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Neil Findlay enters Labour leadership contest

Neil Findlay MSP
Neil Findlay MSP

One of Scotland’s newest MSPs hopes to become the next leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

Neil Findlay, who was elected to represent the Lothians in 2011, has vowed to return the party to its left-leaning socialist values.

He said he would put social justice at the heart of everything Labour did to try to “create a fairer, more equal and prosperous Scotland”.

Mr Findlay, Labour’s health spokesman, is competing against his colleague Sarah Boyack after Johann Lamont resigned as leader on Friday.

She accused UK Labour colleagues of treating Scotland as a “branch office”.

Jim Murphy, MP for East Renfrewshire, has yet to announce whether he will enter the leadership race.

Mr Findlay, 45, a former teacher and trade unionist, said: “I have been overwhelmed by the messages of support from people from within the Labour Party and across the wider Labour movement all urging me to stand.

“It is no secret that I wanted Gordon Brown to run but since Gordon has ruled himself out I now believe we need to have a wide-ranging debate about the way forward for the Labour Party, but more importantly the country.

“I want to bring the Labour Party together to work for progressive change and create a fairer, more equal and prosperous Scotland.

“If elected Labour leader I will put the issue of social justice at the heart of everything we do – this is the historic mission of the Scottish Labour Party but it also has to be about what we deliver for the Scottish people in this post-referendum period.”

Mr Findlay, who is married with a teenage daughter and is a former West Lothian councillor, has a different vision to Ms Boyack, an MSP for the Lothians.

The 53-year-old sat on the Scottish Labour Devolution Commission which was criticised by the left-wing Red Paper Collective, which counts Mr Findlay among its members.

The party’s submission calls for Holyrood to be given increased tax-varying powers and responsibility for raising about 40% of its budget, as well as control of some elements of welfare policy, including housing benefit and attendance allowance.

But the Red Paper Collective, a group of trade unionists, academics and politicians, wants Labour to join all of the other political parties and advocate the full devolution of income tax.

The Smith Commission on devolution held its second meeting yesterday and discussed taxation proposals.

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