Novem­ber date for msp’s leader bid

Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser - - News - Judith Ton­ner

Richard Leonard will dis­cover on Novem­ber 18 if he has been suc­cess­ful in win­ning the Scot­tish Labour lead­er­ship.

The Cen­tral Scot­land MSP last week an­nounced that he is run­ning to re­place Kezia Dug­dale fol­low­ing her res­ig­na­tion last month. The party’s ex­ec­u­tive have now agreed on the timetable to elect her suc­ces­sor.

Nom­i­na­tions for the post close on Sun­day, with mem­bers’ reg­is­tra­tion to vote end­ing on Oc­to­ber 9.

The cam­paign pe­riod will see can­di­dates take part in 10 hus­tings events across the coun­try ahead of the party vote on Novem­ber 17, with the re­sult be­ing de­clared the next day.

Mr Leonard, who con­tested the Air­drie & Shotts con­stituency at last year’s Scot­tish Par­lia­ment elec­tion, is up against for­mer deputy leader Anas Sar­war in the lead­er­ship elec­tion.

He told the Ad­ver­tiser this week: “I know, from cam­paign­ing across Air­drie and Coat­bridge, the real and bold change that our com­mu­ni­ties need.

“Too many of our young peo­ple are in pre­car­i­ous jobs, too many of older peo­ple are liv­ing in fuel poverty, and too many fam­i­lies of all ages are liv­ing in sub-stan­dard and over­crowded homes.

“I’ve put my name for­ward to be leader of the Scot­tish Labour party to de­liver that bold and rad­i­cal agenda for change with en­ergy, cred­i­bil­ity and ex­pe­ri­ence.”

Just a few months ago in the gen­eral elec­tion al­most 13 mil­lion peo­ple voted for a Labour vi­sion which com­mit­ted us to ex­tend­ing pub­lic own­er­ship, to end­ing aus­ter­ity and so prop­erly in­vest­ing again in our pub­lic ser­vices and to re­dis­tribut­ing wealth and power to the many from the few.

It was on this plat­form that the peo­ple of Coat­bridge, Chrys­ton & Bell­shill voted in Hugh Gaffney to be their Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment. He will be a great ad­vo­cate for the peo­ple.

In Air­drie & Shotts Labour came within 200 votes of win­ning the seat and last week in the lo­cal coun­cil by elec­tion in the For­tis­sat ward Labour also tri­umphed.

This demon­strates that Scot­tish Labour’s resur­gence is not a flash in the pan but can be built upon. It also shows that the kind of Labour Party that the peo­ple of this area want is one that is united and true to its own val­ues.

And now more than ever Scot­land needs a strong and united Labour Party com­mit­ted to real and bold change.

Too many of our young peo­ple are in pre­car­i­ous jobs: zero hours and fixed-term con­tracts and work­ing through agen­cies. Too many of our older peo­ple live in fuel poverty. In­equal­ity is ris­ing so that in Scot­land to­day the rich­est one per cent own as much wealth as all of the poor­est 50 per cent com­bined.

Our NHS is fac­ing cuts and staff short­ages. Nowhere is this more ev­i­dent than at the Mon­k­lands Gen­eral Hospi­tal.

Ed­u­ca­tion, care and other pub­lic ser­vice work­ers are be­ing asked to pay the price for a cri­sis they did not cre­ate.

We need in­dus­trial re­con­struc­tion right across Scot­land and we need an econ­omy where we see a fun­da­men­tal shift in power from those who own the wealth to those work­ing women and men who through their labours and en­deav­our cre­ate it.

It is for these rea­sons that we need a dis­tinc­tive Scot­tish Labour vi­sion again, de­liv­ered with en­ergy but also de­liv­ered with con­vic­tion and cred­i­bil­ity.

That is why I have de­cided to seek to be the next leader of the Scot­tish Labour Party: not sim­ply to be the leader of a strong op­po­si­tion in Holy­rood but to lead the Labour Party across Scot­land and so to be the next Labour First Min­is­ter.

For too long peo­ple have heard what the Scot­tish Labour Party is against but not what we are for.

I have un­flinch­ingly op­posed na­tion­al­ism and sep­a­ratism and will con­tinue to do so. Labour’s strength is not only that we are a broad church but that we or­gan­ise and rep­re­sent peo­ple across the whole of these is­lands as part of a worldwide move­ment.

I pay trib­ute to my friend Kezia Dug­dale for be­gin­ning the change we need.

It is now time to set out Labour’s vi­sion of a more equal Scot­land with full em­ploy­ment in a sus­tain­able econ­omy, fund­ing qual­ity pub­lic ser­vices, pro­vid­ing dig­nity for our pen­sion­ers and hope for our young.

That is a fu­ture worth fight­ing for and it is a fight I hope to lead.

I pay trib­ute to my friend Kezia Dug­dale for be­gin­ning the change we need

Stood down Kezia Dug­dale

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