Page last updated at 13:12 GMT, Tuesday, 29 July 2008 14:12 UK

Jamieson launches leadership bid

Cathy Jamieson
Cathy Jamieson has decided to quit as party deputy leader

Cathy Jamieson has publicly launched her bid to succeed Wendy Alexander as Scottish Labour leader, with a pledge to unite and re-build the party.

The former justice minister has been seen as a front-runner for the job, along with Andy Kerr and Iain Gray.

Meanwhile, left-winger Bill Butler announced he would stand as deputy leader, Ms Jamieson's old job.

The new leadership team will be unveiled on 13 September.

The contest was sparked by the departure of Ms Alexander last month.

Ms Jamieson told BBC Scotland that the party was in difficult times, adding: "For various reasons, people have disconnected from the Labour Party.

"I want to re-build the party, but I want to do that with a view to getting the message across to people in parts of Scotland particularly where we have, for whatever reason, lost contact with them."

Cathy Jamieson explains why she wants to lead the Scottish Labour Party

The MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley said there were things Scottish Labour should do differently from the UK party, but insisted Labour MPs would not be asked to "butt out".

"Labour MPs have a say in this contest," said Ms Jamieson, who got her campaign under way during a meeting with party members in her constituency on Monday night.

"I think Labour MPs do want someone who will work with them, who will understand the issues that they're also trying to take forward in Westminster, but that we can work together to have that distinctive Scottish voice when it's necessary."

Mr Butler's bid came after he was was urged to stand against Ms Alexander for the leadership, which she eventually won unopposed.

The Glasgow Anniesland MSP said he would call for a root and branch review of party structure and pledged to involve all members and affiliated organisations in the policy process.

'Restore confidence'

"The need for change in both policy direction and organisation has never been more evident," he said.

"We must not only listen to voter criticisms, but be prepared to act upon them. Only if we are prepared to engage with the concerns that lie at the heart of people's lives will we be able to restore confidence in the Labour Party."

Mr Gray, MSP for East Lothian and a previous enterprise minister, officially announced his decision to stand for leader on Monday.

Mr Kerr, the former health minister, is expected to officially throw his hat in the ring later this week.

Fellow MSPs, Ken Macintosh and Charlie Gordon, may also stand if they can secure sufficient nominations.

MSPs have until 1 August to win the support of five colleagues to go forward to the next stage, while Labour pledged to ensure "maximum debate" between the Scottish candidates as party officials confirmed plans for a seven week election campaign.

Among those eligible to vote in the ballot will be the party's MSPs, MPs, party members and affiliates such as unions.


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