Timetable announced for Scottish Labour leadership race

Scottish Labour's new leader will be announced on November 18, the party's executive committee has announced.

It seems to be a two-horse race between Richard Leonard (left) and frontbencher Anas Sarwar to succeed Kezia Dugdale. Picture: Scotsman

Committee members met in Stirling to decide the next step in appointing a successor to Kezia Dugdale, who resigned last week.

Following the meeting, the party announced the deadline to sign up to take part in the vote will be October 9.

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Party members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters who join before that date will be eligible to vote, with membership fees ranging from £3 to £48 a year.

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Anas Sarwar appeals for backing from Jeremy Corbyn supporters

Two MSPs are currently in the running for the job - former trade union organiser Richard Leonard who was elected to Holyrood in 2016, and the party’s health spokesman and former deputy leader Anas Sarwar.

Nominations will close on September 17 and the contest will then run for two months, with the vote on November 17.

Eight regional hustings will be held, as well as a Women’s and a Young Persons’ hustings.

Interim Scottish Labour leader Alex Rowley, who has ruled himself out of the race, said: “Today the executive of the Scottish Labour party has agreed a process for a leadership election.

“Labour is on the up in Scotland. This week we won two by-elections in parts of Scotland the SNP thought were safe for years.”

He said the party has “begun to regain the trust of the Scottish people”, adding: “Our next leader will have a great platform to build on, taking us towards the 2021 election where we have a real chance of forming a government.”

Ms Dugdale is the third Scottish Labour leader to have resigned since the 2014 independence referendum, with predecessors Johann Lamont and Jim Murphy both having stood down.

She led the party for two years, taking over in the wake of the near Labour wipeout at the 2015 general election when the party lost all but one of its MPs.

Mr Leonard is seen as the left-wing candidate to replace her in contrast to his more centrist rival.

Both leadership hopefuls have praised the UK party leader Jeremy Corbyn, despite Mr Sarwar backing his challenger in the last UK leadership election.

Mr Sarwar said he will “unite” the party in Scotland, while Mr Leonard said he offers “real change”.