Kezia Dugdale front-runner to be next Labour leader

The party's only Scottish MP, Ian Murray, is among those backing Ms Dugdale, to replace Jim Murphy. Picture: John Devlin

The party's only Scottish MP, Ian Murray, is among those backing Ms Dugdale, to replace Jim Murphy. Picture: John Devlin

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Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, Kezia Dugdale MSP, looks poised to replace Jim Murphy in the top job.

Ms Dugdale, 33, already has the backing of the Unite union and one of her potential rivals, Neil Findlay, ruled himself out yesterday.

The party’s only Scottish MP, Ian Murray, is among those backing Ms Dugdale, who was elected as an MSP in 2011.

Mr Murray, who has ruled himself out of the leadership race, said: “I very much think the deputy leader Kezia Dugdale has done a fantastic job at First Minister’s Questions holding the SNP to account – just what the Scottish party should be doing in opposition and doing it very well indeed.

“Kezia is someone who inspires people. I’ve known her for many years and she inspired me for many years and hopefully she will be able to inspire the party and will be able to inspire the country and that’s what the Scottish Labour Party should be all about.”

He added; “Kezia is a very impressive, inspiring individual and I hope the Scottish Labour Party will see that. That’s why she was elected unanimously, almost, as deputy leader.

“She will become acting leader and I hope she puts herself forward as leader.”

Ms Dugdale will become acting leader when Mr Murphy formally steps down at the next meeting of the party’s national executive committee.

Mr Findlay, the Lothians MSP, yesterday ruled himself out of running for the party leadership north of Border.

Mr Findlay was in a three-way contest for the position with Jim Murphy and Sarah Boyack last December but said he will not be a candidate this time.

He was also part of Mr Murphy’s shadow cabinet but resigned last week, citing the party’s “disaster” in the general election in Scotland.

In a statement yesterday he said: “The last week has been a traumatic time for everyone in the Scottish Labour Party. We now need to get on with the urgent task of rebuilding our organisation, the morale of party members and the policies we need to restore the faith of the voters in the run-up to the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections.

“I hope to play my full part in that process but I also want to make it crystal clear that I will not be a candidate in the election for the position of Scottish Labour leader.

“I hope that we can now move ahead as quickly as possible in electing a new leader who will begin the fightback by rebuilding a confident, effective Labour Party, proud of our values whilst offering hope and a positive vision for the future.”

Other MSPs linked with the leader’s role are Cowdenbeath MSP Alex Rowley and Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh.

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