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Ex-union official in pole position to succeed Kezia Dugdale as Scottish Labour leader

Ex-union official in pole position to succeed Kezia Dugdale as Scottish Labour leader
2 min read

A former union official who only became an MSP last year is in pole position to succeed Kezia Dugdale as Scottish Labour leader.


Party sources have told PoliticsHome that Richard Leonard is "110% certain" to stand in the upcoming leadership contest.

He is set to go head-to-head with former MP Anas Sarwar, who was also only elected to the Scottish Parliament at the 2016 Holyrood election and is said to be “seriously considering” standing.

The contest comes after Ms Dugdale stunned politics last night by announcing that she was standing down.

She said the party needed “a new leader with fresh energy, drive and a new mandate” to take it into the next Holyrood elections in 2021.

Senior Labour sources dismissed suggestions that Ms Dugdale had decided to quit after two years in the job because she feared an impending coup by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

Former leadership candidate Neil Findlay – who lost out to Jim Murphy in 2014 – said he would not be standing, as did deputy leader Alex Rowley. Another potential candidate, Monica Lennon, also ruled herself out.

PoliticsHome has been told that Mr Rowley and Mr Leonard held a meeting earlier today, at which it was agreed that Mr Leonard would be the left-wing candidate in the race.

A former organiser with the GMB union, Central Scotland MSP Mr Leonard is relatively unknown outside Scotland, but would be Mr Corbyn's favoured candidate.

A source said: “If he stands, Richard will definitely win as the membership are predominantly left-wing.”

Scottish Labour's ruling executive committee will meet on 9 September to agree the timetable for the contest.

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