Scottish Labour to elect new leader next month

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image captionA successor to Richard Leonard will be named on 27 February

Scottish Labour says a new leader for the party will be in place by next month.

It follows the resignation of Richard Leonard, who left with immediate effect on Thursday.

Nominations for the post will open for one day next week, with a leader finally declared on 27 February.

The contest is taking place just a few months ahead of the Scottish Parliament election, which is scheduled to be held on 6 May.

Candidates have until midnight on Sunday to declare their intention to run and will require support from at least four of the party's MSPs, or its sole Scottish MP, by midday the following Tuesday to be formally nominated.

Scottish Labour members and affiliated supporters will be able to cast their votes from 9 February until ballots close on 26 February.

The new leader will be formally announced online on 27 February.

Mr Leonard's decision to leave means the party is looking for its fifth leader since the independence referendum in 2014 - with Johann Lamont, Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale all having held the job since then.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionSir Keir Starmer said Richard Leonard had done the "honourable thing" in standing down

Details of the latest contest come after UK Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, said Mr Leonard had "done the honourable thing" by resigning and that his successor should be elected "as quickly as possible".

Speaking at the Fabian Society's New Year conference, Sir Keir said "the decision to step down was his decision... he's done the honourable thing, the right thing".

Asked if he had spoken to Mr Leonard before his resignation, the Labour leader said they spoke "all the time" and their offices were in contact "every day".

MSP Jackie Baillie, who was Scottish Labour's deputy leader, has taken charge of the party on an interim basis.

The party's health spokesman Anas Sarwar has been named as a potential frontrunner in the contest, should he stand, along with MSP Monica Lennon.

Ms Lennon told BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime programme that she had been having discussions with colleagues but was "ruling nothing in and ruling nothing out" at this stage.

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