Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale is to stand down from frontline politics to become director of Glasgow University’s John Smith Centre for Public Service.
The MSP for the Lothian region will start her new job this summer, leaving the Scottish Parliament in July.
The John Smith Centre, based at the University of Glasgow, “promotes a positive vision for representative politics and public service”.
Ms Dugdale served as party leader from 2015 to 2017, and deputy leader from 2014 to 2015, having been first elected as a member of the Lothian list in 2011.
The Sunday Times yesterday reported that Ms Dugdale would quit the Scottish Parliament “within weeks”.
In a statement released on Tuesday, Ms Dugdale said her next task is to “rebuild faith in our politics”.
“It has been an honour to represent the Lothian region for Labour in the Scottish Parliament and to have had the opportunity to serve the party in a variety of roles for over a decade – from party organiser to leader,” she said.
— Alan Smith (@Political_AlanS) April 29, 2019
“All through that time the passion and commitment of our members has been inspirational.
“No matter how difficult things were, activists were always willing to hit the doorsteps to spread Labour’s message.”
She added: “I have devoted my working life to public service and this is an incredibly exciting new opportunity for me to lead the work of the John Smith Centre.
“Throughout my career I have taken on tough and challenging tasks and my next task is to rebuild faith in our politics.
“Disruptive events and the rise of populism has led to increasingly polarised and emotional politics where rational, evidence-based thinking has lost its standing.
“Faith in public service, politics and the political process has to be restored and that progress must be sustainable.
“John Smith said ‘the opportunity to serve our country – that is all we ask’.
“It will be an honour to build on his legacy and inspire his values of public service in a new generation.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Ms Dugdale would be a “big loss” to both Scottish Labour and the Scottish Parliament.
She added: “I hope she enjoys her new challenge.”
I wish @kezdugdale the very best for the future. As political opponents, she and I have had our fair share of clashes over the years, but I think she is a big loss to @scottishlabour and to @ScotParl. I hope she enjoys her new challenge. https://t.co/WdXwttOXOr
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) April 29, 2019
First reaction to Kezia Dugdale stepping down
Kezia Dugdale, another career politician out the door, won't be missed.
— Edna's Son #LabourPartyRIP (@DelicateDave) April 29, 2019
Little by little, the party represented by Kezia Dugdale is fading into the history books, and the party of Richard Leonard is replacjng it in the present. Whether one likes it or not, that's the reality.
— Glen O'Hara (@gsoh31) April 29, 2019