In a move that could boost Labour’s chances in Scotland, Kezia Dugdale has resigned as leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
In a surprise development, Dugdale wrote to the party’s Scottish executive committee yesterday, Tuesday, to announce she was standing down with immediate effect.
Dugdale is not a Jeremy Corbyn supporter and tried to have him removed. She backed Owen Smith in last year's leadership contest, arguing, “I don't think Jeremy can unite our party and lead us into government.”
Dugdale says she has left the party in a better shape than when she became leader after the disastrous 2015 general election when Labour lost 40 of its 41 Scottish MPs.
It’s true Labour has done better, but that’s because of Corbyn, not his opponents. After this year’s general election, the Campaign for Socialism, the Scottish equivalent of Momentum, said that “Scottish Labour is holding Corbyn back—change is needed”
It produced analysis that said the average increase in the Labour vote across Britain was 5,883 per constituency, but in Scotland, it was only 550.
It added, “By not challenging effectively the Tories’ record in government since 2010 and focussing on the SNP, Scottish Labour’s strategists tacitly oversaw the Scottish Tories increase their votes by approximately 5,500 in the average constituency.”
Scottish Labour has run a series of deeply uninspiring campaigns concentrating on the anti-independence message rather than one of hope and class politics.
Dugdale had repeatedly insisted after she won the leadership she planned to stay in the post beyond the 2021 Scottish Parliament election. She told the BBC yesterday “I have just come to the conclusion that the best thing for it, the Labour Party, and indeed for me, is to pass that baton on.”
Corbyn has just finished a major tour of Scotland where he spoke to large audiences.
Many Labour voters switched to the SNP after the 2014 independence referendum because they were angry that Labour campaigned alongside the Tories. Tony Blair’s New Labour had also alienated many voters.
Dugdale’s resignation will lead to the sixth Scottish Labour leadership election since the SNP first became the Scottish government in 2007.