Scotland

Scotland's election 2019: Scottish Labour must 'listen and rebuild'

Richard Leonard
Image caption Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard was disappointed with his party's showing on election night

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has said his party must "listen and rebuild" after losing all but one of its seats in the general election.

Mr Leonard said the "devastating" result showed the party had to win back the trust of people on both sides of the Brexit and independence debates.

Labour won just 18.5% of the votes in Scotland - down 8.5 points from the last election - as it lost six seats.

The result saw Ian Murray left once again as the party's only Scottish MP.

The party lost six deposits in Scotland - half of the 12 it lost across the UK as a whole - as the SNP won a landslide in Scotland and the Conservatives secured a majority of 80 across the UK.

Disappointed by party's performance

Several senior figures within the Scottish party have already called for an urgent change of direction, arguing that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was deeply unpopular with many voters.

Mr Corbyn has already said he will not lead the party into another election, and that it is likely that a new leader will be selected in the early part of next year.

But he added he would not step down as leader yet because the "responsible thing to do is not to walk away from the whole thing".

Asked whether he was part of the problem, Mr Corbyn said: "I've done everything I could to lead this party… and since I became leader the membership has more than doubled and the party has developed a very serious, radical yes, but serious and fully-costed manifesto."

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Image caption Scottish Labour's Ian Murray is the party's only MP

Mr Leonard, a close ally of Mr Corbyn, said he had been disappointed by the party's performance, and added that it must now listen to what voters had been telling it.

He said: "Constitutional issues have played a major role in our defeat. It is clear that we must do more to win back the trust of people on both sides of the Brexit and Scottish independence debates.

"But more importantly, we must bring people together. The only future for Scotland, and for Scottish Labour, will be found in bringing together our communities on the basis of the overwhelming common interest that working people have - whether they are Yes or No, Leave or Remain.

"As we look forward to the 2021 Scottish Parliament election I want to offer the people of Scotland a message of hope in place of fear, rooted in their day-to-day experiences, based on our enduring Scottish Labour values."

The election result left Scottish Labour back in the same place it found itself after the 2015 election, with Mr Murray holding his Edinburgh South seat while the party was wiped out everywhere else by the SNP.

Mr Murray, who is a longstanding critics of Mr Corbyn - particularly over his Brexit stance - saw his majority over the SNP cut by about 4,500 to 11,095.

He tweeted that: "Every door I knocked on, and my team and I spoke to 11,000 people, mentioned Corbyn. Not Brexit but Corbyn. I've been saying this for years.

"The outcome is that we've let the country down and we must change course and fast."

'Out-of-touch London public schoolboys'

Ged Killen, one of the six Scottish Labour MPs to lose their seat in Thursday's vote, said Mr Corbyn had been a "divisive figure" for voters.

The former Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP added: ""His name came up on just about every single door that I went to, particularly among traditional Labour voters who were struggling to get on board with what he was putting forward in this election."

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Image caption At the Glasgow count, Labour lost all of the city's seven seats

His view of Mr Corbyn was echoed by former Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy, who claimed that the UK party was now being led by a "group of out-of-touch London public schoolboys that has such as peculiar, eccentric and romanticised view of working class voters".

Mr Murphy told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "The Labour party will have to elect a new leader, but if all it does is elect a new leader, then it's not having the reckoning that it should have had after its previous three spectacular defeats."

He also said it was clear that traditional Labour voters did not believe that Mr Corbyn was up to the job of being prime minister, adding: "Unfortunately the Labour Party took them for granted and we presented them with a programme that they were unwilling to vote for."

And Labour MSP Neil Findlay said it was clear the constitution was the "dominant" issue in Scottish politics, and called on the party to engage in a positive discussion about the constitutional question "because from the evidence of the election results, it's going to continue to be the dominant issue in Scottish politics".

For a nationwide breakdown of results, see our results page.

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