SCOTTISH Labour leadership frontrunner Kezia Dugdale is “not experienced enough” to lead the party, according to Ken Macintosh, her rival in the contest to succeed Jim Murphy.
Mr Macintosh made the remarks less than 24 hours after Scottish Labour set out the timetable for its leadership contest, with the result due on Saturday 15 August.
Ms Dugdale served as Scottish Labour’s deputy leader until her resignation from the post at the weekend and has been an MSP for the Lothians since 2011, as well as a shadow minister for most of the parliament.
She is widely seen as the frontrunner to take over from Mr Murphy, who has now formally left his post after pushing through a package of radical reforms to the way the party picks its leader and selects candidates.
However, Mr Macintosh said he is confident he can win the leadership election, which will be held under a one-person, one-vote ballot rather than the old electoral college system that gave affiliated trade unions a formal role. Eastwood MSP Mr Macintosh, who has been at the Scottish Parliament since the start of devolution in 1999, said Ms Dugdale lacks the experience to lead the party.
He said: “As it happens, I actually think Kezia is a fantastic person, very able, very articulate, a lovely person.
“I like her a lot and was one of her big supporters for deputy leader.
“It’s just that she is just not experienced enough yet.”
Mr Murphy’s package of reforms announced on Saturday included a shake-up of the party’s Scottish Parliamentary candidate selection process, with sitting Labour list MSPs no longer automatically re-selected and instead forced to seek fresh backing from members, as well as the one-person one-vote plan.
Mr Macintosh, said yesterday: “Perhaps the most important decision yesterday was the move to one-person, one-vote.
“In other words, it’s not about how many MSPs you have backing you, it’s the support you have among the members and supporters of the party.”
Ms Dugdale’s campaign team last night refused to comment on the remarks made by Mr Macintosh.
Meanwhile, Scottish Labour’s acting leader Iain Gray said anyone can have a vote in the leadership contest and get the chance to stand for election for just £3 if they register as a party supporter under the reforms introduced by Mr Murphy.
Mr Gray said: “I want as many people as possible to join us on that journey, which is why these new reforms will make it easier for supporters to get involved.”
The result of the election to replace Ms Dugdale as deputy leader will be declared on the same day as that for the contest to replace Mr Murphy.
Scottish Labour finance spokeswoman Jackie Baillie and Inverclyde council leader Stephen McCabe are among those considering putting their names forward for the position of deputy ahead of the declaration deadline today.
Glasgow council leader Gordon Matheson and Labour MSP Alex Rowley – a former election agent for Gordon Brown – are also understood to have expressed an interest in the post.