As Scottish Labour confirmed the timetable for the nomination and election of a new Deputy Leader to replace Lesley Laird, those vying for the post have started to declare their candidacy.
First up, on Tuesday, was Dundee councillor Michael Marra, who said:
With the election process now open, I am seeking the nominations of elected Labour colleagues in Scotland to be the next Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party. I believe it is vital that we have a councillor on the ballot and a unifying voice in the debate.
The Scottish Labour Party must develop the policies, renew the politics and nurture the people that we need to get back into the fight for Scotland’s future. All Scottish Labour councillors and parliamentarians can nominate and I would hope colleagues will afford me the chance to put my case by nominating me in the coming days.
On Wednesday Jackie Baillie MSP and Pauline McNeill MSP declared their intention to stand jointly as a job-share, but the party swiftly rejected this bid. Baillie responded by declaring her individual candidacy, saying:
“I can’t sit on the side lines any longer and watch my Party decline. That’s why today I am announcing my candidacy as Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
I am disappointed that my plans to unite with my friend and colleague, Pauline McNeill, have been rejected, but I look forward to working with her to rebuild our beloved party regardless of whether we share a candidacy or not.
The future of our Party is hanging in the balance. We experienced two crushing defeats in 2019 and the Scottish electorate did not feel able to put their trust in Scottish Labour. As a result, the Party lost all but one MP. The result has meant that communities across Scotland have been subjected to another five years of Tory austerity, on top of the more than a decade of SNP cuts that they have already had to endure.
Voters lost trust in our leadership and were confused by our manifesto. The inconsistent message that came from senior figures within the Labour Party on the two biggest issues facing Scottish voters – Scottish independence and Brexit – meant that the electorate did not know what the Party stood for and instead went elsewhere.
If Scottish Labour does not accept responsibility for the result and take drastic steps to change, then the Party will become a residual force in Scottish politics. My aim is to unite the Party and bring members together from across the political spectrum, in order to rebuild the Party for the future.
My membership cards say ‘By the strength of our common endeavour, we achieve more than we achieve alone.’ This resonates with me now more than ever.”
On Thursday morning Pauline McNeill announced that she too would be standing as an individual candidate, saying:
“After considering my position overnight on The Scottish Labour Deputy Leader vacancy I have decided to run. I appreciate the messages of support for the joint ticket. I will now be seeking nominations today. “
The party has announced the timetable for the election which will essentially run in parallel with the UK leadership and deputy leadership election process. The full details are available on the Scottish Labour website, where nominations will also be listed.