While the new leader of the Scottish Tories chooses to run the line at Rugby Park instead of attending VJ Day events in his constituency and leaves his predecessor’s predecessor to squabble, pathetically, over the constitution with St. Nicola of the Briefings, Richard and his team work away on the real issues affecting everyone’s lives: health, jobs, social care, wages, worker’s rights and public services.
Richard has many detractors of course. Nicola Sturgeon has made it her personal mission to try and humiliate him at FMQs each week but always seems to do it by answering a question that is never asked or ignoring the part of a question that she doesn’t want to answer.
When the First Minister of Scotland has to resort to personal insults and over the top displays of exasperation, it is not she who is winning the argument. Nicola Sturgeon and Ruth Davidson can flap, posture and shout as much as they like and their acolytes can bang and hoot and holler as much as they like. At the end of the day, it’s all they’ve got. They know they represent the failed SNP Government in Edinburgh and the failing Tory Government in Westminster.
The submissive Scottish media lap it up and exaggerate any flaws that Richard has whilst ignoring the pettiness, arrogance, aggressiveness and belligerence of an increasingly bad-tempered Nicola Sturgeon.
Yesterday, when it was revealed that Richard Leonard and Scottish Labour had forced a National Care Service onto the agenda and Nicola Sturgeon was being rightly pilloried for making her priority a ‘draft bill for indyref 2’ it was a disgrace that three Labour MSPs decided to publicly call for Richard Leonard to step down.
Never mind that we are only eight months out from the 2021 elections, never mind that we are in the middle of a COVID pandemic, never mind that we are the only party openly fighting for social justice and never mind that we have constantly changed leaders to no avail, the knives are out once again.
We need to unite around our leader and our message going into 2021. The last thing we need now is another leadership contest. We are a laughing stock and if we are ever to shake off the label of ‘branch office’ and be successful in Scotland, we need to stick together and fight together.
Last night I, along with other members, took part in a Zoom meeting with Richard Leonard, Jackie Baillie and Annelise Dodds, the Shadow Chancellor. It was a productive session where serious plans were discussed and pertinent questions were asked and addressed. As they should be.
I would ask Mr Kelly, Ms Marra and Mr Johnson why they think a new leader and leadership contest is a good move so close to an election and who they think would be the best candidate to step forward and ‘save’ the party because I don’t see any answers coming from them thus far.
Kevin McGregor, Scottish Labour and Co-operative member and UNISON activist.