Kezia Dugdale Names Front Bench Team
19 August 2015, 12:09
Scottish Labour's new leader Kezia Dugdale has announced her front bench team, with key roles for former leader Iain Gray and rising star Jenny Marra.
Ms Dugdale, who was elected to lead the party on Saturday, unveiled 10 new appointments during a visit in Edinburgh.
The new gender-balanced team is a move away from shadowing Government ministers' portfolios.
Mr Gray, who led the party between 2008 and 2011, has been given the role of opportunity spokesman, taking in schools and childcare, while Ms Marra, who was first elected in 2011, is equality spokeswoman with responsibilities including health and welfare.
Under Jim Murphy's leadership, Mr Gray and Ms Marra held the education and health briefs respectively.
Both are seen as crucial issues, with Labour seeking to challenge the SNP on its handling of the NHS and educational attainment ahead of next year's Holyrood election.
Elsewhere, Graeme Pearson returns to the role of justice spokesman, following the departure of Hugh Henry from the front bench.
Jackie Baillie will continue to speak for the party on finance, with her appointment as public services and wealth creation spokeswoman also taking in infrastructure and business, while Sarah Boyack continues with the environment brief as environmental justice spokeswoman.
Ms Dugdale's leadership rival Ken Macintosh has been appointed as communities spokesman, covering housing and local government.
Claire Baker's role speaking on Europe and culture issues has been expanded to democracy spokeswoman, also taking in the constitution, while Mary Fee has been appointed as reform spokeswoman covering party and parliamentary reform.
Finally, Neil Bibby has been appointed as Ms Dugdale's chief whip and James Kelly continues as the party's business manager.
Ms Dugdale said: "I am excited about the future. We all know the big task that faces Scottish Labour in the months and years ahead, but we're up for it.
"My new team has a good mix of experience and vision to start the task of renewing Scottish Labour.
"The most important goal of any party must be to ensure that the life chances of our young people are determined by their potential, work rate and ambition, not by their background. These values will drive my team in every portfolio.
"Everybody in Scottish politics needs to get up to speed with the changed mood of the nation. The public will no longer accept politicians from any party complaining about what we can't do.
"We all need to offer a positive vision of what we will do with the powers we do have.''
Junior members of the front bench team, as well as conveners of the Holyrood committees led by Labour, will be announced in the coming days.