Jim Murphy ahead in Labour leadership contest

Jim Murphy. Picture: Toby Williams
Jim Murphy. Picture: Toby Williams
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FORMER Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy pulled ahead of his rivals in the contest to succeed Johann Lamont as Labour’s leader in Scotland as the deadline for supporting nominations from local parties, unions and

affiliated organisations closed today.

Mr Murphy had already won the overwhelming backing of Scottish Labour MSPs and MPs, with shadow health secretary Neil Findlay well ahead among unions affiliated to the party.

Labour officials have now published supporting nominations from constituency parties across the country, which are made up of individual members, 34 of who have backed former cabinet minister Mr Murphy - the MP for East Renfrewshire.

However, Mr Findlay, who is widely viewed as being on the left of the party, was backed by 18 constituency Labour parties (CLPs), with the other leadership candidate former minister Sarah Boyack winning the support of one.

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The leadership ballot will now open on Monday, with individual members, Labour MSPs and MPs, and affiliated unions all voting in the contest, which is being run alongside an election for deputy Scottish Labour leader.

Labour’s new leader and deputy leader in Scotland will be announced on Saturday 13 December.

Meanwhile, Lothians MSP and shadow education minister Kezia Dugdale was well ahead of her only rival for the position of Scottish Labour deputy leader, the North Ayrshire and Arran MP Katy Clark, in supporting nominations from constituency parties.

Ms Dugdale was backed by 48 constituency parties, while Ms Clark, who is viewed as being politically close to Lothians MSP Mr Findlay, had the support of seven CLPs.

However, Ms Clark - a former employment rights lawyer - has been backed by unions, such as Unite, Unison, GMB, CWU and Aslef, who are also supporting Mr Findlay.

The deputy leadership election is being held to replace Glasgow Central Labour MP Anas Sarwar, who resigned from the post saying he wanted to “hand over the leadership to a new team”.

Favourite

Mr Murphy has been nominated by 43 Labour parliamentarians, making him the clear favourite among MSPs and MPs, who have a third of the vote in the contest to take over from Ms Lamont, who quit after less than

three years in charge.

But with affiliated organisations - unions and Socialist societies - having another third of the vote and individual members also having a third of the electoral college system, Mr Findlay could win a significant share of the overall vote, when the result is announced next month.

Lothians MSP Mr Findlay is supported by a total of 10 unions affiliated to Scottish Labour, compared to just two for Mr Murphy.

Ms Boyack, who also represents the Lothians at Holyrood, has not been formally endorsed by any unions, but has been nominated by 10 parliamentarians. She is also supported by the Scottish Co-operative Party.

Mr Findlay has the backing of a dozen parliamentarians.

Mr Murphy said: “The nominating period has confirmed that I can unite our party in Parliament and in the country.

“The days of infighting and back-biting in the Scottish Labour Party are over. If I am elected leader the Scottish Labour Party will come together with a positive vision for Scotland.”

Mr Findlay said: “I am delighted to have such widespread support - given that I was late into the race and starting from scratch its particularly encouraging that so many of the larger constituency Labour parties are backing my candidacy.

“I am obviously pleased to have the backing of trade unions representing all aspects of working life.”

Ms Boyack, who also represents the Lothians at Holyrood, has not been formally endorsed by any unions, but has been nominated by 10 parliamentarians. She is also supported by the Scottish Co-operative Party.

Ms Boyack said: “These have been hard fought nominations and there have been some close votes. I’m delighted to have the support of the Scottish Cooperative Party and am looking forward to the hustings which will be taking place across the country.”

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