No jobs for Kezia Dugdale or north-east MSPs in Scottish Labour’s new front bench team

Richard Leonard

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has revealed his new front bench team – but there was no job 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.

Highlands and islands MSP Rhoda Grant, who backed Mr Leonard in the leadership contest, has been made the party’s parliamentary business manager, and women and equality spokesperson, having previously led on rural economy and connectivity.

There were no jobs for fellow north representative David Stewart, or north-east MSPs Lewis Macdonald and Jenny Marra, but further announcements on more junior shadow ministerial posts are expected before Christmas.

The 14-strong front bench 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 Mr Macdonald, while Daniel Johnson replaces Ms Baker on justice.

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.

Ms Dugdale returned to Holyrood last week after her controversial stint on reality TV show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!

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.”