Richard Leonard elected as new Scottish Labour Leader

Central Scotland MSP Richard Leonard is congratulated by Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar at the Glasgow Science Centre after he was announced as the new  leader of Scottish Labour. Picture; PA
Central Scotland MSP Richard Leonard is congratulated by Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar at the Glasgow Science Centre after he was announced as the new leader of Scottish Labour. Picture; PA
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Richard Leonard has been announced as the new leader of Scottish Labour comfortably defeating Anas Sarwar.

The victory of the left winger over the more centrist Mr Sarwar will strengthen Jeremy Corbyn’s influence on the party.

He became the fourth person to hold the post in the last three years after defeating rival candidate Anas Sarwar.

Mr Leonard’s triumph after a lengthy and divisive campaign was greeted by loud cheers and applause from his supporters.

As expected, Mr Leonard, the left-wing candidate, won the vast majority of trade union votes taking the affiliated category by 3,281 votes compared with 961 for Mr Sarwar.

Mr Leonard won by a far narrower margin when it came to Labour members, polling 9,150 (51.8 per cent) compared with 8,514 (48.2 per cent) for Mr Sarwar.

Richard Leonard addresses delegates after being announced as the new leader of Scottish Labour at the Glasgow Science Centre

Richard Leonard addresses delegates after being announced as the new leader of Scottish Labour at the Glasgow Science Centre

READ MORE: Scottish Labour to announce new leader

In the registered voters category Mr Leonard polled 38 votes to Mr Sarwar’s 41.

In all 21,994 people voted in the election, 62 per cent of the 35,309 eligible to vote.

When all votes were tallied up Mr Leonard took 12,469 (57.6 per cent) compared with Mr Sarwar’s 9,516.

In his victory speech Mr Leonard said his aim was to become the next First Minister of Scotland, spoke of the “movement for socialism” and pledged that “under Jeremy Corbyn Labour would be principled again”.

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He pledged to fight for Labour values such as a progressive taxation system, tackling poverty and the redistribution of power.

He also paid tribute to his rival thanking his “friend and comrade Anas” and said Mr Sarwar would have a “vital role” to play in the party.

Labour Jeremy Corbyn congratulated Mr Leonard on being elected, and Mr Sarwar on his energetic campaign.

He said: “After being written off time and again, the general election showed that our party is capturing the mood both in Scotland and across the rest of the UK.

“There is much to do to continue our party’s revival in Scotland and many who still need to be persuaded to put their trust in the Labour Party.

“But Richard’s campaign offered a challenge to the rigged system that has benefited a wealthy elite and showed how he will lead Scottish Labour to transform society.

“This can be a turning point in Scottish politics and our party will now come together, united to challenge Tory and SNP austerity that has held Scotland back.

“I am confident that under Richard’s leadership, Labour will once again be a real force for change in Scotland.

“I look forward to campaigning with him in Scotland next week as we build a movement that will help our party win in Holyrood and Westminster, to transform our country for the many not the few.”

The announcement threatened to be overshadowed by former leader Kezia Dugdale’s surprising and controversial decision to go on ITV’s “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”.

Her decision to embrace the reality show was met with embarrassment and anger amongst leading figures in the party.

Labour MSP Jenny Marra tweeted: “Election to parliament is a privilege to serve and represent people. It’s not a short-cut to celebrity.”

During a speech he also stated that he believes Labour, under UK leader Jeremy Corbyn, has become “principled Labour again”

Speaking prior to the polls closing Mr Leonard said it was “time for the party to come together to take the fight to the SNP and the Tories, for all of those people in all of those communities who need Labour back in power”.