LOTHIAN MSP Kezia Dugdale has been given the backing of almost three-quarters of Scottish Labour’s parliamentarians for her bid to become party leader.
As nominations officially opened for a replacement for Jim Murphy, Ms Dugdale’s campaign team said she now had the support of 27 of the 38 MSPs, as well as the party’s sole MP and its two MEPs.
Her backers include fellow Lothian MSPs Sarah Boyack and Neil Findlay, Edinburgh Northern & Leith MSP Malcolm Chisholm, former leaders Iain Gray and Johann Lamont and frontbencher Jackie Baillie.
Nominations for the leader and deputy leader posts close on Friday.
And the first hustings meeting, when the contenders set out their case and answer questions from party members, will take place in Edinburgh on Monday.
Eastwood Labour MSP Ken Macintosh is expected to be the only other candidate for the leadership. He said at the weekend he believed Ms Dugdale was “not experienced enough” for the post.
Ms Dugdale said: “It’s an honour to have secured the support of 30 of Scottish Labour’s 41 parliamentarians on the day nominations open.
“We know politics in Scotland has changed fundamentally and the Scottish Labour Party have only one chance to get it right.
“But this leadership election isn’t just about transforming Scottish Labour, it is about stepping up and regaining the trust of the people of Scotland.
“My campaign will be reaching out to people whose support Labour has lost, and those who have never voted for us before – because our values are as relevant today as they have ever been.
“Scottish Labour has been the insurgent force before, pushing back against the political establishment and winning great victories and profound social change. To win, we must adapt to new challenges and opportunities, and new barriers to progress.”
As well as party members, Labour supporters can vote in the leadership contest if they pay £3 to register.
The one-person-one-vote ballot will open on July 21 with the result announced on August 15.
The UK labour leadership contest will be a four-cornered fight after left-winger Jeremy Corbyn managed to get enough nominations to get on the ballot paper.
Lists released by Labour showed that Andy Burnham received 68 nominations from MPs, Yvette Cooper 59, Liz Kendall 41 and Mr Corbyn 36.