Scottish Labour to name new leader

The result of the leadership election comes just 10 weeks before the Scottish Parliament election.

Scottish Labour to name new leader

Scottish Labour is set to announce its new leader – just 10 weeks before the Holyrood election.

The leadership election was sparked by the shock resignation of Richard Leonard in January, who claimed his decision to step down from the helm was in the “best interests” of the party.

Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar quickly threw his hat into the ring, followed by Central Scotland MSP Monica Lennon.

In a cordial contest between the two, both have sought to pitch themselves as the “change candidate”.

Scotland’s constitutional future has again been one of the major features of the campaign, with both candidates repeatedly asked for their take on the issue.

While both have said they are opposed to the idea of Scottish independence, Ms Lennon believes that should a pro-independence majority be elected to Holyrood in May, the party will have to accept another referendum on the issue.

Richard Leonard in Holyrood
Mr Leonard quit as Scottish Labour leader in January (Russell Cheyne/PA)

Mr Leonard’s deputy Jackie Baillie took over the day-to-day running of the party following his resignation, in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as well as the Alex Salmond inquiry.

The winner of the contest will be thrust immediately into a febrile Holyrood atmosphere in the wake of Mr Salmond’s evidence to the Parliament’s inquiry investigating the handling of complaints against him, as well as the election – with just weeks before Holyrood shuts down for the campaign.

Labour is in third place in the polls, firmly behind the Tories. A recent Ipsos Mori poll for STV News of 1,031 people put support for the party at 15% in the constituency vote and 14% in the regional list.

With the SNP likely to enjoy a runaway victory and possibly a majority at Holyrood, sitting on 52% in constituencies and 47% in regions, Labour’s task is to catch the Tories in second place – with the Conservatives currently sitting on 23% and 22% respectively.

The Scottish Labour leadership election ballot closed on Friday night, with the result due to be announced on Saturday morning.

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