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Scotland Richard Leonard leaves Kezia Dugdale off his front bench

SCOTTISH Labour leader Richard Leonard left his predecessor Kezia Dugdale on the sidelines when he announced his new front-bench team yesterday.

The Central Scotland MSP said both Ms Dugdale and former deputy leader Alex Rowley “did not want a front-line role” at this time.

His gender-balanced 14-strong team includes the new role of Brexit spokesman for left-wing MSP Neil Findlay.

However, Mr Leonard did allow his leadership contest rival Anas Sarwar to stay on as health spokesman with additional responsibility for sport.

Prominent Sarwar supporter Jackie Baillie also remains spokeswoman for economy, jobs and fair work.

Mr Leonard has created a new position for the eradication of poverty and inequality and handed it to Elaine Smith.

Also newly created is a stand-alone post for communities, social security and equalities, which has gone to Monica Lennon.

Claire Baker moves from justice to culture, tourism and external affairs, replacing Lewis Macdonald, who has been dropped. Daniel Johnson replaces Ms Baker on justice.

Rhoda Grant switches from rural economy and connectivity to become parliamentary business manager and spokeswoman on women and equality, with Colin Smyth taking her old job.

Iain Gray remains party spokesman for education and Claudia Beamish retains the environment and climate change brief.

Previously announced appointments include MP Lesley Laird as interim deputy leader and James Kelly as finance spokesman.

Mr Leonard said he had taken three weeks to assemble his team as he spoke to each Labour MSP individually.

He said: “I’m delighted with the people who have agreed to serve in this shadow cabinet. I think it’s a strong team which brings together a blend of experience, skills and new energy.

“I think it will be a great team to advocate a strong Scottish Labour message.”


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