Scottish Co-op Party backs Richard Leonard for Scottish Labour leadership

Mr Leonard, who is standing against fellow Co-op Party member Anas Sarwar, called for greater 'industrial democracy'

The Scottish Co-operative Party has given its backing to Richard Leonard in the race to elect the next leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

Mr Leonard is running against fellow MSP Anas Sarwar for the post; both are members of the Co-operative Party.

The election follows the resignation of Kezia Dugdale as Scottish Labour leader on 29 August.

The Co-op Party held hustings for the two candidates last month when they put forward their ideas for co-operation.

Mr Leonard, MSP for the Central Scotland region, looked back on Labour’s time leading the Scottish executive, with the establishment of Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) and land reform which gave communities the right to buy the land they lived on. “I want to take that further,” he said.

He described his work as an MSP, helping to draft Labour’s Industrial Strategy for Scotland, which “has at its centre the need reconfigure ownership and control in the economy”.

“Our approach to the economy must be to promote and encourage greater industrial democracy, with those who create the wealth having greater influence and control over that wealth,” he said.

Mr Leonard called for a Scottish Investment Bank, for workers to have a first right of refusal to buy the company they work for, and for CDS to be put on a statutory footing and given the instruments of investment needed to grow the co-operative sector.

In his statement, Mr Sarwar – MSP for Glasgow and a former deputy leader of Scottish Labour – called for efforts to double the size of Scotland’s co-op sector. He proposed specific measures to strengthen community ownership in the housing, energy and public transport sectors.

This would include a Housing Act to double the number of housing co-ops, help credit unions and councils create local mortgage schemes and simplify the rules around community energy.

Voting is now open, and the result will be announced on 18 November 2017.

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