Cor­byn sup­port­ers bid for con­trol of Scot­tish Labour

● Left wing of the party seeks more in­flu­ence af­ter Dug­dale’s de­par­ture

The Scotsman - - Front Page - By TOM PETERKIN and SCOTT MACNAB

Labour left-wingers were last night seek­ing to use Kezia Dug­dale’s res­ig­na­tion to in­crease Jeremy Cor­byn’s in­flu­ence on the party in Scot­land as the race to re­place the Scot­tish leader be­gan.

Lead­ing trade union­ist Richard Leonard emerged as the favoured can­di­date of the left, as a num­ber of other prom­i­nent Labour fig­ures ruled them­selves out of the con­test.

Last night it looked as though the bat­tle for the suc­ces­sion would come down to a two-horse race be­tween Mr Leonard and front­bencher Anas Sar­war, although nei­ther politi­cian had for­mally de­clared their in­ten­tion to stand.

Mr Leonard is a for­mer GMB or­gan­iser with strong left-wing cre­den­tials, who would com­mand wide­spread sup­port from trade union­ists.

“What’s im­por­tant is that we get some­one that moves the party

for­ward and who’s in tune with the Cor­byn agenda,” said one prom­i­nent left-winger, who be­lieved that union back­ing could see Mr Leonard get the job.

Mr Sar­war, a for­mer Scot­tish Labour deputy leader, is cur­rently the party’s health spokesman and would hope for the sup­port of Labour mod­er­ates when the Scot­tish party chooses its sev­enth leader in lit­tle over a decade.

Spec­u­la­tion that Mr Sar­war would throw his hat into the ring in­ten­si­fied when it was re­ported on so­cial me­dia that he had met with his fel­low front-bencher Jackie Bail­lie at a cash and carry in Glas­gow.

Ms Dug­dale in­sisted that her res­ig­na­tion had not been trig­gered by pres­sure from Cor­byn sup­port­ers. How­ever, she had been sub­ject to crit­i­cism from left-wingers within the party prior to her res­ig­na­tion late on Tuesday night.

The Cam­paign for So­cial­ism (CFS) had claimed Ms Dug­dale had held back Labour at the gen­eral elec­tion and tac­itly turned vot­ers to­wards the Con­ser­va­tives.

Yes­ter­day a spokesper­son for CFS, which pro­motes so­cial­ism within Labour, said: “The party must now look to the fu­ture and to­wards the ex­cit­ing and en­gag­ing pol­i­tics that Jeremy Cor­byn’s elec­tion as UK leader has de­liv­ered.

“The rad­i­cal and trans­for­ma­tional man­i­festo of For the Many, Not the Few of­fers a blue­print for the kind of so­cial­ist pol­i­tics that can re­vi­talise Scot­land and bring peo­ple back to Labour who have aban­doned us in re­cent years. To achieve that our next leader must work closely with Jeremy Cor­byn and build upon the re­mark­able gains of the gen­eral elec­tion in June.”

Mr Leonard’s name en­tered the frame af­ter Mr Cor­byn’s most prom­i­nent Scot­tish ally, Neil Find­lay, ruled him­self out of any con­test.

Loth­ian MSP Mr Find­lay – who ran in a pre­vi­ous Scot­tish lead­er­ship con­test and who ran Mr Cor­byn’s lead­er­ship cam­paign in Scot­land – said he would not be stand­ing.

He said: “I will not be putting put my name for­ward in this elec­tion. I wish Kezia and those who may seek to suc­ceed her the very best for the fu­ture.”

Scot­tish Labour deputy leader Alex Row­ley also said he would not be stand­ing, de­spite many as­sum­ing that he would want the job.

The Mid Scot­land and Fife MSP, who sup­ported Mr Cor­byn for the UK lead­er­ship, said the next Labour leader must be ready to re­place Ni­cola Stur­geon as First Min­is­ter and he had “no am­bi­tion” to step into Ms Dug­dale’s shoes.

He said: “Who­ever be­comes the next leader of the Scot­tish Labour party should be fo­cussed on en­sur­ing that they be­come the next First Min­is­ter of Scot­land – I’m ab­so­lutely clear on that and I think we can do that. I’ve no am­bi­tion to be the First Min­is­ter of Scot­land – it’s never some­thing that I saw my­self do­ing.”

Mr Row­ley will lead the party un­til a re­place­ment is found.

Pat Raf­ferty, Unite Scot­land re­gional sec­re­tary, said who­ever be­comes leader must “work in har­mony” with Mr Cor­byn and backed Mr Row­ley’s in­terim lead­er­ship, warn­ing against rush­ing into choos­ing a suc­ces­sor.

Scot­tish Labour’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee will meet on 9 Septem­ber to con­sider the timetable and process for se­lect­ing their next leader. The vot­ing ar­range­ments adopted in the event of a con­test have yet to be de­cided. But pre­vi­ous elec­tions have been on a one-mem­ber-one-vote ba­sis in­volv­ing paid-up mem­bers, reg­is­tered sup­port­ers and trade union mem­bers.

There was a 30,000-strong elec­torate when Ms Dug­dale won the lead­er­ship in 2015.

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