Kezia Dugdale steps down as Scottish Labour leader

Kezia Dugdale with Jeremy Corbyn

It is tempting to ascribe the sudden and surprising resignation of Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale to an impending challenge to her authority from the Corbynite wing of the party.

"But with almost four years now until the next Scottish Parliament elections, I am convinced that the party needs a new leader with fresh energy, drive and a new mandate to take the party into that contest".

But Scotland's vote in favour of remaining in the European Union, coupled with its less-than-enthusiastic response to the SNP's call for a second independence referendum has provided cause for optimism, with Scottish Labour winning seven seats in the House of Commons.

He said: "Kezia became Scottish leader at one of the most hard times in the history of the Scottish Labour party and the party's revival is now fully under way, with six new MPs and many more to come".

In an interview with the BBC Dugdale spoke of her deep affection for the Labour party, but said it was time for someone else to take over its leadership in Scotland.

But Mr Corbyn's supporters credit him for the party's performance in June's general election - when it won seven seats in Scotland after losing all but one in 2015 - rather than the more centrist Ms Dugdale.

"The party is now rebuilding in Scotland and is rightly seen as the opponent of the mindless austerity of the Conservative party".

She also ended up in a highly unhelpful row with Nicola Sturgeon during the 2017 snap election after the SNP leader claimed Dugdale had spoken privately to her after the Brexit referendum to say "Brexit changed everything and she didn't think Labour could go on opposing a second referendum".

The Scots party leader quit last night insisting it was time to hand on the baton.

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This left Ms Dugdale in a tricky position: should she stick it out or stand down anyway, effectively abandoning her new MPs?

Whoever takes the reigns of Scottish Labour does so at a fragile time for the party.

Neil Findlay a former candidate for Scottish leader who is closely linked with Mr Corbyn, has confirmed, though, he would not be in the running to succeed Ms Dugdale.

Rather than personal gain, Ms Dugdale, 36, was motivated by a sense of duty.

Despite a general election in which Ms Dugdale and Mr Corbyn defied predictions, the Campaign for Socialism (CFS) could not resist a dig at the expense of the Scottish leader.

But looking at the broader picture, it is perhaps not altogether surprising that she reached the conclusion that there is more to life than leading a political party. This is an opportunity to reflect upon what the Scottish Labour Party stands for.

A Scottish Labour source said: "Kez was hounded out by Jeremy Corbyn's mob". Her open, friendly, and upbeat style was appealing. Her departure means that Alex Rowley, the MSP who is now the interim leader of the party, takes her NEC place just as conference season begins. She chose to stay, albeit briefly.

While romance across the political divide clearly suited the two MSPs and should be something to celebrate in an era of political tribalism, in some recesses of the Labour Party a less than enlightened attitude prevails and there are those who have privately questioned the wisdom of the relationship. "He taught me how precious and short life was and never to waste a moment", she wrote.

The Fife MSP revealed he does not harbour any ambitions to be the first minister of Scotland.

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