No place for Kezia Dugdale in Labour’s new shadow cabinet

Scottish Labour Party leader Richard Leonard unveiled his Shadow Cabinet. Picture: SWNS
Scottish Labour Party leader Richard Leonard unveiled his Shadow Cabinet. Picture: SWNS
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FORMER Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has been left out of her successor’s shadow cabinet.

The Lothian MSP, who was given a written warning over her absence from parliament to take part in I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, did not feature in the team unveiled by new leader Richard Leonard.

There was no place either for former deputy leader Alex Rowley, seen as an ally of Mr Leonard’s but who has been the subject of sexual harassment allegations.

Mr Leonard said he had spoken to both Ms Dugdale and Mr Rowley and neither of them wanted to have frontline role at the moment.

He said: “I’m delighted with the people who have agreed to serve in this shadow cabinet. 
I think it’s a strong team which brings together a blend of experience, skills and new energy.

“I think it will be a great team to advocate a strong Scottish Labour message.”

Lothian MSP Neil Findlay is given the new post of shadow secretary for Brexit, campaigning and party engagement. He and Mr Leonard both voted against the party line and in favour of triggering Article 50 earlier this year. Mr Findlay said: “Brexit is a big challenge for the country and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.”

He said the role would also involve working with the trade unions and also out talking to communities.

Edinburgh Southern MSP Daniel Johnson is promoted from shadow education minister to take over the justice portfolio.

East Lothian MSP Iain Gray remains shadow education secretary. Anas Sarwar, who fought Mr Leonard for the leadership, stays at health, while Jackie Baillie continues at economy. New shadow finance secretary is former business manager James Kelly.

South of Scotland MSP Claudia Beamish takes over environment, climate change and land reform. Elaine Smith is made shadow secretary for the eradication of poverty and inequality, and Monica Lennon gets the communities, social security and equalities portfolio.

Claire Baker takes over culture, tourism and external affairs, replacing Lewis Macdonald who has been dropped.

Colin Smyth gets the rural economy and connectivity portfolio, and Rhoda Grant becomes business manager, and women and equality spokeswoman.
Shadow Scottish secretary Lesley Laird had already been named interim deputy leader.

The appointments maintain the 50-50 gender balance instigated by Ms Dugdale last year.

Mr Leonard said he had taken three weeks to appoint his team because he spoke to each Labour MSP individually.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said it was a “cabinet of cronies” with those who supported Mr Leonard in the leadership race being handed senior roles, but that had not been enough to fill the frontbench.

The SNP’s George Adam said Mr Leonard seemed “more a peacekeeper than a radical” and he had appointed “the same old faces with just some minor tweaks round the fringes”.

ian.swanson@edinburghnews.com