Nominations Close For Labour Leader

Three candidates are in the running to become the next leader of Scottish Labour after nominations closed today.

The contest will be fought by MP Jim Murphy and MSPs Neil Findlay and Sarah Boyack.

There are also two confirmed candidates for the post of deputy - MP Katy Clark and MSP Kezia Dugdale.

The leadership contest was sparked by the resignation of Johann Lamont last month.

Ms Lamont, who had been in the job since December 2011, wanted the party to have more autonomy in Scotland, and left the role amid criticism of colleagues in the UK Labour Party.

Her deputy Anas Sarwar also announced he would stand down.

Mr Murphy, who has the support of 43 of Labour's parliamentarians, has pledged to unite the party.

He said: "I will lead Scottish Labour from Scotland, for Scotland. I'm not afraid to speak my mind and to stand up for what is right for Scotland. I will listen and work with everyone who wants to make this a fairer country.''

Mr Findlay, backed by 12 parliamentarians and several trade unions including Unison, called for a different approach in policy, strategy and leadership.

"We need policies that recognise the challenges people face and are radical enough to tackle them,'' he said.

"We need to improve our organisation and structures to make sure those policies are communicated effectively.

"I can represent and drive through that fresh approach, providing a contrast with our past shortcomings and our opponents' present failings.''

Ms Boyack is backed by 10 parliamentarians, and she called for a "vibrant, campaigning Scottish Labour Party across the country''.

She said: "We need to reach out to people who share our values but who haven't always voted for us. We need to build a vibrant, campaigning Scottish Labour Party across the country, a party that listens to people and brings them with us.

"Principles of social, environmental and economic justice need to underpin everything we do.''

The candidates will take part in a series of members' hustings, with the ballot opening on November 17 and running until December 10.

The new leader and deputy are due to be revealed on December 13.

One third of the votes will be decided by the party's parliamentarians, one third will go to members of the party in Scotland and the final third will go to those who are members of affiliated trade unions and societies.

Meanwhile, the SNP said polling since the referendum reveals that backing for Labour lags behind its own support.

The average of the Scottish samples of Lord Ashcroft's polls since the referendum shows support for the SNP standing at 46%, with Labour on 26%.

The figures take in 659 people surveyed across seven polls conducted between September 19 and November 2.

SNP business convenor Derek Mackay said: "This new polling analysis will only add to the sense of crisis which is engulfing the Labour Party as their support continues to drift away - it is clear that people who used to vote Labour simply can't trust the party after their decision to campaign shoulder-to-shoulder with the Tories in the No campaign.

"Labour's new leader will inherit a party which is mistrusted by the people of Scotland and which is more interested in internal plots and feuds than in representing the aspirations of the people of Scotland.''

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