Scottish Labour’s leadership contenders have pledged to work to ensure the north-east stops getting a “raw deal” from government.
Kezia Dugdale, the Lothians MSP, said it was time the rest of Scotland repaid Aberdeen as the local economy adjusted amid the North Sea downturn.
Her rival for the top job – Ken Macintosh, the Eastwood MSP – promised to ensure Labour was not seen as a party of the central belt.
They were speaking as the battle for their part’s top job north of the border arrived in the Granite City last night.
About 90 activists gathered at the Park Inn by Radisson in Justice Mill Lane for the third leadership hustings of the week.
The party is going through a period of soul-searching as it seeks a successor to Jim Murphy after being all but wiped out in Scotland at May’s general election.
Ms Dugdale said it was time for a new generation to lead, and that she could be the “fresh start that the party needs”.
Urging action to ease pressure on Aberdeen, she added: “Aberdeen and the whole of the north-east has given Scotland so much. It’s time for Scotland to give a little back.”
Mr Macintosh promised he would overhaul the party’s structures, including creating eight regional centres, with one in Aberdeen, and to work more constructively with the SNP.
“I think we all know that Aberdeen gets a raw deal from central government and it doesn’t do the party any good because we’re already seen as a central belt party,” he said.
Deputy leadership candidates, north-east MSP Richard Baker, Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson and Cowdenbeath MSP Alex Rowley, also made their pitches to members last night.
Mr Baker said locally-based campaigning was the party’s “way back”.
Mr Rowley said it was time to be “bold and radical” as he predicted another independence vote within two years, while Mr Matheson said the party had to get “smarter” to reconnect with voters.