Richard Leonard quits as Scottish Labour leader

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CatusStarbright
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Richard Leonard has stepped down from leading the Scottish Labour Party, just months ahead of the Scottish Parliament election.

This appears to have come as a shock to MSPs, but Leonard has faced criticism over his leadership style and his close association with Jeremy Corbyn. Polls have also suggested that Scottish Labour members struggle to recognise him, the BBC reports.
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L i b
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[Insert meme of Alan Partridge shrugging here]

I mean, he's been pretty woeful, but so have most of his predecessors. The Labour Party really needs some semblance of strategy in Scotland, because it's been conspicuous by its absence since about 2007.

There's maybe a wider point on recognition: there's less scope for opposition politicians to make themselves known. How often has Ed Davey been on the telly? It's dominated by Boris - and, in a Scottish context, Sturgeon, who are everywhere. It's not that oppositions aren't saying anything, it's that no-one's engaging.
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imlikeahermit
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Should just fold the party up there and save a few quid.
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Rakas21
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(Original post by L i b)
[Insert meme of Alan Partridge shrugging here]

I mean, he's been pretty woeful, but so have most of his predecessors. The Labour Party really needs some semblance of strategy in Scotland, because it's been conspicuous by its absence since about 2007.

There's maybe a wider point on recognition: there's less scope for opposition politicians to make themselves known. How often has Ed Davey been on the telly? It's dominated by Boris - and, in a Scottish context, Sturgeon, who are everywhere. It's not that oppositions aren't saying anything, it's that no-one's engaging.
Can they actually develop a coherent strategy though. SLabour are finished if they don't fight for the union, the Westminster party cannot govern this side of 2029 without the SNP and so no doubt undermine the Scottish party.
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Burton Bridge
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(Original post by imlikeahermit)
Should just fold the party up there and save a few quid.
Labour are the only party to do anything positive for Scotland.

(Original post by Rakas21)
Can they actually develop a coherent strategy though. SLabour are finished if they don't fight for the union, the Westminster party cannot govern this side of 2029 without the SNP and so no doubt undermine the Scottish party.
Do you think the majority of Scots vote SNP for independence?
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L i b
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(Original post by Rakas21)
Can they actually develop a coherent strategy though. SLabour are finished if they don't fight for the union, the Westminster party cannot govern this side of 2029 without the SNP and so no doubt undermine the Scottish party.
I can see where they've been (incredibly cack-handedly) coming from since 2014. Their voters have deserted them in some numbers for the Tories, sure, but far more have gone to the SNP. They can afford to lose more strong unionists within their ranks to the Conservatives if they can make a soft-nationalist pitch for the lefty Nats. It'd actually be the best thing all round for the pro-union movement if they pulled it off.

The problem is that the vast majority of their parliamentarians aren't where they need to be positioned. They are actually pretty solid on the pro-UK stuff - unsurprisingly - so the appeals to a sort of moderate Scottish nationalism with the union existing to serve the interests of Scotland come across as a bit insincere. Trying to avoid the constitutional question altogether, when it's really the only show in town at the moment, seems like cheap trickery.

They're the agents of their own misfortune, certainly - they rode the tiger of soft nationalism in the 80s and 90s, they made the SNP look like an acceptable alternative. But that's very much the past. I think their strategy now has to be aimed not at winning elections now, but about where they're going to be ten years from now.
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Really struggling to see the point of Scottish Labour. They're on the wrong side of the independence argument for a lot of the left, and politically the SNP just walk all over them. I'm not sure if this is all down to Leonard, though, and can't really see a change of leader having much impact for the next Holyrood election.
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L i b
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(Original post by Smack)
Really struggling to see the point of Scottish Labour. They're on the wrong side of the independence argument for a lot of the left, and politically the SNP just walk all over them. I'm not sure if this is all down to Leonard, though, and can't really see a change of leader having much impact for the next Holyrood election.
A lot of the Scottish left are only advertising themselves as such to seem a bit more cuddily - most of them are nationalists, not socialists or even really social democrats. They come from a starting point of separatism and everything else is just a convenient guise.

I do think they should be trying to pick off soft-nationalists, sure, but if they compromise their principles on being pro-UK then two things will happen: firstly, Labour across the UK will look ridiculous and will never get into government. Secondly, they'll not only lose their core support, but they'll soon find themselves once again seeming like opportunists when the political pendulum swings against the SNP.
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(Original post by L i b)
A lot of the Scottish left are only advertising themselves as such to seem a bit more cuddily - most of them are nationalists, not socialists or even really social democrats. They come from a starting point of separatism and everything else is just a convenient guise.

I do think they should be trying to pick off soft-nationalists, sure, but if they compromise their principles on being pro-UK then two things will happen: firstly, Labour across the UK will look ridiculous and will never get into government. Secondly, they'll not only lose their core support, but they'll soon find themselves once again seeming like opportunists when the political pendulum swings against the SNP.
A lot of the Scottish left are also primarily nationalist, and many that are genuinely left of centre are using independence as a vehicle for a more left-wing country. I simply don't see any way back for Scottish Labour at this point: after ten years of Tories it's very difficult to argue to remain in the UK if you're after a left-wing government.
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Burton Bridge
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(Original post by Smack)
A lot of the Scottish left are also primarily nationalist, and many that are genuinely left of centre are using independence as a vehicle for a more left-wing country. I simply don't see any way back for Scottish Labour at this point: after ten years of Tories it's very difficult to argue to remain in the UK if you're after a left-wing government.
I realise you might not be saying this but the general message I get is, it's all about left vs right ideologies in Scotland with Labour losing popularity because they are seen as right or center wing unionist party, explain this to me please.

Why did Scotland leave labour at the time when we moved significantly to the left?

Why are the Tories gaining in popularity in Scotland in comparison to labour?

I don't get it and I don't buy the labour are too right wing and/or too unionist for Scotland, it doesn't make sense. Labour are the only party that do (or have done) anything positive for Scotland. The SNP are so disingenuous its unbelievable but they get away with it.
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(Original post by Burton Bridge)
I realise you might not be saying this but the general message I get is, it's all about left vs right ideologies in Scotland with Labour losing popularity because they are seen as right or center wing unionist party, explain this to me please.

Why did Scotland leave labour at the time when we moved significantly to the left?

Why are the Tories gaining in popularity in Scotland in comparison to labour?

I don't get it and I don't buy the labour are too right wing and/or too unionist for Scotland, it doesn't make sense. Labour are the only party that do (or have done) anything positive for Scotland. The SNP are so disingenuous its unbelievable but they get away with it.
I'm actually saying the opposite. Left and right in Scotland is more of a façade at the moment: the real divide is nationalism versus unionism. Nationalism is probably much more popular amongst those on the left (or at least, many on the left back it on the basis that they believe in independent Scotland will elect governments more to the left than the UK as a whole), hence why Labour are in the trouble they're in. But it's also about competence: Labour have none, whereas the SNP have some.

I'm not sure if the Tories are gaining popularity either. In fact I think they have stalled for a few years now, possibly going into reverse; the next Holyrood election will tell.
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Rakas21
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Unfortunately Covid screwed the Tories in Scotland, we were looking odds on for polling gains beforehand.
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L i b
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(Original post by Rakas21)
Unfortunately Covid screwed the Tories in Scotland, we were looking odds on for polling gains beforehand.
Not to mention Boris Johnson.

But let's not forget that the party's weaknesses in Scotland are still all-too-apparent. Its policy direction seems to be designed to please no-one in particular and annoy quite a vast swathe of the population. Its organisation is what you'd expect of a third or fourth party, not the main opposition party in a country. It takes easy positions over tough ones and its communications strategy is about 20 years behind the SNP.

The SNP is the only professionally operating political machine in Scotland at the moment, whereas the rest seem stuck somewhere between the late 80s and the early 90s - and completely unaffected by the modernisation that their UK parties have undergone in terms of campaigning and messaging.
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L i b
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(Original post by Burton Bridge)
I realise you might not be saying this but the general message I get is, it's all about left vs right ideologies in Scotland with Labour losing popularity because they are seen as right or center wing unionist party, explain this to me please.

Why did Scotland leave labour at the time when we moved significantly to the left?
The Scottish Labour Party was at its electoral zenith during the years of devolution under Tony Blair and Scottish leaders that bought into New Labour.

Since then, they've tried every combination going. Their most pitiable performance came under Corbyn at UK level and Richard Leonard, very much on the left of the party, as the Scottish leader.

The reasons have very little to do with left or right, although I'd argue that small-c conservatism is a very, very powerful force in Scotland - and presenting a proper left-wing agenda here would shaft you right over.

Why are the Tories gaining in popularity in Scotland in comparison to labour?
The Tories benefited from having an unequivocal stance on the United Kingdom and standing up for the result that 55% of people voted for in a referendum. Labour failed to do that, by attempting to win back nationalists who may have been former Labour voters but had been radicalised against them.

I don't get it and I don't buy the labour are too right wing and/or too unionist for Scotland, it doesn't make sense. Labour are the only party that do (or have done) anything positive for Scotland. The SNP are so disingenuous its unbelievable but they get away with it.
Labour, in several of its guises, have been too left-wing and not unionist enough. They shed centrist small-c conservative votes to the SNP and pro-union votes to the Tories.

Had they been unambiguously centrist, they might have gathered a coalition of sensible people across the constitutional divide. Had they been unambiguously unionists, they might have kept their votes from the Tories and even won over Tories and Lib Dems who would - after 2014 - have been persuaded to back the strongest unionist voice against the SNP.
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