Scotland politics

Johann Lamont named new Scottish Labour leader

MSP Johann Lamont has been elected as the new Scottish Labour leader, pledging to "make Labour Scotland's party once again".

The former Scottish minister warned supporters the party must reach out to people, rather than put its own interests first.

Ms Lamont replaces Iain Gray, who decided to quit the job after the SNP's landslide election victory in May.

Meanwhile, MP Anas Sarwar was elected as deputy Scottish Labour leader.

Ms Lamont, who had been seen as a frontrunner in the leadership contest, beat off competition from Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh and Glasgow South MP Tom Harris.

The role of Scottish Labour leader has now been beefed up, meaning she takes charge of the whole of the party in Scotland.

Previously, the job was limited to leading the Labour MSP group at Holyrood, but the change now effectively distances the party north of the border from Westminster.

Delivering her victory speech in Edinburgh, Ms Lamont, the MSP for Glasgow Pollok, said: "I want to change Scotland, but the only way we can change Scotland is by changing the Scottish Labour Party."

The 54-year-old former teacher said "nothing would be off limits".

She added: "Our one test will be what is in the interest of the people of Scotland, not what's in the interest of ourselves."

"I will reach out to people across Scotland who maybe never thought of themselves to be Labour, maybe not even thought themselves to be political, who share our values, and I'll ask them to join our task.

"And we need to reach back into those communities who used to support us and win back the trust and reassure them that their faith in us will be repaid."

Ms Lamont told her colleagues the public perception of Scottish Labour had been one of "a tired old politics machine which was more about itself than it was about them".

"If anyone has ever deluded ourselves into thinking that Scotland was really a Labour country - last May must have finally shaken us out of that delusion," said the new leader.

She added: "The task now is to make Labour Scotland's party again."

Turning to the SNP government and its planned independence referendum in the second half of the current Scottish parliamentary term, Ms Lamont said: "They should get on with it. Waiting is holding Scotland back.

"They should get on with it - with one question - and let the people's voice be heard."

Mr Sarwar, who represents Glasgow Central, won the deputy leadership job over rivals Iain Davidson, also an MP, and MSP Lewis Macdonald.

He said: "This process of renewal is for one key purpose: to give the people of Scotland a Labour Party that they can trust, a Labour Party they can believe in, and a Labour Party that can win."

Anas Sarwar was elected as deputy leader
Anas Sarwar was elected as deputy leader

More than 300,000 people were asked to vote in the contest, including party and affiliated trade union members and other organisations.

Under Labour's electoral college system, votes are cast in three sections - one for MPs, MSPs and MEPs, one for party members and one for members of affiliated organisations.

Ms Lamont got 51% of the total vote, winning the biggest share of backers among parliamentarians, unions and affiliates.

But Mr Macintosh, who came second with 40%, got the biggest share of the vote among party members - 17%, compared to 12% for Ms Lamont.

Mr Harris got 7.9% of the total vote.

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