Leonard: Scottish Labour determined to pull together

Leader Richard Leonard said the Labour Party was a ‘broad church’ and should remain so.

The Scottish Labour Party is “determined” to pull together, according to leader Richard Leonard.

Admitting that there will not be a “road to Damascus” revelation for voters, Leonard said the party is looking to recover heading into the Holyrood elections in 2021 and believes it is up to the party and activists to win back the seats lost in 2016 north of the border.

At the last Holyrood election, under then leader Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour slumped to third place behind the Conservatives, losing 14 seats.

Leonard said the party should continue to be a “broad church”, with members from across the left of the political spectrum, but added there is an understanding in the party that members should “recharge our policies”.

He said: “There is an absolute determination that we unite, we can’t afford the luxury of division because of the position that we are in and we need to pull together.

“My view is that the Labour Party has always been a broad church and there are people from different traditions of the left in it and that’s how it should always be.

“There should be room for debate, discussion, dare I say dissent within the Labour Party, that’s always my experience of it and I hope it always will be.”

Turning to the party’s platform during the 2019 general election, which saw Labour in Scotland lose all but one of their seats, Leonard said: “There was an issue around the credibility of some of the policies in the general election.

“We needed to have a better narrative around what we wanted to do and why we wanted to do it.

“All of us, in the cold light of day, reflect on that and we reflect on that with humility.”

Leonard rejected the idea that the party was dead in Scotland, pointing to their influence in local authorities in North Ayrshire and North Lanarkshire.

He added: “I think that we are providing an effective opposition in the Scottish Parliament to the SNP government as well.

“We are challenging them on the issues that people are saying to us are important.”

Leonard added it was up to party officials and members to ensure that “people will not only see the Labour Party as the party of hope, but also the party for the realisation of that hope”.

Over the coming months, Leonard said the party north of the border will begin to form its policies for next year’s election, which will include discussions with vulnerable groups and trade unions.

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