Scottish Labour will be '˜forefront of equality' says Richard Leonard

Scottish Labour will be 'at the forefront of the drive for equality', according to the party's leader.

Richard Leonard will use a speech to the party’s Women’s Conference in Glasgow on Saturday to emphasise plans to tackle discrimination and harassment within Scottish Labour and wider society.

It comes in the wake of sexual harassment claims at both Westminster and Holyrood, and a broader debate over equal pay.

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Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard.

The spotlight on discrimination also comes amid discussions around tackling racism and Islamophobia, with Mr Leonard’s leadership rival and fellow MSP Anas Sarwar speaking out about his own experiences of abuse.

And it follows criticism of Mr Leonard’s decision not to suspend MP Hugh Gaffney, who apologised earlier this month after making “deeply offensive and unacceptable” remarks about the LGBT community and Chinese people.

Scottish Labour has announced plans to set-up a special sub-committee of the party’s Scottish executive to develop an anti-discrimination and harassment policy.

Mr Leonard will say: “Over the past few months the culture of politics, particularly in relation to gender equality, has rightly come under the spotlight.

Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard.

“Politicians - including some in the Labour Party - have been found to engage in behaviour, that falls well below the standards we in this room, and in this party and in this movement, expect and deserve.

“There has, once again, been a breakdown of trust between politicians and those they hope to serve. So my job, our job is to work to rebuild that trust.

“We will work to ensure women across Scotland know that the Labour Party stands up for them.

“Scottish Labour, under my leadership, will be at the forefront of the drive for equality.”

He will add: “Since my election as leader three months ago I have already taken steps to help make the Scottish Labour Party, and with it politics and wider society, more equal.

“From the interim staff appointments I have made, to the interim deputy leadership, from the appointments to the Parliament’s bodies to the 50:50 shadow cabinet, I want to change the culture of the Labour Party and women’s place in it - at all levels.

“That action comes from the one driving principle - that there is no place for any form of discrimination in the Labour Party, be it sexism, be it homophobia, be it racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”