Scottish Labour divisions aired in public

Written by Tom Freeman on 28 September 2017 in News

Scottish Labour's divisions are writ large as Jackie Baillie accuses Richard Leonard and Alex Rowley of "a plot" to oust Kezia Dugdale

Scottish Labour's Jackie Baillie has accused the left of the party of a "plot" to oust former leader Kezia Dugdale.

Baillie, who backs Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar to be the next leader, was responding to a story in The Sun newspaper in which interim leader Alex Rowley was tricked into admitting he favoured Sarwar's rival Richard Leonard.

Speaking candidly to a student who was secretly recording the conversation, Rowley was quoted as saying: "Although I'm neutral in the leadership, I also believe that Richard Leonard has everything that we need to win in 2021."


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He also reportedly said party figures privately believed Dugdale would not be leader by the time of the next Holyrood election in 2021.

Baillie described the remarks as evidence of a plot against Dugdale.

“Kez was elected with a huge majority and it will infuriate members to learn that some MSPs were working behind the scenes to undermine her and replace her with Richard Leonard," she said.

“Richard must urgently answer questions about his role in this plot. 

“This behaviour by the party establishment is a complete betrayal of the membership and every value we hold dear."

Leaonard's campaign team denied involvement in any plot.

In an interview with the BBC, Kezia Dugdale confirmed Rowley had not been informed about her decision to step down until 10 minutes before she announced it publicly.

 "I'm sure lots of people will be thinking, wow, that speaks to a lot of internal problems in the Labour party. They'd be right," she said.

Midlothian MP Danielle Rowley, who is the interim leader's daughter and also runs Leonard's campaign, said her father had "always been very supportive" of Dugdale.

A party spokesperson said: "Alex was having what he believed to be a private conversation with a student and a political activist. He has not and will not publicly back a candidate.

"He has no intention of relinquishing his role as interim leader of the Labour Party in Scotland until after the current leadership contest is over."

The row happened as Jeremy Corbyn was addressing the UK conference.

"Thank you Kezia, and thank you Alex," he told delegates. "And whoever next leads Scottish Labour - our unifying socialist message will continue to inspire both south and north of the border."

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