Labour councillor Matt Kerr joins race to become deputy Scottish leader

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Glasgow councillor Matt Kerr has announced his candidacy to become the next deputy leader of Scottish Labour.

Mr Kerr - who campaigned alongside Jeremy Corbyn when the Labour leader visited Glasgow during the general election last month - said he is standing to "empower a new generation in the party's grassroots".

The race for the Scottish Labour deputy leader post is on.

The race for the Scottish Labour deputy leader post is on.

The councillor, who represents the Cardonald ward, joins MSPs Jackie Baillie and Pauline McNeill, and Dundee councillor Michael Marra, in vying to replace Lesley Laird after the MP lost her seat on December 12.

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Writing in the Tribune magazine, Mr Kerr said: "The Scottish Labour Party must understand that politics happens in every community, not just political chambers.

"There was a time when the Labour Party was the community - it was Labour members and activists who ran community centres, advice centres and supported neighbours in their time of need.

"Over decades the party has submitted to a hierarchical structure, where those who are privileged enough to hold political office believe they should become all-powerful, and members and activists are only encouraged to support candidates at election time.

"And as our party's democratic structures eroded, so did the trust placed in us by our communities.

"I am committed to helping Labour, and will work alongside (Scottish Labour leader) Richard Leonard and every different section of our party to ensure every member has a voice.

"Building up the confidence of our membership and encouraging them to become more active in their communities is what will help us to rebuild trust where it has been lost."

Unsuccessful Westminster bid

Mr Kerr, who was unsuccessful in his bid to be elected as an MP for the Glasgow South West constituency in December, also said the party must develop its own option for the constitution.

He said: "I am against independence because I think it will prolong and intensify austerity and that it will be working people who will pay the price.

"The economic reality of independence and the hair-brained plans for the currency really will jeopardise the life chances of far too many people for at least a generation. Even the SNP's own Growth Commission recognises this.

"But we are democratic socialists and it's no longer good enough to say that we think the Westminster Government should block a democratic mandate if it emerges. Doing so plays into the hands of the SNP.

"Moving forward, Labour must separate the process of indyref2 from the substance of independence itself.

"We must say, quite clearly, that we will campaign against independence but not argue for blocking another referendum if that's what the people of Scotland decide they want.

"Critically, Labour has to develop its own option for the constitution. Scotland cannot afford the status quo any longer but the solution to the current situation is not independence.

"We have to develop and present our plans for a stronger Scottish Parliament with new powers within a stronger, fairer and better UK.