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And in the red corner… All you need to know about the Scottish Labour leadership vote

Scottish Labour members will get to vote for a new leader for the fourth time since 2014.
Scottish Labour members will get to vote for a new leader for the fourth time since 2014.

Monica Lennon and Anas Sarwar are going to slug it out to see who will take over the leadership of the Scottish Labour Party.

Prospective candidates had until Sunday evening to declare they are considering a run, with Mr Sarwar the first to announce his candidacy, before Ms Lennon revealed her intentions on Twitter late on Sunday evening.

Mr Sarwar launched his campaign on Monday, having announced his candidacy in a Sunday paper.

He released a letter showing he had the support of 65 Scottish Labour councillors, including Dundee group leader Kevin Keenan, Highland representative Deirdre MacKay and Provost of Fife Jim Leishman.

Fife Provost Jim Leishman.

What happens next?

The nominations for party leader are now officially open and will remain so until midday on Tuesday January 19.

Scottish Labour will then publish the full list of “validly” nominated candidates, who will take part in a number of hustings events.

Supporting nominations will close on January 26 and the hustings period will finish on February 9. This will coincide with the ballot opening for the first time.

When will the leader be announced?

Paid-up members will then have until Friday February 26 to vote for their preferred leadership candidate.

The leader will then be announced on Saturday February 27. The Scottish election, if still going ahead, will take place on Thursday May 6, fewer than 10 weeks later.

Who’s who

Monica Lennon was elected to Holyrood for the first time in 2016, making her a relative newcomer — in time served, at least.

Scottish Labour leadership
Monica Lennon MSP, second from the left, joins supporters of the Period Products bill at a rally outside Parliament in Edinburgh.

She was responsible for bringing forward “world-beating” legislation against period poverty, with the Scottish Government making it a legal requirement for sanitary products, such as tampons and towels, to be freely accessible to anyone who needs them.

Period products bill: Chance for a global first and to provide access with dignity

She has spoken candidly about her family history, in particular her late father’s alcoholism  and campaigned for better treatment and rehab facilities for the country’s drug and substance users.

Anas Sarwar was initially an MP, serving Glasgow Central from 2010-2o15, before being elected to Holyrood in 2016.

He was the party’s deputy leader from 2011-2014 and was beaten to the leadership position by Richard Leonard in 2017.

Scottish Labour leadership
Richard Leonard and Anas Sarwar.

Mr Sarwar is one of only two MSPs from a minority ethnic background. His father, Mohammad Sarwar, was the UK’s first Muslim MP.

He most recently was announced as the party’s spokesperson on the constitution, taking a firm stance on Labour’s opposition to the holding of a second independence referendum.

Scottish Labour leadership
Anas Sarwar MSP will be vying for the Scottish Labour Party leadership.

Like Ms Lennon, he has served as party health spokesperson, and in a previous life was an NHS dentist.

He led calls for an inquiry into infection control at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, following the tragic death of 10-year-old patient Milly Main.

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