New leader for Scottish Labour Party

 

Johann Lamont scored a crushing victory over her rivals to be named the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party yesterday.

The former schoolteacher emerged from the first-round count with 51.77 per cent of the vote, a decisive lead over Ken Macintosh and Tom Harris.

Ms Lamont, a left-winger, who will assume a position of unprecedented power as leader of Scottish Labour, not just its MSPs, will be faced with the task of rebuilding her party after its overwhelming defeat by the SNP at parliamentary elections earlier this year.

A breakdown of the vote showed she relied on the support of trade unions, MPs and fellow MSPs for victory, while Mr Macintosh won a majority of votes from party members. Like Labour's national leader, Ed Miliband, Ms Lamont is now susceptible to claims that she has failed to unite her party and owes a debt to union barons.

Ms Lamont used her acceptance speech to deliver a pledge to "make Labour Scotland's party once again", and immediately went on the front foot to attack the SNP over its plans for a referendum on whether Scotland should break from the UK.

She called on the First Minister, Alex Salmond, to call a "yes/no" referendum on independence and drop plans to offer an alternative "devolution max" option, which would involve giving Scotland more powers within the UK.

Ms Lamont, who served as deputy Scottish Labour leader during the Holyrood election campaign, told supporters in Edinburgh: "I want to have the referendum now to confirm, once again, that devolution is the settled will of the Scottish people and nothing else. The process of change has started with my election."

Anas Sarwar was elected as her deputy.

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