Socialist Worker

Saving Scottish Labour

Issue No. 2578

Jeremy Corbyn campaigning in Glasgow during the general election

Jeremy Corbyn campaigning in Glasgow during the general election (Pic: Duncan Brown)


Recovery for Labour in Scotland is a real possibility. The race for the leadership of Scottish Labour reflects why.

Corbyn-backed candidate Richard Leonard has received far more support from party members than his opponent.

Anas Sarwar is backed mostly by other Labour politicians.

It’s the same split that led to Corbyn’s election as leader in 2015. In Scotland ordinary Labour supporters have shown they want a left wing party.

The Labour establishment always preferred a party that backs austerity-lite, war and pandering to racism. In Scotland the leadership made opposition to independence central—at a time when it was seen as a blow to politics as usual.

Lining up with the Tories against independence caused Scottish Labour’s collapse. The general election has forced it to adapt.

Previous Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale held Labour back by focusing on the Scottish National Party instead of the Tories. But Corbyn’s anti-austerity message meant Labour regained support.

Now Sarwar sounds closer to Corbyn than Dugdale ever did.

But he’s still the right’s man.

Victory for Leonard could help Scottish Labour on the road to recovery, but it won’t be enough. Central issues from the independence referendum—scrapping Trident and ending cuts pushed by Scottish Labour councils—are still live.

They have to be part of a left wing Labour programme too.


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