The Scottish Labour Party has selected Jim Murphy MP to replace Johann Lamont as its leader.
Former Scottish Secretary Murphy took 55.7 per cent of the vote to secure a comfortable victory over MSPs Sarah Boyack and Neil Findlay.
Kezia Dugdale was also confirmed as the new deputy leader of Scottish Labour, winning 62.9 per cent of the vote in her battle with Katy Clark MP.
Each of the candidates have spoken to KaleidoScot in recent weeks, putting forward their arguments for equality and answering questions on a number of LGBTI-related issues.
Jim Murphy, who was the bookies’ favourite to win, is often seen as combative, confrontational and the archetypal party politician; Kezia Dugdale’s style is less adversarial and she is more pluralistic in her approach, even admitting to being a “fan” of the First Minister. Murphy’s experience (he was first elected for Eastwood in 1997) stands in contrast with that of his deputy, who didn’t expect to be elected in 2011 and is seen as something of a rising star in the Labour Party.
What will this new partnership at the top of Scottish Labour mean for Scotland’s LGBTI communities? Will it help to forge a more tolerant and inclusive society? Will it make greater equality a key priority? Or will Murphy’s leadership instead be focused on the Scottish Labour Party itself, looking to address its own difficulties while others lead the political conversations on LGBTI issues?
It is difficult to say with certainty what this change will mean from the perspective of facilitating greater inclusion for LGBTI people in Scotland. But, to their credit, both have impressive records in supporting pro-equality legislation. Murphy has consistently voted in favour of same-sex marriage and LGBTI rights generally, while Ms Dugdale has, even prior to arriving in Holyrood, argued against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation – going so far as to speak against discriminatory attitudes within her own party. She has been an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage and has also argued for civil partnerships to be extended to heterosexual couples.
Speaking to KaleidoScot earlier this month, Murphy assured us that he would “not rest until there is full equality” , while Ms Dugdale asserted that “fairness is at the heart of [Labour] policies” and suggested she would work “across party lines” to ensure the delivery of greater equality for LGBTI people.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said of Murphy’s victory: “Jim showed in the referendum campaign that he is a fighter. He showed in the leadership campaign that he is a leader.”
Other candidates provided similarly positive, and occasionally radical, perspectives. As Scottish Labour’s membership has seen fit to entrust Jim Murphy and Kezia Dugdale with the challenge of reinvigorating their party and moving Scotland forward, we hope the new leadership team honours its pledges to Scotland’s LGBTI communities and uses its “fighting” qualities to radically advance the cause of equality.