The Scottish Labour leadership is expected to turn into a battle between the anti-Corbyn and moderate wings of the party.
No candidate has yet to declare that they will stand, but the frontrunners — one from each side of the party — have made it clear they are almost ready to enter the fray.
Richard Leonard, 55, seen as the pro-Corbyn candidate, said he was taking soundings and would announce his intentions in the next few days. Anas Sarwar, 34, of Labour’s moderate wing, said he was weighing up his options but was almost ready to make a declaration.
The leadership is vacant after the surprise resignation of Kezia Dugdale this week. Ms Dugdale, who had grown weary of the job and the burdens it brought, walked out with immediate effect on Tuesday.
Alex Rowley, Ms Dugdale’s deputy has taken charge of Scottish Labour until a new leader is in place and has made it clear he has no intention of going for the top job.
His decision to stand aside has led to a straight battle between those who want the party to become more left-wing, in tune with Jeremy Corbyn and his hard left Momentum followers, and those who are more moderate.
It is understood that the trade unions, most of which are close to Mr Corbyn, have already been lobbying hard on Mr Leonard’s behalf, urging him to stand. Mr Leonard is a former union organiser with the GMB.
Yesterday Mr Leonard said: “I am still considering my options, still speaking to people but I haven’t made a final decision yet. I have spoken to other people in the group and taken account of their views and the views of party members. I’ll make a decision over the next few days.”
Mr Leonard was accompanied to a meeting of Labour MSPs by Neil Findlay, who ran Mr Corbyn’s leadership campaign in Scotland, and Pauline McNeill, a Glasgow MSP who is understood to want the deputy leadership.
Mr Sarwar said: “This is a leadership contest none of us wanted. I think all of us want to thank Kez Dugdale for the tremendous contribution and sacrifice she has made for our party. She led with honesty and integrity in one of the most difficult periods in our party’s history.
“I am talking to colleagues, family and friends from right across the Labour family in Scotland about what is best for the future of our party.”
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Scottish Labour leadership: Richard Leonard confirms bid
MSP Richard Leonard has confirmed that he hopes to succeed Kezia Dugdale as leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
In an article for the Sunday Mail, Mr Leonard said Scotland needed “a united Labour Party committed to real and bold change”.
MSP Anas Sarwar, the party’s health spokesman, is another frontrunner for the top job.
In the same paper, he said the contest would be about electing a leader who could serve as the next first minister.