Dugdale elected Scottish Labour leader
Kezia Dugdale has been elected leader of Scottish Labour, with less than a year to prepare her party for next year’s Holyrood election.
She has already announced plans to start trying to bring fresh talent to the party’s Scottish Parliament team, which is often criticised for comprising of those who didn’t manage to secure themselves a Westminster seat.
Dugdale is the youngest ever leader of Labour north of the border, and previously served as Jim Murphy’s deputy during his short and ill-fated stint in the role.
However, she has already been accused of a “spectacular flip-flop” over Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing front runner in the party’s national leadership competition.
Having previously suggested on radio that he was not prime ministerial, the 33-year-old MSP later claimed to be “excited” by his campaign and denied that their politics for very different.
During a tour of Scotland as part of his leadership campaign, Corbyn alleged that his critics were “scared of the power of democracy”, and the Guardian reports that he has been drawing much larger crowds to his events in Scotland than either of the contenders for the local party leadership managed.
Writing in The Times (£), Alex Massie also argues that she shows no sign of bringing any imagination or new thinking to Scotland’s deepest policy issues, such as education.
Kendall and Kinnock turn fire on Corbyn
On the subject of Corbyn, Liz Kendall has attacked another of the Islington MP’s back-to-the-future proposals: re-opening coal mines in South Wales.
Wales Online reports that the Blairite candidate, who is lagging a distant fourth in the race to succeed Ed Miliband as Labour’s national leader, described his proposal as not fit for the 21st Century, saying:
“His programme now is the same as it was back in the 1980s. Actually we need to think about how we create modern manufacturing and clean energy jobs and back our IT and creative industries, not talk about renationalising vast swathes of the economy or reopening the pits.”
She further argued that his centralising approach was outdated, and that under Kendall Labour would endeavour to pass power both to and beneath the Welsh Assembly, “to put power in peoples’ hands.”
Corbyn drew huge crowds in Cardiff when he visited last week as part of his campaign’s UK tour.
Yet Neil Kinnock, the former Welsh MP and Labour leader who famously described Ed Miliband’s election as getting “our party back” from the Blairites, has also attacked him this week.
Lord Kinnock told BBC Newsnight that the Labour movement was adopting a “posture of resistance”, and risked being consigned to irrelevance for the foreseeable future if Corbyn is elected.
Burnham confirms support for contesting Northern Irish elections
Andy Burnham, the one-time favourite in the Labour leadership contest, has reiterated his vow from 2010 to permit his party to contest elections in Northern Ireland.
The Guardian reports that he claims to be a long-time supporter of the principle that Labour members in the province should be able to field official candidates in local, Stormont and Westminster elections.
He originally announced his decision to support organisation in Ulster in principle in a video released last month. However, it garnered only a few hundred views and seems only now to have been picked up by the mainstream press.
Labour has historically shied away from organising across the Irish Sea, preferring instead its partnerships with the Republic’s Irish Labour Party and Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP).
However the SDLP is an explicitly nationalist and overwhelmingly Catholic party, and Burnham supports Labour offering a ‘non-sectarian’ left-wing alternative.
This risks costing his party the support of the three SDLP MPs, who can usually depended upon to vote with Labour.
In an article for the Belfast Telegraph Burnham also set out other aspects of his vision for the province, including opposing its ban on gay blood donation and supporting the introduction of comprehensive education.
Former Tory MEP for North Wales passes
Beata Brookes, a former member of the European Parliament once described as the “Welsh Iron Lady”, has passed away aged 84, according to the BBC.
She was first elected to Brussels in the first direct elections to the Parliament in 1979, and held her North Wales seat for ten years. In 2013 she defected to UKIP, citing disillusion with David Cameron’s direction of travel as leader.