Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard making his keynote address at the Scottish Labour's Annual Conference in Caird Hall, Dundee.
/

Scottish Labour in Crisis?

5 mins read

The party is facing a tumultuous crisis of identity, not for the first time, in the run up to the Scottish Elections of 2021

Over the last few weeks, eight parliamentarians within the Scottish Labour Party have publicly stated their lack of confidence in leader Richard Leonard. Some members call it a coup, defending the Labour leader, while others within the party continue to express a lack of confidence in the party with Leonard at the helm.

Four of Leonard’s own MSPs – James Kelly, Jenny Marra, Mark Griffin and Daniel Johnson, agreed publicly that they had lost confidence in him as their party leader.

Peers Helen Liddell, ex Defence Secretary George Robertson and Meta Ramsay have urged Leonard to step down. They were joined by fellow Labour peer George Foulks, whom has called for Leonard’s resignation for some time.

Leonard has stated that, “It just seems to me to be an act of sabotage to question the leadership of the party at this point.”

 With an election looming in the next few months, Scottish Labour may have found a lack of footing and popularity with the Scottish public with Leonard at the helm- but going into an election without a strong, recognisable leader, and having Leonard potentially defend himself from leadership contention may spell bad news for Scottish Labour at the polls.

Recent polls suggest Scottish Labour could fall to just fourteen per cent support in next May’s Holyrood election, and lose six of the 24 seats it won in 2016.

Leonard has failed to revive Labour support in Scotland, a difficult task for any leader given Scotland’s political landscape. This is primarily cited as the four aforementioned Scottish Labour parliamentarian’s reason for pushing him to resign.

““In spite of your best efforts over the past three years our support in Scotland has been falling dramatically, resulting in the loss of seats at every level and the prospects for the Scottish Parliament election next year look even worse.”

Scottish Labour, and indeed Labour itself is a party with wide-scale internal conflicts. Every political party is privy to this, perhaps none moreso than Labour in the last two decades.

The split between the centrist/right New Labour wings, centrist moderates, and far left members of the party has become more pronounced in recent years, from dislike democratic socialist Jeremy Corbyn being leader from some wings of the party, to distaste for new leader Keir Starmer in others, a more moderate centrist.

Richard Leonard. Image Credit: John Devlin

A spokesperson for Leonard said: “This pandemic has exposed the fundamental weaknesses in our economy, care system and jobs market. Scottish Labour under Richard Leonard will relentlessly prosecute the case for real and fundamental change at the 2021 Scottish elections to build a fairer, greener and better Scotland.

“Scottish Labour under Richard Leonard has forced the Scottish government to take action over jobs and social care and forced a U-Turn from the SNP government over the exams fiasco, a U-turn that an SNP MSP has openly conceded was the result of Scottish Labour’s pressure.”

However, Starmer has not called on him to quit, which brings credibility to Leonard’s continued leadership: “Richard Leonard and I have got a very good working relationship, and we’re totally focused on the elections in May next year. And we both know we have to rebuild trust in the Labour Party and that’s what we’re doing.”

The majority of Scottish Labour members publicly support Leonard, a Corbyn supporter, to continue as leader.

A spokesperson for Leonard stated that, “Scottish Labour under Richard Leonard will relentlessly prosecute the case for real and fundamental change at the 2021 Scottish elections to build a fairer, greener and better Scotland.

“Scottish Labour under Richard Leonard has forced the Scottish government to take action over jobs and social care and forced a U-Turn from the SNP government over the exams fiasco, a U-turn that an SNP MSP has openly conceded was the result of Scottish Labour’s pressure.”

With regards to addressing the MSP’s calls to resign, Leonard has threatened them with deselection.

Feature Image Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Leave a Reply

Kit Harrington as Alex in Criminal UK, dressed in a blue suit tearing up.
Previous Story

Criminal: UK Season 2 - Review

Next Story

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court’s pioneering icon, passes away at 87

Latest from Blog

Font Resize
%d bloggers like this: