Kezia Dugdale, a long-term target of hard-left conspiracy blogs, has resigned as Scottish Labour Leader. Dugdale, who served as deputy leader in 2015 as Jim Murphy led Labour to its worst general election performance in decades, said Scottish Labour needed a new leader with “fresh energy, drive and a new mandate.”
Dugdale has led Scottish Labour for just over two years and the next Scottish parliamentary elections are not until 2021, so the timing of her announcement has caught many commentators by surprise. Labour Vision does not comment on personal matters, although it is believed this may not have been an entirely political decision on Dugdale’s part.
The announcement also comes in the wake of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s widely-trailed tour of Scottish constituencies, seen as a show of strength by the party which some deemed extinct in Scotland as recently as 2015. The seven seats won by Dugdale’s Scottish Labour earlier this year represented an increase in Labour’s number of seats in Scotland by a factor of seven.
Tonight the website of Neil Findlay MSP, who lost to Jim Murphy by a margin of two to one when the Scottish Labour leadership was contested in 2014, is “down for maintenance.” Visitors to the website have been greeted with a blue screen emblazoned with a few short words, including the promise: “Coming soon message here.” It is expected that Mr Findlay will launch his leadership bid later this week, perhaps as early as tomorrow morning.
Other contenders may soon step forward, too, and many party members are likely to be critical of the replacement of a female Labour leader with a male leader, especially as Labour’s leader in Westminster is also a man. Indeed, a coronation for Mr Findlay – who is undoubtedly the favourite – seems very unlikely, and he should expect a challenge.
Mr Findlay, who has a book out next month, heralds from the Labour left. Should he win the leadership, Scottish Labour will almost certainly double down on the anti-austerity message that was given life under Ms Dugdale’s leadership. Owing to the increasingly left-wing makeup of the Labour membership both north and south of the border, a challenge from so-called “Labour moderates” in Scotland is unlikely to be successful.
Other immediate reactions to the announcement from Labour commentators in particular include the suggestion that Dugdale may have been “forced out” by hard-left elements within the Labour Party. At present, such suggestions are rumours in search of facts, but we promise to bring you any further information if and when it becomes available.