Scottish Labour: leadership candidates to announce on Monday

Following Johann Lamont’s resignation as Labour leader, a timetable for the leadership election has been announced, with candidates to declare soon

According to Labour List, the influential “independent progressive blog”, the fact that a timetable has been announced so soon, with a new leader expected by the 13th December, it is expected that candidates will announce their intentions to run soon.

On Sunday, the site said: “We expect candidates will take advantage of the quick start and will begin announcing their intentions tomorrow.”

Johann Lamont led Scottish Labour since 2011, citing tensions with UK Labour as a big part of the problem.

Criticising her London counterparts, in an interview with the Daily Record over the weekend she said: “The Scottish Labour Party should work as equal partners with the UK party, just as Scotland is an equal partner in the United Kingdom. Scotland has chosen home rule – not London rule.”

Whoever takes over as Labour leader will have to face numerous issues.

It had been expected that Gordon Brown could enter the race, but with Sky News claiming that their sources say the former Prime Minister is not to run, this is looking unlikely.

Despite Mr Brown’s defeat in 2010, he is well liked in Scotland. In his constituency, Labour’s share of the vote went up, whilst it fell from 35% to 29% in 2010 across the UK. He is passionate about Labour values and the union so would bring the fight to Ms Sturgeon, but his chances of running are slim. However, if he stood in a leadership race he would have a decent shot.

It is widely suspected that Jim Murphy MP could run, as well as Anas Sarwar MP. The latter is deputy leader and currently the acting leader. Both men are generally household names, but the main problem with them, as well as Gordon Brown, is that they are MPs and would not have a direct voice inside Holyrood until at least 2016.

As for Labour’s MSPs discussed in the media, Jackie Baillie, Kezia Dugdale, Neil Findlay and Ken Macintosh could stand. Jackie Baillie is a likely contender, with Labour List suggesting she is “Likely to take the reigns as Labour’s spokesperson in the Scottish Parliament” until a new leader is chosen. During that time, as voters make up their minds, her presence ‘leading’ the party could be used to her advantage.

Whoever takes over from Ms Lamont will have to be prepared to tackle Scottish Labour’s problems head on. They will fight for more autonomy from London and will need to be ready to deal with the resulting consequences.

Additionally, Labour is suffering badly in the polls, with YouGov giving them just 24% in their weekend survey. Meanwhile the poll gives the SNP 43%. It is possible that in next year’s general election the SNP could take a large number of Labour seats, something which the newly elected Labour would have to deal with - and minimise the damage of.

It is a thought around a third of Labour voters voted ‘yes’ in last month's referendum. One challenge for Labour will be to convince these voters not to drift to the SNP.

Troubles are brewing north of the border for Labour. The party will need a strong, confident leader if they want bring the fight to the SNP in 2016. Johann Lamont has had her turn and was not the person to save Scottish Labour.

With some candidates expected to announce on Monday and later during the week, only then will commentators start begin predict Labour’s chances in the coming years.