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LONDON – Kezia Dugdale’s resignation as Scottish Labour leader has triggered a close race to find a successor.
Her replacement is tipped to be a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn unlike Dugdale, who repeatedly criticised the Labour leader during her tenure
Dugdale leaves Scottish Labour in a good position, after gaining six seats in the 2017 general election and with many tight marginal seats ripe for the party to target over the coming years.
On Wednesday morning Corbyn ally Neil Findlay said he would not stand in the leadership race. Here are some of the other key candidates likely to be in play.
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Scottish Labour’s health spokesperson appears to be one of the front-runners in the leadership race due to his experience within the party.
Sarwar was MP for Glasgow Central from 2010 to 2015 and became an MSP for the Glasgow region in 2016, and was deputy leader of Scottish Labour under Johann Lamont’s leadership.
He has been prominent in the Scottish Parliament, attacking the Scottish National Party’s record on health, and helped organise an event for Corbyn in a Glasgow mosque last Thursday.
However, Sarwar was one of the MSPs who sent a letter to Corbyn asking him to consider his position after his reaction to last year’s Brexit referendum and is seen as a moderate, which could count against him.
Leonard was only elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2016, yet is a key figure on the left of the party in Scotland, and is one of the most experienced trade unionists in the country.
His lack of experience could hold him back, but the MSP for Central Scotland is a member of the Campaign for Socialism and his support for Corbyn could see him surprise many in the leadership election.
He used to be a political officer for the GMB trade union, and so might be backed by other unions if he ran to be leader. The Guardian reports that he co-edited the Red Papers, a collection of essays written by left-wing activists seeking an “alternative to the sterile nationalist v unionist debate” in Scotland.
Not standing – Alex Rowley
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Rowley is the current deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party, and as such will become the interim leader in Dugdale’s absence. He will also take her position on Labour’s National Executive Committee, which could tip the body in Corbyn’s favour.
He used to be former prime minister Gordon Brown’s fixer in Fife, and backed Corbyn in his leadership election last year, breaking from Dugdale’s opposition to the Labour leader.
The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP was backed in the short term by Unite’s Scottish secretary Pat Rafferty who said: “Under Alex Rowley’s interim leadership we are confident that the voices of Scotland’s working people will be heard loud and clear at Holyrood.”