Scotland’s Corbyn: 7 things you need to know about Richard Leonard

After months of debate and multiple moves from both candidates to outflank each other on the left, the Scottish Labour leadership contest is over. Richard Leonard has emerged victorious, beating his only rival and fellow MSP Anas Sarwar.

Leonard’s win is widely being hailed as a victory for Corbynism and the final nail in the coffin for New Labour north of the border. But who is Scotland’s newest party leader? Here are 7 things you need to know about Richard Leonard.

1. Yorkshire born and raised

Anyone who has listened to Leonard speak will have heard his unmistakable Yorkshire twang. According to the Times, Leonard grew up in Yorkshire and was educated at private school. He does not see his English past as a weakness, and told the Times that it should not make a difference.

2. Alma mater

After growing up in Yorkshire, Leonard headed to Stirling University in Scotland to study politics and economics, according to the Evening Times.

3. Work before parliament

Leonard has a rich history in the trade union movement, having worked for the GMB for much of his career.

4. 2016 election

Corbyn, like his rival Sarwar is a relative newcomer to the Scottish Parliament having only been first elected last year. Leonard was the candidate in the Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley constituency – a seat which had been held by Labour right up until the SNP’s 2011 majority win – but lost to the SNP by a significant margin in 2016. However, he was elected via the Scottish parliament’s top-up list for the Central Scotland region.

5. The Corbynite candidate

According to the New Statesman, Leonard has said he is not a “Corbynista”, but he has heaped praise on the UK Labour leader and stood by him when he was told to step aside by many, something he made clear in a Labour List article.

During the contest, he was widely viewed as the Corbynite candidate, and his victory is a clear win for Labour’s left-wing.

6. Leonard’s plan for Scotland

Scottish Labour’s new leader has bold and ambitious plans that could end up pushing the SNP further to the left and even tread on the toes of the left-wing Scottish Green Party. Leonard’s ten-point plan positions him – and now the Scottish Labour party – as a left-wing force to be reckoned with, saying that he wants to “end poverty”, promote “public ownership” and pursue “full employment”.

7. He has a mountain to climb

3. Claire Perry

Perry was first elected as the MP for the seat of Devizes, and has increased her vote-share at each subsequent election. In 2014, she became the parliamentary under-secretary of state for transport, and was promoted to the role of climate change and energy minister following June’s snap election.

4. Matthew Hancock

Hancock is another Tory MP to have risen rapidly inside his party. Since 2013, he has held six different ministerial portfolios, and currently serves as the country’s minister for digital and culture. Could he be one to watch in the future?

5. Jo Johnson

Johnson is often overlooked due to his brother’s dominating political presence, but Jo Johnson is one Conservative MP to watch. In 2013, he became director of the Number 10 policy unit, and in 2015 he was made minister for universities and science, a position he held on to in both of May’s reshuffles. While all eyes are on Boris, Jo is making a quiet ascent.

6. Dominic Raab

Raab represents the seat of Esher and Walton, and currently serves as the minister for courts and justice following a brief spell on the back-benches. This was preceded by time spent as the parliamentary under-secretary for civil liberties during Cameron’s majority government. Is he on his way to the top?

7. Robert Haflon

Haflon has served in a variety of government roles, but now sits as the chair of the education select committee. Under David Cameron’s leadership, he served as George Osborne’s PPS, and was most recently the minister for skills. His time in that job ended following June’s snap election. Could he make a come back?

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