Holyrood 2021: Richard Leonard accuses SNP of 'arrogance'

Richard Leonard has accused the SNP of a “certain arrogance” and a belief the party has a “right to rule” in Scotland.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard

The Scottish Labour leader, speaking on Times Radio, said his party “disputed” the assumption the SNP would win a landslide in May’s Holyrood elections.

While he admitted his own party had “suffered an electoral decline over the last decade”, he said it was Scottish Labour that “had the answers” to the economic and social challenges facing the country.

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Richard Leonard

“It's the ideas of Labour and those on the left that will resonate with people,” he said.

"Yes, there's a growth of support for independence, but ask people if that's their priority and it's not – it's about NHS and state of our education system.”

He added: “The questions I get asked are based on the SNP sweeping to a majority and there is a certain arrogance about the SNP, there is a certain belief that somehow they've got a right to rule for the next five years. I dispute that.”

His comments came after programme host Matt Chorley played him the results of a focus group of 2014 No voters, who now dismissed Scottish Labour as “finished” and “plodding along”, and relayed the recent poor opinion poll results.

Mr Leonard said he “was not mesmerised by polls” and added: “I don't underestimate the scale of the challenge.”

He also said he believed a devolved parliament within the UK “is still the popular choice of the people of Scotland”.

Mr Leonard also drew a parallel with the aftermath of the world wars, saying Scotland could “limp into recession and depression” as after World War One “or we can come out of this crisis as we came out of the Second World War and build a different kind of society, [with] a different priority, and tackle the great inequalities that we face and invest in public services and create things like a National Care Service, which would tackle the problems that have been highlighted by the pressure put on through the pandemic”.

Asked if he would be First Minister after the Holyrood election in May, Mr Leonard said he was “fighting for every single vote and every single seat".

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