Scottish Labour Party Seeks Fourth Leader Since 2014 Referendum

  • Dugdale says it’s time for someone else before next election
  • Scots party frequently clashed with national leader Corbyn

The Scottish Labour Party will seek a fourth leader in less than three years after the incumbent quit following a turbulent period for the movement that once dominated politics in Scotland.

Kezia Dugdale, 36, said she’s stepping down to allow someone else to drive Labour toward elections to the Scottish Parliament in 2021. She was elected leader in August 2015 after the Scottish National Party ousted Labour as the biggest party in Scotland in the U.K. general election that year. The party’s weakened position was compounded last year when Labour was pushed into third place by the Conservatives in the Scottish election.

Kezia Dugdale

Photographer: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

"With nearly 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," Dugdale said in her resignation letter.

Under Dugdale, Scottish Labour frequently clashed with the U.K. leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. Her decision to quit comes after his popularity rose in recent months, upsetting the odds in the June U.K. election as Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May failed to win a majority ahead of negotiations to leave the European Union. Labour also unexpectedly managed to claw back some districts in Scotland.

Dugdale took over from Jim Murphy, a former Labour minister who led the Scottish wing of the party from December 2014 to June 2015. Murphy was preceded by Johann Lamont, who quit shortly after Scotland’s independence referendum in September 2014. She had criticized the U.K. party for treating Scottish Labour like a "branch office of London."

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