Scottish Labour leadership race takes shape as Sarwar and Leonard enter contest

Former deputy leader Anas Sarwar has announced he is standing against Richard Leonard to be Kezia Dugdale’s successor

ANAS SARWAR this morning announced his candidacy for the Scottish Labour leadership, confirming heavy speculation that he would join the race to face off against the only other confirmed candidate, Central Scotland MSP Richard Leonard.

Sarwar’s campaign will be co-chaired by Pauline McNeill, a fellow Glasgow MSP and Scottish Labour’s shadow minister for housing and social justice, and East Lothian MP Martin Whitfield.

“Over the coming weeks I will set out my positive vision for Scotland’s future, rooted firmly in Labour’s values.” Labour MSP Anas Sarwar

In a press release issued this morning, Sarwar stated: “This is an election that nobody wanted or expected, and I would once again like to pay tribute to Kezia Dugdale for her dedicated service.

“Labour is revitalised in Scotland and I am ready to unite our party and lead us back to power.

“The people of Scotland do not need a Labour party that is fighting itself. They need a united Labour party in Holyrood that is fighting the SNP and ready to form Scotland’s next government.

“And they need a united Labour party across the UK working together to elect Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister.

“Over the coming weeks I will set out my positive vision for Scotland’s future, rooted firmly in Labour’s values.”

“We will run a positive and constructive campaign and we will focus on the battle of ideas and issues our party needs to be at the vanguard of.” Pauline McNeill MSP

Pauline McNeill said of Sarwar’s candidacy: “Anas has the experience and energy to take on the challenge to transform us from being an opposition party to being the next Scottish Government.

“I know he can unite our party behind our common aims and socialist values by addressing the deepening inequalities that prevail across the country.

“We will run a positive and constructive campaign and we will focus on the battle of ideas and issues our party needs to be at the vanguard of.”

Sarwar’s announcement makes him the second declared candidate in the Scottish Labour leadership contest, following MSP and former GMB trade unionist Richard Leonard, who confirmed that he was standing in an article for the Sunday Mail, writing that “it is now time to set out our vision of a more equal Scotland with full employment, funding quality public services, providing dignity for our OAPs and hope for our young”.

Sarwar, already the subject of intense speculation as a possible leadership contender, wrote in the same newspaper: "I firmly believe Labour can achieve power again in both Holyrood and Westminster.”

Sarwar’s call for party unity and apparent support for Corbyn run counter to both his former opposition to Corbyn in prior Labour leadership contests, and the widespread perception that he represents Labour’s Blairite faction and would, if elected, continue Dugdale’s relative centrism.

“We should have used the opportunity of Jeremy Corbyn’s growing popularity in that election to ... get away a bit from the entrenchment in constitutional politics which we found ourselves in.” Richard Leonard MSP

Leonard, by contrast, is seen by many as being the more leftwing candidate, and may become the favoured choice for Corbyn supporters following confirmation from Alex Rowley and Neil Findlay that they will not be running.

Leonard had earlier told BBC Radio Scotland that Scottish Labour had failed to capitalise on Corbyn’s leadership, saying: “I think we should have used the opportunity of Jeremy Corbyn’s growing popularity in that election to knock on more doors to get across the Labour message and I think to get away a bit from the entrenchment in constitutional politics which we found ourselves in.”

Media relations for Sarwar’s campaign are meanwhile being overseen by Alan Roden, Scottish Labour’s communications director and former Scottish Daily Mail political editor. The Sunday Herald reported yesterday that Mr Roden’s employment with Scottish Labour, along with strategy chief Martin McCluskey and policy director Gina Davidson, was tied to the leadership of Kezia Dugdale, whose resignation Roden reportedly learned of while attending a Las Vegas casino.

Picture courtesy of Scottish Labour

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Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 13:21


"Our cause will always be to fight inequality and injustice wherever we see it."
- Anas Sarwar, candidate for Scottish Labour leader

"always" Anas?

The problem with "always" is that politicians usually turn a blind eye to any inequality and injustice that happens only to one person or only just to a few people.

Politicians can usually only be bothered to see the "inequality and injustice" that thousands or millions already complain about, that the media have reported (perhaps arising because of a political mistake by your political opponents) and by taking up such a popular cause you believe you can make political capital and win new votes for yourself.

Rarely if ever do politicians fight the inequality and injustice dished out daily by the Queen's gangster police state to the wrongly accused, because never do politicians dare to side with those arrested or in the dock who have been unjustly persecuted by the state.

Even when politicians' own colleagues are persecuted by the police state, their colleagues turn their backs on them, like cowards and offer their own colleagues little or no solidarity.

Truly, the politicians Scots have come to know so well are immoral backstabbing cowards with warm words for the many voters and cold comfort for the victims of state persecution.

Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 13:22


"And we need an economy where we see a fundamental shift in power from those who own the wealth to those working people who create it. ... I have unflinchingly opposed nationalism and will continue to do so.
Labour’s strength is that we organise and represent people across the whole of these islands, as part of a worldwide movement."
- Richard Leonard, candidate for Scottish Labour leader

The problem being, Richard, that UK Labour's weakness is that it DOESN'T now represent a majority of people in England or across the whole of these islands and neither does Labour have the strength to cobble together a majority coalition government in the House of Commons at Westminster.

So Scottish Labour's weakness is that when UK Labour is not the UK government, you surrender power to the UK Tory government and the Bank of England to borrow Scotland's savings and to control Scotland's wealth.

Scottish Labour's weakness is that it unflinchingly opposes the working people of Scotland taking power to borrow our own Scottish national savings away from the UK Treasury in London and shifting that power to the elected representatives of Scottish working people in the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood.

Scottish Labour unflinchingly has a very similar policy to the so-called "nationalist" SNP Government's Fiscal Framework Agreement which formally surrenders power over Scotland's money to the UK.

In that respect, unflinching surrender of Scotland's savings to Westminster does not distinguish Scottish Labour from the policy of the SNP government.

Scottish Labour and the SNP are like two peas in the (surrender monkey) pod that is Holyrood.

Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 13:25

Scottish Labour needs a better leader than someone who will "follow Corbyn".

Scottish Labour needs to outflank the SNP as better Scots, more patriotic, exposing how the SNP has let Scots down, failed to fight for Scottish interests and sold Scots out to the UK Tories time and time again.

For example, the SNP are vulnerable over Sturgeon's Fiscal Framework Agreement with the UK (Tory government) because it surrenders any demand for new powers for the Scottish government to borrow £ billions a year more interest-free from the central bank to invest in Scotland.

However, such macro-economic powers are not explicitly in Corbyn's UK Labour Party plan. There is Labour talk of a "Scottish investment bank" of some £2 billion a year but that's a long way short of what's needed - +£10 billion a year, up to 8% of Scottish GDP, all entirely within the gift of Holyrood and the Scottish government.

So if Scottish Labour does a "turn left behind Corbyn" it WON'T "outflank the SNP" on the critical issue of borrowing powers for the Scottish government.

Scottish Labour has to make a demand for the immediate DISAGREEMENT with Sturgeon's Fiscal Framework Agreement of February 2016 and an immediate demand from the UK of a new fiscal framework for Holyrood and the Scottish government with such borrowing powers for investment for growth. A one-size fits all - expecting Scotland to settle for a version of Labour's "regional investment banks" - with a governor likewise appointed by the UK government - is simply not ever going to outflank the SNP as more patriotic, better defenders of Scottish interests and finances.

Which is really why I am the one who ought to be elected to lead Scottish Labour and not either of the two so-far declared candidates that the media have chosen to promote.

Peter Dow, Science and Politics
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