Richard Leonard

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Person.png Richard Leonard   TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Richard Leonard.jpeg
BornJanuary 1962
Yorkshire, England, UK
Alma materUniversity of Stirling

Employment.png Leader of the Scottish Labour Party

In office
18 November 2017 - 14 January 2021

Not to be confused with Richard Leonard (propagandist)

Richard Leonard (born 1962) is a British politician who is the Scottish Labour Party MSP for Central Scotland region.[1] Following the resignation of Kezia Dugdale, he stood for election to succeed her as Labour Party leader in Scotland.[2]

Richard Leonard's victory, announced on 18 November 2017, marks a significant defeat for Labour’s Blairites, who had endorsed his rival Anas Sarwar, and helps to cement Jeremy Corbyn’s control of the Labour Party, which has slowly regained support in Scotland this year under his leadership.[3] In May 2018, he was accused of betrayal by voting for the Blairite Wendy Nichols to be the new vice-chair of Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC).[4]

Richard Leonard resigned as Scottish Labour leader on 14 January 2021.[5]

Key dates

  • Monday 11 September - Nominations open for Leader
  • Saturday 16 September - Nomination Hustings for MSPs, MPs and MEPs
  • Sunday 17 September - Nominations close. Validly nominated candidates for Leadership to be published
  • Monday 18 September - Supporting nominations open. Scottsh Labour Party hustings period opens.
  • Monday 9 October - Last date to join as member, affiliated supporter, or registered supporter, in order to vote in the Leadership ballot.
  • Friday 13 October - Supporting nominations close
  • Friday 27 October - Ballot opens. Scottish Labour Party hustings period closes
  • Friday 17 November at 12 noon - Ballot closes
  • Saturday 18 November - Result announced[6]

Elected Labour Leader

On 18 November 2017, Richard Leonard won a decisive victory by winning both the membership and the trade union affiliates sections, which secures his mandate. It neutralises potential complaints from Blairites that the result was rigged by union leaders using the affiliate membership system to boost their candidate. Thousands of extra members were recruited by the unions, chiefly the pro-Corbyn Unite union.

Leonard won with 56.7% of the total vote on a turnout of 62.3% of Scottish Labour’s 35,309 members and affiliates.

Barely mentioning Jeremy Corbyn, Leonard said he represented “a movement for real change, a movement for democracy and yes, as a movement for socialism”.

Although he described Anas Sarwar as “my friend, my comrade”, he implicitly criticised Sarwar’s policies on a new means-tested Scottish child benefit and his more cautious economic policies.

Richard Leonard said his victory was “a mandate to back a high-wage, high-value, rebalanced economy, to investing in universalism, not means-testing”.[7]


Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Did Corbyn leak the Labour GE2017 manifestoArticle11 May 2017SKWAWKBOXDid Jeremy Corbyn or another member of Labour's senior leadership team leak the draft manifesto as a political masterstroke?