Scottish Labour Unveils Regional List Candidates
6 February 2016, 06:19 | Updated: 6 February 2016, 06:20
Former deputy leader Anas Sarwar and a clutch of frontbenchers including Jenny Marra, Iain Gray and Jackie Baillie are among those topping the regional lists for Scottish Labour at the Holyrood elections.
Leader Kezia Dugdale said the candidates provide ''a welcome balance between new blood and experience'', but only eight of the top 32 spaces across the eight lists have gone to those who have not previously been elected to Holyrood or Westminster.
The regional lists are considered to be of crucial importance to Labour because polls indicate the SNP could win almost all of the 73 constituency seats on offer in May.
As leader and deputy, Ms Dugdale and Alex Rowley automatically top the lists for Lothian and Mid Scotland and Fife respectively.
Former Scottish Labour deputy leader and former MP Anas Sarwar leads the hotly-contested Glasgow list, followed by former leader Johann Lamont, MSP James Kelly and former MSP Pauline McNeill.
Mr Gray, the party's opportunities spokesman and leader at the last election in 2011, tops the South Scotland list while Ms Baillie, the party's wealth creation and public service spokeswoman, tops West Scotland.
Ms Marra, health spokeswoman, tops North East Scotland while long-serving MSP Rhoda Grant heads the Highlands and Islands list of candidates.
The Central list is led by Richard Leonard, a regional organiser with trade union GMB, followed by Labour councillor and rising star Monica Lennon.
Of the current MSPs, Michael McMahon, Siobhan McMahon, Paul Martin, Hanzala Malik and Anne McTaggart find themselves languishing towards the bottom of the lists.
The turnout among party members for ranking the list candidates was 62%.
Ms Dugdale said: ''At the start of this process I said I wanted to encourage as many people as possible to join our movement so we can change our country.
''I am absolutely delighted with the talented group of people who have been selected as Scottish Labour candidates.
''From experienced MSPs to new young candidates, from former teachers to trade union officials, and from small business owners to charity workers, this is an impressive list of candidates.
''Every candidate on the list and in constituencies across the country will be fighting for every single vote.''