MSP Richard Leonard confirms bid for leadership after Dugdale’s resignation
LEFT-WING MSP Richard Leonard confirmed yesterday that he will stand in the leadership contest for the Scottish Labour Party.
Mr Leonard, who is a supporter of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, said it was time for the party to be “more audacious” and win back support.
The announcement will be seen as a boost to Mr Corbyn after Neil Findlay and Alex Rowley ruled themselves out of the race following Kezia Dugdale’s resignation last week.
Ms Dugdale had led the party since 2015 after taking over over from Jim Murphy, whose disastrous general election campaign saw the party’s seats plummet from 41 to just one.
Former deputy party leader Anas Sarwar has also declared his candidacy.
Mr Sarwar opposed Mr Corbyn in the last leadership election but said the Scottish contest “will not be about the direction of the UK Labour Party.”
Mr Leonard immediately received backing from Lothians MSP Mr Findlay, who described him as “a man of real intellect and substance who would make a great Labour first minister.
“I’m proud to offer him my full support,” he told the Morning Star.
As a former GMB offi cial Mr Leonard is predicted to win the backing of trade unions in Scotland.
He is a relative newcomer to Holyrood only taking up his seat last year, but has acted as Scottish Labour’s economy spokesman and played a key role in drafting the party’s industrial strategy for Scotland.
He pledged to “unflinchingly oppose” Scottish independence saying Labour is strongest when it organises and represents people “across the whole of these islands, as part of a worldwide movement.”
Mr Leonard is confident that he could not only win the leadership but also the next general election.
“That is why I decided to seek to be the next leader of the Scottish Labour Party,” he said.
“Not simply to be the leader of a strong opposition but to be the next Labour First Minister.”
Leadership candidates must be an MP, MSP or MEP, and need the support of at least 15 per cent of all 32 Scottish Labour MPs, MSPs and MEPs.
The executive of the Scottish Labour Party will meet on Saturday September 9 to decide the timetable for the election.