Three battle for top place as Labour leadership nominations close

Debating Chamber Scottish Parliament

With Kezia Dugdale MSP now in the race for the deputy leadership, there are now two candidates for deputy leader and three for leader.

Kezia Dugdale MSP will now be going head to head with Katy Clark MP in the deputy leadership race.

Tweeting her nomination on Sunday, Kezia Dugdale said: ‘Delighted to have secured enough nominations for deputy leader to be on ballot - will be saying much more tomorrow’.

Katy Clark MP announced her candidacy last week.

As for the leadership race, Lothian MSPs Sarah Boyack and Neil Findlay are standing, as well as the former UK cabinet member, Jim Murphy MP.

Nominations closed on Tuesday so it is likely that no more candidates will stand for either of the positions. The leadership role became vacant when Johann Lamont resigned following tensions between her party and the UK Labour leadership. The deputy role became vacant when Anas Sarwar stood down from the position.

Scottish Labour will have a new leader on the 13th December, but what the nomination stage is doing is exposing the divides in the party.

According to Labour List, Neil Findlay now has three trade union endorsements, with the TSSA yesterday backing his campaign, as well as Katy Clark’s for deputy leader.

Manuel Cortes, the general secretary for the TSSA released a statement saying: “It is clear that whatever way people voted in the recent referendum, they all wanted radical change. Labour won’t be able to win Scottish hearts and minds unless it ditches failed austerity and neoliberalism. Neil and Katy represent the workable alternative to the market-driven madness that is causing so much harm to ordinary people in Scotland and across the UK.”

Findlay and Clark clearly represent the left of the party.

However, Jim Murphy, the bookies’ favourite for leadership who is on the right of the party, is recognised as a Blairite.

Jim Murphy is likely to do well, particularly as he is standing against two MSPs, which might split the representatives vote in favour of him.

However, one of the problems, a problem which led to Anas Sarwar’s resignation, is that the election could result in two MPs leading the party away from Holyrood. For example, if Murphy wins the leadership and if Clark wins the deputy leadership then this scenario could happen. Ideally the party would want one of each (an MP and an MSP) or two MSPs, so that the focus can be on Holyrood.

Additionally, if this particular outcome were to occur then it would highlight further tensions in the party. Having Katy Clark, who has been endorsed by the TSSA, on the left, and Jim Murphy on the right would show the internal strains in the party.

Overall, it is quite an unpredictable race, with Jim Murphy being the only candidate clearly standing out, but that is probably due to him being the best known public figure. Labour are facing an uphill battle, whoever becomes leader, especially if recent polls about the SNP’s and Labour’s chances come into being in 2015 and 2016.

Jim Murphy said he is applying for the job of First Minister. But to get there he - or the other candidates - have a lot of work to do before they can get to that position.