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Labour leader setback

Leonard’s indy debate call snubbed by party executive

Richard Leonard in Airdrie

Richard Leonard: authority undermined (pic: Terry Murden)

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard’s call for a special conference on the party’s position on independence has been rejected by his own executive committee.

His party executive was expected to propose staging an event next May after reports that it could be more willing to consider supporting a second referendum.

However there was no formal proposal on the issue discussed at a meeting of Scottish Labour’s executive committee in Glasgow on Saturday

The SNP immediately described the failure to back Mr Leonard as a “huge blow” to his authority.

The committee instead resolved to debate Labour’s policy on federalism “to ensure that it resonates with people across Scotland”.

In a statement issued afterwards, Mr Leonard said: “I want Scottish Labour to hold a swift, evidence-based review of the result and the lessons we must learn as a party.

“We must in particular consider our position on the constitutional questions which dominated the general election campaign: namely Scotland’s constitutional future and our relationship with the European Union – drawing on our tradition as the party of devolution.”

Linda Stewart, a former chairman of Scottish Labour, together with academic, Professor David Conway, will help lead this review and will report back in March.

The SNP’s Westminster deputy leader Kirsty Blackman MP said: “This is a huge blow to Richard Leonard, who appears to be Scottish Labour leader in name only – having been fatally undermined by his own party’s executive committee.”

She said that if Labour sides with the Tories again and denies the people of Scotland a choice over its future “they will sink even further into irrelevance.”

Scottish Conservative MSP Miles Briggs called it “another humiliating result for Richard Leonard”.

He said: “He was pushing for his party to give in to the SNP on indyref2, but he’s been stopped by his own executive.

“This just goes to show the chaotic state that Scottish Labour are in at the moment.

“They are all over the place when it comes to Scotland’s place in the union, and the infighting will only continue.”

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