Kezia Dugdale, who has made strong statements in favour of LGBTI equality, has been elected the new Scottish Labour leader after defeating Ken Macintosh.
In an interview with KaleidoScot, Dugdale made the strongest pro LGBTI equality statements yet of any previous of Scottish Labour leaders. Campaigners hope that she would show commitment that could invigorate legislative and policy revisions in the Scottish Parliament.
The Scottish Labour contest followed the resignation of Jim Murphy in June after the party lost all but one of its 41 seats in May’s general election.
Dugdale won 72.1% of the vote with Macintosh 27.9%. The 33 year old Aberdeen-born becomes leader after just four years as an MSP and months after becoming deputy leader in Scotland.
At an event announcing the result from Stirling, Dugdale said: “I know that the past few months have been incredibly difficult for Labour members across the country. I know this because I have been out on the doorsteps, I have been there with you. But I have a message for Labour party members out there knocking their pan in for this party that we all love. We are down but we are not out.
“I will work night and day over the coming weeks and months to make you proud, to honour that trust that you have put in me today, to give you some hope, to renew your faith in our abilities to transform the communities that we seek to serve.”
During an interview with KaleidoScot, Dugdale made substantial commitments towards LGBTI equality in Scotland. She said transgender and intersex rights are an urgent priority, that she is committed to compulsory RSHPE, opening civil partnerships for mixed-sex couples and supports introducing PrEP as a preventative strategy to HIV.
This raises the possibility, if such commitments translate to action, that the two main Scottish parties could work stronger than before towards LGBTI equality, with several pressing issues that need legislation and policy revision, receiving attention from legislators.
Labour suffered its worst election defeat at the hands of the SNP in the general election, losing all its MPs but one, after having lost the previous two Holyrood elections to the SNP.
Commenting on the result of the Scottish Labour leadership contest, SNP Business Convener Derek Mackay said: “I congratulate Kezia Dugdale and Alex Rowley on their success and look forward to working together wherever we can for the benefit of everyone in Scotland.
“However, a change of leader alone will not solve the deep, deep problems which the Labour Party in Scotland now faces.
“Kezia Dugdale is the sixth person to lead Labour in the last eight years, and after every single one of those leadership contests, the SNP has made the same offer to Labour – to work constructively with them to deliver socially progressive policies and to help make Scotland a better country.
“But on every single occasion, that offer has been ignored. Labour have instead chosen to carp from the side lines, while both at Holyrood and Westminster they have made common cause with the Tories on issues such as welfare cuts, the renewal of Trident, and on blocking substantial new powers for Scotland.
“That has been completely out of step with the aspirations of the people of Scotland, and it is why Labour’s support in Scotland has utterly collapsed.
“Kezia Dugdale’s election as leader is a chance for Labour to show it has learned,” he added.
The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon also congradulated Dugdale in tweet saying:
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) August 15, 2015