Rebel Labour MSPs step up leadership challenge moves

Labour leader Richard Leonard insists he is going nowhere after rebel MSPs initiated moves to bring about a leadership challenge.
Richard Leonard says he is going nowhereRichard Leonard says he is going nowhere
Richard Leonard says he is going nowhere

James Kelly and Daniel Johnson have written to party bosses in Scotland calling for the rules to be clarified. They insist that a quarter of the party's Holyrood parliamentary group - five MSPs - would be enough to trigger a contest and claim they have this.

Mr Kelly and Mr Johnson, along with fellow MSPs Jenny Marra and Mark Griffin called on the leader to stand down last week.

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But Mr Leonard said: "Those same people who last week called on me to step down have yet again underestimated my resolve and the mandate I received from Scottish Labour Party members just under three years ago.

"Scottish Labour Party members know only too well just what a dereliction of duty it would be for the party to turn in on itself at the very point when the country is facing an unprecedented crisis."

Mr Leonard has denied that a leadership contest can take place under party rules, but Mr Kelly and Mr Johnson's challenge this in a letter to the party's general secretary in Scotland Michael Sharpe.

In the letter, released to the Daily Record, they state: "We feel there is an urgent need to clarify the rules of the Labour Party. In particular with regard to the procedure to challenge a sitting leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

“As you may be aware, in recent days it has been briefed to the media and stated publicly by Richard Leonard that there is no mechanism by which the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party can be formally challenged. However, we believe this is an inaccurate interpretation of the rules. The precedent has been set by the Labour Party that a leader can be challenged with the backing of 20% of the Parliamentary party and our understanding of the Scottish Labour Party and Labour Party Rule books confirm that this is the case.

It adds: “On this basis, our understanding is that five signatures is sufficient to initiate a challenge. We have five Members willing to sign such a challenge.”

But Mr Sharpe said he was “not aware of any such precedent” on this issue.“The election of the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party is a matter for the Scottish Labour Party, as set out in our and the UK Party rules,” he said.

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