I’d like to start by thanking Jamie for his work during this leadership contest. Like so many Labour members, he does it all unpaid and for the love of this Party.
The party staff also deserve our thanks. Even though they really should be experts at running leadership contests by now, their professionalism and dedication continues to impress. They don’t get thanked enough for what they do all year round, but I hope they know how much we appreciate their efforts.
I’d also like to pay tribute to Iain Gray, our Acting Leader over the last few months. I’ve known Iain a long time. He’s my closest friend in politics and my mentor. The fact that he stepped up again to do this job, after all that he went through when he was our leader for real, shows the measure of the man. His dedication to our movement acts as a constant source of inspiration to me.
I’d also like to thank my fellow candidates in both these contests. To Ken in particular – I think this was a clean, good spirited campaign. Many people have said that this campaign hasn’t caught the imagination in the same way as the UK contest. Part of the reason for that is probably because Ken and I are good friends. I ran his campaign in 2011, so I wear it as a badge of honour that we were able to set out our own case without tearing strips off one another.
The past few months have been incredibly difficult for Party members. I know how hard things are out on the doorsteps. I’ve been there with you. But I have a message for Labour members out knocking their pan in for this Party that we all love so much – we are down, but we are not out.
I will work night and day over the coming weeks and months to make you proud. To honour the trust that you’ve put in me. To give you hope. To renew our Party. To renew your faith in our ability to transform the communities we seek to serve.
And my message to the people of Scotland is this – take another look at the Scottish Labour Party. I am not so presumptuous as to instantly ask for your vote. We asked for that just a few months ago and although 700,000 people stuck with us, the majority picked somebody else. All I ask is that you take a fresh look at the Scottish Labour Party under my leadership.
We’re changing. I am part of a new generation, someone without the baggage of the past. I have a proud and positive Labour vision for our country. Scotland is a great nation, full of talented, hard-working and engaging people. I want to make it even better.
I want to transform this country. To shake it up profoundly. So that the life chances of a child born today aren’t determined by how much money their parents earn but by their potential, their work ethic and their ambition. A Scotland where power and wealth are in the hands of the many, not the few.
You know there were many reasons for our defeat in May. It was a long time coming, to be honest. But having spent the summer thinking this over I think there are two reasons that led to so many people losing faith in us. Firstly, a large part of the population have simply switched off from us. It’s not so much that they don’t like what they hear – they’ve stopped listening to us altogether. And secondly, those who are willing to give us a hearing tell us they don’t know what we stand for anymore.
Under my leadership nobody will be in any doubt about what the Labour Party stands for and who we stand with. You won’t need to flick through 160 policies in a manifesto. You will hear me talking about our values every single day.
So if you want better for your kids but feel they are being let down, I am on your side. If you fancy the challenge of starting your own business but feel government doesn’t offer enough support, I am on your side. If you are a young couple desperate to get on the housing ladder but face too many hurdles, I am on your side.
I am on the side of the people of Scotland who want to get on in life. If you love our country but want to make it better then we can work together. That work starts today.
Thank you very much.