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Leftist Leonard becomes new Scottish Labour party leader

Leonard was backed by the trade unions, and said the result was part of a “movement for socialism”

Gulf News

Glasgow: Richard Leonard on Saturday became the leader of Britain’s Labour party in Scotland, in a boost for national leader Jeremy Corbyn’s left-wing agenda.

Leonard, who was the favourite, said he felt “immense pride” after beating off the challenge of party health spokesman Anas Sarwar, calling his victory “deeply humbling”.

He was backed by the trade unions, and said the result was part of a “movement for socialism”, echoing the leftist message that saw Corbyn pull off a shock result in June’s general election, depriving Prime Minister Theresa May of her majority.

Leonard laid out an agenda of “progressive taxation”, rent controls and wealth redistribution during his victory speech.

The new leader, a former chair of the Scottish Labour Party, earned 12,469 votes from the party faithful against 9,516 for centrist Sarwar.

He replaces Kezia Dugdale, who quit in August, saying that the party needed a “new leader with fresh energy, drive and a new mandate.”

Dugdale, who held the top job for two years, will remain an MP in the Sottish parliament, and was on Friday confirmed as a contestant on the reality show “I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here”.

She came to power in 2015 after replacing Jim Murphy, who stepped down after his party lost all but one of their 41 seats to the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), in the general election.

The party gained six seats back in the recent general election, but is struggling to replicate the Corbyn’s success.

Interim leader Alex Rowley was suspended earlier this week over claims that he had sent abusive text messages to a former partner.

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