Boost for Jeremy Corbyn as Richard Leonard is elected Scottish Labour leader

Posted On: 
18th November 2017

Richard Leonard has been elected as the new Scottish Labour leader, in another major boost for Jeremy Corbyn.

Richard Leonard succeeds Kezia Dugdale as Scottish Labour leader.
Credit: 
PA Images

The left-wing MSP comfortably saw off the challenge of moderate Anas Sarwar in the battle to succeed Kezia Dugdale.

Mr Leonard said he was "deeply humbled" to secure the post just a year after being elected to the Scottish Parliament.

Scotland's largest union supports Richard Leonard MSP for leader of the Scottish Labour Party

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Despite suggestions that the ill-tempered race was too close to call, he won by 12,469 votes to 9,516 on a turnout of around 62%.

His victory is significant for the UK Labour party as it means there will be another pro-Corbyn voice on its ruling national executive committee.

Ms Dugdale, by contrast, had been an outspoken critic of the UK party leader, and had been among those who had called on him to quit last year.

Although Mr Corbyn had officially remained neutral throughout the Scottish contest, many of his key allies - including Unite leader Len McCluskey - had given their support to Mr Leonard.

Speaking at Scottish Labour's Glasgow HQ after his win was announced, Mr Leonard said: "To be elected leader of the Scottish Labour party, as a movement for real change, as a movement for democracy and a movement for socialism, a s a movement for realising the hopes of the people is a source of immense pride but it is also deeply humbling."

In a plea for unity following the bruising leadership contest, he added: "We are one party, we are one movement and we stand or fall together."

Mr Corbyn said: "I would like to congratulate Richard Leonard on being elected the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party, and Anas Sarwar for his energetic campaign.

"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.

"This can be a turning point in Scottish politics and our party will now come together, united to challenge Tory and SNP austerity that has held Scotland back.

"I am confident that under Richard's leadership, Labour will once again be a real force for change in Scotland. I look forward to campaigning with him in Scotland next week as we build a movement that will help our party win in Holyrood and Westminster, to transform our country for the many not the few."