Why I voted for Richard Leonard

Eric Shaw sets out why he’s voted for Richard Leonard to become the next Scottish Labour leader.


Despite its partial recovery in the recent election, Scottish Labour has much to do before it can regain its status as Scotland’s premier party. This will be no easy task and beyond the ability of one person to achieve. But leadership is important: a leader has to have a wide public appeal, be able to communicate effectively, be prepared to build consensus within the party and have the capacity to enthuse the membership.

Both Anas Sarwar and Richard Leonard have the aptitude for leadership; but I voted for Richard and I wish to explain why.

It is not because I am a Corbynista – I am not and regard myself as belonging (as I have for many years) on the ‘soft left’ rather than the radical left.

My vote for Richard was a personal one: I opted quite simply for the better candidate.

I have known Richard for over fifteen years and my observations of him have convinced me that he has the blend of skills, experience and integrity which will render him  an accomplished and  capable leader.

With all its recent vicissitudes, Scottish Labour needs a leader willing to face unpalatable facts, to ask difficult questions and who understands there are no neatly-packaged easy solutions:  someone you can rely upon to applying an intelligent and enquiring mind to the evidence. Richard is that person.

Richard is a man of unflinching principle, but both by temperament by disposition he is not the man to ride roughshod over the views of others. As a highly experienced trade unionist (and I know that many seasoned officials in the GMB union hold him in great esteem) he understands the need to negotiate, to engage in give and take, and to accommodate differences of belief and interest.

Richard is flexible and open to compromise; he is not the intractable servant of political dogma, a cipher for others and he is absolutely his own man. He appreciates that Scottish Labour is a broad coalition and no one group has a monopoly of either wisdom or virtue: he is no ‘holier than thou’ politician.

Substance in politics is vital but so, too, is style.  Richard is quietly-spoken, not given to declamatory statements, truculence or combative rhetoric.  He does not give offence: he prefers to listen, discuss and persuade.

Leadership races inevitably arouse ill-feelings so it essential that, whoever emerges victorious, has the desire and the capacity to bind wounds, reassure the losers and give the pursuit of party unity an absolute priority. Richard, I’m sure, will do that.

With Richard as leader, we can expect a thoughtful and measured style of politics, a preference for hard-thinking and practical policy-making over grandstanding, and a willingness to conciliate in the interests of party unity.

This is the type of politics I believe that the Scottish people want and will appreciate – and Richard will deliver.

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4 thoughts on “Why I voted for Richard Leonard

  1. Just for the record NOBODY on the “soft” or “hard” left supports Trident renewal nor would they vote for a party that did let alone belong to one. And will somebody please take the time to explain why Labour in Wales continues to fail to deliver any “Soft” or “Hard” left wing policies legislation ideals or even ideas during a period when Labour across the UK is trying desperately to appeal to left wing voters by pretending to support Left wing ideology on paper.
    Do you honestly think people will judge you on what you claim you will do next time you get the chance rather than what you do and what you have done? The SNP are still in Government because of WHAT THEY DO. Labour are nowhere because of what they did and are still doing.

    Hot tip neither Richard nor Anas have voter appeal. Nobody in Labour in Scotland right now has voter appeal because nobody in your worthless party is willing to risk their access to the public funded trough by being “radical” enough to give the voters what they want rather than what Labour wants to give them.

    Labour in Wales are PROVING you are still Red Tories in spite of Corbyn because clearly Corbyn is too weak to actually steer the party in a direction he may want to take. Nobody believes you actually intend to abolish tuition fees nobody believes you wont increase local taxation way above the rate of inflation every year nobody believes you will keep free prescriptions protect pensioners nobody believes you will actually tackle Private run services nobody believes you will actually deliver a better standard of living because YOU’RE NOT DOING IT IN WALES.

  2. As you said in an article in December 2014 (about Jim Murphy):

    “A besetting weakness of Scottish Labour has been its pragmatic, unimaginative and ad-hoc mentality. It has exhibited little willingness, aptitude or capacity to widen its angle of vision or think in terms of stories and narratives. It has resorted to the tropes of old-style Westminster adversarial politics which, to many voters, smacks too much of bickering over minor issues or personalised name-calling.”

    Do you really believe that Richard Leonard is the one to turn this around and, if so, why? I am genuinely interested.

  3. I’ve heard Leonard speak. He lacks the ability to reach out and enthuse people not in his own small world. Charisma, its sometimes referred to as, though its more than just flash—it also needs a trustworthiness that cannot be faked.
    I thought they were both poor candidates at a time Scottish Labour needs a big puncher. Another Iain Gray type, in my view. No offence.

  4. The problem is that there is little evidence that Richard Leonard has any new ideas such as are needed to deal with Scotland’s serious social and economic problems. His background as a union official over a long period is not encouraging. Such individuals tend to be inward looking.
    There seems to be unanimous agreement that he is a nice and a decent individual. This is certainly a plus but, in a political leader, you are looking for more than that. So far, Richard Leonard has shown few of the qualities needed to restore SLAB to the position of dominance it held only a decade ago.

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