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Kezia Dugdale takes finance brief as she appoints Labour front bench

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has announced her new front bench team, revealing she will take personal control of the finance brief.

Ms Dugdale said the move will put her anti-austerity message at the heart of the party’s campaigning over the next five years.

Former party leader Iain Gray will remain as spokesman for education, skills and science, while Jackie Baillie will speak for the party on the economy, fair work and jobs.

Deputy leader Alex Rowley will lead on community, social security and equalities issues, while Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Claire Baker will take on the justice portfolio formerly held by Graeme Pearson, who stepped down before the Holyrood election.

The gender-balanced team includes four new appointments – Anas Sarwar, Lewis Macdonald, Claudia Beamish and Rhoda Grant.

Former Scottish Labour deputy leader and MP Anas Sarwar, who was elected as an MSP on the Glasgow regional list, will take on the health brief formerly held by Jenny Marra, while North East Scotland MSP Mr Macdonald will be spokesman for culture, sport, tourism and external affairs.

South of Scotland MSP Ms Beamish will lead on environment, climate change and land reform, while Highlands and Islands MSP Ms Grant will be spokeswoman for the rural economy and connectivity.

Glasgow MSP James Kelly will remain the party’s business manager.

Labour said North East MSP Ms Marra would be its first nominee for a committee convenership at the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Dugdale said: “The big issue in Scottish politics over the next few years is how the Scottish Government uses the powers of the Parliament to stop the cuts and invest in the future.

“By taking on the finance role myself I am showing just how important our anti-austerity message is to the Labour Party. To build the kind of economy we need to create a better future for our young people we need to invest in education. That’s what I will focus on in the next few years.

“This is a strong front bench team that will hold the SNP Government to account and set out Labour’s positive vision for investing in the future of Scotland. We will work constructively on areas where we agree with the Government.

“Having lost their majority the SNP Government will face a big choice – they can either work with centre-left parties like Labour to stop the cuts and invest in our economy, or they can work with the Tories who want government to cut more and invest less.”

All six of the party’s new MSPs have been appointed to shadow minster roles within the front bench team.

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