Lesley Laird takes swipe at party in stepping down as Scottish Labour deputy leader

Scottish deputy leader Lesley Laird is stepping down
Scottish deputy leader Lesley Laird is stepping down
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Lesley Laird has delivered a stinging criticism of her party as she stepped down as Scottish Labour's deputy leader after losing her seat at last week's general election.

The former Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP announced her decision after finishing runner-up to axed SNP candidate Neale Hanvey in Thursday's count.

A campaign poster for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath candidate Lesley Laird

A campaign poster for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath candidate Lesley Laird

Mr Hanvey will sit as an independent MP until a disciplinary process is completed after being elected with a majority of 1,243 votes.

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Ms Laird took a direct swipe at members within Labour ranks, saying: "Sadly there is now a culture where for some people in our party washing our differences in public via the media has become a far too regular self promotional or destabilising tool.

"It’s a behaviour that upsets our members and undermines all the good work our staff and activists do. It needs to stop."

The former shadow Scottish secretary added: “It has been an honour to serve as deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party, the party that I love. The people of Scotland and the wider UK deserve better than they got on Thursday night.

"I am heart broken for those in our communities that will once again be left to bear the brunt of a cruel Tory Government. My thanks, enduring admiration and gratitude also goes to our tireless staff and campaigners that fought so very hard for a Labour victory.

“Had I been returned as the member for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath I would have been proud to continue as deputy leader alongside Richard [Leonard] to help deliver on his ambitions for the 2021 elections and reform our out of date party structures. But that is not to be. I now intend to step down.

"I would urge a period of calm reflection and some kindness towards each other, because if we are to convince people of our values and principles then first we must demonstrate them not just in our words, but more importantly in our behaviour and actions towards each other.

"Constitutional politics are never going to be comfortable territory for the Labour party. Ours is a human, values-led, internationalist outlook and while it may seem like those values are out of fashion, history teaches us they are the qualities that endure.

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"Finding that path and balance is essential if we are to regain the trust of people and communities. I have conducted, with colleagues and members, a review of our party. There are wise lessons to be learned that are even more relevant now and I hope they will be taken on board in the coming months.

"I have seen many leaders of the Labour party come and go. Not all were my choice, but I always took the view that they were our elected leader and my role was to serve the Labour party as best I could."

Ms Laird continued: "Whatever the challenges ahead I will continue to serve our wonderful Labour party in whatever way I can, because fundamentally we are, and must always be, here for the many."