Scottish Labour leader Leonard to face no confidence vote

Richard Leonard said a bid to oust him at a meeting of the party's ruling body is 'entirely factional'.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard is set to face a vote of no confidence at a meeting of the party’s governing body.

A motion has been submitted for Saturday’s meeting of the Scottish Executive Committee (SEC) in a bid to oust Leonard.

The text of the motion, provided to the Daily Record, reads: “The SEC expresses that it has no confidence in the leader of the Scottish Labour party.”

Responding to the reports, the Scottish Labour leader described the move as “entirely factional” and said the last thing supporters and voters “want to see is a party turning in on itself”.

It comes after four of Leonard’s team called on him to resign, including two members of his frontbench team.

James Kelly and Mark Griffin quit their respective finance and social security briefs in protest at Leonard’s leadership, while MSPs Jenny Marra and Daniel Johnson also said the Scottish Labour leader should go.

Since then, four Labour peers have urged Leonard to stand down, while one member of UK Labour leader Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet, Rachel Reeves, also suggested he should consider his position.

But a bullish Leonard has described the party rebels as “despicable” for trying to remove in the midst of a pandemic and ahead of next May’s Holyrood election.

The Scottish Labour leader has also hinted the rebels could be deselected as candidates ahead of next year’s vote.

He accused his opponents within the party of “internal bickering” and insisted they had “underestimated (his) resolve” to stay in his post.

Leonard was elected Scottish Labour leader in 2017 but has been dogged by poor personal approval ratings and poor performances in elections.

With the Scottish Parliament election to take place next May, Labour finds itself languishing in third place in the polls, behind the SNP and the Scottish Tories.

The party haemhorraged all but one of its Scottish seats in last December’s general election.

Scottish Labour also lost its only two MEPs in the European election earlier in 2019, dropping from second to fifth place in vote share.

The SEC is made up of elected Scottish Labour politicians, trade unionists and representatives of the grassroots party membership.

Ahead of Saturday’s meeting, Leonard said: “The last thing Labour supporters and those we need to win back want to see is a party turning in on itself.

“A lot of these people are not mandated by their organisations to vote in this way.

“That exposes how this is motivated by faction and that this is an entirely factional move.

“They have nothing to say or offer, no ideas, no plan to protect jobs and living standards against the backdrop of the Covid crisis.

“That is what I want us to concentrate on: the real struggle the people of Scotland are in.”

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