Scottish Labour leader announced

Published: Saturday 13th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Scottish Labour will today announce who its new leader will be.

Former Scottish secretary Jim Murphy, Holyrood health spokesman Neil Finlay and former Scottish Executive minister Sarah Boyack are all vying to take on the job.

The leadership contest was sparked when Johann Lamont stood down suddenly, accusing colleagues in Westminster of treating Scotland like a “branch office”.

But with less than five months to go until the general election, and backing for the SNP on the rise, the successful candidate will have little time to try to halt Labour’s declining support north of the border.

The party has not been in power in Scotland since 2007 and recent polls have suggested it is trailing the nationalists in voting intentions for both Holyrood and Westminster.

But with Labour winning 41 of the 59 Scottish constituencies in the 2010 Westminster election, Ed Miliband will hope the party can again return a large number of MPs from north of the border to help boost his chances of becoming the next prime minister.

Mr Murphy – who played a high-profile role in the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK – is the bookmakers’ favourite to win the contest, with Ladbrokes saying 90% of the money it has taken has been for the East Renfrewshire MP.

However, the electoral college system being used to elect the new Scottish leader could favour Mr Findlay, who has attracted strong support from the trade unions.

Matthew Shaddick, of Ladbrokes, said: “Murphy looks a shoo-in but we’re hoping for a repeat of the 2010 Labour leadership contest when Ed Miliband came from way back to unexpectedly pip brother David on the line.”

Yesterday Ladbrokes said Mr Murphy was the 1/5 favourite for the job, with Mr Findlay on odds of 7/2 and Ms Boyack a 25/1 outsider.

Under the electoral college system used, a third of the votes will be decided by Scottish Labour parliamentarians. Another third goes to members of the party in Scotland and the final third go to those who are members of affiliated trade unions and societies.

The ballot closed on Wednesday, with Mr Murphy saying then the contest had been a ”good advert” for the party.

”We have had three good candidates showing the best of our party and the trade-union movement,” he said.

”Going round this great country of ours during the contest I have seen Scottish Labour Party members fired up and ready to start winning again.”

Mr Findlay said while some people had expected the leadership election to “be more like a coronation” it was in fact “heading for a photo finish”.

The Lothian MSP said: ”We’ve built something we can be proud of. It’s showed our party and our movement at its best, enthused, engaged and working for change.”

Ms Boyack, who is also a Lothian MSP, said : ”As I reflect back on this campaign I have done what I set out to achieve.

“I wanted to get across my ambitions and ideas to make Scottish Labour a force again in Scottish politics in a way that rebuilds trust with the electorate.

”Whatever happens, I believe this election process has been good for Labour.

“Between the three candidates we have shown that there is a determination to change the party and ensure a stronger Labour Party that people have can faith in.”

The results of the contest for Scottish Labour’s new deputy leader will also be declared, with North Ayrshire and Arran MP Katy Clark and Lothian MSP Kezia Dugdale competing for the position.

Published: Saturday 13th December 2014 by The News Editor

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