Richard Leonard

 



Acceptance speech as Scottish Labour Party Leader

Comrades and friends,

I joined the Labour Party in Stirling thirty-five years ago

Not because I thought that one day I would be standing here

But because I know that the only way to bring about real change was to combine, to unite, and to campaign in order to win power.

And I knew as well that the only party of hope, and the only means of realising that hope, the hopes of people, was the Labour Party.

So to be elected leader of the Scottish Labour Party, to lead our party as a movement for real change, as a movement for realising the hopes of people is a source of immense pride, but it is also deeply humbling.

So I want to thank all of those thousands of Labour Party members and supporters, including trade union members who over the last ten weeks have participated in the democracy of the Labour Party.

Your participation is a sign of our great strength as a Party and a Movement.

And whoever you voted for, we are one party, we are one movement, and we stand or fall together.

And that is why I particularly want to thank Anas for the way he has sought to move this debate about leadership on to the debate about ideas.

So that there is now a settled consensus established around a radical policy agenda for the Scottish Labour Party of extending public ownership, of tacking inequality, of more progressive taxation and of a redistribution of power which will form the basis for our unity in going forward.

A forward direction, in which Anas will have a vital role to play.

I also want to thank Brian Roy and all the Labour Party staff for the way in which they have conducted this election, often working under great pressure.

Thank you.

Comrades, what this leadership election has shown us is that a reinvigoration of our politics in Scotland is needed and yearned for.

We need a vision of a better future. A vision of hope again.

So twenty years on since the devolution referendum, we need to re-state our Scottish Labour vision for the economic, social and environmental transformation we want to deliver for the people of Scotland, and so reinvigorate the very reasons why the Labour Party campaigned for and delivered the Scottish Parliament in the first place.

To lead a manufacturing strategy, to solve the housing crisis, to end child poverty and bring dignity in retirement for our pensioners too.

And to invest in our public services, not least in our health and education services to re-empower and re-resource local government. To build a more equal and tolerant society.

Which is why I am delighted to have secured a mandate in this election, to pursue an industrial strategy, a Mary Barbour law to control rents, progressive taxation including a wealth tax.

A mandate to build a high wage, high value re-balanced economy of the future, to invest in universalism not means testing.

And to tackle women’s under-representation through the establishment of a Training Academy.

It is clear though that we need to go further.

 

We need to change the very political culture. We need zero tolerance of sexism, misogyny and sexual harassment.

We need training on equality and diversity for all Labour Party representatives and staff.

And we all need an independent route for complaints. And that is what we will implement under my leadership.

Over the course of this campaign, I visited factories, classrooms, small community groups, big trade union conferences, all welcomed me in.

I listened to the WASPI women in Govan.

I saw the huge difference that early years’ intervention was making in Shotts.

I met the Manpower workers in Glasgow simply looking for a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

The Capita workers in Stirling on the picket line whose straight forward demand was nothing more, nothing less than dignity in retirement.

I visited the Fullerton Community Hub in Ayrshire, in a community up against it but a community that was prepared to fight with strong and determined leadership.

And this week I met with the BiFab shop stewards in Fife.

 

And marched in solidarity with them, because I tell you this, the Scottish Labour Party is nothing if it is not on the side of a group of working people when they are fighting for their jobs, in an industry of the future.

So we will hold a collection for them today, but we will also make the case for a long-needed industrial policy.

 

And if this government will not implement one, it should make way for one that will.

And on the campaign trail, I met so many young people across Scotland, like those in Aberdeen turning out to a Labour Party meeting on a Saturday night in search of new hope and looking to the Labour Party once again to provide it.

On the campaign trail across the country too, from the Western Isles to the South of Scotland, I met so many old Labour stalwarts.

 

Women and men energised again for a day they thought they might never see.

When a Labour Party they were a proud member of was winning lost voters back again, by being distinctively Labour, by being confident Labour, and under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership by being principled Labour again.

And so in Scotland, Labour Party members and trade unionists, many of them from a new generation have begun, building up a movement for real change here, hungry for a Scottish Labour leadership guided by principle, driven by passion, rooted in experience.

A style of leadership which is campaigning, listening, reaching out new voters, to those young voters who have never voted Labour, to those older voters who have turned their back on Labour, but also bringing new belief to those diehard Labour voters, that we are the radical party of change once more.

So in this campaign, we have reawakened hope again. We have started to build a Scottish Labour Party which people can believe in again.

We are only at the beginning, and my appeal today to anyone in Scotland, who shares this, our vision of new hope. Come and join us.

Because we will re-unite on the basis of these our values.

 

Values forged in the fire of those daily struggles, re-connecting with people in workplaces and in communities right across Scotland.

Our socialism: practical, real, democratic, built on enduring values.

 

Those ethical socialist values, passed down to us from Keir Hardie onwards.

Because that is our duty from today, to take to the people of Scotland a message of change: a message of real change and so a message of real hope.

 

And end to a lost decade of Nationalist mediocrity, the commencement of a battle of ideas which we can win.

We are starting to believe in ourselves again. We are developing a renewed vitality, with this new movement for real change.

Energised with this new generation, but founded on our old and enduring idealism too.

That is the unity we can rally around.

 

Not simply around a call for unity, but around a renewed unity of purpose.

And our shared purpose is clear, to build again, to win again.

 

So that our purpose today is not just electing a leader, my aim is to be the next Labour First Minister of Scotland, with all of us together rededicated with a single minded determination, not merely to attain office, but to win power, power for change, power not for its own sake.

But a power to change Scotland.
 

That is the future worth fighting for.



 

18 November 2017

 

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