Dugdale given Kelly’s backing
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.”