No role for Kez in Labour's new shadow cabinet

19 December 2017, 16:28

richard leonard

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has revealed his new front bench team, with no position for his predecessor Kezia Dugdale.

Mr Leonard said he had spoken to Ms Dugdale and former deputy leader Alec Rowley and it was decided "they did not want a front line role" in the party at this time.

Anas Sawar, Mr Leonard's rival in the leadership race, retains his position as health spokesman, with additional responsibility for sport, while prominent supporter Jackie Baillie remains party spokeswoman for economy, jobs and fair work.

The 14-strong team includes Neil Findlay in the new position of Brexit, campaigns and party engagement while Elaine Smith takes the new post for the eradication of poverty and inequality.

A stand-alone post for communities, social security and equalities has been created and Monica Lennon has been appointed.

Claire Baker moves from justice to culture, tourism and external affairs, replacing Lewis Macdonald who has been dropped. Daniel Johnson replaces Ms Baker on justice.

Rhoda Grant switches from rural economy and connectivity to become parliamentary business manager and women and equality spokeswoman, with Colin Smyth taking her previous post.

Iain Gray remains party spokesman for education and Claudia Beamish retains the environment and climate change brief.

Previously announced positions include Lesley Laird MP as interim deputy leader and James Kelly as finance spokesman.

The equal gender balance instigated by Ms Dugdale last year has been maintained.

Mr Leonard said he had taken three weeks to appoint his team as he spoke to each Labour MSP individually.

He said: "I met with both Alec and Kezia and we decided that they did not want to play a front line role at this time in the Labour Party."

He added: "I'm delighted with the people who have agreed to serve in this shadow cabinet. I think it's a strong team which brings together a blend of experience, skills and new energy.

"I think it will be a great team to advocate a strong Scottish Labour message."

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: "This is a cabinet of cronies, with all those who supported Leonard in the leadership race being handed a senior role.

"But it seems even that wild-eyed gratitude hasn't been enough to fill up the frontbench spaces.

"Trident-supporting Jackie Baillie will be as surprised as anyone to be sharing this revolutionary campaign with the likes of Neil Findlay."

Scottish Greens' Europe spokesman, Ross Greer, said: "This is a strong signal that far from aiming for a 'jobs-first Brexit', Richard Leonard's Labour party will support the jobs-destroying hard Brexit agenda of the Tories.

"After all, he and Neil Findlay were two of the three Labour MSPs who sided with the Conservatives over their own Labour colleagues and other progressives when the Scottish Parliament debated Theresa May's disastrous decision to trigger Article 50 without so much as consulting the devolved nations.

"A hard Brexit is set to cost Scotland 80,000 jobs and knock £2,000 off the average wage."

SNP MSP George Adam congratulated those appointed.

He added: "However, those anticipating 'real change' under Richard Leonard will be puzzled.

"It seems he's more a peacekeeper than a radical - appointing the same old Labour faces on his front bench with just some minor tweaks round the fringes.

"And at this crucial juncture in the Brexit process, with the Tories threatening thousands of Scottish jobs by hauling us out of the single market against our will, Labour's appointment of a rampant Eurosceptic as their Brexit spokesperson shows they remain incapable of standing up for Scotland's interests."