Scottish Labour elect Kezia Dugdale new leader

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Kezia Dugdale MSP, new leader of Scottish Labour.
Image: Scottish Labour.

Kezia Dugdale MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) has been elected as the new leader for Scottish Labour, it was announced today in Stirling. Dugdale replaces former MP Jim Murphy who resigned in June following Labour losing 40 of its 41 Scottish seats in the UK general elections. Dugdale received 72.1% of the vote, beating out Ken Macintosh who got 27.9% of the vote. Alex Rowley MSP was elected deputy leader.

Dugdale — the youngest Scottish Labour leader at age 33, and the third woman to take the role — said she will now work "night and day" to try and restore Labour's position in Scottish politics. In a statement to voters, she tried to appeal to Labour's lost supporters: "Take another look at the Scottish Labour party. I am not so presumptuous to ask instantly for your vote. But at the recent election 700,000 of you stuck with us but many chose someone else. All I ask is that you take a fresh look at the Scottish Labour party under my leadership."

Harriet Harman, who is acting leader while the leadership elections for the national party are underway, welcomed Dugdale's election: "I would like to congratulate Kezia Dugdale on being elected as the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, and Alex Rowley on being elected as Deputy Leader. They will be leading the historic task of rebuilding our Party in Scotland, reconnecting Labour with the people of Scotland and re-energising the links between our party in Scotland, Wales and England, and I know they will lead the party in Scotland forward with energy and commitment to Labour values and principles and will have the full support of the whole of the Labour Party."

Derek Mackay from the Scottish National Party said a change of leadership won't fix "the deep, deep problems which the Labour Party in Scotland now faces".

During the election campaign, Dugdale criticised the length of time it was taking to select a new national party leader, both for UK Labour and for the Scottish party, and expressed concern UK candidate Jeremy Corbyn would not be electable as Prime Minister, telling The Guardian: "I want there to be a Labour government; otherwise I'm wasting my time. I don't want to spend my whole life just carping from the sidelines. [...] Here's a guy that's broken the whip 500 times. So how can the leader of the party enforce discipline with that record?"

This week, she said on BBC Good Morning Scotland: "That is hardly the most critical thing that anybody has said about his campaign. I am excited about his campaign and many people across the country are."

Deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives Jackson Carlaw described her change of tune on Corbyn's leadership bid as a "spectacular flip-flop": "Only last week she was attacking Mr Corbyn by warning that a Labour party led by him would be 'carping from the sidelines'. Now she says that they 'share the same views'. What appears to have changed her mind is the dawning realisation that Mr Corbyn is heading for a landslide victory and she needs to get on board if she's going to win her own election campaign."