Labour leadership hopeful aims to rise above ‘Punch and Judy politics’

Labour leadership candidate Ken Macintosh has said he can beat First Minister Alex Salmond by adopting a “mature” approach to debates.

The Eastwood MSP, one of three challengers hoping to take over from Iain Gray, says Holyrood debates have sunk to “Punch and Judy politics”.

Mr Macintosh said: “I think the Scottish people are sick and tired of watching politicians shout at each other across the chamber.

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“It’s a real turn-off for the public, and we need to end the bluff and bluster.

“Ian Gray is a remarkably intelligent, thoughtful and considered parliamentarian, but I’ve watched him become increasingly drawn into the Punch and Judy politics that Alex Salmond is so well known for.

“If I’m elected leader of Scotland’s Labour Party I will take a mature, positive and reasoned approach to opposition.”

He said Labour would work with the SNP when the party agrees on policy, but would “stand ready to expose them” when opinion differs.

“We will not do this by trading personal jibes and condescending put-downs; we must offer a contrast,” he added.

The comments were made in an e-mail to party members, less than two weeks before the new leader is chosen.

Mr Macintosh also wrote in the e-mail: “Labour’s approach to the referendum under my leadership will be to make a positive, modern and relevant case for Scotland’s continuing partnership with the rest of Britain, a partnership that works and a partnership for good.

“I will expose the SNP myths, not through scaremongering, but through intelligent debate and probing questions.”