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Result announced in Glasgow

Leonard to lead Scottish Labour ‘for working people’

Richard Leonard

Richard Leonard: receives applause on his election (photo by Terry Murden)

Richard Leonard was today named leader of Scottish Labour and declared his aim to rebuild the party for working people.

The former trade union leader was announced as victor over his rival Anas Sarwar with 56.7% of votes cast.

He told a packed gathering at Glasgow Science Centre that he would lead a new “confident” Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s “principled” party.

“We have reawakened hope. But it has just started after this election. We will re-unite,” he said.

“We are re-connecting with people in workplaces.”

Declaring his credentials he said he had marched with the BiFab workers to the Scottish parliament in support of those fearing for their jobs.

“Let me tell you this: Scottish Labour is nothing if it is not on the side of working people,” he said to loud cheers.

He said his aim was to become not just leader of Scottish Labour “but to be the next Labour First Minister.”

He said that “to lead our party as a movement for real change, as a movement for realising the hopes of people is a source of immense pride, but it is also deeply humbling.

“And whoever you voted for, we are one party, we are one movement, and we stand or fall together.

“And that is why I particularly want to thank Anas for the way he has sought to move this debate about leadership on to the debate about ideas.

“So that there is now a settled consensus established around a radical policy agenda for the Scottish Labour Party of extending public ownership, of tacking inequality, of more progressive taxation and of a redistribution of power which will form the basis for our unity in going forward.

“A forward direction, in which Anas will have a vital role to play.”

He pledged to set up a manufacturing strategy, to solve the housing crisis, to end child poverty and bring dignity in retirement for pensioners.

“And to invest in our public services, not least in our health and education services to re-empower and re-resource local government. To build a more equal and tolerant society.

“Which is why I am delighted to have secured a mandate in this election, to pursue an industrial strategy, a Mary Barbour law to control rents, progressive taxation including a wealth tax.

“A mandate to build a high wage, high value re-balanced economy of the future, to invest in universalism not means testing.

Richard Leonard

Victory speech: Richard Leonard made pledge to working people (photo: Terry Murden)

“And to tackle women’s under-representation through the establishment of a Training Academy.

“It is clear though that we need to go further. We need to change the very political culture. We need zero tolerance of sexism, misogyny and sexual harassment.

“We need training on equality and diversity for all Labour Party representatives and staff.

“And we all need an independent route for complaints. And that is what we will implement under my leadership.

“We will also make the case for a long-needed industrial policy. And if this government will not implement one, it should make way for one that will.”

SNP Business Convener Derek Mackay said: “Congratulations to Richard Leonard on becoming the new leader of Scottish Labour.

“The SNP will work with any party to stand up to the Tories – and we hope Mr Leonard will begin by calling on the UK Government to end damaging Tory austerity in this week’s budget, halt the botched roll-out of Universal Credit, and protect Scottish jobs and our place in the Single Market.

“However, despite Mr Leonard’s appeals for unity today, there is no doubt that this has been a deeply unedifying election to lead a deeply divided party.

“Far from engaging in a battle of ideas about how to improve the lives of ordinary people in Scotland, senior Labour figures have instead spent the last three months publicly tearing each other to bits, settling old scores and even suggesting that the campaign is being rigged.

“While Richard Leonard might talk a left-wing game, he’s an enthusiastic supporter of housing the UK’s nuclear arsenal just a few miles from Scotland’s biggest city – and he now needs to explain his position on Brexit and whether he supports the Tories’ plans to rip Scotland out of the single market.

“These things won’t sit comfortably with many Labour members, and will only add to the significant confusion that already surrounds Labour’s position on Trident.

“In recent years, few revolving doors in Scotland have revolved as much as that of the Scottish Labour leader’s office.

“Mr Leonard has, perhaps, an impossible job on his hands in trying to weld together the warring factions of a deeply damaged and divided party – not least amongst his many parliamentary colleagues who did not support him.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Stepping up to lead Scottish Labour at any time is a feat but now is like a journey to the North Pole.

“It’s cold, has some dangerous predators and nothing is there when you arrive. I wish Richard Leonard well on his journey.”

Unite Scotland said Mr Leonard’s victory “is a victory for a Labour Party in Scotland marching resolutely behind the banner of ‘For the Many Not the Few’.

“We supported Richard Leonard in the contest because we believe that there was a radical socialist edge to the policies he stands for. 

“We must offer our commiserations to Anas Sarwar who has great talents to offer Labour in Scotland. Unity behind the new leader and his new team is now our watchword.”

Anas Sarwar

Anas Sarwar after result declared: ‘party will now unite’ (photo by Terry Murden)

Mr Sarwar said: “I congratulate Richard on his victory. He has my full and unwavering support, and I look forward to campaigning with him to return a Scottish Labour government.

“Our party will now unite around our new leader because we all share the same burning desire to elect a Scottish Labour government that works for the many, not the few.

“I am immensely proud of my positive campaign, which put forward new, radical, bold policy ideas, and always remembered who our real opponents are: the SNP and the Tories.

“I would like to thank the thousands of members and trade unionists who voted for me, and the hundreds who volunteered to help the campaign. I have a deep sense of pride about what we have achieved. I’m sorry I couldn’t do it for you, but I look forward to campaigning with you in the weeks, months and years ahead.”


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