Richard Leonard voted in as Scottish Labour leader

Richard Leonard voted in as Scottish Labour leader


Richard Leonard has been voted as the new leader of Scottish Labour as Kezia Dugdale enters the I’m A Celebrity jungle.

Ms Dugdale resigned from leader of Scottish Labour at the end of August, sparking a new contest.

In his victory speech, Mr Leonard made references to recent sexual harassment and sleaze scandals, saying new training was needed.

He said there would be an independent route for complaints as well as new training for staff and representatives on sexism and harassment.

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Scottish Labour elects new leader

Mr Leonard has been an Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP) for just over a year, winning his seat in May 2016.

He won the leadership contest by a sizeable margin, taking 9,150 votes – 51.8% of those cast.

Mr Leonard is seen as an ally to Jeremy Corbyn. Although he supported him in the Labour leadership election, he did then distance himself in an interview, claiming he was “too long in the tooth” to be a Corbynista.

He told his supporters: “I joined the Labour Party in Stirling 35 years ago because I knew that the only way to bring about real change was to combine, to unite and to campaign in order to win power.

“The only party of hope and the only means of realising that hope, the hope of the people was the Labour Party.

“So to be elected leader of the Scottish Labour Party, to lead our party, as a movement for democracy and yes, as a movement for socialism, is a source of immense pride but it is also deeply humbling.

“Whoever you voted for… we are one party.”

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 16: Richard Leonard MSP launches his campaign for the Scottish Labour Party leadership at City of Glasgow College on September 16, 2017 in Glasgow,Scotland. The currentÊScottish Labour Party leadership electionÊwas triggered on 29 August 2017 following the resignation of Kezia Dugdale asÊleaderÊof theÊparty, having led theÊLabour in ScotlandÊfor the past two years. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Richard Leonard MSP at the launch of his leadership campaign

Mr Leonard’s opposition was Anas Sarwar, who had previously been an acting leader for Scottish Labour. He took 43.3% of the vote.

Mr Sarwar was a Glasgow MP in the 2010-2015 term but lost his seat to the SNP.

Mr Corbyn congratulated the new leader, and said: “After being written off time and again, the General Election showed that our party is capturing the mood both in Scotland and across the rest of the UK.

“There is much to do to continue our party’s revival in Scotland and many who still need to be persuaded to put their trust in the Labour Party.

“But Richard’s campaign offered a challenge to the rigged system that has benefited a wealthy elite and showed how he will lead Scottish Labour to transform society.”

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale
Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, who resigned in August

Of Mr Leonard, Sky’s Tamara Cohen said: “He is pretty new to Scottish politics.

“He was odds on favourite because of his closeness to Jeremy Corbyn. He was also a former union organiser.

“This contest has been very bitter, marred by personal attacks and accusations of vote rigging.

“People will be looking now to see if Labour can make much of a recovery in the coming years.”

Anas Sarwar at his leadership bid launch
Anas Sarwar at his leadership bid launch

It is understood Ms Dugdale will be entering the ITV I’m A Celebrity jungle on Sunday alongside Boris Johnson’s father Stanley.

When she resigned, she wrote: “I’ve given this task all that I have.

“With nearly four years until the next Scottish Parliament election, I’m convinced the party needs a new leader with fresh energy, drive and a new mandate to take the party into that contest.”

Her decision to enter the jungle has come under fire from within her own party, as Jenny Marra said election to office was “not a shortcut to celebrity”.

Mr Leonard becomes the fourth leader the party has had in three years.

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