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by Liam Kirkaldy
15 June 2015
Labour leadership contest begins

Labour leadership contest begins

Councillors will be able to stand for deputy leader of Scottish Labour for the first time, following the decision of the party’s National Executive Committee to agree to reforms set out by Jim Murphy.

Murphy resigned as leader on Saturday, leaving a set of recommendations on how to reform the party as he left.

The recommendations, accepted by the NEC, include plans for the leadership and deputy leadership contest to be conducted under a one person, one vote system, for councillors to be eligible to become deputy leader, for the Regional Lists for the Scottish Parliament elections in 2016 will be re-opened to attract new candidates and for the Leader and Deputy Leader to be automatically be top of their Regional List.

The NEC has also agreed to “work toward” using primaries for selecting candidates in the 2020 election.

In his resignation letter, Murphy wrote: "I made it clear that I didn’t want to do what had happened in the past – for a leader to depart and leave the party in crisis without doing the hard work to help set the organisation on an initial path back to recovery. Earlier today I submitted that plan to the Labour Party and now I also submit my resignation as leader of our party.”

He added: “Now, in the face of defeat north and south of the border, we are confronted with the task of rebuilding. We have all known for some time that Scottish Labour faced huge challenges.

“But we have been wrongly written off before but we will win again - of that I'm certain. It will require new thinking, strengthened confidence and huge energy. I know that we have a generation of members and politicians who can lead the way. But it’s now time for me to take on

fresh challenges. If asked, I will be a source of discreet advice for my successor and I will always be an active and faithful servant of the party that I have been a member of for more than half of my life.”

Kezia Dugdale stood down as deputy leader after confirming she will run against Ken Macintosh for the leadership. MSP Iain Gray has been appointed deputy leader in the meantime.

Nominations for leader and deputy leader will open today, with the ballot opening on 21 July and closing on 14 August.

Iain Gray said: “Make no mistake – the road back for Scottish Labour will be long and difficult. It won’t happen overnight and we can’t expect it to. After today, though, I am confident about the long-term future of Scottish Labour.

“The leadership contest gives us a chance to get back out around the country speaking with people about their hopes and dreams for the future. When our new Leader is elected in August we need to hit the ground running so that we offer a credible alternative to the SNP in the Scottish Parliament elections next May.”

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