LABOUR’S Deputy Leader in Scotland has announced he will not be seeking to replace Johann Lamont after her controversial departure as party leader last week.
Anas Sarwar has ruled himself as a candidate for the top job after being linked with the post. Instead he will focus on his role as Deputy Leader in delivering more powers for Holyrood through the Smith Commission and planning for next May’s general election.
MSPs Kezia Dugdale and Jenny Marra have also said they will not stand in the leadership contest.
“I can confirm that I am not seeking nomination to be Leader of the Scottish Labour Party,” Mr Sarwar said today.
“There is a crucial job to be done in this interim period. For the last 3 years it has been my priority to keep the UK family together, in this coming period I am clear that we will keep the Scottish Labour family together.
“My focus as interim leader has to be on coming through this process with a Scottish Labour Party unified in purpose, stronger in will, speaking out and standing up for the individuals, families and communities who need a Labour Party in Government, delivering on their priorities.”
Ms Lamont quit last Friday, lifting the lid on an acrimonious power struggle with her Westminster colleagues who she claimed treated Scotland as a “branch office.”
Nominations opened today for her replacement with a new leader to be in place by mid-December.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Eastwood MP Jim Murphy and Holyrood health spokesman Neil Findlay are among those being linked with the vacancy, but Mr Sarwar says he won’t be endorsing any of the contenders.
He added: “It is not my intention to publicly declare support for any candidate. That would be wrong in my role as Interim Leader.
“Rather, I will be fulfilling my responsibility to the members who elected me, asking the same questions of candidates as I am sure they will be.
“Firstly, how as leader do they intend to deepen the involvement of party members, trade unionists and the wider movement in their policy development process.
“Secondly, how they intend to use the collective talents of our MSPs, MPs, MEPs and Councillors to continue to hold the SNP and Tories to account.
“And, thirdly, how they intend to use the powers the Scottish Parliament has, and the new powers it is guaranteed, to tackle the rising levels of poverty and inequality being visited on the Scottish people by the Tory and SNP Governments.”