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Scottish Labour Party

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Leader  Kezia Dugdale MSP
General Secretary  Brian Roy
Deputy Leader  Alex Rowley MSP
Founded  1900
Headquarters  290 Bath Street Glasgow G2 4RE
Student wing  Scottish Labour Students

The Scottish Labour Party (Scottish Gaelic: Pàrtaidh Làbarach na h-Alba, Scots: Scots Labour Pairty; branded Scottish Labour) is the Scotland branch of the British Labour Party.


Labour hold 23 of 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament and two of six Scottish seats in the European Parliament. Labour won the largest share of the vote in Scotland at every UK general election from 1964 until 2015, when they lost heavily to the Scottish National Party, every European Parliament general election from 1979 until defeated by the SNP in 2009, and in the first two elections to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and 2003. After these, Scottish Labour entered a coalition with the Scottish Liberal Democrats, forming a majority Scottish Executive. In the 2007 Scottish Parliament election, Scottish Labour became the second largest party, with a lower share of the vote and one fewer seat than the Scottish National Party (SNP), who subsequently formed a minority government. It remained the second largest party after the 2011 Scottish Parliament election, with the SNP forming the first majority government since devolution in 1999. In a landslide defeat at the 2015 UK general election, it was reduced to a single Member of Parliament, losing 40 of its 41 seats to the SNP, the first time the party had not won the largest number of seats in Scotland since 1959. In the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, Scottish Labour lost 13 of its 37 seats, becoming the third largest party for the first time after being surpassed by the Scottish Conservative Party.


The Scottish Labour Party is registered as an Accounting Unit (AU) of the Labour Party with the Electoral Commission and is therefore not a registered political party under the terms of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

Kezia Dugdale is the directly elected Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, as outlined in the Party's constitution.

Scottish Executive Committee

The Scottish Labour Party is administered by the Scottish Executive Committee (SEC), which is responsible to the Labour Party's National Executive Committee (NEC).

The Scottish Executive Committee is made up of representatives of party members, elected members and party affiliates, for example, trade unions and socialist societies.

Party Officers:

  • Chair: Jamie Glackin
  • Vice Chair: Jacqueline Martin
  • Treasurer: Cathy Peattie
  • Leader of the Scottish Labour Party

  • Johann Lamont (17 December 2011 – 24 October 2014)
  • Anas Sarwar (acting: 24 October 2014 – 13 December 2014)
  • Jim Murphy (13 December 2014 – 13 June 2015)
  • Iain Gray (acting: 13 June 2015 – 15 August 2015)
  • Kezia Dugdale (15 August 2015 – present)
  • Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party

  • Anas Sarwar (17 December 2011 – 13 December 2014)
  • Kezia Dugdale (13 December 2014 – 13 June 2015)
  • Vacant (13 June 2015 – 15 August 2015)
  • Alex Rowley (15 August 2015 – present)
  • Leader of the Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament

  • Donald Dewar (7 May 1999 – 11 October 2000)
  • Henry McLeish (27 October 2000 – 8 November 2001)
  • Jack McConnell (22 November 2001 – 15 August 2007)
  • Cathy Jamieson (15 August 2007 – 14 September 2007) (Acting)
  • Wendy Alexander (14 September 2007 – 28 June 2008)
  • Cathy Jamieson (28 June 2008 – 13 September 2008) (Acting)
  • Iain Gray (13 September 2008 – 17 December 2011)
  • Johann Lamont (17 December 2011 – 24 October 2014)
  • Jackie Baillie (24 October 2014 – 13 December 2014) (Acting)
  • Kezia Dugdale (13 December 2014 – 13 June 2015 (As Deputy Party Leader, in the Parliament)
  • Iain Gray (13 June 2015 – 15 August 2015) (Acting)
  • Kezia Dugdale (15 August 2015 – present)
  • General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party

    As with Welsh Labour, the Scottish Labour Party has its own general secretary which is the administrative head of the party, responsible for the day-to-day running of the organisation, and reports to the UK General Secretary of the Labour Party.

    The current Scottish general secretary is Brian Roy. His predecessor was Ian Price, who succeeded Colin Smyth in 2013.


    The Scottish Labour headquarters is currently at Bath Street, Glasgow. It was formerly co-located with the offices of Unite the Union at John Smith House, 145 West Regent Street.


    The party holds an annual conference during February/March each year.


    In 2008, Scottish Labour Party membership was reported as 17,000, down from a peak of approximately 30,000 in the run-up to the 1997 general election. The figures included in the Annual Report presented to the Scottish Party Conference in 2008, also recorded that more than half of all Constituency Labour parties (CLPs) had less than 300 members, with 14 having less than 200 members.

    In September 2010, the party issued 13,135 ballot papers to party members during the Labour Party (UK) leadership election. These did not necessarily equate to 13,135 individual members – due to the party's electoral structure, members can qualify for multiple votes. The party has declined to reveal its membership figures since 2008, and did not publish the number of votes cast in the leadership elections of 2011 or 2014, only percentages.

    In November 2014 the party's membership was claimed by an unnamed source reported in the Sunday Herald to be 13,500. Other recent reports in the media have quoted figures of "as low as 8,000" (the Evening Times) and "less than 10,000" (New Statesman). In December 2014 the newly elected leader Jim Murphy claimed that the figure was "about 20,000" on the TV programme Scotland Tonight.

    According to the accounts it submitted to the Electoral Commission the party had an income from membership of £115,636 in 2013, the most recent year for which figures have been published.

    In late September 2015, following a membership boost resulting from the 2015 Labour leadership election, a total of 29,899 people were associated with the party; 18,824 members, 7,790 people affiliated through trade unions and other groups, and 3,285 registered supporters.


    The Labour Party campaigned for the creation of a devolved Scottish Parliament as part of its wider policy of a devolved United Kingdom. In the late 1980s and 1990s it and its representatives participated in the Scottish Constitutional Convention with the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Scottish Green Party, trades unions and churches, and also campaigned for a "Yes-Yes" vote in the 1997 referendum.

    1999–2007 coalition with Liberal Democrats

    Donald Dewar led Labour's campaign for the first elections to the Scottish Parliament on 6 May 1999. Labour won the most votes and seats, with 56 seats out of 129, a clear distance ahead of the second-placed Scottish National Party (SNP). Labour also won 53 of the 73 constituency seats. Labour entered government by forming a coalition with the Scottish Liberal Democrats, with Dewar agreeing to their demand for the abolition of up-front tuition fees for university students as the price for a coalition deal. Dewar became the inaugural First Minister of Scotland.

    Dewar died only a year later on 11 October 2000. A new first minister was elected in a ballot by Scottish Labour's MSPs and national executive members, because there was insufficient time to hold a full leadership election. On 27 October, Henry McLeish was elected to succeed Dewar, defeating rival Jack McConnell. Labour's dominance of Scotland's Westminster seats continued in the 2001 general election, with a small loss of votes but no losses of seats.

    McLeish resigned later that year amid a scandal involving allegations that he sub-let part of his tax-subsidised Westminster constituency office without it having been registered in the register of interests kept in the Parliamentary office. The press called the affair Officegate. Though McLeish could not have personally benefited financially from the oversight, he undertook to repay the £36,000 rental income, and resigned to allow the Scottish Labour Party a clean break to prepare for the 2003 Parliamentary elections. After McLeish's resignation, Jack McConnell quickly emerged as the only candidate, and was elected First Minister by the Parliament on 22 November 2001.

    The coalition between Labour and the Liberal Democrats was narrowly re-elected at the 2003 Scottish Parliament election, with Labour losing 7 seats and the Liberal Democrats gaining 1. The SNP also lost seats, though other pro-independence parties made gains. At the 2005 general election, Labour again. The boundaries in Scotland were redrawn to reduce the number of Westminster constituencies in Scotland from 72 to 59. Labour had a notional loss of 5 seats and an actual loss of 15.

    2007-10: Opposition at Holyrood

    At the start of the campaign for the 2007 Scottish Parliament election, Labour were behind the Scottish National Party (SNP) in most of the opinion polls. On 10 April, McConnell unveiled Scottish Labour's election manifesto, which included plans to scrap (?) bills for pensioners and reform Council Tax. The manifesto also proposed a large increase in public spending on education, which would allow for the school leaving age to be increased to 18 and reduce average class sizes to 19 pupils.

    Labour lost 4 seats and fell narrowly behind the SNP, who won 47 seats to Labour's 46 seats. Labour still won the most constituencies, but the SNP made inroads. Both parties were well short of a majority in the parliament. SNP leader Alex Salmond was elected first minister with support from the Scottish Greens, defeating McConnell 49-46 while the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats abstained. Labour did take the most votes in the local elections on the same day but lost seats due to the introduction of proportional representation for local council elections. On 15 August 2007, McConnell announced his intention to resign as Scottish Labour leader. Wendy Alexander emerged as the only candidate to succeed him, and was installed as leader of the Labour group in the Scottish Parliament on 14 September 2007.

    During a TV interview on 4 May 2008, Wendy Alexander performed a major U-turn on previous Scottish Labour Party's policy by seeming to endorse a referendum on Scottish independence, despite previously refusing to support any referendum on the grounds that she did not support independence. During a further TV interview on 6 May 2008 she reiterated this commitment to a referendum and claimed that she had the full backing of current British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The following day, Gordon Brown denied this was Labour policy and that Wendy Alexander had been misrepresented during Prime Minister's Questions in Westminster. Despite this lack of backing, Wendy Alexander once again reiterated her commitment to a referendum during First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament.

    On 28 June 2008, Wendy Alexander announced her resignation as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party as a result of the pressure on her following the donation scandal. Cathy Jamieson subsequently became interim leader of the Scottish Labour Party. A month after, Labour lost a safe Westminster seat to the SNP in the Glasgow East by-election.

    The 2008 Labour group leadership election was the first time Labour had elected its Scottish leader with the participation of its members, using a system similar to that used at the time by the UK-wide Labour Party (the system had been adopted in 2007, but no ballot had taken place as Alexander had been unopposed). The contenders were Iain Gray, MSP for East Lothian, a former Enterprise Minister in the previous Labour Executive, Andy Kerr, MSP for East Kilbride and former Health Secretary in the previous administration, and Cathy Jamieson MSP, the acting party leader who had been deputy leader under Jack McConnell. On 13 September 2008, Iain Gray was elected leader and promised a "fresh start" for Labour in Scotland.

    A few months later, Labour won the Glenrothes by-election in Fife. The result was considered a surprise, as there was speculation that the SNP could have won an upset similar to Glasgow East. Labour fell behind the SNP in the 2009 European Parliament election. However, they easily won the Glasgow North East by-election later that year.

    2010-12: Fluctuating fortunes

    In the 2010 United Kingdom general election on 6 May 2010, contrary to polls preceding the election, Labour consolidated their vote in Scotland, losing no seats (despite losing 91 seats across the rest of Britain) and regained Glasgow East from the SNP. This resulted in incumbent Scottish secretary Jim Murphy stating that the result provided an impetus for Scottish Labour to attempt to become "the biggest party in Holyrood" in the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections.

    Labour led the SNP in the polls for the 2011 Scottish Parliament election until the campaign began in March, at which point support for the SNP rallied. The SNP went on to win an unprecedented majority in the Scottish Parliament, a result that had been considered impossible under the proportional voting system. Labour had a net loss of 7 seats to the SNP. They also lost most of their constituency seats, although its share of the constituency vote declined by less than 1%. Labour's defeat was attributed to their campaign being directly mostly against the government in Westminster instead of the SNP. Party leader Iain Gray, who held on to his own seat by only 151 votes, announced that he would be resigning with effect from later in the year. Eight weeks later, Labour easily retained a Westminster seat at the Inverclyde by-election. This suggests that Scottish Labour's disappointing performance in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election would not necessarily translate into support for its political opponents in other elections.

    Following the 2011 Scottish election, Ed Miliband commissioned the Review of the Labour Party in Scotland of the future structure and operation of the Labour Party in Scotland, co-chaired by Jim Murphy MP and Sarah Boyack MSP. The changes the review recommended included a new post of Leader of the Scottish Labour Party was created (previous Scottish Labour leaders had only been the leader of the Labour group in the Scottish Parliament). Others included more autonomy for the Scottish party and the reorganisation of members into branches based on Holyrood constituencies rather than Westminster constituencies. On 17 December 2011, Johann Lamont MSP was elected as leader and Anas Sarwar MP was elected as her deputy.

    In the 2012 Scottish local elections, Labour were outpolled by the SNP but gained votes and council seats. They held their majorities on the councils of Glasgow and North Lanarkshire and regained control of Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire.

    2014 independence referendum and aftermath

    For the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, the Scottish Labour Party joined with the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to form the pro-union Better Together campaign against Scottish independence. It was led by Alistair Darling, a former Labour minister. In addition, Scottish Labour ran its own pro-UK campaign United with Labour alongside, with the support of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Anas Sarwar MP also led an unofficial organisation called the "2014 Truth Team", described by the party as "dedicated to cutting through the noise and delivering [...] facts on independence".

    In July 2012, a member of Scottish Labour started Labour for Independence, a rebel group of Labour supporters who back Yes Scotland in the campaign for Scottish independence. The group was dismissed by the Scottish Labour leadership as lacking "real support" from within the party.

    The referendum was held on 18 September 2014 and resulted in a 55.3%-44.7% victory for the No side. However, many of Labour's traditional strongholds favoured the Yes side, notably including Glasgow. The SNP had a surge in membership and gained a wide lead over Labour in the opinion polls.

    On 24 October 2014, Johann Lamont announced her resigned as leader. She accused Labour's UK-wide leadership of undermining her attempts to reform the Scottish Labour Party and treating it "like a branch office of London." The party's 2014 leadership election was won by Jim Murphy, an MP who had previously served as Secretary of State for Scotland and had been a prominent campaigner for the pro-Union side in the referendum. In his victory speech, Murphy said that his election marked a "fresh start" for Scottish Labour: "Scotland is changing and so too is Scottish Labour. I'm ambitious for our party because I'm ambitious for our country". He also said that he planned to defeat the SNP in 2016, and that he would use the increased powers being devolved to Holyrood to end poverty and inequality. In her speech, Dugdale said that the party's "focus has to be on the future – a Scottish Labour party that's fighting fit and fighting for our future".


    Labour's poll ratings in Scotland did not reverse, and the party suffered a landslide defeat in the general election in May 2015, losing 40 of their 41 seats to the SNP. Many senior party figures were unseated, including Murphy himself (East Renfrewshire), Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander (Paisley and Renfrewshire South) and Shadow Scotland Secretary Margaret Curran (Glasgow East). Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) was the only MP re-elected. It was the first time since 1959 that the party hadn't won the most seats in Scotland at a general election.

    On 16 May 2015, Jim Murphy resigned as leader effective 13 June 2015. Under normal circumstances, Deputy Leader Kezia Dugdale would become acting leader, but former Leader Iain Gray was appointed Acting Leader whilst a leadership and a deputy leadership election are being simultaneously held on account of Dugdale resigning as Deputy Leader to stand for Leader. Dugdale won the 2015 leadership election on 15 August 2015.

    On 1 November 2015, Scottish Labour Party delegates backed a vote to scrap the UK's Trident nuclear missile system. The motion was supported by an overwhelming majority, in which both party members and unions voted 70% in favor of the motion.

    In the 2016 Scottish Parliament election, Labour lost a third of its seats, dropping from 37 to 24. Labour got its lowest percentage of the vote in Scotland in 98 years with 23% and fell into 3rd place, a position it last occupied in Scotland in 1910, behind the Conservatives. The party also only won 3 constituency seats: holding onto the Dumbarton and East Lothian constituencies and gaining the Edinburgh Southern constituency from the SNP, losing eleven of its 2011 constituencies to the SNP and two to the Conservatives.

    Shadow Cabinet

  • Kezia Dugdale - Leader of the Scottish Labour Party and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution
  • Alex Rowley - Deputy Leader and Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Community, Social Security and Equalities
  • Iain Gray - Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education, Skills and Science
  • Anas Sarwar - Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health
  • Lewis Macdonald - Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Sport and External Affairs
  • Claudia Beamish - Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
  • Rhoda Grant - Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity
  • Claire Baker - Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Justice
  • Jackie Baillie - Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work
  • James Kelly - Parliamentary Business Manager and Shadow Minister without Portfolio
  • Junior Shadow Ministers

  • Mark Griffin & *Pauline McNeill - Shadow Community Ministers
  • Monica Lennon - Shadow Inequality Minister (Health and Education role)
  • Daniel Johnson - Shadow Education Minister
  • David Stewart - Shadow Environment Minister
  • Neil Bibby - Shadow Transport and Town Centres Minister
  • Richard Leonard - Shadow Economy Minister
  • Mary Fee - Shadow Justice Minister
  • Mark Griffin & Colin Smyth - Shadow Whips
  • References

    Scottish Labour Party Wikipedia

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