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Who will be the next Scottish Labour leader? The potential contenders to replace Kezia Dugdale

Could one of these MSPs be the next Scottish Labour leader?
Could one of these MSPs be the next Scottish Labour leader?

THE search is underway for Scottish Labour’s fourth leader since 2014 after the resignation of Kezia Dugdale.

Ms Dugdale, who stepped down on Tuesday with immediate effect, said her party needed “a new leader with fresh energy, drive and a new mandate” to take it into the next Holyrood elections in 2021.

She’ll continue as an MSP for the Lothian region, with deputy leader Alex Rowley set to take charge of the party in Scotland until her successor is found.

At this point no-one has officially announced that they will stand for election, but there are several names thought to be in the frame, and a couple who have ruled themselves out.

Scottish Labour set to meet on September 9 to consider leadership contest after Dugdale resignation

Alex Rowley

Alex Rowley MSP (Kim Cessford / DC Thomson)

In the wake of Dugdale’s departure, the Mid Scotland and Fife MSP will take interim charge of the party.

He won’t, however, be looking to take on the role on a permanent basis.

He’s said: “Whoever becomes leader needs to be clear they’re going for First Minister, and we’re going get a Labour government back in Scotland.”

A backer of Jeremy Corbyn, Rowley has already received the support of the Unite union in Scotland to lead the party for as long as necessary during the rebuilding process.

Rowley has also served as MSP for Cowdenbeath between 2014 and 2016, having been the first leader of Fife Council in 1996.

 

Richard Leonard

Labour MSP Richard Leonard (PA)
Labour MSP Richard Leonard (PA)

A potential contender from the party’s left with Alex Rowley and Neil Findlay aren’t standing.

A committed socialist and experienced trade unionist, he’s popular with supporters of Corbyn.

Previously a political officer for the GMB Union, he is fairly new to Holyrood as a regional list MSP for Central Scotland since 2016.

Kezia Dugdale says it’s ‘time to pass the baton on’ as she quits as Scottish Labour leader

Anas Sarwar

Anas Sarwar (PA)
Anas Sarwar (PA)

The Glasgow MSP and former deputy leader is currently the party’s spokesperson for health.

He lost his Westminster seat to the SNP in 2015 but was elected to Holyrood in the 2016 election.

The former dentist served as Johann Lamont’s deputy from 2011 to 2014 and is probably the most familiar face within the list of potential candidates.

In terms of working with Corbyn, however, he put his name to a list of MSPs who asked the Labour leader to consider his position as leader in the wake of the EU Referendum.

 

Jackie Baillie

Jackie Baillie MSP, Labour Finance Spokesperson (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament)
Jackie Baillie MSP (Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament)

Elected to the first Scottish Parliament in May 1999, Jackie Baillie has been MSP for Dumbarton ever since.

She has served as shadow health minister, and stood in for Johann Lamont to quiz Alex Salmond at First Minister’s Questions on a couple of occasions.

A Corbyn-sceptic, she has also strongly backed the Union and Trident and has campaigned on many health issues.

 

Monica Lennon

Monica Lennon MSP, Scottish Labour Party member (ALLAN MILLIGAN)
Monica Lennon MSP, Scottish Labour Party member (ALLAN MILLIGAN)

A newcomer to Holyrood, Monica Lennon is seen as one of the up and coming stars of the party.

The Central Scotland MSP’s committee work and campaigning on issues such as period poverty mean that she may be in the running.

 

Neil Findlay

Neil Findlay MSP (Dougie Nicholson / DC Thomson)

Lothians MSP Neil Findlay won’t be the next leader of the party.

The left-winger came second in the 2014 leadership election to Jim Murphy, and has ruled himself out of the running this time around.