Scotland politics

MP Tom Harris makes Scottish Labour leadership bid

Tom Harris
Image caption Tom Harris was the first to declare an interest in running for Scottish Labour leader

Tom Harris has launched his Scottish Labour leadership bid, despite saying the party's MSPs had decided it was "unacceptable" for an MP to win.

Mr Harris, the first person who declared an interest in replacing Iain Gray, said he could help the party recover from its election defeat.

The Glasgow South MP has not won the support of any Labour MSP.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Johann Lamont is also standing for leader, along with MSP Ken Macintosh.

Officially launching his campaign in Edinburgh, Mr Harris said he had shown leadership by declaring his interest in the post two months ago, at a time when there was "precious little debate" within Labour about how to go forward.

He said: "In the absence of virtually anyone else making the case for Labour or against the nationalists, I stepped forward.

"Since then, I have led the debate on the future of our party and our nation."

Working people

But Mr Harris added: "Nevertheless, I have been unsuccessful so far in attracting the support of Labour's MSPs, who have made it clear that while they're prepared to tolerate an MP standing in this contest - a contest, incidentally, not to replace Iain Gray, whose position will be abolished when he stands down; but to elect the first ever leader of the whole Scottish party, not just of our MSPs - they seem to have decided, collectively, that it would be unacceptable for an MP actually to win."

The politician said Labour must elect a leader who can be been as a "credible first minister", adding: "That is what the public want from us - and I fear they will not understand why an important and influential section of the Scottish Labour Party seems to believe that the number of letters after a candidate's name trumps all those qualifications."

Mr Harris, who denied he was attempting a "hostile takeover" of the party, said Scottish Labour had to be seen as a party for working people, with policies to ensure Scots could hold down a job while raising children and paying the bills on time every month, or it would "become an irrelevance".

Ms Lamont has yet to launch her campaign, while Mr Macintosh got his under way last week.

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