The election of Richard Leonard as Scottish Labour leader this morning is a huge milestone for the party both in Scotland and UK-wide. The election of a left-wing, pro-Corbyn Scottish leader with his own radical agenda signals what Labour insiders have called a ‘total reset‘ for the Scottish party – and cements the pro-Corbyn majority on Labour’s UK National Executive Committee (NEC).
Both are vital. The Labour right was pinning its hopes of thwarting Corbyn on the NEC on a Sarwar win. Labour’s resurgence in Scotland, which began under Corbyn in June but was hampered by the uninspiring leadership of Leonard’s predecessor – but with a leader who marks a complete break with Scottish Labour’s Blairite torpor, both the SNP and the Tories will be worried today, whatever their respective leaders might say to pretend otherwise.
The victory margin was substantial, with Leonard receiving 57.6% of votes overall and winning both among party members and union affiliates:
Leonard’s bold victory speech will be music to the ears of many voters in Scotland:
The appetite of Scottish people for a bold, transformative vision for the country was shown in Labour’s gains in the General Election. In Leonard, Labour members have elected a leader who can help carry the party forward and change the political narrative.
The job has, of course, only just begun. The party in Scotland needs the same root and branch change that has started in England – and the voting split, which closely matched the division of CLP nominations, will also be encouraging for those wishing to see the grassroots-left, pro-Corbyn slate of Garnham, Dar and Lansman elected to the three new NEC places to help carry that process forward throughout the UK.
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