Kezia Dugdale: Labour squabbles letting David Cameron off the hook


The long and increasingly petty campaign to replace Ed Miliband as UK Labour leader is letting David Cameron off the hook, according to new Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.

Ms Dugdale, who was elected with the overwhelming support of Scottish members on Saturday, said she is worried about the impact Labour's introspection will have on its ability to be an effective opposition over the summer.

And she again questioned Jeremy Corbyn's willingness to be prime minister, despite acknowledging that his popularity and "big ideas" are exciting the country.

Speaking on Bauer Radio's Scotland's Talk In, Ms Dugdale said: "Four months is a long time to pad out with policy announcements and talking about what happened in the general election, and I think it has created a space where a lot of animosity has come in.

"It's all become very personal in the last few weeks, which is not pleasant.

"The thing that bothers me about that is not so much the petty exchanges, but the fact that David Cameron is getting off the hook all through the summer.

"I think he's having three summer holidays, and he can do so in the blissful knowledge that the Labour Party will continue to talk about its own future rather than scrutinise his government's record and what they plan to do in the future. That's quite worrying."

Ms Dugdale denied accusations that she has backtracked on previous criticisms of Mr Corbyn, the left-wing veteran who is currently leading the race to be the next UK Labour leader.

In an interview with The Guardian earlier this month, Ms Dugdale questioned how "a guy that's broken the whip 500 times" can enforce party discipline, and said she has yet to be convinced he can be prime minister.

Clarifying her comments, she said: "I didn't say that I couldn't work with Corbyn.

"I did pose some questions about whether or not he wanted to be prime minister. I just posed some questions about what Labour needs to do to return to power.

"I went on the radio a couple of days later, ahead of actually going to see Jeremy to sit down with him and talk about his campaign and his plans, and in that interview I recognised that in many ways his campaign is exciting the country.

"He's clearly filling out community halls and he's talking about big ideas, and that was very much to be welcomed.

"So I could work with any of the four candidates. I've met them all and talked to them all privately about the future.

"At no point have I said that I couldn't work with any of the four candidates."

She added: "Ultimately, decisions about the Scottish Labour Party will be made by me here in Scotland with my colleagues, with party members and people that join our movement, and they will be made in the best interests of Scotland. I can promise you that."