Dug­dale given Kelly’s back­ing

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

James Kelly MSP is back­ing Kezia Dug­dale to be Scot­tish Labour’s next leader.

But the Ruther­glen MSP told the Re­former he still hadn’t de­cided who to back as the party’s UK leader.

Labour are fac­ing a huge re­build­ing job af­ter be­ing prac­ti­cally wiped of the elec­toral map in Scot­land by the SNP and los­ing the Gen­eral Elec­tion to the Con­ser­va­tives.

Both UK leader Ed Mil­liband, and Scot­tish leader Jim Mur­phy, quit in the af­ter­math of their de­feat.

Mr Kelly, who played a key role in Mr Mur­phy’s cam­paign for the lead­er­ship last year, reck­ons his party needs a “fresh face and a fresh ap­proach.”

He added: “In my mind, Kezia Dug­dale of­fers that.

“She ha s a l ready shown her­self to be more than ca­pa­ble of fac­ing up to Ni­cola Stur­geon. She’s been a ca­pa­ble deputy and I be­lieve she’s got the po­lit­i­cal skills to take Labour for­ward at this very chal­leng­ing time.”

Ms Dug­dale, an MSP for the Loth­ian re­gion, is the odds on favourite for the role, although she faces a chal­lenge from East­wood MSP, Ken Macin­tosh.

With just 11 months un­til next year’s Scot­tish elec­tions, Labour have lit­tle time to re­cover from the Gen­eral Elec­tion.

Mr Kelly in­sists the 33-year-old is not too closely linked to Jim Mur­phy, and warned the party she had to be given time to try and turn round their for­tunes if she gets the role: “I think if she takes the job on, it will be seen as a clean break.

“Kezia can step up to that role and es­tab­lish her pro­file in vot­ers minds and build up her own pro­file in the run up to 2016.

“The im­me­di­ate pri­or­ity for Labour is ob­vi­ously 2016, but we have chopped and changed lead­ers too of­ten in re­cent years, and if we elect Kezia, we need to give her the sup­port to do the job on a long-term ba­sis, not just in the short-term.”

On the UK-wide lead­er­ship con­test, Mr Kelly said he would wait be­fore choos­ing a can­di­date.

Andy Burn­ham, Yvette Cooper, Liz Ken­dall and Mary Creagh have all an­nounced their can­di­dacy, and Mr Kelly said: “That elec­tion is dif­fer­ent in that, who­ever leads at UK level is go­ing to be a can­di­date to be the next Prime Min­is­ter in 2020.

“I think we need to be re­ally clear that the per­son we elect not only has the best poli­cies that con­nects with the public, but can also stand up to the scru­tiny they are likely to come un­der.”

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