SCOTTISH Labour’s deputy leader Kezia Dugdale announced her candidacy for the top job yesterday, having mulled the challenge over for a week.
Her leadership bid follows the decision of Jim Murphy to stand down next month, after he only narrowly won a confidence vote at a meeting of the party’s Scottish executive committee last Saturday.
The Lothian region list MSP said Labour had lost badly in the general election and nothing would disguise that fact.
She said: “I intend to transform my party for the good of my country.
“The job of our next leader isn’t to explain away that loss or find excuses, it’s to understand why people were so reluctant to vote for us and find a way of regaining the trust of the people of Scotland.”
Ms Dugdale said under her leadership Scottish Labour could be an “insurgent force” once again, “pushing back against the political establishment and winning great victories and profound social change.”
She was elected deputy leader in December 2014 in a contest with left MP Katy Clark, at the same time as Jim Murphy defeated left-wing MSP Neil Findlay and former minister Sarah Boyack for the leadership.
The left of the party is currently without a leadership candidate, as Campaign for Socialism member Mr Findlay has ruled himself out.
Campaign chair Vince Mills told the Morning Star yesterday that the left-wing group would “support Kezia Dugdale as leader in the interim to allow a proper debate on policies, principle and practices for the Scottish Labour party.”
Ms Dugdale is the third candidate to declare an interest in running for leader, after Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh also formally declared his candidacy.
Mr Macintosh’s Eastwood constituency is substantially the same as the East Renfrewshire Westminster seat Jim Murphy was booted out of in the general election on May 7 — along with all but one of his Labour colleagues.
The rules under which the election of Labour’s Scottish leader will be held remain unclear.
The current Scottish party rules provide for an electoral college in three sections, one for members, one for unions and affiliates and one for parliamentarians.
However, the party’s Scottish executive committee is now reviewing these rules and the contest may be run on a similar one-member, one-vote system to the UK Labour leadership election that is also taking place.