Scottish Labour leadership contenders to launch campaigns

Written by Tom Freeman on 15 September 2017 in News

Anas Sarwar and Richard Leonard are set to launch their respective campaigns over the weekend

Scottish Labour - Scottish Labour

The two men vying for the leadership of Scottish Labour are expected to launch their campaigns over the next few days.

Anas Sarwar and Richard Leonard are standing in the race to succeed Kezia Dugdale, who quit as leader on the 29 August.

Both entered parliament in 2016, Sarwar on the Glasgow list and Leonard on the Central Scotland list. Sarwar had been an MP in Glasgow until 2015, while Leonard was active in the GMB union.


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Both candidates have said they will boost women's representation in the party. Sarwar said he would create an additional deputy leadership position so a woman could join Alex Rowley in the role.

“To ensure women are adequately represented in our party and the Scottish Labour leadership, I am proposing that at least one deputy leader will always be a woman," he said.

“But our battle for equality doesn’t stop at Holyrood. We want equality in society across Scotland and will make ending the gender pay gap an economic priority. Women have borne the brunt of Tory austerity, which has slashed public services and eroded social security.

“I want inequality to be a problem of the past, and will work to build a Scotland where everyone has the same opportunity in life, regardless of their social background, gender, race, sexuality or religion.”

Leonard meanwhile says he will establish a training academy for candidates to support more women to seek election.

"Over 20 years ago, I was one of those in Labour who helped lead the way on women's representation by introducing all women shortlists, it took the SNP until 2016 to catch up with us," he said.
 
"If we are serious about changing society - we need to be prepared to change our own practcies and outlook. This change needs to come from the ground up so that we are making the full use of the skills and abilities of Labour party members."

It is thought Sarwar may have the support of the majority of Labour's MSPs, while Leonard's support comes from members energised by Jeremy Corbyn's popularity.

"We need to stay on the course that Jeremy’s leadership has set for the party, and we need a Scottish Labour Party in tune with this new movement," said Leonard. 

Sarwar was one of a number of signatories to a letter calling for Corbyn to resign last year, but he recently told Channel 4 News: "I wasn’t the only one wrong about Jeremy Corbyn last year. My concern was whether he would reach out to the public, but he has proven he has reached out not only to the Labour party but he’s reached out to the public."

Nominations for the leadership close on 17 September, but a third contender is not expected to emerge.

The ballot will open on 27 October following a series of hustings events, and the winner will be announced on 18 November.

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