Executive committee elections 'crucial' to Scottish Labour's future after membership leak

Labour insiders have said the ongoing internal elections should provide a "crucial" chance for the party's Scottish Executive Committee [SEC] to end damaging leaks which some fear will harm the party's chances.

One member critical of the leak of membership data, suspected to have come from current SEC members generally unsupportive of Leonard and Corbyn's leadership, said the new committee should work to move the party forward with less division.

Despite the figures showing a fall in party members, there has been an improvement in the party's membership position since 2014. The leak to the Herald on Sunday comes as members elect eight new regional representatives to the body.

The left slate for the internal election includes former MSP Cara Hilton, longtime Labour activists Stephen Low and Ann Henderson, as well as newer activists such as Lina Nass.

Moderates have loosely organised their own slate which includes Edinburgh councillor Scott Arthur and Johanna Baxter, who stood for the UK Labour executive on a platform of returning to the electoral college. Candidates from this slate have largely focussed their campaign on the party's response to Brexit.

All eight candidates from the left are supportive of Leonard and Corbyn's leadership and have agreed to three "guiding principles", including support for the current leadership which they say is "vital" so that the party can move forward united to win in Scotland and in the UK.

The Glasgow and Central Scotland region appears to be a key battleground between the two slates, with the "moderate slate" keen to win back support after Anas Sarwar lost the majority of Glasgow CLPs in the last leadership election.

James Adam and Suzan King, both supporters of Sarwar, sent out a postal mailing to every member in the Glasgow/Central Scotland region, estimated to cost upwards of £4000, whilst the left slate seek to elect Stephen Low and Angela Feeney. 

Despite this apparent financial advantage for the moderate slate, a campaign source from the left slate said: "It's clear that members across the country want a Scottish Labour Executive Committee that will support Jeremy Corbyn and Richard Leonard.

"The eight socialist candidates do not have big money donations to spend on expensive mailings, but they do have a record of principled politics and grassroots support - that's what will make the difference."

Campaigners for all candidates are expected to be calling members throughout February in a bid to secure votes ahead of the poll closing on 1 March 2019.

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