Big-name casualties likely in Scots Labour selection process

Anas Sarwar and Johann Lamont are tipped to keep their seats. Picture: Hemedia
Anas Sarwar and Johann Lamont are tipped to keep their seats. Picture: Hemedia
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THE result of Labour’s selection process for regional candidates to stand in May’s Holy­rood election is expected to include high-profile casualties as voting closes tomorrow.

With Labour on course to win about 25 regional list seats at Holyrood on its current polling figures, a number of sitting MSPs are at risk of being ousted. Key flashpoints include Glasgow, where former Scottish Labour deputy leader Anas Sarwar is tipped to top the regional list, closely followed by the party’s former leader Johann Lamont.

However, with Labour likely to win just four seats on the Glasgow list, sitting MSPs James Kelly, Patricia Ferguson, Anne McTaggart, Hanzala Malik and Paul Martin are battling it out for the other two winnable rankings with former MSPs Bill Butler and Pauline McNeill, as well as new faces such as union official Samantha Ritchie, in the running.

Although many sitting MSPs in other regions are thought to be well-placed to get good enough rankings to secure their return, they are facing stiff challenges from new hopefuls such as GMB regional Scotland organiser Rich­ard Leonard in Central Scotland, where about 20 candidates are battling for what could be as few as three winnable places.

With Labour in danger of losing all its remaining constituency seats to the SNP, other new faces seeking selection on the list include former Dunfermline Athletic boss Jim Leishman and Stirling council leader Johanna Boyd, both of whom want to stand in Mid Scotland and Fife.

There are also former Lab­our MPs Fiona O’Donnell and Thomas Docherty, who lost their Westminster seats in the SNP rout last May, battling for a winnable position on the list in south of Scotland and Mid Scotland and Fife respectively.

Sitting MSPs Jackie Baillie, Neil Bibby, Ken Mackintosh and Mary Fee, all of whom are Labour frontbenchers at Holyrood, are also pitted against a former adviser to Ed Miliband, Martin McCluskey, for places on the regional list in the west of Scotland, where the party is tipped to win three seats.

In Lothian, sitting MSP Neil Findlay, who ran Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign in Scotland, and former minister Sarah Boyack are seeking to win good spots on the list for a region where Labour got three MSPs in 2011.

However, the result of the contest is expected to be tight, as Lothians MP Kezia Dugdale automatically tops the list as leader and businessman Daniel Johnson is set to be in the running after being endorsed by shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray and former chancellor Alistair Darling.

The outcome of the vote is expected this week.