UK

Kezia Dugdale Wins Backing From More Than Half Of Her Scottish Labour Colleagues In Leadership Bid

23/05/2015 19:15 BST | Updated 23/05/2015 19:59 BST

Kezia Dugdale has won the backing of more than half of her party colleagues at Holyrood after announcing she is standing to be the next leader of Scottish Labour.

Ms Dugdale confirmed she was running for the leadership on Friday while MSP Ken Macintosh also announced he will be making a bid to take over the top job from Jim Murphy.

Mr Murphy, who had been an MP for 18 years, was ousted from his East Renfrewshire constituency and said he would be stepping down after the party lost 40 of its 41 seats in Scotland in the general election.

kezia dugdale

Kezia Dugdale has won the support of more than half her colleagues to take over the Scottish Labour leadership from Jim Murphy

Ms Dugdale, who was elected to Holyrood four years ago and is currently deputy leader of the party, said she was "proud" to have won the support of 20 Scottish Labour MSPs in the first 24 hours after announcing her intention to stand.

The 33-year-old said: "The geographical spread of support I have - with MSPs from north and south, east and west - as well as the backing of MSPs from different parts of our movement shows I can bring our party together.

"Regaining the trust of the people of Scotland won't happen overnight. There is no short-term fix to Labour's long-term problems that have been years in the making.

"I have made it clear to colleagues that if elected leader I plan to do the job for many years to come. That so many have supported me shows a clear understanding of the challenge we face."

The group, including MSPs Neil Findlay, Sarah Boyack and Iain Gray, have signed a statement saying they believe Ms Dugdale should be the next leader.

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Kezia Dugdale Wins Scottish Labour Support

It reads: "We are from different parts of the country and different sections of the Labour movement - but we are all agreed that Kez is the best placed person to unite the party, bring the movement together and lead us in the years ahead."

Meanwhile, Mr Macintosh, who ran for the Scottish party leadership in 2011, has said his supporters are coming under "incredible pressure to withdraw their support".

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland today, he said: "I want to have a contest but I've found the whole weight of the party machine yet again turning against me, trying to close down a contest.

"All the people that have been trying to support me ... the party machine has turned on them, and they are being put under incredible pressure to withdraw their support. They are being bullied, they are being intimidated, they are being pressurised not to support me so we don't have a contest."

He told the Good Morning Scotland programme: "I wouldn't even have put my head above the parapet if I didn't know I had that support."

He said problems with the "party machine" were about "people who want power and position and influence".

The MSP for Eastwood and Labour's social justice spokesman at Holyrood said the three-college system used by the party to elect leaders was "ridiculous".

"We need to move to one member, one vote," he added.

Mr Macintosh later told BBC Scotland that his comments were not against party staff but "against the machine politics which have too much influence in the Labour Party".

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SNP MSP Sandra White said: "The Labour Party bullying and intimidation that Ken Macintosh has uncovered has absolutely no place in Scottish politics.

"These revelations will further damage Labour, which is already in a terrible state.

"These serious allegations must be properly investigated, and not swept under the carpet by Kezia Dugdale, or whoever it is that is meant to be in charge of Labour in Scotland just now."