Kezia Dugdale: Labour didn’t put Holyrood first

Kezia Dugdale believes the party have failed to focus on Holyrood. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Kezia Dugdale believes the party have failed to focus on Holyrood. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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THE Labour party in Scotland has not always put Holyrood at the “centre” of its priorities, according to leadership frontrunner Kezia Dugdale.

The party must attempt the meet the “hopes and aspirations” of Scots which it failed to do in last month’s election which saw it lose all but one of its seats north of the border.

We’ve made that mistake of not focussing front and centre on the role of the Scottish Parliament

Kezia Dugdale

It prompted the resignation of Jim Murphy as leader and Ms Dugdale, the current deputy leader, is now favourite to succeed him. She will face competition from Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh.

“For the whole of my adult life the Scottish Parliament has been the centre of Scottish politics but that’s not necessarily been how the Scottish Labour party has viewed it,” Ms Dugdale told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme today.

“Time and time and time again we’ve made that mistake of not focussing front and centre on the role of the Scottish Parliament. And the more powers we bring to Holyrood and the more role that the Scottish Parliament plays in people’s lives, the more primacy we have to give it.”

She added: “I could talk to you at great length about what happened in the General Election. I could explain it away, I could try to find excuses. I think that would be the wrong thing to do.

“My job as, hopefully, the next leader of the Scottish Labour party is to understand it. To make sure that in the future the Scottish Labour party meets the hopes and aspirations of the people of Scotland who have high expectations of us that we failed to meet last time around.”

The Lothians MSP already has the backing of more than half of Labour MSPs and says the party now needs a grassroots overhaul to revive its fortunes in Scotland.

“No one person, no one policy, no one new structure is going to do it,” she added.

“It’s about changing the culture of our party.”

Meanwhile, former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont announced her backing for Ms Dugdale, who she said was “bright, talented” and “compassionate”.

Ms Lamont, writing on the Labour Hame website, said that Ms Dugdale represented the new “generation charged with healing divisions and responding to a changed Scotland”.

Ms Lamont said: ”She can give Labour a strong voice, a modern voice in our new Scotland. And if she wins, it will not be for us to fold our arms and watch; it will be for all of us to roll our sleeves up and together take responsibility for past failings and for the challenge the future so clearly presents. And in my view Kez is the woman to lead that change.”

Meanwhile, former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont announced her backing for Ms Dugdale, who she said was “bright, talented” and “compassionate”.

Ms Lamont, writing on the Labour Hame website, said that Ms Dugdale represented the new “generation charged with healing divisions and responding to a changed Scotland”.

Ms Lamont said: ”She can give Labour a strong voice, a modern voice in our new Scotland. And if she wins, it will not be for us to fold our arms and watch; it will be for all of us to roll our sleeves up and together take responsibility for past failings and for the challenge the future so clearly presents. And in my view Kez is the woman to lead that change.”