Kelly wel­comes Kezia as leader

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Dou­glas Dickie

Ruther­glen MSP James Kelly has wel­comed the elec­tion of Kezia Dug­dale as Scot­tish Labour leader.

The 33-year-old MSP for Loth­ian won an em­phatic vic­tory in the con­test over Ken Mac­In­tosh.

Ms Dug­dale, who be­came the party’s deputy Scot­tish leader in De­cem­ber last year, polled 72 per cent of the vote from a po­ten­tial bal­lot of 21,000.

Mr Kelly, who was a close ally to for­mer leader Jim Mur­phy, had backed Ms Dug­dale right from the start, and said this week he be­lieved she could help reignite the be­lea­guered party’s for­tunes in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang.

He said: “I’m re­ally pleased that Kez has won, and with such a large share of the vote.

“The fo­cus now must turn to­wards how Labour can change Scot­land, by of­fer­ing a real al­ter­na­tive at next year’s elec­tion.

“Right here in Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang there is a real prob­lem with GP pro­vi­sion, af­ford­able hous­ing stock and ed­u­ca­tion, es­pe­cially col­lege cuts.

“The SNP gov­ern­ment have re­ally let peo­ple down on these big is­sues. Un­der Kez’s lead­er­ship, we’ll not just hold the SNP to ac­count but of­fer the change our coun­try needs.”

Ms Dug­dale faces a mas­sive chal­lenge to rein­vig­o­rate her party which was ham­mered in the gen­eral elec­tion by the SNP.

Labour lost Ruther­glen and Hamil­ton West to Mar­garet Ferrier, who won the seat with over 52 per cent of the vote.

Mr Kelly is de­fend­ing a ma­jor­ity of just 1779 when he looks to re­tain the Ruther­glen seat for Labour at next year’s Scot­tish elec­tion.

Polls sug­gest the SNP could win ev­ery con­stituency seat next May.

In her ac­cep­tance speech. Ms Dug­dale ap­pealed for vot­ers to re­turn to the Labour fold while is­su­ing a ral­ly­ing cry to sup­port­ers: “The past few months have been in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult for Party mem­bers. I know how hard things are out on the doorsteps. I’ve been there with you.

“But I have a mes­sage for Labour mem­bers out knock­ing their pan in for this Party that we all love so much - we are down, but we are not out.

“I will work night and day over the com­ing weeks and months to make you proud. To hon­our the trust that you’ve put in me. To give you hope. To re­new our Party. To re­new your faith in our abil­ity to trans­form the com­mu­ni­ties we seek to serve.

“And my mes­sage to the peo­ple of Scot­land is this - take another look at the Scot­tish Labour Party.

“I am not so pre­sump­tu­ous as to in­stantly ask for your vote. We asked for that just a few months ago and although 700,000 peo­ple stuck with us, the ma­jor­ity picked some­body else.

“All I ask is that you take a fresh look at the Scot­tish Labour Party un­der my lead­er­ship.”

Labour MSP Alex Row­ley, a for­mer aide to Gor­don Brown, was elected as the party’s new deputy leader.

In the UK lead­er­ship race, Mr Kelly has given his back­ing to Andy Burn­ham MP, although left- winger Jeremy Cor­byn MP re­mains the front run­ner.

The re­sult of that con­test will be known on Septem­ber 12.

The fo­cus now must turn to­wards how Labour can change Scot­land

Leader James Kelly MSP with Ms Dug­dale

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