Lesley Laird: Why I'm Standing For Deputy
Writing exclusively in the Red Robin, Lesley Laird sets out her pitch for the deputy leadership and asks members for their support.
Last month I announced my intention to stand for the deputy leadership of the Scottish Labour Party. With the self-nomination process closing on Friday I wanted to set out why I am asking for wider nominations of support from across all our Labour elected representatives in the coming two weeks.
I was delighted to be asked to hold the interim deputy leader role, and for the last five months I have used that time to assess the role, what needs to be done, and the contribution that I could make in helping to take our Scottish Labour Party forward as part of both Jeremy Corbyn's and Richard Leonard’s leadership teams.
In the last 12 months the party at Westminster has reasserted its voice, defied the polls and energised the desire for a more people focused, just and caring society. Just a year ago our manifesto, For the Many Not the Few fundamentally changed the conversations we had on the doorstep. People had read it. Wanted to talk about it. And more importantly wanted to vote for it. Our six new MPs beat the odds and, but for small margins in 20 other key Scottish seats, we could have added to that number.
In Holyrood Richard Leonard has taken over as leader and, after the settling in period that every new boss needs to assess the team and the tactics, we have seen a much stronger profile emerging for Scottish Labour. Bringing issues to the table that impact people in their daily lives. Setting out our agenda. Talking about the issues that matter to Labour. Talking about the issues that matter to people. Supporting our Trade Union colleagues, and public sector workers. Standing shoulder to shoulder with communities on challenging RBS and fighting to ensure shipbuilding remains a core part of our DNA.
Holding the SNP Government to account on health. On education. Standing up for devolution and seeking to bring our grown-up approach to the Brexit impasse on Clause 11 (now clause 15) by taking the initiative and calling for wider, all-party talks to break the deadlock. Not being prepared to play anyone’s game - we are the party of devolution and we will continue to defend the settled will of the Scottish people.
Across the country our party has a renewed sense of purpose and drive. Ensuring no break in that rhythm must be our focus. We are gaining ground in the polls - we are gaining credibility for the grown-up politics we are seeking to deliver. We are gaining members across the country who are turning to Labour against a backdrop of failed austerity. We are getting ready for government and that must be our priority and focus.
I am standing because I believe I am in a unique position to work effectively with all our elected representatives. With six years in local government I know first-hand about the front line of local government and how hard it is to make choices when there is too often little choice left to make following years of underfunding and cuts.
Sitting in the Shadow Cabinet I bring a strong Scottish perspective to the table and have made it one of my key priorities to work closely with all our Labour family. Working closely with our Welsh colleagues, facilitating discussions on common areas and policies; building a relationship that puts Labour at its heart. So too in the Scottish Parliament, I have reached out to MSP colleagues. I have asked MP colleagues to partner with MSP colleagues on key briefs and policy areas so that we build on our collective knowledge and experience and use it to fight the austerity agenda of the Tories and the SNP both in Westminster and Holyrood.
My ambition is for Labour not just for Labour’s sake but for the sake of our people who need Labour in power. They need a Labour Government at Westminster. A Labour Government at Holyrood. And Labour-led councils across the country. Because it is clear, more than ever, that only Labour has the appetite for change. Only Labour has the political will to make that change happen. And only by us all working together and using all our talents will we deliver for the people of this country.
I am asking for your nomination to continue the journey we have started and to allow me to work with you so that together we can all push on and secure the Labour government that this country so desperately needs.