Scottish Labour and the SNP have long cosied up to each other when it suits them – including recently on controversial reforms to gender recognition – and Guido can now reveal yet another troubling instance of collusion from these ideological bedfellows. Taking a look at MSPs expenses register, Mairi Gougeon, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, has been paying out rent to a name which may well be familiar to followers of Scottish politics. It’s a “Miss K A Dugdale”.
Guido spoke to a member of Mairi’s team who confirmed, to the best of his knowledge, this was in fact Kezia. Mairi paid out over £11,000 to the former Labour leader. She also contributed over £2,000 in council tax and utilities for the same property. All on the taxpayers’ expense. This came predominantly during the pandemic – when many other Scottish ministers were working from home.
To make matters worse, co-conspirators may well be aware that Dugdale is married to Jenny Gilruth, herself a minister in Sturgeon’s government. So Mairi was effectively paying out to a Scottish government colleague, all from the public purse. The Scottish Parliament allowances scheme says MSPs are able to:
“[lease] residential property in Edinburgh, other than from a close family member, another member or connected person.”
In a statement to Guido, Mairi claimed her rent payments were “in accordance with the Scottish Parliament rules of expenses”. Although Kezia herself wasn’t an MSP whilst she was Mairi’s landlord, she was in a relationship with another MSP serving alongside Gougeon in government. Guido will leave it to co-conspirators, and the Ethical Standards Commissioner, to decide if that counts as a “connected person”…
Check out this tweet from jungle-bound Kezia Dugdale, having a dig at Nadine Dorries for appearing on I’m a Celeb back in 2012. Hasn’t aged well...
As Kezia touched down in Oz, new Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the party needed to “have a discussion” when she gets back about her decision to appear on the programme. Sounds like Leonard wants action. How daft of her to serve him up a reason on a plate…
Last September Tom Watson scored a win for Labour’s moderates by passing reforms which handed Kezia Dugdale an NEC seat, denying Corbyn a majority on the party’s ruling body. The plan almost worked, as Kezia voted with the moderates to prevent left-winger Andy Kerr from becoming NEC chair. Alas, her resignation now frees up that extra NEC spot, which is likely to be taken by a Corbynista and end the moderate majority. Oooooops…
Skwawkbox reckons acting Scottish Labour leader Alex Rowley takes the seat with immediate effect, giving the Corbynistas a majority of 18-17. Either way, the next Scottish Labour leader is going to be Corbyn-friendly. A pro-Corbyn source tells Guido that the left will now hold the balance of power:
“The Scottish and Welsh NEC seats Tom Watson pushed for should always have been democratically elected rather than appointed, but now Kezia has stepped down it’s going to finally swing the balance of power on the NEC to the left.”
This could be a big win for the Corbynistas in terms of party reforms, consolidating left-wing control and shafting the centrists once and for all. Skwawkbox is already gloating: “Ms Dugdale’s resignation could give Corbyn and his allies far greater influence over the agenda for Labour’s conference next month in Brighton – and potentially an opportunity to remake the party in line with its leadership”. Did somebody say McDonnell amendment and mandatory reselection?
As Chair of the party, I am writing to you today to resign as Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
It has been an honour and a privilege to have served this party in a leadership position for the last two and a half years, covering four national elections and one referendum.
I have worked with many great people, not least the staff in our HQ led by Brian Roy and those in the Scottish Parliament, whose boundless energy, expertise and good humour has guided our party through some dark hours and difficult times.
I’d like to thank my shadow cabinet for their efforts, and in particular Iain Gray for his unflinching love and support and James Kelly for the thankless but crucial job he does so well as our Business Manager.
Earlier this year I lost a dear friend who taught me a lot about how to live. His terminal illness forced him to identify what he really wanted from life, how to make the most of it and how to make a difference. He taught me how precious and short life was and never to waste a moment.
Being leader has always been a difficult but fulfilling challenge. One that until now I have enjoyed, driven by a clear guiding purpose and goals, many of which I have achieved.
I am proud of the fact that I’ve demonstrated how the parliament’s powers can be used to stop austerity with progressive taxes and the creation of new benefits. Proud to have advanced the call for federalism across the UK. Proud to have delivered real autonomy for the Scottish Labour Party and a guaranteed voice for Scotland and Wales on the NEC.
Educational inequality is the number one issue in Scottish politics after the constitution because Scottish Labour under my leadership put it there.
I am proud to have delivered 50/50 slates of amazing and diverse candidates in both the Scottish and U.K. Elections and equally proud to have invested in the next generation of labour activists and parliamentarians with leadership programmes. These have already furnished us with two of our magnificent seven MPs. With that re-established Scottish Labour group at Westminster, and a talented and effective group in Holyrood, Scottish Labour has a bright future.
A marker of success for me was to leave as leader with the party in better shape than I found it and I have done that.
Emerging from the challenging times following the 2014 referendum, and the 2015 UK election, we now have a solid platform on which to build towards success, and government.
I have given the task of achieving this all that I have. But with nearly four years now until the next Scottish Parliament elections, I am convinced that the party needs a new leader with fresh energy, drive and a new mandate to take the party into that contest.
I will continue as a Labour MSP for the Lothians and am already looking forward to spending more time with constituents and on constituency issues.
Too often our leaders leave in a crisis, with scores to settle. I love this party too much for that to be my way. There will be no press conference and no off the record briefing in my name. I choose to stand down because I believe it is best for me and best for Scottish Labour, at a time when we can be positive and optimistic about our future.
I remain in awe of all those party activists who devote their time to this movement without pay or reward. I thank them for their belief in me.
Yours in solidarity,
It is my duty to inform you that Sky News just introduced Kezia Dugdale as the leader of Scottish labia. pic.twitter.com/6ZwijTEC1n
— Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) May 28, 2017
The face on Kezia Dugdale…
The Mays’ “boy jobs and girl jobs” joke about the Philip taking the bins out has inspired the lamest lefty faux outrage in ages. Apparently in Labour la la land it is now sexist to say taking the bins out is a “traditional boy job”. Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale cries: “I despair… as a gay woman, my house is obviously always a total tip because no one ever takes the bins out”. Real vote winner there. Really is the height of naffness to claim Philip doing the bins while Theresa does “girl jobs” is a threat to gender equality. Theresa’s “girl job” is running the country…