Scotland politics

Two candidates left in Scots Labour deputy leader race

composite image Image copyright Getty / Matt Kerr Twitter
Image caption Jackie Baillie and Matt Kerr are the two remaining candidates to be Richard Leonard's deputy in Scottish Labour

MSP Jackie Baillie and Glasgow councillor Matt Kerr are the only two candidates left in the contest to become Scottish Labour's deputy leader.

The party is selecting a new deputy for Richard Leonard after Lesley Laird lost her seat in December's election.

Dundee councillor Michael Marra was knocked out of the race at the weekend as he failed to get enough nominations.

MSP Pauline McNeill has dropped out of the contest too, saying it is set to be "acutely polarised within the party".

Ms Baillie and Mr Kerr now have to secure nominations from local constituency groups and affiliated organisations, before a ballot between 21 February and 2 April.

The result will be announced on 3 April, the day before the winners of the UK Labour Party leader and deputy leader elections.

Ian Murray - Labour's sole remaining MP in Scotland - remains in the running for the latter position.

Ms Baillie has twice been acting leader of the party, but was sacked from the front bench team by Mr Leonard in 2018. She has by far the most nominations from fellow MSPs and councillors.

The Dumbarton MSP said she would be "travelling the length and breadth of the country, listening to the views of members and supporters", adding: "For Scottish Labour to win again, we must first understand the reasons for our losses.

She added: "I have seen, first hand, the positive change that Scottish Labour can make to individuals, communities and our country, when we are in power. I look forward to working alongside members in the fight to rebuild our party and regain the trust of Scots everywhere."

Mr Kerr meanwhile said it was "very clear there is overwhelming support for a candidate who is rooted in our trade unions and wider movement", who would decentralise power.

He said: "I hope to reward the faith placed in me with a radical platform to put the membership in the driving seat to build the kind of Labour Party Scotland needs and deserves."

Ms McNeill originally wanted to enter the race on a joint ticket with Ms Baillie, but stood as a candidate in her own right when the move was refused by party bosses. She won enough nominations from MSPs to continue, but decided to drop out on Monday.

She said she believed the party in Scotland "must change or die", but added there was "little scope for a voice in the middle of what will be a long contest".

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