Kezia Dugdale has admitted she is not proud of the way Labour has behaved during the UK leadership contest but believes she can unite her Scottish party whatever the outcome.
The Scottish Labour leader has backed Owen Smith in the leadership race, putting her at odds with Scottish Jeremy Corbyn supporters like her deputy Alex Rowley and the prominent left-winger Neil Findlay.
Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Dugdale said that she did not accept that a Corbyn victory would make her life difficult as Scottish leader. Dugdale said MSPs were mature enough to set aside their differences over the UK leadership and dismissed suggestions that the reinstatement of Corbyn would make it difficult for her to stay on as Scottish leader.
“We are a healthy democratic movement here in Scotland,” Dugdale said. “We are a more autonomous party. We are all grown ups. We can have different views on some issues and unite to do the job we were elected to do.”
Next weekend will see the winner of a bad-tempered contest unveiled at the UK Labour Party conference in Liverpool, with Corbyn the favourite to win.
The support of the left wing activists who have flocked to the party is expected to seal victory for Corbyn despite him losing the support of his MPs at Westminster.
This summer Dugdale called for Corbyn’s resignation after he lost a no confidence motion voted on by his MPs. Dugdale has also suggested that she would not be able to survive as Scottish leader, if she had lost the support of her parliamentary colleagues in the way that Corbyn has.
Yesterday Dugdale was unable to hide her dismay over the way the UK leadership contest has descended into acrimony.
“I’m not proud how the party has conducted itself, because for every day Labour is in the position it is in, the Tories continue to govern and cause havoc for the working people and the types of communities I seek to represent,” Dugdale said.
The deep divisions exposed within Labour during the leadership race have led to suggestions that the moderates should split from the Corbynistas. Corbyn’s critics claim the left winger is incapable of attracting the middle ground support required to take Labour back into government. Dugdale, however, indicated that she did not think a split was a serious proposition.
“I don’t take the threat of that (split) very seriously – because if you are a member of the Labour Party, like I have been for a long time now, you carry a card in your wallet which says very clearly on the back of it that our strength of our common endeavour can change more than we can on our own.”
On the eve of today’s second anniversary of the independence referendum, Dugdale hardened her stance against a second vote. She said it was “ludicrous” for Nicola Sturgeon to suggest that independence could protect Scotland’s place in the EU.