is the person to do that.

“She would bring a different look. I hope she does run and if she does, I will support her.”

Ms Dugdale, 33, is already being backed by several prominent figures, including Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray and former Lothian MSP Lord Foulkes.

But in an interview with the Evening News last year, following Johann Lamont’s resignation as leader, Ms Dugdale said at that time she did not want to become leader, despite plenty of friends and colleagues urging her to go for it. She went further and claimed she planned to limit herself to three terms as an MSP and quit in her early 40s.

Mr Murphy announced his resignation on Saturday after just five months at the helm.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com

Ian Swanson – Page 16