Kelly welcomes Kezia as leader
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