Richard Leonard: We can’t go back to the old style of politics

Richard Leonard. Picture: John Devlin
Richard Leonard. Picture: John Devlin
Have your say

Now more than ever Scotland needs a united Labour Party committed to real and bold change.

• READ MORE: Johann Lamont backs Anas Sarwar to become Scottish Labour leader

We are at a turning point. We simply cannot go back to an old style of politics, we must go forward learning the lessons of the June general election where we stood on a radical manifesto which offered people hope in a campaign led by Jeremy Corbyn, a principled and consistent leader, who embodied that sense of hope.

Almost 13 million people voted for a Labour vision which committed us to extending public ownership, to ending austerity and so properly investing again in our public services and to redistributing wealth and power.

I have always believed that it is important to act according to Labour principles rather than simply manage, manoeuvre and position to win support. This means taking more chances. Labour is in third place, and unless we are audacious now we will never win back the support of the people of Scotland.

So in this campaign I have made clear that we must end poverty including poverty pay, promote the Living Wage and trade union organisation and make work secure; that we need to tackle rogue private landlords and embark on a massive social housing building programme; that we need an industrial strategy for the 21st century; re-empowered and properly resourced local government; a renaissance of public and co-operative ownership and new and innovative public investment in public services; more economic planning and less market in the economy and a radical redistributionist policy that taxes wealth as well as income more progressively.

These are the radical ideas that can reach out and win back those voters that Labour has lost in Scotland. It is an approach which will build a bridge to young voters, and it will bring renewed belief to Labour voters who have stuck with us through thick and thin.

We need a campaigning Scottish Labour Party that learns from the past to take on the challenges of the future. And leadership that understands the words of Clement Attlee that “the thing which will secure the triumph of Labour will be the demonstration by socialists in their lives that they have a high ideal and live up to it.”

That is the promise I make to Scottish Labour Party members and to the people of Scotland. It is the choice of transformation and hope, a vision of a more equal Scotland. And it is the promise too of a Scottish Labour leadership driven by ideals but grounded in experience: not just words but action, founded on consistency and so credibility in putting forward the case for the real and radical change which Scotland badly needs.