Crit­ics ‘hunted’ Dug­dale but she

● Scot­tish Labour leader bat­tled with Cor­byn and his sup­port­ers, but per­sonal rea­sons were be­hind de­ci­sion to quit

The Scotsman - - News Digest - By PARIS GOURTSOYANNIS

two weeks into her lead­er­ship has prompted re­newed spec­u­la­tion about her re­la­tion­ship with Mr Cor­byn and his sup­port­ers.

In last year’s lead­er­ship elec­tion, she en­dorsed Mr Cor­byn’s chal­lenger, claim­ing the Labour leader would leave his party “carp­ing from the side­lines”. The com­ments made Ms Dug­dale a tar­get, with a leftwing po­lit­i­cal jour­nal re­new­ing its at­tack over the sum­mer.

“There was an el­e­ment who har­ried and has­sled her, around the Scot­tish Left Re­view in par­tic­u­lar,” a se­nior in­sider said. “They hunted her un­nec­es­sar­ily.

“They are the self-ap­pointed spokes­peo­ple of the far-left. They might be Cor­bynistas, but they’re cer­tainly not of­fi­cially sanc­tioned.”

The work­ing re­la­tion­ship reached a low af­ter Mr Cor­byn was­con­firmedaslabourleader at the party’s con­fer­ence in Liver­pool a year ago.

Wield­ing a new man­date from party mem­bers, Mr Cor­byn tried to block a long­planned au­ton­omy pack­age that was set to give seats on the party’s NEC to lead­ers from Scot­land and Wales.

On mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions Mr Cor­byn and his union back­ers tried to use pro­ce­dural rules to strike down re­forms that would have seen Ms Dug­dale and Welsh First Min­is­ter Car­wyn Jones, an­other prom­i­nent critic, shift­ing the bal­ance of power on the key de­ci­sion-mak­ing body.

“I think who­ever is the can­di­date of the left will not be his own man, and will be used by peo­ple, like the peo­ple who har­ried and hounded Kez,” the Labour source said. “A lot of peo­ple are urg­ing that it is a short cam­paign, be­cause it could get quite di­vi­sive.”

How­ever, al­lies em­pha­sised the per­sonal na­ture of Ms Dug­dale’s de­ci­sion. Elected in 2007, she was im­me­di­ately tagged as a ris­ing star.

In an in­ter­view with the Ed­in­burgh Evening News fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of Jo­hann La­mont as Scot­tish Labour leader, Ms Dug­dale ce­mented her im­age as a reluctant leader.

“I know my strengths and my lim­its,” she told jour­nal­ist Gina David­son, who later be­came her director of pol­icy. “I’m a side­kick, not the su­per­hero.”

She was duly elected as side­kick to Jim Mur­phy, but af­ter Labour’snear­wipe­outin2015, Ms Dug­dale be­came the only can­di­date to com­mand wide­spread sup­port and was thrust into the top job.

The past year has brought con­sid­er­able per­sonal an­guish. In Jan­uary, Ms Dug­dale split from her fi­ancée and part­ner of nine years, Louise Riddell. And in Fe­bru­ary her close friend Gor­don Aik­man, a for­mer Labour re­searcher and MND cam­paigner, died of his ill­ness aged just 31.

In her res­ig­na­tion let­ter, Ms Dug­dale said the ex­am­ple of his life taught her “never to waste a mo­ment”.

Pitched into an un­ex­pected gen­eral elec­tion cam­paign, pres­sure on Ms Dug­dale built as Labour ap­peared to be head­ing for an­other ter­ri­ble re­sult, with some pre­dict­ing they could lose their only seat in Scot­land.

An­other in­sider sug­gested the elec­tion weighed on the Scot­tish Labour leader, and that she may have be­gun con­sid­er­ing her po­si­tion dur­ing the cam­paign.

Labour’s sur­prise bounce­back, beat­ing ex­pec­ta­tions to win seven seats, re­leased much of that pres­sure and led to spec­u­la­tion that Labour’s surge un­der Mr Cor­byn could re­vive the party and per­haps even carry Ms Dug­dale to Bute House.

Com­ing so soon af­ter the un­ex­pected boost to party morale, the res­ig­na­tion was de­scribed as a “bolt from the blue” by one se­nior Labour staffer – but it was the tim­ing, rather than the de­ci­sion, that is a sur­prise.

Un­easy al­lies and col­leagues, Labour’s na­tional leader Jeremy

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