Boyack Launches Labour Leader Bid

The first official candidate to become the next Scottish Labour leader has said party reform remains "unfinished business''.

Sarah Boyack has launched her bid to replace Johann Lamont, who dramatically resigned on Friday insisting UK Labour treats Scotland like "a branch office''.

Ms Boyack co-chaired the review of Scottish Labour with potential rival candidate Jim Murphy in 2011, which was designed to make the Scottish leader head of the entire party in Scotland including MPs, MSPs, MEPs and officials.

However, Ms Lamont grew frustrated that the referendum campaign had stalled party reform and the final straw was said to have been the removal of Scottish Labour general secretary Ian Price without her consultation.

Ms Lamont said today that the party needs to reach out to the people of Scotland and ask them in what direction they should go.

Her comments were echoed by Ms Boyack, MSP for the Lothians, who said Scottish Labour needs "to talk to people and to rebuild our movement and our message''.

Fellow Lothians MSP Neil Findlay would not reveal whether he intends to stand against Ms Boyack when approached at Holyrood today.

Mr Murphy is reportedly preparing his own leadership launch within the next few days.

Ms Boyack said: "We need a lively debate, we need a robust debate and we need to involve people across the whole country and reach out to the people that we have worked with over the last few months.

"There have been thousands of debates across the country. People have huge ambition for Scotland and it's the Labour Party, I believe, can take those agendas forward and make Scotland the place it needs to be.

"So, it's a great chance for the Labour Party to get back out there, to talk to people and to rebuild our movement and our message.

"Scottish Labour is going to be the key party in the run-up to the UK elections.

"It's absolutely crucial that we get an Ed Miliband government elected.

"So, that's why I believe in putting my name forward. I can work with colleagues and I can take that debate forward. That is the key thing.

"I did the review of the Labour Party just a couple of years ago. There's unfinished business there.

"But the key thing is what does the Labour Party stand for, how can we work together and how can we support people around the country?''

Ms Lamont would not be drawn any further on her reasons for resigning.

"I have said what I have said about why I was going,'' she said.

"I loved leading the Scottish Labour Party but we are now in a different place. We are in the middle of a leadership contest and I will support whoever comes out of that contest.

"I look forward to ongoing debate inside the party, but also across Scotland, about what the post-referendum Scotland looks like, and I will certainly be part of that too.

"Now is the opportunity to have the debate across the party about what our party looks like, but more importantly that we get back to a place where we are talking.

"It's a challenge to all in this debate, not just in the Labour Party.

"We are now post-referendum, Scotland has made its decision. What does Scotland now look like and what does this place do now to make a difference to people's lives.

"That has been my challenge since September 18, to say to people that we need to reach out and talk about what the people of Scotland want to talk about.

"We need to see this place not as a platform to political parties who disagree, but to actually talk about what was it that took people to Yes and to No to the polling stations.

"What they all want is a better Scotland and I will play my part in that.''

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