MPs And Labour Heavyweights Sign Letter Backing Richard Leonard For Scottish Labour Leader

Central Scotland MSP is odds on favourite to replace Kezia Dugdale.

A string of Labour heavyweights and union leaders have signed an open letter backing Richard Leonard for Scottish Labour Leader.

The MSP is the clear favourite to win the contest after Kezia Dugdale’s shock resignation earlier this years.

Anas Sarwar’s team insist their candidate is ahead among Labour members, claiming the party’s Holyrood health spokesman’s policy to support the single market is a dividing line, but Ladbrokes has Leonard as odds on to win at 1/6 while Sarwar lags behind at 7/2.

Sarwar’s campaign faltered at an early stage after it emerged his family firm’s cash and carry business did not recognise unions or pay the living wage.

He has, however, a wide range of support amongst MPs, counting Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray - the sole survivor of the 2015 SNP landslide - and newly-elected MP Martin Whitfield as backers.

Anas Sarwar (l) with Richard Leonard
Anas Sarwar (l) with Richard Leonard
Ken Jack - Corbis via Getty Images

Many MSPs, including the popular Jackie Baillie and Brexit spokesman Lewis MacDonald, also back Sarwar, alongside former Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling.

Leonard, meanwhile, has sought to build on a Labour revival north of the border by allying himself closely with Jeremy Corbyn, welcoming support from a slew of influential union leaders.

They have put their names to an open letter, which reads: “Richard Leonard is the best candidate for Scottish Labour leader: he stands for transforming a society and economy that currently produces so much poverty and inequality, not simply managing the present system in a better way.”

A spokesman for the Anas Sarwar campaign said: “More MSPs, MEPs and councillors from across Scotland are backing our campaign, and we have the support of thousands of ordinary members and trade unionists, with more than 8,000 vote pledges already.

“We have been overwhelmed by the support we have received, which is growing every day as members realise that only one candidate supports membership of the EU single market, has a detailed income tax plan, and wants to lift more children out of poverty.”

The results of the vote will be announced on November 18.

The full list of signatories:

Danielle Rowley MP

Monica Lennon MSP

Claudia Beamish MSP

Neil Findlay MSP

Rhoda Grant MSP

Hugh Gaffney MP

Ged Killen MP

Elaine Smith MSP

Paul Sweeney MP

Cathy Jamieson, former MP – deputy leader of Scottish Labour 2000-2008

Pat Rafferty, Unite the Union, Scottish Secretary

Gary Smith, GMB Scotland Secretary

Gordon McKay, UNISON Vice-President, Chair UNISON Labour Link Scotland

Dave Watson, UNISON, Scottish Organiser

Stewart Forrest, USDAW, Divisional Officer, Scotland

Karen Whitefield, USDAW, Training Officer, Scotland & former MSP

Liz Warren-Corney, TSSA, Scotland Organiser

Stevie Lawrence, TSSA, Executive Committee Member - Scotland

Kevin Lindsay, ASLEF Scotland Organiser

Lynn Henderson, trade unionist

Chris McLaughlin, Editor, Tribune

Mick Whelan, ASLEF General Secretary

Len McCuskey, Unite the Union General Secretary

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary

Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary

John Hannett, USDAW General Secretary

Mark Serwotka, trade unionist

Dave Ward, CWU General Secretary

Ronnie Draper, BFAWU General Secretary

Ian Hodson, BFAWU President

Councillor Joe Cullinane

Councillor Brian Gordon

Councillor Robert Bissett

Councillor Gerry Convery

Councillor Allyson Black

Councillor Margaret Brisley

Councillor Robert Burrows

Councillor Bill Butler

Councillor Angela Campbell

Councillor Harry Cartmill

Councillor Gail Casey

Councillor Dave Clark

Councillor Joan Coombes

Councillor Georgia Cruickshank

Councillor Eddie Devine

Councillor Margaret Richardson

Councillor Jim Reddin

Councillor Jim Sheridan

Councillor Bill Shields

Councillor Kenneth Stevenson

Councillor Derek Stewart

Grahame Morris MP, Easington

Ian Mearns MP, Gateshead

Rhea Wolfson, Labour Party NEC Member

Claudia Webbe, Labour Party NEC Member

David Watt, Socialist Educational Association Scotland

Chris Barbour, Scottish Young Labour Secretary

Leah Franchetti, Glasgow Labour Party member

Michael Connarty, former MP

Laura Pidcock MP, North West Durham

Dan Carden MP, Liverpool Walton

Owen Jones, author and campaigner

Gavin Strang, Former MP and minister

Fran Boait, Director of Positive Money

Matt Zarb-Cousin, former spokesperson for Jeremy Corbyn

Councillor Kenneth Earle

Councillor Angela Feeney

Councillor Robert Foster

Councillor Danny Gibson

Councillor Judy Hamilton

Councillor Jim Harte

Councillor Karen Kennedy

Councillor Matt Kerr

Councillor Danny Lennie

Councillor Mary Lockhart

Councillor Martin McCulloch

Councillor Andrew McGuire

Councillor Dom McGuire

Councillor George McIrvine

Nancy Platts, former trade union adviser to Jeremy Corbyn

Abi Wilkinson, Journalist

Billy Hayes, Labour Party CAC member

Fahd Ali Asif, Dundee new Scottish Labour Party Member

Cara Hilton, Former MSP, SEC member

Ann Henderson, SEC member

Siobhan McCready, SEC member

Lesley Brennan, SEC member and Vice Chair of CfS

Marlyn Glen, Former MSP

Prof. Christine Cooper, Strathclyde University, Professor of Accounting and Finance

Sam Tarry, President, CLASS

Stephen Wright, Musicians Union member

Maya Goodfellow, Writer

Hugh Henry, Former MSP

Councillor Davie McLachlan

Councillor AlexanderMcVey

Councillor Kathleen Martin

Councillor George Matchett

Councillor John Mooney

Councillor Jim Montgomerie

Councillor Gordon Munro

Councillor Alan Nimmo

Councillor Lawrence O’Neill

Councillor Pat O’Rourke

Councillor Ross Paterson

Councillor Clare Quigley

Dr Eric Shaw, University of Stirling, Honorary Research Fellow

Helen McFarlane, Scottish Labour Candidate 2017

Nathaniel Blondel, Chair, Glasgow Univerity Labour Club

Kate Shaw Nelson, Chair of Scottish Labour Students and Glasgow Kelvin CLP

Louis King, Co-Chair, Scottish Labour Young Socialists

Harry Lesley-Smith, Author and activist for the welfare state

Alan Cummings, Secretary, Durham miners

Councillor Elaine Murray, Former MSP

Seema Chandwani, Labour CAC member

Mark Millar, Write


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