The ballot for who will be Scottish Labour’s next leader has opened, with the candidates taking part in online hustings across the country.
Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar and Central Scotland MSP Monica Lennon are both vying to take over from Richard Leonard, who resigned on January 14 after holding the job for three years.
Party members and those affiliated through a union have until February 26 to cast their vote and the winner will be announced the following day.
Last night, the pair faced off on BBC Scotland’s The Nine covering issues such as taxes and Scottish independence.
Lennon said: “We failed to elarn lessons, failed to actively listen.
“If there’s a pro-independence majority, I hope that there isn’t, but if there is in the future then I give him my word that it will be for people in Scotland to decide it
“I won’t hide behind Boris Johnson or any prime minister. It should be a matter for Scotland, that’s what the question is about.”
Sarwar said: “Of course it’s a matter for Scotland to decide, but again, I don’t think it’s credible for us to say that we go straight from Covid into a referendum campaign.
“Part of the issue here… is, there is this fatalism that’s taken hold partly in the Labour party but also beyond the Labour party as well that says somehow a SNP majority is inevitable therefore a referendum is inevitable and independence is inevitable. I don’t think that is the case.”
Both candidates said that, under their leadership, Scottish Labour would consider increasing taxes on the highest earners.
Sarwar said: “I think we need a progressive tax system where we get the powers we need to do a progressive tax system.
“I think people can, in that top bracket, pay more.”
Lennon said that taxes as a whole needed to be looked at but agreed with her rival that “there are top earners in the country who can afford to pay more”.
The winner will become the party’s seventh leader since the SNP took control of Holyrood in 2007.