Let’s get Labour back to government

Leah Franchetti welcomes the election of Richard Leonard as Scottish Labour leader and looks at a few of his initial challenges.


Leadership contests rarely show political parties in a good light and our bruising contest has been no exception. Friendships have been tested, insults hurled on both sides, and pride wounded. It has been a difficult period for the party I love.

However, this marathon race is over and the result was decisive. Richard Leonard will be our leader for years to come.

I am in no doubt that Richard, who I backed after much soul-searching, has the skills to unite our party and bring us together under a progressive agenda for change.

But the last two months were just not about resolving an internal leadership vacancy. The contest was also about selecting our party’s candidate to be First Minister.

Some of Richard’s challenges are immediate, such as appointing a shadow cabinet of all the talents. There will inevitably be speculation about Neil Findlay and Monica Lennon getting promotions but let’s not forget the undoubted abilities of Anas and the MSPs who backed him.

Appointing a first-class backroom team is also essential. Even Jeremy Corbyn’s most impassioned supporters would agree that Jeremy could have made some better staffing decisions in his early days.

Richard should not rush into appointments, but we need people who take the professional side of politics as seriously as the SNP has done for over a decade. Media relations, strategy and messaging are areas we have to get right.

On policy, our challenge is the same as it has been since the day our party was formed. We must build a coalition of working and middle class voters who are inspired by our message of change.

For instance, at the next Holyrood election the trade unions will back Labour like never before. This will give us a huge advantage in workplaces across Scotland. However, we also need to have a message for the aspiring entrepreneurs who are buzzing with ideas for new businesses.

On tax, we will call for progressive increases, but we also need to be clear on the ways in which the money raised will improve lives.

We should also recognise that the autonomy devolved to Scottish Labour allows us to come up with our own positions on reserved areas. There is nothing to stop us from developing a distinctive policy on Brexit and fighting our corner within the UK party.

I know some of my friends are feeling fragile after a brutal contest, but this is an exciting time to be in Scottish Labour and with a united party we can enter government in Edinburgh and London.

Related Posts

45 thoughts on “Let’s get Labour back to government

  1. Leah,
    You say “We must build a coalition of working and middle class voters……..”. But what about the rest of us.

    1. Could someone in SLAB tell your new leader that Scottish Water is already under Public Control. No wonder SLAB are in dire straits.

  2. I don’t know. Are words just wind? Does everyone just forget all the nastiness and badmouthing nonsense that defined the election from just a few days ago? And now, thus Uniited, to gather with pitchforks round the campfire and burn Kezia at the stake?
    Because that is what if looks like. From leadership to pantomime villain in a couple of weeks. Even for Scottish labour, that is quick.

    But the future is there to be won. A “shadow cabinet of all the talents”. But Scottish Labour has the same composition, by and large, as it has had for years now. Largely talent free.
    It should be a shadow cabinet with a charismatic leader, new faces, new ideas, a new beginning. —–Leonard is new, but his surrounding cast are not, so it will take something pretty special for Scottish Labour to enthuse the public to vote for a party it has been ignoring for a decade ( for good reason).
    It wont be achieved with the old SNPbad stuff. Or “the Tories are coming to get you”. Or feel the strength of the trades Unions, when many are no longer unionised. What else is up Leonards sleeve?
    What is the new take on devolution? Home Ruler— Leonard seems the opposite. Tax and spend—- How many votes are in that? Brexit—– Who even knows what the Scottish Labour policy is.

    Back to Kezia—“here’s a tree–quick fetch a rope”!—————–You ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

  3. Leah as a party member I voted for Richard .
    We cant just take victory for granted we need to prove the Labour front bench is capable of running the country .Richard should have been in all the TV Studios yesterday ok he would have been asked about Kezia . But it would also have been a chance to let the public see him .
    A chance to lay out his vision for the NHS I have said before that’s a scandal already happening .
    Whats his view on Education how are we going to help people go about their everyday life
    Yesterday listening to a phone in I heard people complaining that RSB has closed its branch in Troon and the branch in Kilwinning might go
    I was in the Irvine Branch today 1 teller a large que .
    20 min wait Very unhappy people . All of them like me wont use the machines or online banking
    Whats the policy on brexit tax there are 2 budgets on the way the UK budget then the Scottish budget .
    I think Labour should engage with the SNP on this even if its only behind the scenes .
    Whatever happens don’t abstain on the Scottish budget vote .
    Explain to people why the party has voted whether its for or against but vote .
    The front bench needs to be people who know what they are doing .
    The party needs a very strong backroom staff .
    The local CLPS need to be overhauled and more closely engaged and supervised Maybe a full time officer for each area
    We need to give people a reason to vote Labour that will also mean distancing the Scottish Party from the UK party when needed
    Since the last election the SNP have been doing the day job Labour now need to do it to

  4. The initial comments and actions of the winner and his supporters have been far from comradely. There will be more of this. The only point of reasonable people staying in the party is the hope keeping it functional until the populist wave passes. Given the other exigences of modern life, who could be bothered? I hope Kezia enjoys her respite in the jungle.

  5. Just one point. Ms Franchetti assumes that Union backing will give Labour a huge advantage in the workplace come the next Holyrood election. Sorry, I’m a Union rep and nether I nor many of my colleagues will be giving Labour any backing what-so-ever. The hierarchy may back Labour reflexly (as they always have done) but the rank and file are not drones to be told what to do and who to back.

  6. The best thing about the election was the sight of Richard and Anas campaigning together the day after the announcement. Our unfriends continue to try to create splits in our ranks, but the election was mainly a dispute of ideas. Once the members had spoken, the disputing parties came together again under one Leadership. Richard has an array of talent to choose from. I know he will choose wisely and well. Re Kezia, she has brought this on herself by ignoring the view of the Party.

    1. “Our unfriends continue to create splits in our ranks”.
      By now, Jim you will have read the continuing stamash in your party, carried on this thread.
      Nothing to do with “unfriends”. Your party is split, and its difficult to see a solution. Because even the cause is obscure.

      The old dislikes between BIG Scottish Labour personalities (high heid yins) from decades ago, was often put down to unknown, or forgotten causes There was an omerta-like silence among the “brothers”. But these were seriously ambitious men( and they were mostly men) who had a tendency to bully or take unwelcomed control: who often drank too much, and repeated stories about each other “out of class” to selected journalists.
      Now the dislike is a glancing thing, hard to catch its jist, but firm in its effect.
      It will destroy what little is left of Scottish labour.

  7. I sincerely hope Leah gets her wish and the party unites and moves forward but going by the sour grapes and bitter comments I’ve seen from many who back Sarwar,it seems a long road ahead before that goal is reached.
    Some of them seem to be adopting a scorched earth policy,much like how the same people tend to try constantly undermine Jeremy Corbyn on a national level.
    Fingers crossed they get a grip and change their ways or get out the Labour Party and leave it to those who want to get on with working to change working people’s lives.

    1. Quite something this comment, Darren. The scorched earth approach was the one taken by Richard’s supporters in CfS and Momentum, who attempted to destroy the character of Anas Sarwar through smearing and lies in order to win for their guy. I’d like to see an apology for that as part of this shift towards unity. Do you think that’s likely at all?

      As for “back Corbyn or leave the party”, which appears to be the gist of your second paragraph, that is rank hypocrisy. JC never backed a previous leader in his entire political career.

      1. I never stated or will ever state that anyone should be blindly loyal to Corbyn or anyone else or they should leave the party.
        But if all they offer is constant undermining and actually harming the chances of a Labour government,maybe such people should reflect if it’s really the place for them.

        What lies and smears about Sarwar?
        I’ve heard this whiney refrain from so many of his supporters,it’s complete nonsense and plainly untrue.
        If you are talking about the quite legitimate criticism of Sarwar for profiting off low paid workers from a non union firm who refuse to pay the living wage and his admitted use of an offshore tax haven,as well as eschewing public education in favour of private for his children,surely even the most fervent supporter of his must see how that’s a concern given he could’ve been labour leader?
        Imagine trying to encourage and convince people from poorer areas to support a guy who won’t pay their neighbour a decent wages and fires his profits offshore?
        If you can defend that and take umbrage of criticism over those facts,well says more about you than those questioning it.
        Think you’ll wait a long time for that apology too 🙂

        1. “Fires his profits offshore” is a lie. You’re just repeating the lies and smears while claiming not to know that’s what they are. The behaviour of a prick.

          1. Why would you call someone a prick online when you wouldn’t to their face?
            That’s embarrassing.
            Why such bitterness?
            You have perfectly illustrated my point the undignified actions of Sarwar supporters so thank you.

            They aren’t lies or smears,it’s just the truth,if you don’t like hard truths then grow a spine or dont back guys with questionable ethics like Sarwar.

          2. “Fires his profits offshore” is not the truth, it’s a lie, told to smear Anas and promulgated by CfS.

            You’re a liar.

          3. For goodness sake Duncan, why’re you using this schoolboy language? Did you read that over before pressing reply? Were you proud of it?
            I don’t know either what “smearing and lies” you refer to about Anas Sarwar from his opponents. His lifestyle and his character and his appeal to the voters were put under the spotlight over the last few months and he didn’t come out of it very well; it’s no wonder he lost.

        2. It’s not a lie,no matter how much denial you sink yourself in or try and shout people down and dish out cowardly abuse from behind your keyboard Duncan,the truth remains.

          1. Where is the evidence then? Prove to me he “fires his profits offshore”, or have the decency to admit when you’re wrong.

    2. Have you been living under a rock?
      Sarwar himself admitted he invested in a software company in an offshore tax haven,is he lying?
      He also admitted to profiting off his shares in the family firm that refuses to pay a living wage too,then was embarrassed into the transparent gesture of transferring them over to his children when he found out.
      If that’s the kind of thing you endorse,low wages for workers and investments in tax havens then fair enough,but don’t embarrass yourself with cowardly abuse from behind your keyboard of those who think leader of the Labour Party in Scotland should represent something more.
      It’s actually tragic how foul,abusive and tragic some supposed grownups who’ve been backing Sarwar are.

      1. Darren,
        Excellent debate this. I missed it earlier. Good job.
        You are of course quite right in all you say about Sarwar. He is an undefendable unashamed hypocrite and his name should never have been allowed on Labour’s list as a candidate to the Scottish parliament. He must be an emabarrassment to real Scottish Labour members.
        It says a lot about how rotten The Party is in Scotland that a multimillionaire businessman with the morals of a Victorian mill owner got so close to be leader.
        I have lost count of the number of Scottish Labour leaders there has been in the last 10 years. Duncan’s backed every one. This is the first time Duncans been of the losing side. He wont like it.
        None the less he will never admit he is wrong. It is not in him.

        You are not going to change him.

  8. Jim,
    Once again I agree with all your words. Like you I cannot wait to see Richard’s array of talents being put to good use over the next months and years. I have heard they are quite impressive.
    But, what is to be done about Kez? I agree she has brought this on herself, no one dragged her onto the jungle. It is not a good look, there are 10 million voters watching that programme every night. But as you say her biggest crime is ignoring the view of The Party.
    People listen to you Jim. What do you think should be done when Kez returns?

    1. How did Kez ignore the view of the party, Richard, Jim?

      As far as I’m aware she followed the correct protocol by asking the whip, and he (James Kelly) said he didn’t think he should take the decision during a leadership election, so she then put it to both Richard and Anas (without mentioning the actual programme, admittedly, for perfectly understandable reasons, but still setting out what she intended to do) and both agreed she could take the time off.

      So at what point was the view of the party assessed or ignored?

        1. And you appear not to, but yet are determined to base your view on something you don’t know. Odd approach. Any answer to my question?

          1. I dont have a view. I dont know so, I asked Jim O’Neil (11:26) a question, because I trust his judgement, ‘what should be done with Kezia when she comes home’?
            I just saw Richard Leonard on Daily Politics, he said ho would discuss whats to be done with The Labour Group at Holyrood and that he would accept the groups decision. That sounds as if RL is with me on this one. He doesnt know either.

          2. You asserted that “her biggest crime is ignoring the view of The Party”. I asked how she did so, and you have been unable to answer. So this idea that she ignored the view of the party is an unevidenced assertion. Perhaps she did. You are the one who asserted that she did. You need to supply the evidence. It’s not complicated.

    2. I actually like Kezia but she’s completely without a leg to stand on here.
      Ditching her duties as an elected public official to chase fame on tv is a sackable offence.
      If me or you went didn’t go into work Monday then popped up on our bosses tv at nighttime,we’d return to our P45 awaiting us.
      Onus on those in public service to higher standards too in my view.

        1. Richard. Sorry that I have not replied to your question. I could not get a word in edgeways. Duncan, I am advised that Kez asked if she could take the time off and was refused. She did it anyway. As we move towards the Scottish Budget, it is unhelpful to be such an experienced member down in the Group. I criticise Kez more in sorry than in anger. I have known her for a long time, supported her sharkbusters campaign, supported her as Leader and condemned those Party members who attacked her, using the anti-Labour media to do so. However, Richard, to answer your question, the Group have rightly agreed to wait until she returns and can put her own view before deciding whether there should be a sanction. I think that it what we should all do.

          1. You have been advised by whom that “she was refused”, Jim?

            I simply don’t think that is the case and if it’s going to be repeated it needs to have some sort of basis.

  9. Duncan,
    It was Jim O’Neil that said ‘she had ignored the view of the party’. I merely used Jim’s term of phrase to ask him his advice. Go back and check. Your are splitting hairs here.
    Tell me, what is The Labour Group doing discussing ‘what is to be done with Kez’? she must have done something naughty?

    1. Well I asked both of you originally. Neither thus far has given a satisfactory answer. I guess I’ll wait.

      1. I will not let that happen, you shall have your answer. I will tell you how Kezia ignored the wish of the party.
        Most people whether within the party or not think she is a complete hypocrite for doing this TV celebrity show. The vast majority of The Party wish she had never taken up the offer of the dubious celebrity fame and fortune that goes with the show. The Party are well aware of Kezia’s criticism of previous politicians that have gone before her. She has condemned other politicians in the past for doing the same thing she is doing now.
        Kezia knew all this before she took up the offer. She knew the bad press that would fall on her as an MSP and her party she is a member of. She new before she signed up that she would be going against the wishes of the party but she decided to ignore them.
        Now I know you will reply to this Duncan, I know how you find it impossible not to have the last word. But I off, for now.

        1. “The vast majority of The Party wish she had never taken up the offer”

          You conducted a poll, did you? Or are you just making unevidenced assertions again?

          By the way, the Scottish Labour parliamentary group just agreed not to suspend her.

          1. Only after Jeremy Corbyn asserted his authority over Labour in Scotland branch office Duncan.

  10. I do like Kezia never met her but she was my leader and I always felt on my side .Whats getting me is while away is anyone representing her constituents she is supposed to .
    I am glad she will get her chance to have her say when she gets back. And for me that must be the end of it and she must be given any support she needs to readjust .
    When she was Leader at the end she looked ill . Compare to now she looks great full of confidence and maybe she will talk about the pressures she faced on being leader
    I voted for Richard I wish he had toured the TV studios on Sunday he would have been asked about Kezia
    We have to move on 2 budgets NHS education how to fund local government which is on the point of collapse
    Brexit I voted remain last time now I am a don’t know leaning towards indy because of brexit.
    So guys enjoy Kezia in the jungle . We need to get behind Richard stop this never ending internal war that seems to have engulfed Labour for years it has to stop .I would have supported whoever won
    How about instead of fighting and calling each other names we fight on behalf of the people like
    The man I met in Irvine yesterday a roughcaster 7 years with the same firm laid of for x mas last Wednesday because there is no work .
    He will be taken on again in the New Year .
    He signed on for jobseeckers allowance by yesterday he had the DWP on his back not proving he is looking for work .
    He has been in the so called Irvine jobcentre every day he said to me just ask the security officer
    How about the people who are trying to get GP appointments and being told the doctor will see you in 3 weeks.
    Or we could talk about Ayrshire and Arran Health board So called 25 million in savings .
    Yet they admit to a shortage of Key hospital staff GPS Nurses and Dentists
    I travel by bus so how about The elderly the disabled parents with kids wheel chairs v prams people with obvious mental health problems.
    The bus I get is normally the no11 Ardrossan Kilmarnock service it has 2 major hospitals it has to pass on the route
    Ayrshire Central in Irvine and Cross house hospital in Cross house near Kilmarnock
    You will see Scotlands problems on that bus service and I wont even mention roadworks
    So guys if you want to argue do it for people like the ones I have mentioned not with each other and we just might break the SNP strangle hold on Holyrood
    Because if we keep this infighting up we will consign Labour to the history books

    1. David, rather than touring the TV stations, talking about Kez. Richard was doing what a proper Leader does. He fulfilled a commitment to campaign for the Labour candidate in a by-election, along with his supposed “enemy” Anas. Much credit to Anas also for being there, I understand he had a terrible cold, but he campaigned with Richard on the day after his biggest political disappointment. Richard would do well to retain him in his shadow team

    2. Remind me again David. Is it the North Ayrshire council which has to pay private companies one million pounds per month in PFI payments and that the contract states that these payments must be made before any payments for any other services. Who is responsible for that sort of contract agreement David.

      1. Thanks for your comment Robert
        How is this Richard Leonard asked at FMQS today about the problems and cuts in the Fire Service The Union were demonstrating at Holyrood today .
        We had a survey out earlier this week from unite about the pressures the Ambulance staff are under .
        The FM and her colleagues trotted out how mutch extra they are spending .
        Exactly the kind of reply they used to criticise Labour for making .
        Remember Nicola doing yes or know when in opposition . I believe the SNP are now at last doing the day job as are Labour .
        Maybe the Colonel will someday wake up and join in
        The NHS is a scandal already happening . 3 weeks to see a GP maybe . Surgery automated answering machines because the surgery cant cope with the volume of phone calls to reception.
        The chemist which shares the same building as my surgery closing the internal door to lock customers in and stop more people coming in from the surgery . All of it on the FMS watch .
        Ayrshire and Arran Health Board . 25 million in what they called savings I call cuts . The board admit because of a serious recruiting problem. They have a shortage of Key Hospital staff in
        Cross house hospital near Kilmarnock. A shortage across the area of hospital doctors GPS nurses and dentists .And I have spoken to people working in those areas when I have to see them as a patient . GPS stressed out due to finish at 5pm . Surgery still packed at that time and not knowing when they are going home .
        Surgery in West Kilbride taken over to keep it running . A surgery in Troon public spoke to
        STV News they turned up to discover it had been taken over 5 locums in place who did not know them or their medical history .
        Local Government funding for me in a state of collapse All of it on the SNPS watch
        The next budget might be make or brake for the Scottish Government it should be as it will probably involve for the first time some form of tax rise .I hope Labour have at least been putting their views to the Government even if its only behind the scenes .
        Because for me this is a big test for Labour as well to show we are a credible alternative .
        And I think Richard and his team are up to it.
        Back to that NHS review
        A cancer patient asked why he could not get his chemotherapy treatment at the 400 thousand pound unit in Ayr hospital he asked why the unit is closed
        He was told its closed due to safety reasons.
        He said while in isolation in Ayr he overheard the staff saying its closed due to a shortage of staff
        The Platform suits then had to admit he was right .Shortage of staff is the safety reason
        Robert the daft thing is he told them during his question he was the anonymous patient who told the local papers .
        That should have told them he new the answer
        Then the suits had the nerve to thank the Health Secretary and the Scottish Government for everything they have done for them
        Sorry Robert for the length of my reply I feel strongly about this
        BBC were asking MSPS of all parties today would they be watching Kezia in the jungle tonight
        You cant buy that kind of publicity they also showed clips of Kezia in a cage
        For some reason the sign on the cage said Kezia Sturgeon must have been a mistake haha
        And whisper it Alastair Campbell was on the Alec Salmond show and Eck boasted at the end
        His show will come from Scotland oh dear haha

  11. Meant to say Richard would have been asked about Kezia But he could have let people see him .And he could have put forward his vision for Scotland . BTW get me out of here could not have bought this kind of free publicity .Its been mentioned both News Channels and most papers
    Its in most papers front page in todays Daily Record and all because of Kezia
    Its the same free publicity Alec Salmond got and I thought it was a good show

    1. Davy,
      I think the future for Duncan (as editor of Labour Hame) is going to get a whole lot more difficult.
      If Labour Hame is supported by SLP funding then the activists within Momentum will be calling. There is now an internal war going on at every level of The Branch Office. Due to the election of Richard Leonard, Momentum will now move on the positions of influence within the unions, CLPs and the salaried positions. This has been going on for some time but will now accelerate on an upward curve trajectory. Labour Hame’s couthy editorial style does not fit Momentum’s preferred method of operation. Labour Hame is in their sites.
      Maybe Duncan has already enjoyed the fraternal comradeship that comes with the Momentum cadre?

Comments are closed.