Richard Leonard, Scottish Labour’s leader, has now been in the job for three years, during which time he has presided over multiple election defeats. In the European elections in May 2019, the party slumped to fifth in Scotland, polling less than 10% of the vote. The party then fell from seven seats to one in November’s General Election.
A YouGov poll for The Times puts support for Labour at 14 per cent in Holyrood’s constituency and list vote. And 53 percent of voters could not recognise Mr Leonard.
We present a timeline of the people calling for Leonard’s resignation, with our thoughts on what his replacement must do to beat the toxic Nationalism that has engulfed Scotland.
George Foulkes, Labour peer, says Leonard must go:
He has to put the interests of the Labour party in Scotland ahead of his own personal interests. He doesn’t seem to like it [the job] and he doesn’t seem to break through. [Leonard] needs to think of what is best for the party in terms of the Holyrood elections. Tony Blair has sent a coded message to him and he needs to think carefully about it.
In The Majority’s highly unscientific Twitter poll, 84% of 930 respondents say Leonard should be replaced. There are also a number of comments, like this one, from Nationalists who want to keep him:
Jackson Carlaw quits as leader of The Scottish Conservatives:
[I] simply believe that a new leader will be able, as we recover from the Covid-19 emergency, to make the case for the Scottish Conservatives and The Union better than me. That is all that matters.
Archie Macpherson calls on ‘invisible’ Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard to quit ‘nostalgic cult’ party
I doubt if anybody interested in the future of the Labour Party in Scotland, and indeed in the continuance of the UK as we know it, could disagree with George Foulkes…that it is time for Richard Leonard to step down from a leadership that is edging his party towards utter irrelevance.
A delegation of Labour MSPs tell Leonard he should go, or face ‘election disaster’.
Journalist, Stephen Daisley, who has argued for some time that Leonard isn’t up to the job, says he should go:
But while he has managed a few decent turns against Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s Questions, his tenure has been what I call a ghost leadership. There is no memorable speech, policy proposal or campaign to his name. If he went tomorrow, he would leave so little trace that you would soon wonder if he had been there at all.
James Kelly MSP, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Justice Spokesperson, resigns, saying:
More than half of the public have no opinion on you and you have a negative rating even among our own supporters. Such poor ratings could produce a catastrophic result from which the party would struggle to recover. Coming a poor third in the election would be letting down those who rely on Scottish Labour to provide a strong voice. I see no evidence of a clear plan to reverse the party’s fortunes. The situation has been apparent for some time and you have failed to turn things around. I have no confidence in your ability to shape the party’s message, strategy and organisation.
Supported by Jane Marra MSP:
If we do not change course now we risk catastrophe. Not just for the party but for all those who believe in and need a fairer, more equal Scotland. After three years the party’s standing is getting worse rather than better. No one can say that Richard has not had opportunities to turn the situation around. Colleagues know that [Mr Leonard] is utterly committed to the party, the cause and he is liked by everyone. But the job we are asked to do by the party is not to let sentiment stop us from acting when all the evidence and our duty demands that we act. Richard is a stalwart of our party but he cannot lead us. That’s the unavoidable truth and change is our best hope.
And Daniel Johnson MSP:
Mark Griffin resigns as Shadow Social Security spokesperson:
We cannot hope to improve when any criticism, public or private, is dismissed as factional. I have had grave concerns about the future of the Scottish Labour Party for some time, especially following the disastrous European and General Election results.
Labour front-bencher, Rachel Reeves, calls for Leonard to ‘consider his position’:
The opinion polls in Scotland are pretty dire for Labour, we’ve got important elections next year. [He should] consider his position and do what he thinks is right for Scotland and for Scottish Labour.
Helen Liddell, Meta Ramsay, George Robertson and George Foulkes write a letter to Leonard.
They elected me back in 2017 to lead the Scottish Labour Party into the May 2021 Scottish Parliament elections; that is what I am on course to doing. [I have received] a huge number of messages of support from right across the party, the trade unions…I am confident I have got the backing of the members of the Scottish Labour Party, who elected me just under three years ago.
The Majority’s view
It’s not enough that Leonard must go, his successor must fight effectively against Nationalism.
This should be a straightforward ideological battle: Labour, of all parties, should realise that their real enemy in Scotland is not the Tories, but a divisive Nationalism that steals their natural supporters with fake promises.
Nationalism is fake socialism. Nationalism and socialism are simply incompatible. You cannot claim to be a socialist while supporting a party that causes division based on nationality.
You cannot claim to be a socialist while wanting to deprive Scots of the shared finances and social services of the United Kingdom. You cannot claim to be a socialist and want to impoverish the poor for a selfish dream.
You cannot be for equality when you wish to make foreigners of fellow workers in the rest of the UK.
It’s time to assert yourselves as real socialists and anti-Nationalists, and reject the Red Tory label.
And finally, make alliances with anyone to get rid of this ugly and divisive ideology from Scotland.
Mark Devlin is the publisher of The Majority
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Richard Leonard is a socialist, which is exactly what Scotland needs to help us deal properly with the triple threat facing, not only Scotland, but the planet as a whole, the collapse of capitalism, the pandemic and climate change. Any one of these could kill us all alone. It is the profit motive an essential tool of capitalism, which is supported by the SNP, Scottish Greens Scottish Tories and the Scottish Libdems which has been responsible for taking the whole planet to the brink of extinction. So, cannot understand why people would support any of the other parties, when Scottish… Read more »
Regarding the heading Nationalism is Fake Socialism – I have to correct that remark, nationalism has NOTHING to do with socialism whatsoever the 2 have nothing in common. If anyone is thinking of using the Nazis were socialists argument – I say this – no they were not, and Hitler only attached the label of socialism, before being elected, in order to fool people in Germany to vote for him. In other words Hitler did what the likes of Donald Trump is doing now – pretending to be something he is not, and he is the exact polar opposite of… Read more »