Kezia Dugdale quits as Scottish Labour leader

Written by Tom Freeman on 29 August 2017 in News

Kezia Dugdale resigns as Labour leader, saying party needs "fresh energy"

Kezia Dugdale - David Anderson/Holyrood

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has resigned from her position with immediate effect.

The announcement, made in a television interview, comes after UK leader Jeremy Corbyn toured Scottish constituencies.

Speaking to the BBC's Brian Taylor, Dugdale said a new leader was needed with "fresh energy, drive and a new mandate".

She will now return to the backbenches.

Dugdale has led the party in Scotland since 2015 and fought two general elections, a Holyrood election and a council election in that time.

The party came third at the Scottish Parliament election and 2017 general election behind the SNP and the Scottish Conservatives.

Dugdale has been critical of Corbyn in the past and backed his challenger Owen Smith during the leadership election.

"It has been an honour and a privilege to have served this party in a leadership position for the last two and a half years, covering four national elections and one referendum," Dugdale said in her resignation letter to party chair Linda Stewart.

"A marker of success for me was to leave as leader with the party in better shape than I found it and I have done that.

"Emerging from the challenging times following the 2014 referendum, and the 2015 UK election, we now have a solid platform on which to build towards success, and government.

"I have given the task of achieving this all that I have. But with nearly four years now until the next Scottish Parliament elections, I am convinced that the party needs a new leader with fresh energy, drive and a new mandate to take the party into that contest.

"I will continue as a Labour MSP for the Lothians and am already looking forward to spending more time with constituents and on constituency issues."

She also said she had been affected by the death of her friend Gordon Aikman to MND earlier this year.

"His terminal illness forced him to identify what he really wanted from life, how to make the most of it and how to make a difference. He taught me how precious and short life was and never to waste a moment."

Dugdale's deputy Alex Rowley will act as leader until a successor is elected or he decides to throw his hat into the ring.

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